Astral Blues advice is sound advice. 2 years sailing experience is enough to take the coastal trip to Nantucket, howver you really dont know your boat very well. Because it is a catamaran
you will have very little oppertunity to stay in marinas
, not withstanding most people who cruise the NE and Long Island
Sound moor their boats and do not keep them in marinas
Understand you will also be traveling during hurricane
season and need to have an alternative plan should one of them hang a right and continue up the coast during the month you are cruising.
Lets look at different routes going north. First let me address your question of ports
to duck into on the way to Naragansett. The directline to there takes you offshore
quite a distance so you commit to the weather window and just go. If thats your plan I would aim for Block. I would jump off by sailing out the mouth of the Chesapeake to Cape May/ Cape Henlopen approx 130 miles. Averaging 5 knots or so this is 24-26 hours. No place to duck in except trecheous Ocen City , Maryland
There are three good easy safe inlets in New Jersey
( if any inlet could be considered safe). These are Cape May, Absecon ( Atlantic City, and Manesquan). What makes them safe is that there are no real shoals extending outward from the inlet which will lead to breakers and rollers across the inlet in the afternoon or during a blow which make it difficult to enter or exit. These three inlets do not have huge bodies of water
behind them which also creates a substantial running current
out the inlet which makes other inlets on the Jersey coast difficult in opposing wind
and tide situations. Lastly these three inlets have large established commercial fishing
fleets docked in behind them. There are other inlets on charts
and boats go out them with local knowledge, but the shoals are always shifting and the bouys are not set because the CG potentially changes them every day. The last inlet I will mention on the Jersey Shore is Barnegat Inlet which we traverse when we head
to the Long Island Sound. It is dangerous but has set markings and should not be entered when there is any component over 20 knotss of wind
from the east or north east. I lived in South Jersey and have local knowledge and can give you an accurate description to go in which is safe, but it is not for the faint of heart. I would not enter any other Jersey Inlets without a person on board with local knowledge.
Atlantic City is 32 miles from Cape May, Manesquan is 68 miles from Atlantic City. After that is NY Bay and Atlantic Highlands ( About 34 miles from Manesquan. The South shore of Long Island has inlets, but are trecherous like the Jersey ones and really should not be entered.
We go to the LI Sound, Marthas Vineyard, and Nantucket every year from the end of July to mid Septemeber ( same basic times as you) and usually travel for 24 days. There is so much to visit or see ( though there is 4 times as much on the Chesapeake) we dont worry once we get to the Sound as much as making a long range destination
as we will return the following year.)
Our route ( assumming 5 knots) is Patapsco to Reedy Island ( through the C&D Canal and south about 5 miles on the Delaware River) 52 miles (9 hours).....Ride the tide to Cape May 54 miles (7 hours)....Cape May to Barneget Inlet (72 miles, 13 hours).......Barneget Inlet to Liberty Landing Marina ( newark- 38 miles, 7 hours or Atlantic Highlands (34 miles- 6 hours). Then you are set up to go up the East River with the incomming tide then next day and you are on the LI Sound. We usually go to Port Jefferson. So we are on the Sound our 5th day from the Patasco ( Baltimore) . It is a cruise and vacation for us and we like to explore and see the places we anchor or moor outside of so we break it up into managemeable segments and can be anchored by 3 in the afternoon ( except Barnegat). Assuming 5 days back from Port Jefferson ( usually it is Northport) and on the way back we can get to Manequan with the tide from Hell Gate and from Cape May to the Sassafrass on the Chesapeake.
So essentially we have 14-16 days on the Sound and points north/ east including weather days to visit all the neat towns and ports
. In a later post I can give you our favorites to visit. We have made it in past years to Marthas Vineyard/ Cuttyhunk/ Nantucket on our trips. Usually we find ourselves exploring and changing itineraries to suit the weather, extra days in places we like etc. We certainly get as far as Newport/ Block. For us it is a cruising vacaction once we are up there so we dont kill ourselves on a sailing death march, and it is only my wife and I.
So you can head out the Bay at Cape Charles to Cape May ( 126 miles, 24 hours)) and begin the hop like we do at Cape may or sail straight through to Block 191 miles, 36 hours straight from Cape May or 320 miles ,56 hours from Cape Charles to Block Island. Thats pretty aggressive with your experience ( not your boat as it would be fine), and not knowing how many of you on board this should have at least 4. You will also be tired after this.
You have to determine whether your experience warrents that trip ( no disrespect intended) and if your weather window will hold for 3+ days. These straight throughs take you at least 50 miles offshore
so there is no "ducking" in. That will take 8-10 hours. The route I take we stay 5-6 miles offshore.
An alternative would be to explore the Chesapeake for the first week going north to shake down and get to know your boat, learn how to anchor ( very important in all conditions of wind and terrain) and also see some of the best cruising grounds in the US. My wife and I have chartered to Catalina
and the Channel islands also. The Chesapeake is way way different with its many coves and small towns ( the country was populated originally through the Chesapeake)
An itinerary the first week could be Solomons Island ( Puatuxat River), St Micheals ( Miles River), Annapolis ( Severn River), Rock Hall. After those 4 days head for the Delaware River an mimick our trip and be in Cape May on day 6 or 7.
Also have a bailout and plan of where to hide should a names storm come up the coast. Last year Long island and New England
had a pretty distructive one.
Feel free to private message me should you have any questions.