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Old 05-07-2012, 14:57   #1
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Timing Hell Gate

I'm going down to NYC (from RI) and would appreciate anyone's advice on navigating Hell Gate. On the day I plan going through, the current will be flowing Southwest between 10:00am and 4:00pm.

What time would be best to go? Close to slack at 10:00 or 4:00 or any time in between?

Thanks for the assist...
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Old 05-07-2012, 15:43   #2
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Re: Timing Hell Gate

I think it is more important not to have to buck an ebbing current in the East River (which can be 3 kts or so) than timing your passage through Hell's Gate at slack. I have been through HG at full ebb (northbound) in a boat with decent power so it could make 7 kts if needed and it was no big deal. But bucking the current heading up the East River was a grueling effort.

So I would try to go through early in the day so you will have the current with you all the way down.

David
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Old 05-07-2012, 15:50   #3
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Re: Timing Hell Gate

Bill, Staging in Port Washington or City Island works, because you also need to remember the the current will fight you going to the Throgs Neck Bridge if you don't watch that timing too. Maximum Ebb was petty fast but doable, but unnecessary. You can time it with +current all the way to Sandy Hook




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Old 05-07-2012, 17:56   #4
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Re: Timing Hell Gate

Without the benefit of a strong engine, we staged at Port Washington, then timed our entry to ride the current all the way through. It was a rush making 10+SOG.
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Old 05-07-2012, 18:01   #5
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Re: Timing Hell Gate

Something that i was told and has seemed to work well for us (we have a mooring on City Island) is to leave city island one hour before high tide, this give you a fast and smooth ride through the east river.
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Old 05-07-2012, 18:42   #6
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Re: Timing Hell Gate

Thanks all - great help!
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Old 06-07-2012, 11:48   #7
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Re: Timing Hell Gate

Having traversed Hell Gate over 30 times they key is as mentioned. Do fight it. We have come through at slack...and we have hit 13.25 SOG at full bore ( was like driving on black ice). There is a lot made of it, but it is not that scary. Good advice is hit it in the AM and ride it down. We usually set up in Northport for the ride down, and either Atlantic Hihghlands or Liberty Landing Marina for the ride up.n If you time it right as was mentioned you can ride the push all the way outNY Bay and make good time down the Jersey Coast ( which is what we are doing)

Main thing in the "Gate" is to remember there is a sharp turn and sometime the tugs with barges are coming through so keep a sharp eye around the corner.

Our last trip up the river the president was at the UN and they had a great part of the East River restricted. As we passed under the manhattan bridge we saw someone jump and commit suicide and there were NY harbor Police everywhere. When we passed Rikers Island the prisoners were all hooting out the windows at my wife...then we went by the end of the airport runway and you could see the writing on the jets tires. Take your cvamera as its a fascinating trip. We will be trhough the area on August 20 this year and back on September 10th

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Old 06-07-2012, 18:16   #8
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Catching it as suggested adds pleasure there is some really weird current stuff going on near the gate. Yep mini whirlpools and short standing waves. Steering even in a mud sized power boat feals squirrelly. Intersting that hells gate gets so much attention. While cape cod canal is ignored. The worst current and wind miscalculation I ever made was at the cape cod canal. Imagine dropping a 32 foot down east single engine power boat off your first spreader every 4 seconds for an hour and half and you'll get the idea of what I did wrong and how amazed I was the engine didn't give up the ghost or just decide to follow momentum to the bottom. Sorry Don I didn't tell you. At the time it's best you didn't know.
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Old 06-07-2012, 18:34   #9
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Re: Timing Hell Gate

Hell Gate is really not hard, just work it so you are going through at high tide whether you are going north or south. Makes a very fast trip with all that current behind you all the way. Just be careful going through Hell Gate as people have said.

Sabray, I may be going south through the Cape Cod Canal soon... what works best for that trip?
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Old 06-07-2012, 19:11   #10
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Re: Timing Hell Gate

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Originally Posted by speedoo View Post
Hell Gate is really not hard, just work it so you are going through at high tide whether you are going north or south. Makes a very fast trip with all that current behind you all the way. Just be careful going through Hell Gate as people have said.

Sabray, I may be going south through the Cape Cod Canal soon... what works best for that trip?
I'm not Sabray, but it's a trip I've done many times. The problem with the CCC is not so much the canal itself, but the exit into Buzzard's Bay if the wind is the prevailing sou'west. The standing waves in the first few miles will take any crud on the bottom of your fuel tank and rattle it loose along with your fillings. Ask me how I know my tank wasn't clean. Since the current runs up to five knots in the canal, you're not going to be able to go against it when it's running full. The current shifts from the Buzzard's Bay end to the Cape Cod Bay end. That means if you wait for slack at Sandwich, the current will be full into the wind at Buzzard's Bay. There are three strategies I've used when the wind is scheduled to be from the southwest. (1) Time your passage with tides that let you get through early in the morning. You may be able to get out of the worst sections before the wind sets up for the day. (2) Turn into the old channel which runs southeast almost immediately after exiting the canal. That gets you out of the worst of the current and associated steep waves. (3) Turn into Onset, which is just north shortly after exiting the canal and spend the night there. Get up the Bay in the AM before the wind comes up.

It's not really all that bad if you time your trip and can avoid driving right into the wind waves. Use Eldridge to schedule your departure and have a bail out option if the wind and waves are against you.
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Old 06-07-2012, 19:17   #11
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Re: Timing Hell Gate

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I'm not Sabray, but it's a trip I've done many times. The problem with the CCC is not so much the canal itself, but the exit into Buzzard's Bay if the wind is the prevailing sou'west. The standing waves in the first few miles will take any crud on the bottom of your fuel tank and rattle it loose along with your fillings. Ask me how I know my tank wasn't clean. Since the current runs up to five knots in the canal, you're not going to be able to go against it when it's running full. The current shifts from the Buzzard's Bay end to the Cape Cod Bay end. That means if you wait for slack at Sandwich, the current will be full into the wind at Buzzard's Bay. There are three strategies I've used when the wind is scheduled to be from the southwest. (1) Time your passage with tides that let you get through early in the morning. You may be able to get out of the worst sections before the wind sets up for the day. (2) Turn into the old channel which runs southeast almost immediately after exiting the canal. That gets you out of the worst of the current and associated steep waves. (3) Turn into Onset, which is just north shortly after exiting the canal and spend the night there. Get up the Bay in the AM before the wind comes up.

It's not really all that bad if you time your trip and can avoid driving right into the wind waves. Use Eldridge to schedule your departure and have a bail out option if the wind and waves are against you.
Thanks, David. Is it possible to choose among options 1, 2 and 3 as I come out of the Canal, based on how bad the waves are, or should I make that decision before that?
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Old 06-07-2012, 19:51   #12
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Re: Timing Hell Gate

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Thanks, David. Is it possible to choose among options 1, 2 and 3 as I come out of the Canal, based on how bad the waves are, or should I make that decision before that?
Option 1 is dependent on the timing of the tides. If you have flexibility in your schedule, time your transit so that you hit Buzzard's Bay early in the AM. We've spent the night at the Sandwich marina to get an early start. When we come out of the canal, if the waves are up and it's still early in the day, we tend to take the old channel since we're hoping to still put some miles on. We use the Onset option if our schedule and the tides require that we go through late in the afternoon and we know we're going to be spending the night nearby. You can certainly make the call as you come out of the canal. However, once your teeth start rattling, your judgment may fade.

Also, don't assume that the weather will be the same at the two ends of the canal. Check the weather station reports so you know what to expect. It's not unusual to have 5-10 knots at the Cape Cod Bay end and 15-20 when you come out the other side.

This reads much worse than the reality. We enjoy transiting the canal both ways. Other than the one time we lost our engine because of the tank crud shaking loose, we've never had trouble. But we do head through planning to get out of the channel if the waves are bad.
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Old 07-07-2012, 06:53   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tartansail

I'm not Sabray, but it's a trip I've done many times. The problem with the CCC is not so much the canal itself, but the exit into Buzzard's Bay if the wind is the prevailing sou'west. The standing waves in the first few miles will take any crud on the bottom of your fuel tank and rattle it loose along with your fillings. Ask me how I know my tank wasn't clean. Since the current runs up to five knots in the canal, you're not going to be able to go against it when it's running full. The current shifts from the Buzzard's Bay end to the Cape Cod Bay end. That means if you wait for slack at Sandwich, the current will be full into the wind at Buzzard's Bay. There are three strategies I've used when the wind is scheduled to be from the southwest. (1) Time your passage with tides that let you get through early in the morning. You may be able to get out of the worst sections before the wind sets up for the day. (2) Turn into the old channel which runs southeast almost immediately after exiting the canal. That gets you out of the worst of the current and associated steep waves. (3) Turn into Onset, which is just north shortly after exiting the canal and spend the night there. Get up the Bay in the AM before the wind comes up.

It's not really all that bad if you time your trip and can avoid driving right into the wind waves. Use Eldridge to schedule your departure and have a bail out option if the wind and waves are against you.
You summed that up real well. On this particular screwing of the pooch trip the day was gorgeous and I ran the tide through the canal. Had just seen a bunch of whales and was reel happy when Holy poodle I came out on buzzards bay it was a mess standing waves I kid you not that boat was dropping off them free falling. I had about 3 seconds on the top to find the marker and then the boat would fall. Maybe it was blowing 20 from the southwest. I really thought I was going to trash the boat. There is no doubt in my mind that had I made a small steering error I would have rolled the boat. There was no way to turn around the wave frequency was way to short. It was hang on and keep course. Pre gps so nav was by compass and steering for the bouy. A tad of drift but use tartan sail advice when traversing the canal.I turned into Quonset but it took a real long time to work over given how bad it was. Never saw it coming. That I think was one of my worst navigation errors ever. Competely my Error but little is said about what happens here and to much attention given to hellsgate.
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Old 07-07-2012, 07:02   #14
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Re: Timing Hell Gate

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Main thing in the "Gate" is to remember there is a sharp turn and sometime the tugs with barges are coming through so keep a sharp eye around the corner.


Dave
The tugs with tows generally wait till near slack water to run the gate, and everyone I've seen had his AIS on. Interestingly, there is a 'phantom boat' on the AIS near the UN, which I've run over twice in the last week.
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Old 07-07-2012, 07:07   #15
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Re: Timing Hell Gate

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I'm going down to NYC (from RI) and would appreciate anyone's advice on navigating Hell Gate. On the day I plan going through, the current will be flowing Southwest between 10:00am and 4:00pm.

What time would be best to go? Close to slack at 10:00 or 4:00 or any time in between?

Thanks for the assist...
Go under the Throgs Neck Bridge around 10:00 and you'll have a fast and nice ride all the way to the Varrazano. If there's a southerly wind you'll hit some major chop (wind against current) from there onward, unless you wait it out for the current to go slack again.

Use your motor at least until you clear the south end of Manhattan. If you keep your main up through the East River (technically it's a straight, not a river) it will provide some level of redundancy. It's swift and narrow, so there's little margin for error if you lose power.

(edit) PS - keep your camera handy as others noted, and if you decide to anchor anywhere in the NY harbor area you would be wise to rig a trip line. You never know what kind of debris might be on the bottom. Maybe you'll find Jimmy Hoffa
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