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Old 26-02-2019, 07:15   #1
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New Jersey ICW v. Going Outside?

We're traveling from Lake Champlain to the Chesapeake this summer, and are trying to decide if we should take the NJ ICW or go outside. We're a 26 ft sailboat, have a draft of 3.5 ft, and a mast of 31 ft. What experiences have folks had with the NJ ICW? Is it worth going inside, or should we just go around?

Thank you!
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Old 26-02-2019, 07:55   #2
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Re: New Jersey ICW v. Going Outside?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jdmurray26 View Post
We're traveling from Lake Champlain to the Chesapeake this summer, and are trying to decide if we should take the NJ ICW or go outside. We're a 26 ft sailboat, have a draft of 3.5 ft, and a mast of 31 ft. What experiences have folks had with the NJ ICW? Is it worth going inside, or should we just go around?

Thank you!
You won't sail much inside. Lots of steaming because many of the inland passageways are just cut channels. The outside is fun, and you may see dolphins. Usable stop overs are Atlantic highlands near Sandy Hook, Atlantic City, Cape may. Barnegat is usable at slack tide. Wait for the wind to shift northwest after a frontal passage and go. An Eldridge Pilot book will be very useful for you to have. Also, if going outside stay outside the 5 fathom line at night to avoid ATONs and the occasional dredge pipes. I have done this trip many times.

The good news for you....you can take the cape May canal and save about five hours with your draft and mast height. So....plan to stay in cape May for a night or two and enjoy while you wait for the Delaware river and C&D tide to be favorable.

Ben
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Old 26-02-2019, 09:04   #3
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Re: New Jersey ICW v. Going Outside?

Especially in a boat that size, be very careful about watching the weather. The New Jersey inlets can be exceedingly dangerous in a decent blow. You will have to go offshore from at least Sandy Hook to Manasquan Inlet, and it doesn't take that long for things to blow up. Shark River Inlet is the only refuge in that stretch, and it is pretty unpleasant in bad weather. In Active Captain it says "It has been recommended by other boaters that this inlet crossing only be attempted in settled weather given the strong currents and bridges at the entrance." Similarly, for Manasquan Inlet, "Mariners should exercise caution when entering Manasquan Inlet when the winds and tides are opposed; local knowledge is advised, especially in bad weather."
Spend some time studying both Active Captain and the Coast Pilot, now downloadable for free.
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Old 26-02-2019, 11:10   #4
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Re: New Jersey ICW v. Going Outside?

Tweitz, do you think it makes more sense for us to stay inside the ICW as much as we can then?
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Old 26-02-2019, 11:53   #5
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Re: New Jersey ICW v. Going Outside?

Skip the NJ ICW - it's REALLY not worth it.

It's a ~20 hour ride from the Veranzanno (exit of Hudson river) to cape may. Just pick a nice day and go....straight shot.

Matt
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Old 26-02-2019, 13:11   #6
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Re: New Jersey ICW v. Going Outside?

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Originally Posted by mlydon View Post
Skip the NJ ICW - it's REALLY not worth it.

It's a ~20 hour ride from the Veranzanno (exit of Hudson river) to cape may. Just pick a nice day and go....straight shot.

Matt
+1 that the NJ ICW is not worth it. If you want to break up the trip you can stop in the Atlantic Highlands area in Sandy Hook Bay before proceeding down the NJ coast or in Atlantic City, about 40 miles closer to the Verrazzano Bridge than Cape May. Of course, you can stop in both for a significantly shorter trip. Lots to do in AC. Some nice facilities and bars near the Cape May marinas and anchorage, but when we were there last July they were rolling up the sidewalks around 10:00 pm.

Depending on where you are going after leaving Cape May, be aware Delaware Bay can be very choppy. If you're heading for the C&D Canal, there is a near-shore route as well as a route further out after leaving Cape May. Check the charts carefully, but it may not be an issue for you with your draft.

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Old 26-02-2019, 14:06   #7
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Re: New Jersey ICW v. Going Outside?

+2 on going outside! In addition to what's been mentioned already, the dreaded greenhead flies dominate in the southern Barnegat Bay - mainly in July & August. I live in this area... they're horrible especially with a west wind, and they fly much faster than a sailboat.
So...as long as the weather is decent, you'll have a nice relaxing trip going outside. If you do decide to go into the Barnegat Inlet, be aware of the tides and ask for local knowledge. There are a number of VERY shallow spots once you pass the Old Barney lighthouse.
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Old 26-02-2019, 14:13   #8
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Re: New Jersey ICW v. Going Outside?

It's about 110 NMi from Sandy Hook to Cape May Canal. NW wind would be ideal.
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Old 26-02-2019, 14:21   #9
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Re: New Jersey ICW v. Going Outside?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jdmurray26 View Post
We're traveling from Lake Champlain to the Chesapeake this summer, and are trying to decide if we should take the NJ ICW or go outside. We're a 26 ft sailboat, have a draft of 3.5 ft, and a mast of 31 ft. What experiences have folks had with the NJ ICW? Is it worth going inside, or should we just go around?

===


Everyone I know who has gone inside has run aground at least once.

We stage at Atlantic Highlands behind Sandy Hook and stop over at Atlantic City for the first night, then on to Cape May the second day. Go through the Cape May canal and try to catch a flood tide going up Delaware Bay. There's a good anchorage behind Reedy Island at the north end of the bay just before the C&D Canal. Be careful of the partially submerged breakwaters.

The only inlets on the NJ coast that are safe in all conditions are Atlantic City and Cape May.
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Old 26-02-2019, 15:04   #10
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Re: New Jersey ICW v. Going Outside?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mlydon View Post
Skip the NJ ICW - it's REALLY not worth it.

It's a ~20 hour ride from the Veranzanno (exit of Hudson river) to cape may. Just pick a nice day and go....straight shot.

Matt
He'd be cracking along at his hull speed the whole way to make it 20 hours. If he had a howling nor'wester for a day he might make it. But watching the weather window and going outside is the way to go.
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Old 27-02-2019, 08:43   #11
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Re: New Jersey ICW v. Going Outside?

The comments about the ICW are spot on. I brought a Catalina 25 to Deal, MD from the NYC area a few years ago. It also had a 3.5 foot draft and a similar mast height. We left from around the Lincoln Tunnel area in NYC at zero dark thirty and pulled into Barnegat Bay that evening as the sun was setting. There really is only one area you can sail on the inside and that is from Barnegat Bay to Atlantic City, and we decided to go on the inside for this stretch of the trip. It was quite beautiful and a nice change. It did add a number of hours to the trip but we didn't mind. We touched bottom a few times and arrived at Cape May just as the sun was setting.

There are very few places a sailboat can easily pull into along the Jersey Shore. If you need to or want to pull in, you are best considering Barnegat Bay, Atlantic City, and Cape May. Most of the other inlets have shifting shoals and on occasion are impassable. It's an easy day trip if you allow two days, or one twenty to twenty four hour trip.

Depending upon your trip down, you may wish to stop in either Sandy Hook or Sheepshead Bay the night prior. This will save you a few hours of travel from NYC to the ocean.

Have a great trip!
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Old 27-02-2019, 08:45   #12
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Re: New Jersey ICW v. Going Outside?

You have some pretty good advice above.
There are a couple of things that I'd recommend:
1) Go outside for all of the above reasons. My suggestion is to stay at the 10 fathom line (or more) while offshore. Wave action will push you towards the shore over a 20+ hour time frame. The wave action gets steeper and faster as you get closer to shore
because of the shallows and sand bars that extend off the length of the East Coast. So, my suggestion is to stay off shore at least a mile.
2) Waiting for a north wind in the summer is not going to happen like in the Fall. Any fronts that come through after June are light, and short. so, prepare for South winds that can get pretty strong by afternoon because of the onshore diurnal wind pattern (sea breeze). Those South winds and afternoon sea breeze will slow you down considerably, especially in a 26 ft boat. One suggestion is to leave early before sunrise and get into Atlantic City and then on to Cape May by mid PM when the contary winds can really pipe up.
3) Reedy Island is kind of confusing getting in behind the sometimes submerged breakwalls, and the currents run pretty fast there. My suggestion is to get into the opening of Delaware bay and hour before slack before flood, ride the current up the Bay to Chesapeake City. Stay on the starboard edge of the commercial channel as the freighters pass you by pretty quick and silent.
Hope this helps.
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Old 27-02-2019, 08:45   #13
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Re: New Jersey ICW v. Going Outside?

It depends on your own views on sailing vs. motor sailing and how comfortable you and your crew are off shore. My strong impression, but not from personal experience, is that the New Jersey ICW is not very exciting. All other things being equal i would stay offshore. But the length of the New Jersey shore is such that you may well want to put in at some point. My only comment is that you want to focus carefully on the weather, and not wait too long before seeking shelter if things start to blow up.
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Old 27-02-2019, 09:11   #14
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Re: New Jersey ICW v. Going Outside?

We’ve taken the inside route once and, despite three groundings with our four foot draft, enjoyed it. The groundings were soft with no damage, except to my ego. If you opt for inside give yourself plenty of time and stay focused on the range markers.
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Old 27-02-2019, 10:42   #15
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Re: New Jersey ICW v. Going Outside?

Ditto to all the above.

Especially the warning to beware the upper Delaware Bay as you approach the C&D canal. An ebbing tide combined with a brisk southerly creates very steep seas that can and have sunk smaller craft.

Also, north winds do occur in the summer off NJ. We bucked one all day when we sailed up from Atlantic City to Atlantic Highlands in August, 2013.

Also, if there has been a recent storm, the charts around some of the NJ inlets can be inaccurate, particularly the two inlets on Long Beach Island (I spent all my youthful summers there - never got used to those inlets).

Have a great trip.
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