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Old 18-09-2016, 18:59   #1
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Sailing from Cape Cod to New Jersey

Greetings all. I would like to sail from Nantucket Island to ultimately St John in the Caribbean. In order to do that I'll need to work my way down the coast, pick up the Inner Coastal (I think I'm liking the looks of the dismal swamp) and work my way into Florida.

My boat is a 1988 Pacific Seacraft Dana 24.

A lot of people seem to go up Long Island Sound, through Hells Gate and out by the Statue of Liberty. Although I'm sure seeing the city and the statue from the water would be awesome, I've heard some pretty scary stories about Hell's Gate.

Apparently the current can be fierce and with an 18 hp Yanmar Diesel I'd have to go with the current which would surely mean holding up somewhere while I wait for it to go my way.

When I couple that with large boat traffic, I'm thinking that I might like to skip that route all together.

To that end I'm thinking that I'd set sail from Nantucket and head straight for Southern New Jersey and Delaware Bay. My guess is that it would be about a 2 day trip give or take.

Most of my trip I'll be single handing but if I do this outside run my daughter (very capable sailor) has offered to crew for me. My concern is ship traffic and having another person on watch at night will give me much more peace of mind then the proximity detector on my radar!

My daughter, Sarah, would leave me somewhere around Delaware Bay and fly home.

So, my question is, am I right? Is Hell's Gate a pain? Do you agree that a sail on the "outside" would / might be a good alternative?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts....

Jim W1JT
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Old 18-09-2016, 19:36   #2
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Re: Sailing from Cape Cod to New Jersey

Don't worry too much about Hell's Gate. You should leave City Island or Manhasset Bay on a schedule that will put you through the gate near the beginning of the ebb there. The next stop to wait for good weather is Atlantic Highlands.

If you want to get to St John, going all the way down to Florida is not the best option, because then you are faced with the Thorny Path.
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Old 18-09-2016, 19:44   #3
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Re: Sailing from Cape Cod to New Jersey

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Originally Posted by Jim W1JT View Post
Greetings all. I would like to sail from Nantucket Island to ultimately St John in the Caribbean. In order to do that I'll need to work my way down the coast, pick up the Inner Coastal (I think I'm liking the looks of the dismal swamp) and work my way into Florida.

My boat is a 1988 Pacific Seacraft Dana 24.

A lot of people seem to go up Long Island Sound, through Hells Gate and out by the Statue of Liberty. Although I'm sure seeing the city and the statue from the water would be awesome, I've heard some pretty scary stories about Hell's Gate.

Apparently the current can be fierce and with an 18 hp Yanmar Diesel I'd have to go with the current which would surely mean holding up somewhere while I wait for it to go my way.

When I couple that with large boat traffic, I'm thinking that I might like to skip that route all together.

To that end I'm thinking that I'd set sail from Nantucket and head straight for Southern New Jersey and Delaware Bay. My guess is that it would be about a 2 day trip give or take.

Most of my trip I'll be single handing but if I do this outside run my daughter (very capable sailor) has offered to crew for me. My concern is ship traffic and having another person on watch at night will give me much more peace of mind then the proximity detector on my radar!

My daughter, Sarah, would leave me somewhere around Delaware Bay and fly home.

So, my question is, am I right? Is Hell's Gate a pain? Do you agree that a sail on the "outside" would / might be a good alternative?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts....

Jim W1JT
===

My advice is to go through Long Island Sound. The offshore route goes through at least 3 or 4 heavily traveled shipping lanes which are busy 24/7. There is also a lot of offshore commercial fishing activity. You will need to keep a constant radar and AIS watch, and be prepared to take evasive action at any time. Additionally there is no place to hide if the weather deteriorates or you get tired, sick, etc.

Going through LIS you have lots of options for overnight anchorages and re-provisioning as needed. I have been through Hell Gate, the East River and NY Harbor many times with no bad experiences. You just have to time the tides properly which is not difficult to do. Generally speaking you want to be at the Throgs Neck at about high tide to catch the ebb down the East River and out through NY Harbour. It's also important to remember that the commercial traffic has the absolute right of way at all times. Stay to the side of the channels and do not expect anyone to move for you. The best place to wait for favorable tide is Little Neck Bay just prior to the Throgs Neck Bridge. There is plenty of room to anchor and you are well positioned. As you exit the East River into NY Harbor I recommend taking Buttermilk Channel to the east of Governors Island. You will encounter less traffic that way.
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Old 19-09-2016, 04:17   #4
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Re: Sailing from Cape Cod to New Jersey

Thank you guys...I'm going to rethink Hell's Gate!

Jim W1JT
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Old 19-09-2016, 07:55   #5
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Re: Sailing from Cape Cod to New Jersey

Block Island to Cape May is a fairly straightforward forward overnight trip. Traffic? Yes, but if you leave Block early your past most lanes by last light.
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Old 19-09-2016, 08:24   #6
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Re: Sailing from Cape Cod to New Jersey

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Originally Posted by bvander View Post
Block Island to Cape May is a fairly straightforward forward overnight trip. Traffic? Yes, but if you leave Block early your past most lanes by last light.

Both ways sound great! I've got a lot of thinking / planning to do. Thanks for your insight, it's appreciated!

Jim W1JT
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Old 19-09-2016, 08:39   #7
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Re: Sailing from Cape Cod to New Jersey

What so scary about Hells Gate? Just time your departure with the out-going tide and enjoy the view. Try to avoid late afternoon weekday traffic in NY harbor since the ferries are zipping through you left and right. Oh yeah, don't call them on the radio, they don't have time to speak to you. Stay out of their way, you will be fine.
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Old 19-09-2016, 08:44   #8
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Re: Sailing from Cape Cod to New Jersey

Going from Block to Cape May is the best bet for speed and convenience. Just time your departure window, and entering Cape May in the time time. Easy trip. From there you can jump to Norfolk or take a long way through C&D canal and down the Bay, depending on your objective.
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Old 19-09-2016, 08:56   #9
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Re: Sailing from Cape Cod to New Jersey

Good advice on the LIS vs. straight to Cape May options. I did the latter and had no problems, but watch the weather forecast as someone said. Only one reply re getting to St. Johns though.

The issue is the tradewinds and the Gulfstream, leading most folks to head out to the east from Norfolk, VA or Beaufort, SC, given a favorable weather window. Sail out to longitude 70W, and then steer for the BVIs. Otherwise, if you go all the way down the ICW to Florida, then head out to the Bahamas, you will find yourself fighting the easterly trades all the way to wherever you want to go, and that can be miserable. 25 knots on the nose and significant seas on the nose as well. Check out "Gentlemen Never Sail to Weather" for how to negotiate what is known as the Thorny Path before taking that second route. He also talks about the "I-70" offshore option. Your boat should be seaworthy, so recruit suitable crew and take the offshore route.
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Old 19-09-2016, 08:56   #10
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Re: Sailing from Cape Cod to New Jersey

Your sailing should have nothing to do with fear of currents or shipping or night time passages.

Work out the best route REGARDLESS of your fear!

If the best route takes you via Hells Gate then do that. If the best route is outside do that.

Time is very limited now. You are at the seasons change. If you stuff about for days getting to Norfolk you will suddenly be in weather a 24 footer does not like.

I am in NYC waiting for weather to go to Norfolk. Now with Julia heading inside Cape Hatteras I might not be able to leave here for a few days. In that case then one could look at slipping inside Long Islang Sound and use those few days to get to NY as a jumping off point.
(As I could also do by slipping down the NJ coast)


So, plan your rout by weather and places u want to see, not by what makes you scared but is inconsequential





Mark
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Old 19-09-2016, 09:13   #11
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Re: Sailing from Cape Cod to New Jersey

I did it several times in my 9.1A S2 with a 15 hp engine. Yes, scary but you must only go with the tide. If you're coming down make certain that you're leaving at slack and going into EBB tide...Leave from close to the Throgsneck Bridger. You'll have a fast and pleasant trip. watch out for whirlpools and just avoid them. You're only real issues are from Hell Gate (no s) to the south Street Sea Port from there on it's pretty smooth sailing......P.S. it's VERY shallow around the Statue of Liberty.
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Old 19-09-2016, 09:14   #12
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Re: Sailing from Cape Cod to New Jersey

Really great advice. Thank you!
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Old 19-09-2016, 09:15   #13
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Re: Sailing from Cape Cod to New Jersey

Thank you Mark. Not scared but just looking for practical advice from those who have done this before. Also, not going until next July.
Thanks again, Jim W1JT
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Old 19-09-2016, 09:19   #14
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Re: Sailing from Cape Cod to New Jersey

LI Sound gives you more options if the wx turns. You are still in Hurricane / tropical low season and now you are looking at more blustery wx in general

Watch the tides and the traffic at the Race on the East end of LI Sound. You will want to time that.

My advice is to take Hell Gate and the East River during daylight hours. I have done it at night and it is very difficult to see oncoming vessels as there are so many bright lights on either side. Therefore, it follows that it may be difficult for them to see you.

Other than that the ride down the East River is a blast with a fair current!
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Old 19-09-2016, 10:26   #15
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Re: Sailing from Cape Cod to New Jersey

Last month I sailed through NY harbor and East River to Long Island Sound for the first time. I was surprised by how little big boat and barge traffic I saw. Really not an issue at all. Although the outside passage would be faster, I think the inside route is much more interesting and probably a bit safer regarding weather. Good harbors are much more plentiful on the LIS side. And the up-close view of the NYC skyscrapers and the Statue of Liberty make the trip special. As others have noted, catch the current in East River flowing with you and your boat will be turbo-charged. Your problem if you are single-handing will be trying to take photos while navigating.
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