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Old 20-08-2017, 12:40   #1
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Hells Gate at Night

Heading S on Long Island Sound from Narragansett Bay Monday.
I will stage in Port Washington Tuesday afternoon 3-4ish. . Eldridge indicates ebb at 11:42 pm Tuesday so I will be at Throgs neck at 10:42. Pm.

Or, I wait until Wed morning and start at TN at 11:00am which changes my whole route timing back to the Chesapeake. (Crew has to be there by 8/27) It also causes me to enter Manasquan at night which I don't want to do. Would go straight thru to Manasquan if I take the pm passage. I would rather not go down to Atlantic Highlands.

So I am thinking of the night schedule down the East River. What are the challenges at night thru that particular spot. I have done it 1x before in daylight. Has anyone done it at night?
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Old 21-08-2017, 04:45   #2
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Re: Hells Gate at Night

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Originally Posted by pitlaw View Post
... will be at Throgs neck at 10:42. Pm. ... thinking of the night schedule down the East River. What are the challenges at night ... Has anyone done it at night?
My first time down the East River was at night (in 1982). Seems the biggest problem then was picking out markers against the background of city lights, and if that's something that needs to be done the problem still exists. However with modern plotters this is less an issue.

Also in those days there was quite a bit of floating junk in the East River, depending on the state of the tide. Sometimes at neaps there's a tendency to re-float stranded "junk" and I recall that we saw a large floating desk somewhere near the 59th Street Bridge that needed attention.

Otherwise stick on 13 and give as many security calls as you deem necessary. The pros run at all hours and like this, so they will come back quickly with suggestions and help as required. BTW this is a chance for a glorious view of NYC that many folks would envy.
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Old 21-08-2017, 06:17   #3
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Re: Hells Gate at Night

I have been up and down the East River many times over the years and agree with kerrydeare in that background lighting makes it difficult not only to see markers but also navigational lights.
If possible strongly suggest to install an AIS if you don't already have one which will make your life a lot easier. There is a tremendous amount of commercial traffic not only in the river but also when you are actually in NY harbor. In fact I think the harbor at night is more dangerous than the river. Again the background lighting makes it near impossible to keep a sharp visual on navigational lights. Radar is of course helpful but AIS is fantastic in that situation.
It is however quite beautiful in its own way but have always been happy to get out of there.
BTW have also gone into Manasquan only once but it was at night and no big deal.
Wishing you a great passage.
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Old 21-08-2017, 07:01   #4
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Re: Hells Gate at Night

Would agree with all the posts and IMO would rather have better have day light going down the East River to pick out marks with all the back lighting and then enter Manasquan at night.
As previously mentioned the Manasquan inlet is no big deal and is one of the better all weather inlets in NJ. The train bridge is usually up (unless a train is coming through) if you want to go to the marina.

Have a good trip.
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Old 21-08-2017, 07:29   #5
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Re: Hells Gate at Night

kerrydeare's post is spot-on, and caradow's also. The most dangerous thing on a boat is a schedule. It can cause a captain and crew to make decisions that increase risks you would prefer not to have.
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Old 21-08-2017, 08:48   #6
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Re: Hells Gate at Night

As TN, Manhasset bay are my home waters have done Hell Gate at night over the years.
All good advise above, would add when thru East River into NY bay
with limited visibility, night, fog, heavy rain stay out of the shipping channels as is still ample water and ships and barges don't play there.
Some of the smaller commercial will be doing same.
And check out Butternut channel east of Governors Island when at the southern end Manhattan.
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Old 21-08-2017, 09:30   #7
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Re: Hells Gate at Night

East River and NY harbor at night are exciting to say the least, a little too exciting for me. Commercial traffic, logs and debris, visibility, etc. are issues. I would run the river in daylight and then overnight at Great Kills Harbor on Staten Is., then leave very early the next morning for Atlantic City or even Cape May.
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Old 21-08-2017, 09:38   #8
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Re: Hells Gate at Night

I have also done the East River at night (on OPB), but if you are on a schedule that requires an overnight, it seems much preferable to me to do the East River and NYHarbor in daylight and do the overnight off the NJ coast. Manasquan, Atlantic City and Cape May inlets are generally doable at any time of day. Also, be sure to check that the East River is not closed due to UN activities. I would certainly not want to encounter a closure at night.

Best,


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Old 21-08-2017, 09:44   #9
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Re: Hells Gate at Night

Quote:
Originally Posted by pitlaw View Post
Heading S on Long Island Sound from Narragansett Bay Monday.
I will stage in Port Washington Tuesday afternoon 3-4ish. . Eldridge indicates ebb at 11:42 pm Tuesday so I will be at Throgs neck at 10:42. Pm.

Or, I wait until Wed morning and start at TN at 11:00am which changes my whole route timing back to the Chesapeake. (Crew has to be there by 8/27) It also causes me to enter Manasquan at night which I don't want to do. Would go straight thru to Manasquan if I take the pm passage. I would rather not go down to Atlantic Highlands.

So I am thinking of the night schedule down the East River. What are the challenges at night thru that particular spot. I have done it 1x before in daylight. Has anyone done it at night?
I used to live in an apartment overlooking the East River and watched the night traffic of ships, tugs, barges, and such on the river at night. The commercial vessels travel surprisingly fast, to maintain steerage in the current.

As others have mentioned, the problem is one of visibility at night.

The relatively tiny navigation lights on a sailboat are much less likely to be seen by a tug captain pushing a barge up the river at night, given the countless brighter lights of cars on the highway,lights on building, lights on bridges, street lights, etc.

In short, it would be a much greater risk of being run down by a larger vessel that was also transiting that river at night.

Even with AIS, I would not do it at night.

Hope that helps.
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Old 21-08-2017, 10:44   #10
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Re: Hells Gate at Night

Just did the exact same trip 3 weeks ago
(Port Washington to Cape May and back)
You should backtime your trip to reach Hell Gate at slack befor ebb
even if you have to go against the current in the sound.
Study your Eldridge.
Slack is a small window so pay attention to speed and distance
and adjust speed accordingly.
We left Port Washington two hours before slack at Hell Gate and had a
nice smooth ride thru and then caught the ebb all the way through the harbor.
The only issue was the tremendous amount of high speed ferries now on
the East River. Favoring low blood pressure I'd do this trip during daylight.
Manasquan inlet was no biggie as long as wind isn't against tide.
Almost sent you a response for crew but times didn't work
Have a safe trip, Sailing by the Statue of Liberty was awesome.
Cheers
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Old 21-08-2017, 11:07   #11
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Re: Hells Gate at Night

All other things being equal I would much prefer to transit the east river at night than try and enter pretty much any of the NJ inlets at night if the weather is less than perfect.

While the temptation is to get a sleigh ride down through the Hell Gate it's unwise as your loss of steerage can be considerable, combined with getting shot sideways in some of the eddies. I would ideally try and hit the Gate itself right at slack which will give you a building boost as you head south where there is more room to maneuver.

If I were you I would leave Wed AM and go to Sandy Hook. From there it's a straight shot down the coast, overnight sail to Cape May. Then to Chesapeake City, then into the Bay. That puts you in on the 27th.
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Old 21-08-2017, 11:08   #12
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Re: Hells Gate at Night

I've done it twice from North to South. Once was at night. I did not have AIS at the time. It was pretty intense. I had a sailing buddy up on the bow spotting for me and it was still one of the hairier things I've done in a sailboat. We hit 12 kts that night with the current.

Tugs pushing fuel barges are what you have to worry about in the gate.

Listen to channel 13 as others have said. Don't be shy about calling and letting a fuel barge know you're there and even ask them what they'd rather have you do. Last time I had AIS and could see a barge bearing down on me about a mile back when I got close to the gate. I hailed him and told him I was pulling over by Hunts Point to let him pass and go through the gate first. He certainly appreciated it. They're going about 10 kts without current and you don't want one coming up behind you in the gate or in the East River next to midtown - it's tight in there and the current can rip, so your ability to maneuver is restricted.

You're in for the view of a lifetime though.
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Old 21-08-2017, 11:24   #13
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Re: Hells Gate at Night

Cape May and Atlantic City are pretty well lit and marked for night entries.

AIS would make it much easier.

whether you do your night in the East River or off Jersey Shore - I suggest you watch one of the AIS websites, like shipfinder.com or marinetraffic.com
the ferries and many of the tug+tow operators run a nightly schedule and you can see who goes what when and where watching the AIS website.

you might even find some times of the evening when there is almost zero commercial traffic.

have a great view whichever time you sail.
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Old 21-08-2017, 11:38   #14
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Hells Gate at Night

This is not a normal lighting situation. Flip on your deck lights for max visibility. I wouldn't worry about anyone's night vision given the glare of the nighttime east river. I'd throw up your main even if it is just luffing. Uplight the main for added visibility.

Watch AIS coming around the bends. AIS (viewing at least) is maybe $10 on your smart phone. Don't run this path without it. Call some securites if the AIS shows you should.

Roughest spots are hell gate, lower downtown, and (I think it is end of the ebb in) lower NY harbor when all the anchors start coming up on the commercial ships.

Sandy Hook has a good anchorage as well as fuel, pump out and slips.Click image for larger version

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Old 21-08-2017, 14:14   #15
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Re: Hells Gate at Night

IMO messing about in heavily trafficked waters at night is a read bad idea. I would adjust my start time to hit Throg's Neck in early light and add anchor stops if crew needs them but would avoid any inlet entries at night. Tide is an important factor but daylight is even more important. You do need AIS and to keep your boat well lite in these waters.
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