Agree on Sunday a.m. probably least amount traffic...however have far greater
concern for right tide/curent and wind
conditions than traffic.
Sharp lookout for debris is good advice...
Buttermilk Channel east of Governor's Island will avoid some of traffic if not blocked,
it will take you along the Gowanis and Bay Ridge Flats where you will see some
barges/tugs anchored ...but away from most of the traffic.
I almost always choose to take the busier main channel which will bring you up
close and personal with Lady Liberty which, for me, is always a treat.
Couple of items come to mind...
After passing La Guardia Airport
and Rikers Island you can avoid a sharp blind
turn to port and possible oncoming traffic by taking the channel south of
North Brother Island (between North Brother and South Brother Islands)
Still plenty of water, less traffic, shorter, and you will have a good look
down the river of what is ahead.
Do not go east of Roosevelt Island, there is a low bridge. Pass to the west
of Roosevelt Is. (NYC side... Better scenery also.)
Also when down in the lower bay one can stay outside the shipping
shallow water (shallow for barges and freighters) Have done this in thick fog
although still unhappy knew I was out of the way of the big guys...