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Old 01-03-2011, 21:14   #1
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Sailing NY to Norfolk in March...

Can anyone suggest four or five good shelters/marinas NY to Norfolk?

We assume Ocean City, Atlantic City and Cape May are three, but not sure of a good marina for transient sailors at any of them. Feel free to suggest...

Looking at charts, Manasquan Inlet is a bit confusing, hard to tell if there is enough depth to get well in (need 5.5') or if there is suitable moorage. Whether a marina or anchorage, information on Manasquan would be much appreciated.

As would any other suggestions. Thanks for the help.
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Old 03-03-2011, 18:35   #2
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Re: Sailing NY to Norfolk in March...

Stupid questions?

Perhaps. In further reading I've learned the ICW technically starts at Manasquan River, so there must be reasonable access, but maybe not suitable for keelboats and that the "real" ICW for sailors starts at Portsmouth. This true?

Also, if anyone can suggest a good ICW website and guidebook would love to read more.
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Old 03-03-2011, 18:39   #3
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Re: Sailing NY to Norfolk in March...

Also, if you know of a guide or website that has information about the coast from NY to Norfolk I'd appreciate it.
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Old 03-03-2011, 18:49   #4
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Re: Sailing NY to Norfolk in March...

Quote:
Can anyone suggest four or five good shelters/marinas NY to Norfolk?
Living close to the southern end, are you really sure you need to do this? The outter leg Sandy Hook to Cape May (outside - period) is a crap shoot but if you think the Chesapeake is a picnic in March you are not ready for this trip. Outside the places you can hide in are few and very far between. Outside you ned to gamble on most of the way in one shot. Mid May on the perfect day might be safe. Late May would be if you needs odds for today. Going all the way outside? I wouldn't do it in March. March might be the worst month to try it. Anything goes in March.
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Old 03-03-2011, 19:02   #5
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Re: Sailing NY to Norfolk in March...

NY to Norfolk in March is totally dependent on a good forecast. The NJ coast is devoid of deepwater inlets that are good in any weather, though Atlantic City and Cape May are the best. However, in a strong northeast wind I would rather stay well offshore trying to get into reasonably deep water. Do not even consider going inside down the NJ waterway unless you draw less than 4 feet of water. Unless you can clear a 35-foot bridge, you'll have to go outside again at Atlantic City anyway. What is your draft and mast height? Ocean City is also a nasty place in bad weather from the Northeast. Again, hopefully you can choose your weather because this trip is not one to do in March with any sort of chance of it going northeast and blowing, which in this season could mean snow and below-freezing temperatures. I would highly recommend not stopping at all if the weather is good--just go for it offshore and make it as fast as you can. Best midway stop is Cape May if you have to go in. This is not a good season to do this trip unless you are experienced and can wait for good weather. It is going down to 23 degrees tonight in Cape May. Bring warm clothing!
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Old 03-03-2011, 19:31   #6
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Re: Sailing NY to Norfolk in March...

Please consider carefully the cautions you're receiving. These are dangerous waters from November to early May.

Your first question is the mast height. If it is 65ft or more, then the ICW is closed to you. This means going outside around Cape Hatteras -- a piece of coast as dangerous as any on the planet during the winter and spring gales.

If you are less than 65ft, then you could consider a carefully timed jump from Manhattan to Cape May. You might have to wait 2 weeks for a weather window. Atlantic City and Cape May are the only harbors that are safe to enter in any kind of ugly weather. Once around Cape May you can go up Delaware Bay, through the C&D canal and then down the Chesapeake to pick up the ICW in Norfolk - long and cold but reasonably safe.

But this plan all depends on the mast height. The journey is not worth the considerable risk if you can't use the ICW to pass Hatteras.


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Old 03-03-2011, 19:40   #7
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Re: Sailing NY to Norfolk in March...

Maybe his boat is the Vancouver 27 in his signature. If so he can go inside at Cape May, through the canal, up the Delaware, down the Chesapeake, and then into the ICW at Norfolk. A much better route, especially in this season, but he will still have to wait for weather. It might be hard to find a fuel dock open in this season in a lot of marinas.
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Old 03-03-2011, 20:33   #8
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Re: Sailing NY to Norfolk in March...

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimbim View Post
Can anyone suggest four or five good shelters/marinas NY to Norfolk?

We assume Ocean City, Atlantic City and Cape May are three, but not sure of a good marina for transient sailors at any of them.
I would not try Ocean City in anything but settled weather, which is tough to count on in March. Atlantic City can be safely entered in most weather conditions, but will be a sleighride in strong easterlies. Cape May is a good all weather harbor with many marinas to choose from. I like Utsches as a transient stop.

Quote:
Looking at charts, Manasquan Inlet is a bit confusing, hard to tell if there is enough depth to get well in (need 5.5') or if there is suitable moorage. Whether a marina or anchorage, information on Manasquan would be much appreciated..
Anchorage in Manasquan is not available for your draft. The entrance is fine, and there are a few marinas up between the bridges.

You don't sound very experienced, so please listen to all the caution we are giving about the time of year you are contemplating for your trip. You can get caught offshore in some really bad weather that would challenge the saltiest sailors.

Assuming you can get to Cape May, you can wait there for a good weather window to go up the Delaware bay, through the C&D canal and then down the Chesapeake. Strong North or south winds make the Chesapeake a truly miserable place, and in March and April they can blow for weeks without let up. Once you are in Norfolk, you are home free.

A good web site to check on anchorages and marinas is www.activecaptain.com
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Old 03-03-2011, 20:39   #9
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Re: Sailing NY to Norfolk in March...

Many thanks for the replies and warnings.

I am currently in South Korea aboard my boat. A Korean friend and his wife are in NYC now to sea trial and perhaps take possession of a 46-foot sailing yacht, mast 58', draft 5.5'.

There is a very good chance I will be flying there in a couple days with my wife to sail with him to Ft. Lauderdale, from where it will be shipped to Yokohama, Japan and from where he will collect it and sail it home.

We have no experience with the US east coast, so I have been seeking information. Intention is to take our time, waiting for weather windows. We would like to do the sail to Norfolk in one shot, but know the closest shelters if it blows.

I have been studying charts and it seems clear that there are few "all weather" harbor entrances and fewer still that are safe in low light/visibility.
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Old 03-03-2011, 21:01   #10
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Re: Sailing NY to Norfolk in March...

I have seen your other posts on the forum about this trip.

I don't think you will make it from NYC to Norfolk in a single in one shot at that time of year. The mouth of the Chesapeake Bay is notorious for steep seas due to the current that runs through there. If you choose to go outside, around Cape Hatteras, plan on having your butts handed to you on a windy platter if you try that in March, and thank your stars if you sneak around on a calm day.

With a mast of only 58', you can go inside at Norfolk, and follow the ICW down to Beaufort/Moorhead City, NC. That is a major port with an all weather entrance and you can go back out to sea there, or continue on inside to the base of the Cape Fear River. Again, you could go out there, or stay inside. You should have no problem getting down to Charleston, SC on the ICW, but from there you might encounter some shallow spots. Many sailors choose to wait until they can sail outside down to Jacksonville or further south.

You should strive to get familiar with the weather resources available on the internet now, as the success of your trip will depend on understanding the weather forecasts for the east coast. It can be a great trip, but many sailors under estimate how bad it can get out offshore. Remember, the Gulf Stream runs along this coast.

You say you intend to take your time, but we've heard those words before. Are you really prepared to sit in a harbor for 12 or 14 days, just waiting for the wind to ease off? Is there a time the boat needs to be in FLA to make the freighter appointment?
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Old 03-03-2011, 21:45   #11
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Re: Sailing NY to Norfolk in March...

Well put and it will be respected.

The freighter is booked for May, and the boat will be held until then in a marina which has a relationship with the shipper.

From Norfolk, I think the captain's opinion is to remain in the ICW as far south as is practical.

His inclination at this point, given many of the comments here and elsewhere, is to await an opening, overnight to Cape May, await another opening, and sail up the Delaware and over to Chesapeake. I'd like to see the Chesapeake anyway, even in long underwear.

We are both aware we have a lot to learn about this part of the world.
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Old 03-03-2011, 22:56   #12
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Re: Sailing NY to Norfolk in March...

And I misspoke. The mast is 59.1'
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Old 04-03-2011, 06:39   #13
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Re: Sailing NY to Norfolk in March...

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Originally Posted by jimbim View Post
His inclination at this point, given many of the comments here and elsewhere, is to await an opening, overnight to Cape May, await another opening, and sail up the Delaware and over to Chesapeake. I'd like to see the Chesapeake anyway, even in long underwear.
That sounds like a good plan. You can stage at Atlantic Highlands Marina to wait to go to Cape May. With the size boat you have, I would plan on avoiding Manasquan except for emergencies. Atlantic City will be your back up plan if something keeps you from making Cape May.

Note: due to bridge clearance, you will not be able to use the "Cape May Canal" to reach the Delaware Bay; you will have to go back out into the ocean and around Cape May proper. Be sure and study those charts very carefully. The Atlantic side entrance to Cape May is fine for your boat, giving you access to the harbor and marinas. It's a fine town to be stuck waiting for weather. The Delaware can get a nasty chop when the winds go against the tide, so try for a forecast of 15kts wind or less to go up that body of water.

The Chesapeake will probably go something like this: Chesapeake City (in the C&D canal) >Annapolis >Solomons >Deltaville >Norfolk. Annapolis is a huge sailing town, and you can plan to re-provision there as well as get any repairs or parts you need.

Your friend can stay in the ICW all the way to Ft Laud if he chooses, but that strategy will take a few more days. There are bridges to wait for, and in Georgia, there are a few spots that where depths are very unforgiving at low tides, so one sometimes waits for tides in that state. The ICW is actually a great trip and everyone should see it at least once.
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Old 04-03-2011, 06:41   #14
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Re: Sailing NY to Norfolk in March...

Be aware that there is a fixed bridge across the Canal that goes from Cape May harbor into Delaware Bay. I believe you will not be able to pass under that bridge. You will have to go back outside into the ocean to round the point at Cape May and head into Delaware Bay. There is also a lift bridge over the Delaware Canal you will need to have in the up position. And then once you arrive in Norfolk you will begin to encounter numerous opening bridges over the ICW that you will have to request openings at. Many of them are on a schedule, and all of them require that you can talk to the bridge operator. I am the author of various ICW books and you can PM me if you want more specific info. on any part of the trip.
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Old 04-03-2011, 06:54   #15
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Re: Sailing NY to Norfolk in March...

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Be aware that there is a fixed bridge across the Canal that goes from Cape May harbor into Delaware Bay. I believe you will not be able to pass under that bridge. You will have to go back outside into the ocean to round the point at Cape May and head into Delaware Bay. There is also a lift bridge over the Delaware Canal you will need to have in the up position. And then once you arrive in Norfolk you will begin to encounter numerous opening bridges over the ICW that you will have to request openings at. Many of them are on a schedule, and all of them require that you can talk to the bridge operator. I am the author of various ICW books and you can PM me if you want more specific info. on any part of the trip.
Good info on the bridge, it is 50 feet and even with the extreme tides 59 feet won't make it at low tide. You will have to go out at Cape May and come back in the mouth of the Delaware. Be sure to have current charts since there are many shoal areas. Chuck
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