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Old 19-10-2021, 13:50   #1
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Help around New Jersey

We are a couple starting from Lake Champlain making our way south for the first time and have never made an overnight passage on our own boat. We will be in Atlantic Highlands, NJ this Friday and believe there will be a good weather window to make it around to Cape May this weekend. We are looking to hire a captain to help make this overnight passage with us. I'm sure more information will be needed so let me know if you are interested and we'll answer your questions.

Thank you!

Susan & Jim

P.S. We have a cat onboard
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Old 20-10-2021, 11:12   #2
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Re: Help around New Jersey

You can do this, just the two of you! It's and easy passage from the Highlands to either cape may or Absecon. From highlands to Absecon is 90 miles, and from highlands to Cape may 125. Averaging 5 knots, it's 25 hours to Cape may, 18 to Absecon. If you do 6 knots, then 20 hours, and 15 hours respectively. Adjust departure times to arrive in daylight. Leave Highlands at 10 or 11 am, for example, and you arrive in cape may during good light, whether you're early or late.

Stay on the 3 fathom line (outside of most crab pots, obstructions) and follow the Jersey coast. It's a great passage to do overnight as an introduction to overnight sailing. I do it frequently, singlehanded and double handed. Call WRI and let them help you with weather routing.

Get an Eldridge to time your tides. Are you going through the Chesapeake bay as you head south?

Ben
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Old 20-10-2021, 12:14   #3
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Re: Help around New Jersey

I almost posted the same.

I agree completely with Ben. This is one of the best spots you could ever choose for your first overnight.
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Old 20-10-2021, 16:03   #4
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Re: Help around New Jersey

Thank you for the vote of confidence 🙂. I think weíve decided to just go for it, though we may ask around the marina to see if anyone else is going and wants to buddy-boat. We do about 5 and planned to leave around noon so as not to arrive too early. Had to look up ďfathom lineĒ as we have nothing like it (or crab pots) on Champlain. We have radar but no AIS- do you think thatís a big deal? Worried about the big boys we may meet out there in the darkÖ
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Old 20-10-2021, 18:44   #5
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Re: Help around New Jersey

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lizzym4678 View Post
Thank you for the vote of confidence ��. I think we’ve decided to just go for it, though we may ask around the marina to see if anyone else is going and wants to buddy-boat. We do about 5 and planned to leave around noon so as not to arrive too early. Had to look up “fathom line” as we have nothing like it (or crab pots) on Champlain. We have radar but no AIS- do you think that’s a big deal? Worried about the big boys we may meet out there in the dark…
You’re good.

The big markers at night will all be lit up. Flashing red, green, in different intervals as shown on the chart.

What are you using for a chart plotter?

If you really meant big boys as in ships, they will all be very lit up, looking like condos or small cities.

Less common in this stretch than say, Long Island sound, but make sure you identify the complete package when you see a boat at night. Tugs can be towing a barge astern. The tug AND the barge will have lights, but the cable between is unlit.

They will look like this.



Those are the most dangerous things out there at night. So always look to see you’re clear of the tow.

The huge ships will be lit up like crazy.

As said earlier, just follow a certain distance all the way down the shore (it is Jersey after all... ha ha ).

Decide who among you is the night owl (maybe the cat? Ha ha ) and have them steer the graveyard shift while the other gets sleep. Then the other, being a morning person, can get up extra early before dawn to take over for the night watch. It’s tiring, but you will be happy at all the distance you can make quickly.

I don’t use AIS. I’m sure your eyes and the light system will work just fine.
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Old 21-10-2021, 03:31   #6
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Re: Help around New Jersey

That's great! You two should do this! I agree with Chotu. You don't need AIS, and I don't have it either. I apologize for the three fathom line. I use paper charts on passage, and jot my time, date, and location every hour on the chart. The concept behind the three fathom line is that it is far enough out to avoid hitting things, but not even close to where the big boats are. Essentially, stay 2 - 3 miles off the coast, and you're perfect. Also, your eyes need to up, and with good night vision, not looking at a screen.

As for AIS, if you're worried, put Marine Traffic on a tablet or phone. It is an AIS app that will show you all the boats transmitting AIS signal. It's very cool. You will be within cell range the whole time, so it will work just fine. It will NOT transmit your course, but you will see all the other boats.

Also, download an app to learn the boat light signatures prior to departure. Spend an hour and memorize them, them test yourself on the app. Identifying boat lights is the best safety thing you can do, and it's a great way to pass the time on night shift. The only nuts place is Manasquan when the fishing boats start coming out en masse around 3:30-4:30 am. As you leave Highlands, just beware when you are in the TSS ( traffic separation scheme) of the ambrose channel into NYC.

This weekend is calling for SSW winds on Friday then becoming westerly on Saturday. It will be cold at night! Crazy cold! You'll want that west wind off the land to keep you warm, and it will keep you sailing as you come down the coast.

Your bail out points on the Jersey coast are Manasquan (tough inlet), Absecon, and if you're really in need barnegat bay, but only enter there at slack tide. You will have a blast!

Send me a private message, and I can give you my cell if you have any specific questions. Make sure you give someone a float plan. Like I said, you'll be in cell range the whole time.

Ben
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Old 21-10-2021, 03:35   #7
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Re: Help around New Jersey

Last thing..... Don't worry about sailling the rhumb line all the way down the coast. When you turn the corner and begin to head south down the New Jersey coast you might find the wind on your nose since it's South southwest. If you try to steam into that it will be very lumpy. Much better to sell and keep the boat moving even if you sail a bunch of miles "off course'
". Once the wind clocks around to the West you'll be on a perfect tack all the way to Cape may. I made the mistake of trying to stay on the rum line the first time I went and it was very uncomfortable. Ever since then, I change course so that I can sail and keep the boat moving. Eventually the wind shifts to a favorable tack. You'll have much more fun that way.
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Old 21-10-2021, 09:18   #8
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Re: Help around New Jersey

Easy cruise, day or night....this weekend looks perfect with nice winds to carry you, Friday morning a little iffy but afternoon fine.
Be catching up to you.
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Old 21-10-2021, 10:17   #9
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Re: Help around New Jersey

Check NOAA’d forecast, if you haven’t already. You’ll have almost a full moon, plus the lights of Atlantic City forever off the beam. Might be a little bouncy, per my Wx router (C. Parker), so make sure everything is in its place before you get too far along. Preparation is everything! Enjoy your trip and let us know how it went!
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Old 22-10-2021, 04:35   #10
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Re: Help around New Jersey

I would stay out much further than the three fathom line, especially as you approach Brigantine. I have made this passage north and south dozens of times since 1977 and would not recommend any inlet at night without local knowledge. Many buoys are uncharted as they are moved frequently. Each inlet has its own idiosyncracies and hazards. Sandy Hook offers plenty of protection, but is very busy and everywhere you go there are shoals and currents. You are safer out at sea than along shore or inland. Shark River has a bridge that opens on demand, and coordiunates with a railroad bridge further along. It is tight and full of currents. Manasquan is ok but with stong currents and a railroad bridge. Barnegat is fine when it is not rough. Atlantic City is ok but can be confusing especially when you turn left into the harbor and have to scoot along a steel bulkhead. Cape May is best and easiest. But next you get the worst part of the East Coast--Delaware Bay. Your air draft also is probably too high to transit the Cape May Canal....but beware of Delaware Bay! In good weather you can continue along the Maryland coast to the Capes, but most prefer the Chesapeake. Stay safe! Don't depend on electronics as nothing beats good old fashioned prudent seamanship.
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Old 22-10-2021, 06:42   #11
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Re: Help around New Jersey

Agree with staying further off shore.
I find usually smoother water.
Approx. 60 ft water puts you mostly outside tugs/barges and still
well inside large ships.
Still have to be aware at inlets of offshore fishermen going full bore out to fishing grounds.
When comfortable night sailing is a gift. Enjoy
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Old 23-10-2021, 03:17   #12
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Re: Help around New Jersey

Thank you all for the great information! Heading out about noon; will let you know how it went!
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Old 23-10-2021, 11:00   #13
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Re: Help around New Jersey

Looking forward to it!
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Old 24-10-2021, 18:28   #14
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Re: Help around New Jersey

Well, we made it. Iíll skip the details of wind, weather, etc. and get right to ďThe Incident.Ē As you know, we donít have AIS so were using Marine Traffic. Worked OK- except for trajectory. About 12am we saw that somewhere ahead was a large (90 ft) tug headed directly toward us. We waited a bit to see his lights and assess direction. As his info on Marine Traffic said his draft was 12+ ft, we assumed he would want to stay further from shore so we turned slightly starboard. We only saw red and white lights, so thought we were good. Marine Traffic said he was going 9+ kts so it wasnít long before he was pretty close. Still only red and white, but getting a lot closer than we thought he should be. We again turned slightly starboard. He kept getting closer, then WE STARTED TO SEE GREEN! Like, heading directly toward our port side. Coming really fast. We (I) panicked and started hailing ďTug! Tug! Tug! What do you want us to do?!Ē Jim flashed our flashlight at him, and the tug threw on a big spotlight and slammed into reverse. The captain told us (calmly) to turn to starboard. I asked if he were going to go behind us ( at this point Jim and I were really shaken and confused) and he confirmed he would pass our stern. We turned, he passed, and that was the end of the incident. We believe he was no more than 100 ft off our port. Maybe less.

Weíve discussed it since then and think maybe his course was set on his plotter, and we coincidentally turned into his preset path? It truly felt like he was turning into us deliberately, as we couldnít see any reason at the time for his course change (we assumed he could see us on radar and could see we had changed course to avoid him.)


I wonít say Iíll never make another overnight passage again, but if I do it wonít be without AIS. Not that that would have solved the issue if he wasnít paying attention. Also, we realize we should have hailed him sooner to acknowledge our intention to avoid him.


I would appreciate thoughts and suggestions.


Susan


P.S. Other than crab pot scares, the rest of the passage was uneventful.
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Old 24-10-2021, 18:41   #15
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Re: Help around New Jersey

You did it! (We knew you could)

And what worked best? Your eyes and maybe the radio. That’s always the case.

Your error?

You made a slight change to starboard. Then you made another slight change to starboard.

In any marine traffic situation, large, obvious, temporary course changes are the way to go.

First, they show the other boat exactly what your intentions are. Second, they take you well outside any chance for collision.

Next time, even in daylight, make nice big course changes.



Now a little rant on AIS ( not about you).

I’m going to catch some heat here but you did it wrong to spot the boat on Marine Traffic first and think you’re going to blast through the night staring at an AIS screen. That’s a fatal error waiting to happen. You need to get off the screens and look at what’s happening. Not everyone is broadcasting AIS, first of all and second, it didn’t even help you to have a view of things the other night on your screen. You still had problems. Why? You took random pieces of information from your electronics and made bad assumptions about that boat, basing your actions on bad assumptions. You should have been looking at the water to figure out that boat. Not at screens. Working on real skills in in real life. If you can’t see a boat with your eyes at night (assuming it’s lights are on) it’s of no concern to you.
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