Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Navigating The Harlem River – Hell! (Not really)

NOTE: Entries are going to be a bit jumbled and out of order. Adequate internet access has been, at best, inconsistent when available at all.

We heard all the rumors. We had heard that there were hoards of wild, evil, out of control youths all lined up waiting for some poor, unsuspecting recreational boater to have made a wrong turn at Hell Gate. They stood in battle lines on the overpasses armed with bowling balls, rock, couches, and household appliances waiting to pounce and shower those dead-weight bombs onto the decks below. (Seriously, we heard they heaved couches and appliances.) The Harlem River was their wild frontier, and boaters were trespassers subject to the full gamut of punishment that the inhabitants could muster.



We also heard that navigating the river itself was “tortuous”. (That's in the Active Captain description.) The Harlem River was a convoluted mess, with a seemingly infinite number of commercial boats that wound up and down and side to side, and that they were a direct threat to the lives of anyone who thought of traversing the river in a recreational vessel. And the river itself, with its bridges and turns, was nothing short of a hellish horror. Oh, and the stench from the pollution and trash would make you ill on the spot.

Stay away! There be monsters there!

Eh, hold on a moment. That's not what we found.



The main reason to go up or down the Harlem River would be to avoid the East River and having to go around the southern tip of Manhattan to get to the Hudson River from Long Island Sound. And that's what we did. After three weeks in the sound, it was time for us to get back on our main course and get on up to the Erie Canal to finally reach the end of our 2018 cruising season.

Now, after our rough and tumble transit of the East River past Roosevelt Island when we came up, I wasn't altogether excited about heading back down it, then contend with all the heavy traffic around The Battery to get northbound on the Hudson. Nope, not at all. Fortunately, boating friends of our in Mystic, CT suggested the shortcut up the Harlem River. We hadn't considered it. But, after checking the charts, and taking all the hysterical tirades into consideration, we decided it was the right choice for us. (By the way, all those negative tirades? Funny that they're all 2nd or 3rd hand accounts, never first-hand. “I knew a guy who knew a guy who knew a guy who had a half-size replica of the Statue of Liberty dropped on them.”)

Technically, from R-14 at Hell Gate to just past the Spuyten Dyvil Bridge, it's 8.0 statute miles on the Harlem River. From and to the same points, the route around Manhattan on the East River is 21.5 sm. That's 13.5 sm saved right there. (You can do the math of how much time that would save you based on your speed.) There is a current, but it wasn't terrible at all when we went through. I would suggest hitting it at or near slack current anyway – no need to tempt fate. They do tell you to run at idle speed. We ran it at about 6.5 smph. If you're a sailboater, unless you have dropped your mast, go on down the East River. The swing, lift, and bascule bridges all have big signs on them that say you have to give the powers-that-be four hours notice of needing a bridge opened. In other words, they don't want to open them for nobody. Sorry, sailors. Otherwise, the lowest vertical bridge clearance is 24 feet. I didn't see anything about the water's depth to be alarmed about at all – all double-digit in the teens or deeper.



What about boat traffic? We ran the river from about 1100 hours to 1300 hours on a Monday. We saw only one working boat on the water – only one, and that was a small tug pinning a barge against the shore at a construction site. And except for a couple of kids on a PWC further up the river, that was all the boat traffic there was. Period. Not a skiff, not a fishing boat, not a water taxi … nothin'.

The complexion of the river is that it is more industrial at the southern end. No doubt about that. But we were surprised at how clean it was. I swear, there was very little debris on the water. I expected some kind of sludgey, oilish sheen on the surface, but there wasn't. I wouldn't go swimming in it, but it wasn't noxious. It didn't smell. It's not a scenic, beautiful, marine wonderland, but really, it wasn't all that bad. Though I must admit, we had cool weather; I wonder what it would be like on a hot calm day. (For you loopers out there, the Calumet River and Chicago Sanitary Canal are muuuuuch worse. Hell, portions of the St. Johns River in Florida make my eyes water.)



And what about the hoards of heathens waiting to pounce on us? I swear on my mother's grave, we saw a total of three pedestrians on one bridge. And, again, except for the two youths on the PWC, that was all we saw – three. And they were walking across the bridge (behind a tall chain-link barrier) going about their business, living their lives.

Maybe we were lucky. Maybe all the work boats were broken. Maybe all the savages were taking a coffee break. Or maybe the hype of how dangerous and “tortuous” the Harlem River is is just that, hype. You have to decide for yourself. As for us, we found it to be fascinating. It was a unique opportunity to see things from a different perspective. Water is everywhere, including the inner cities of America. Taking the Harlem River as a useful shortcut is a way to see that side of it.


Thursday, August 16, 2018

Who Ya' Gonna Call, New York? You know who – NYC Part 3 of 3



Who Ya' Gonna Call, New York? You know who – NYC Part 3 of 3
#boating #boater #trawler #greatloop #liveaboard #wkglgt #theonboardlife #skipperdarrell

CLICK THIS LINK TO SEE THE PHOTO AND VIDEO ALBUM


The third and final day of your NYC adventure was a chance to see some sights that didn't fit into our agendas for the first two days. We rode the subway and did a lot more walking. All in all it was a fun, fun day.


And just like that, our three days in New York City was over. It was a blast.
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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Dazzled, Baby! NYC Brought Its 'A' Game – Part 2 of 3





Dazzled, Baby! NYC Brought Its 'A' Game – Part 2 of 3
#boating #boater #trawler #greatloop #liveaboard #wkglgt #theonboardlife #skipperdarrell

CLICK THIS LINK TO SEE THE PHOTO AND VIDEO ALBUM


Seeing NYC from the open, top deck of a double decker bus was very, very cool. We had an uninterrupted view of all the excitement. The weather all three days was exceptional too – perfectly comfortable.
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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

We Had To Go to NYC, Ya' know – Part 1 of 3



#boating #boater #trawler #greatloop #liveaboard #wkglgt #theonboardlife #skipperdarrell

CLICK THIS LINK TO SEE THE ENTIRE PICTURE AND VIDEO ALBUM https://photos.app.goo.gl/8Zhpwe83ANVzgoBi7

New York, New York, a wonderful town. The Bronx is up and the Battery's down. The people ride in a hole in the ground. New York, New York, it's a wonderful town! 

The ultimate side trip of side trips, New York City. And we had three days to enjoy it. From Capri Marina in Port Washington, we hopped on the Long Island Rail Road to Penn Station. That is where our daily adventures started.

And by the way, we wholeheartedly recommend the New York Pass. It may seem pricey, but it covers a lot. It also pushed us to the fronts of lines. Get one!

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Monday, August 13, 2018

Marina Report – Norwalk Cove Marina, The Second Time

Marina Report – Norwalk Cove Marina, The Second Time

Here's another marina report on the Why Knot Great Lakes Grand Tour. Using the N D S, A A, P P marina analysis model, I'll fill you in on what my experience was. The views expressed are strictly my own.

We very rarely go back to a marina twice in a season. We like to keep pushing forward. But we went back to Norwalk Cove Marina in Norwalk, CT. During our first one-night visit on our way out Long Island Sound we weren't able to really get to know this bustling and interesting marina. And we didn't get to see Norwalk at all. It deserved a second look
N: NavigabilityUp the Norwalk River Channel. It's well-marked with good depths. Stay in the channel.


D: Dockage Floating docks of varying lengths and thoroughfare widths. The slips all around the marina seemed to be ample in size with plenty of maneuvering room. The tide swing is rather pronounced. But the marina seems to have ample depth everywhere, but don't stray. On our second trip there we were docked where they put the biggest boats, including a large Italian-designed yacht. Our slip was huge! And there were several large boats tucked in nice and comfy.


S: Services – Norwalk Cove Marina is a full service marina. They offer electricity, water, and a complete service department. They do haul-outs and on-the-hard storage during the off-season. Pump-out is at the fuel dock. I used Dockwa to book our stay. Make sure you follow up with a phone call to confirm any changes you may make to your itinerary.


A: Amenities – *** Special Note: The staff was nice EXCEPT they were not forthcoming about available amenities at the time we registered. For instance, they never told us about the shuttle available into Norwalk. And going back to the available pump-out, maybe there was some other pump-out option, but we didn't know. There is a main building where most of the amenities are, and it's a nice, clean, modern facility. There is a small coffee shop, which was nice. The ship's store and chandlery was exceptional! It was large, well-stocked, and quaint. There are bathrooms with showers in two locations: at the main building and at another building more toward the marina's street entrance. (I'm really tired of bathrooms with cramped stalls.) The marina's most notable amenity is their miniature golf course, a putt-putt course. It was a delightful diversion.


A: Accessibility – It's two miles (according to Google Maps) from the marina to the town center on the river. It's called the SONO neighborhood and there are restaurants and bars. It was surprising that there was very little shopping to speak of. We rode our bicycles several miles exploring the area and really didn't find anything that we could sink our teeth into tourist-wise. There's an aquarium with an IMAX, but that's about it. Our take-away is that Norwalk is first and foremost a nice residential town, not a tourist town, and that's fine. It was nice.


P: Provisioning – We didn't need to provision so it wasn't on my radar to pay attention to that too closely. There are a few small markets on the east side of the river, which is where the marina is. Supermarkets are all on the west side of town, on the other side of the river.


P: Price – Their transient rate was $3.50 per foot according to our invoice, plus electricity. No discounts. We booked our slip through Dockwa dot com.

Verdict – A nice marina, a nice town – it was nice. It wasn't spectacular, but nice. And if you have a yacht, or any big boat, Norwalk Cove Marina is very accommodating. If you want a nice experience, by all means, go to Norwalk Cove Marina.

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Sunday, August 12, 2018

Norwalk – A Second Look


When we set out on our cruising adventures, we rarely go back to someplace once we've been there already during the season. This year we've done it twice. (Actually, three times, but that's another story.) The first time was when we went back to Summit North Marina in Delaware after we visited Philadelphia. That was a stop of convenience. The second time was when we went back to Norwalk, CT. That was because we felt we had short-changed that destination the first time, and we wanted to check it out.


Norwalk Cove Marina
First of all, the marina, Norwalk Cove, is as hospitable a marina for big boats as you can find. There will be more about that in a future marina report. Let's say for now that if you have a boat that's a bit bigger than most, you'll love Norwalk Cove.


Big, big, big slips
The town itself is fine. The SONO area (South Norwalk, the part of town closest to the marina) is made up mostly of restaurants and bars, not shops. It's not a quaint New England town but a vibrant city. It's “millennial” in its vibe and very cosmopolitan. There's a rich tapestry of different cultural, national, and ethnic impressions. 


SONO neighborhood of Norwalk
We both said that if we were thirty years old again, Norwalk would certainly be worth a look as someplace to live. And maybe that's how to describe Norwalk: it's a nice place to live, but not a tourist destination. But you should certainly make the time to go there.

There is one feature of the marina that deserves special mention: they have a miniature putting course, and it is AWESOME.


I won by five strokes.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

2018 Cruising Season Sit-Rep – Where do we stand?



In this video, 2018 Cruising Season Sit-Rep – Where do we stand?, I bring you an up-to-date situation report on where we've been and what we have left to cover. #annapolis #longislandsound #mysticct #mystic Even though I'm a big-time planner (some would say I'm persnickety about it) I have bent and flexed myself to make sure we got the maximum fun, enjoyment, and excitement from this season.
#annapolis #longislandsound #mysticct #mystic

Here's a few promised links:
The 2018 Cruising Plan Revealed (same as the link in the video)
https://youtu.be/t3CNaEkySUo
About our experience in Baltimore
https://whyknotgreatlakesgrandtour.bl...
About our navigating the NJICW
https://whyknotgreatlakesgrandtour.bl...
Marina Review of Schooner Island Marina in New Jersey
https://whyknotgreatlakesgrandtour.bl...
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#annapolis #longislandsound #mysticct #mystic
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Monday, August 6, 2018

Port Jefferson – An Unexpected Pleasure


My original plans were for us to cruise out Long Island Sound along the north shore out to Mystic, CT, then across the sound to Greenport, LI NY. From there we were going to go back to the north shore and head west. I'm not sure why I changed my mind about that, but I decided it would be better to try a different tack. I think it had something to do with me being suspicious about anchoring opportunities on the way back west.


We still went out the sound on the north side from Manhasset Bay, NY to Norwalk, CT to the Thimble Islands, also in CT, then to Mystic. But on the way back west, instead of going to Greenport, we crossed the bay from Mystic to Port Jefferson, LI NY. Our research showed there was a good mooring field with a pump out boat, a vibrant touristy town, and a free launch service, aka a water taxi. I liked how it all sounded.


It couldn't be any easier.
As was the case for most of our excursion into Long Island Sound, boating conditions were excellent, if not a little boring. There was very little wind and calm seas prevailed. It was an easy boating day. The only thing that we had to pay special attention to was to keep a sharp lookout for the large ferry boats that steamed from the Port Jefferson inlet across the sound to Connecticut.

The inlet itself is well protected with a wide, clearly marked channel that heads due south toward the town of Port Jefferson itself. There are mooring fields on both sides of the channel. The main field is on the left (east) side as you approach the docks and town. There is some kind of large rock and gravel operation on the right (west) side that loads and unloads onto and from barges around the clock. The moorings on that side are nearer the entrance of the bay. 



There are a couple of marinas there but, wow, are they expensive. The pump out boat, as we found out, is only available on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. One of the marinas has a pump out, but it wasn't working while we were there. There is also a unique manually operated pump out barge directly to the left as you enter the inlet, but it didn't look large enough to accommodate a boat larger than maybe 35 feet long. It's painted white; you'll spot it easily. It may work great, but we didn't try it.

Getting to shore via the town's free launch service is convenient and quick. They standby on channel 68 and take you ashore near a boater's building with a security lock that has bathrooms, showers and laundry. This building is pretty much in the heart of the city center. It seems to be an efficient operation.



Once a shipbuilding town, Port Jefferson is now a full fledged tourist destination with all the trappings. From fudge to ice cream to little trendy restaurants to interesting museums to shops of all kinds, Port Jefferson wants you to spend money there. The most trendy area is on East Main, appropriately named as it is one block east of Main Street. (See the separate marina report for provisioning and accessibility information.) It's a busy and pleasant town. And as we have a preference for mooring fields (and we have a great Phasor generator) it was a terrific stop and one we would make again.   

Marina Report – Safe Harbor Mystic Yacht Yard

#marinas #marina #marinareport It's time to catch up on marian reports.

Here's another marina report on the Why Knot Great Lakes Grand Tour. Using the N D S, A A, P P marina analysis model, I'll fill you in on what my experience was. The views expressed are strictly my own.

Cruising Long Island Sound to Mystic, CT was a great experience. It was well worth the effort and expense. The town was fun, and the sights were interesting, and the marina we stayed at, Safe Harbor Mystic Yacht Yard, was, in my opinion, average. Yep, average.


N: NavigabilitySafe Harbor Mystic Yacht Yard is up toward the north end of the Mystic River in Connecticut, very near the Amtrak swing bridge before the town center. The channel is well marked with good depths.


D: Dockage Floating docks of varying lengths and thoroughfare widths. We were docked at two different locations. The first was in a slip near the fuel dock; the thoroughfare felt tight but wasn't a problem when we had to move the boat. Our second dock was a facing dock with lots of room. There's 30 and 50 amp electricity and water. They have a good dock crew. The docks aren't new per se, but have been very well maintained. The dock pilings are new-ish. Wind and current should be considered when docking and undocking.


S: Services – Safe Harbor Mystic Yacht Yard is a full-service marina. They offer electricity, water, and a complete service department. They do haul-outs and on-the-hard storage during the off-season. Their fuel dock is large enough and sticks out in the channel very conveniently – easy to get fuel or a pump-out. There is a pump-out boat that services the entire Mystic seaport area. (Lots and lots of mooring balls with mostly sailboats attached.)

A: Amenities – There is a main building where most of the amenities are, and there's nothing super-special about them. Actually, there are some oddities to get used to. The large laundry room is on the second floor and you have to lug your laundry bags and baskets up and down a long flight of stairs. The bathrooms in the main building are weird; the toilet stalls are small, and the showers are shaped odd with stairs in them. There are much roomier and accommodating showers and lavatories in the bathrooms at the outbuilding by the swimming pool. There's no ship's store or bodega on the premises. You have to go off-property if you want to or need to buy anything.


A: Accessibility – It is .9 miles (as per Google Maps) from the marina office to the middle of the drawbridge in Mystic. That's not a terrible walk by any means. We used our bikes a lot, but there are only a few bike racks in Mystic. Enterprise picks you up – we rented a car for a day, and we're glad we did.


P: Provisioning – There's one supermarket in the area, but it is are not easily accessible without a rental car or ride-share, or as in our case, bum a ride off a boating buddy. We ended up bunching-up all of our activities that initially required a car into one twenty-four period: some touristy stuff, grocery shopping, etc. We then used our bikes for getting in and out of Mystic.

P: Price – Their published transient rate on Active Captain is $3.50 per foot plus electricity. No discounts. We booked our slip through Dockwa dot com.


Verdict – Mystic and the Connecticut maritime coast is very cool. We enjoyed going to New London, and Mystic itself is fun. It's a great destination! But this is a marina report, and Safe Harbor Mystic Yacht Yard in and of itself is nothing special. It may be spectacular compared to the others in Mystic; it probably is. However, we've been exposed to much nicer marinas down south that cost a third of what Safe Harbor Mystic Yacht Yard charges. Now, I understand the entire Northeast is more expensive than the Mid-Atlantic Coast or southeast is. Ya' pays yer quarters, ya' takes yer chances. I get that. But, damn, that's a lot of money for a marina that's nowhere close to being in the top ten marinas we've been too.

Mystic and the Connecticut maritime coast is amazing. Safe Harbor Mystic Yacht Yard is average.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Mystic – Big-Time Quaint, And That's A Good Thing



#boating #trawler #longislandsound #Connecticut #Mystic

The great boating conditions continued as we motored our way to our easternmost destination: Mystic, CT. As this video title says, it has New England charm and quaintness in abundance, and we enjoyed ourselves tremendously. It has cute shops, museums, exhibits, some okay restaurants, and lots and lots of people. You have been warned.

One of the things we learned is the good people of Connecticut consider themselves to be New Englanders rather than Northeasterners. Even though the state is connected to New York on its eastern border, there is most definitely a different feel or vibe to it. I don't quite know what the differences are, at least when they are so close together, but they hang onto them fiercely.


We did rent a car and took a side trip. One of season objectives was to visit the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT. As recreational boaters we're big supporters of all the Coasties. Furthermore, at the recommendation of many, we ate lunch at Captain Scott's Lobster Dock, also in New London. I guess this is as authentic New England chow as you can get, and it was good!

Our visit was made even better by getting better acquainted with Bob and Lynda of the vessel Erika Lynn. They were wonderful hosts and we look forward to being with them again sometime in the future.



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Saturday, July 28, 2018

Long Island Sound Bound


So, we made it through the New Jersey ICW without too much ballyhoo. It was shallow but not too terrible. That got us only to Manasquan. To get to New York City and beyond we had to head out onto the ocean and motor up the coast a couple of dozen miles or so around Sandy Hook and up the Lower New York Bay.



It was a Sunday morning, and there were only a few freighters transiting the Lower Bay. The overall traffic was lighter than it would have been on a weekday, and all we had to contend with in the Narrows were a couple of sailboats and water taxis.

The last time we went through this body of water was in 2012. It was a Saturday morning and we were heading up to the Hudson River, so we had to go up the gut of the harbor. We got rocked pretty hard, but that was not entirely unexpected. We had warnings about the traffic-made heavy chop. This time, since we were heading out into Long Island Sound, we had to head up the East River. My strategy was to motor up Buttermilk Channel past Governor's Island to avoid the densest part of the harbor. We would then go up under the Brooklynn Bridge, up the river past Hell Gate and out into the sound. It sounded simple enough to me.



It was choppy but not too rough. We bounced around some, but it was not uncomfortable. That was until we reached Roosevelt Island. We took the recommended northern/western branch of the East River past the United Nations. That was where all hell broke loose.

I have to admit, I played it wrong. I completely underestimated the ferocity of that stretch of water. It was as rough conditions in a short length of water we had ever experienced. We were thrown in every direction possible. It was a big-time mess. However, we still had steerage and some power in reserve. Besides, it was a short distance; I knew I could manage it.

Except …

Like some great cosmic convergence, from the north there were four sailboats heading south spread out across the river and a poor runabout getting thrashed. And on the foredeck of the runabout were two young ladies in bikinis screaming at the top of their lungs while they clutched at the rails. I briefly caught a vision of them bouncing on the deck. From the south, the same direction as us, were two more sailboats, a high-speed water taxi and a freighter. We all met at the same place on the river at the same time. Then, to top all that off, two goddamn sport fishers plowed through on-plane heading north right through all of it. (“Gee, Skipper Darrell; don't you have any video or pics of that?” NO. Lisa was holding on and I was driving the boat. We were kinda busy.)



In a quick video I published on Facebook (and in the linked picture album) I said the experience was “Brutal. Just brutal.” I caught some flak from one guy on Facebook that said I shouldn't have been so alarmist about the experience. I stand with my description: It was brutal.

Here's my understanding of what happened, and I'm sure some of you readers will correct me and/or embellish this. The first condition had to do with the constricted nature of the channel itself, and I have a small-scale analog from back in New Jersey.

When were were back in Manasquan, we anchored in a very nice cove on the Metedaconk River, actually located in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. From there you have to transit the 1.9 mile long Point Pleasant Canal to get to the Manasquan River Inlet and the ocean. It just so happened that we had to transit the canal three times in a fourteen hour period, each time with slightly different conditions. The two times we transited the canal in the late afternoon there had been and continued to be a great deal of traffic in the canal. The combined wakes of the boats bounced off the seawalls of the canals and built up to a rough, random, multi-directional chop. I believe that was part of what we experienced next to Roosevelt Island.



The other aspect of the East River that I, and I say this with humility, completely didn't have a good grip on, was the nature of the river itself. It is not a river; it's a tidal straight connecting two tidal bodies of water. The tides and currents from the north and the south conflict, and with Hell Gate at the head with the Harlem River (another tidal straight), it's ripe for trouble. If it were a devious trap, we walked right into it. It was tough slogging.

Hell Gate wasn't as big a deal as I thought it would be. Sure, we got twisted a little bit, but Why Knot's bow generally pointed in the right direction. And on through the river we cruised until we made that big left turn after passing under the Throgs Neck Bridge. That as when we could officially say we had made it to Long Island Sound.


And that's another story.

Friday, July 27, 2018

We Cruised The New Jersey ICW And Lived To Tell The Tale

Are you cruising the #greatloop, heading north on the Atlantic ICW route, let's say in Georgia or the Carolinas? Are you going to head out into Long Island Sound or up to New England? Do you have to go north at all? (Or maybe you're heading south. That would be novel.) If so, you most likely have gone with the conventional wisdom that you have to go out into the Atlantic Ocean at #capemay and bounce up the New Jersey coast, most likely pulling into Atlantic City and/or at the cluster of communities most commonly called by just one of them: Manesquan. (For this conversation we'll talk south to north.) Then from Manesquan, you head up past Sandy Hook into New York Harbor. Loopers then head up the Hudson River, and New England bound cruisers head out the Long Island Sound. There's nothing wrong with that strategy at all. It's perfectly sound, and, frankly, very efficient. But it's not the only one.



The New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway (#NJICW) is sitting there waiting to be used. If you were planning on the two-stop approach to going out (Atlantic City and Manesquan) there's no change. It's the same. The lengths are different, but the outcomes are the same. The biggest advantage to the NJICW is that it is inside, not subject to the harsh winds and wave conditions that hold you up wherever you are.



The #NJICW has a reputation of being some kind of pit of hell. It's said that it is the undoing of any brave skipper and crew who would undertake it. It's shallow. It's tricky. It's nowhere for a moderate captain to take a vessel. And to a point it's true, but only to a point. On our trip north during our 2018 cruising season, we decided we would find out for ourselves if the NJICW's reputation is well-earned or just a bunch of negative hype. The short answer to that question is, “It depends.”

What kind of answer is that? An accurate one. Navigating the NJICW depends on conditions, where you are on the route, what kind of boat do you have, what your draft is, and most important, what are the tides and winds like at any particular place.

First, let me get a few basics out of the way


Sailboats, sorry, but you don't get to play here. Go out. Period, No exceptions.
That leaves powerboats. Let's be blunt, there are some very shallow places on the NJICW. My opinion, and this is only my opinion, is that the deepest draft that can safely pass the route is four feet. Maybe four and a half if you're very clever. Speed is also important. If you have a need for speed and your boat digs a nice deep hole for itself abaft when you gun it and get up on plane, you will hit mud in some places. Smaller LOA boats are also better because there are some very tight turns in places. Our boat, Why Knot, is a 45' trawler with a 3 foot draft. We never hit bottom on the NJICW, though we came close once.

The other fact to know about the NJICW that is interesting is that the markers are numbered all the way starting with Marker 1 at Manesquan to 479 at Cape May. I actually liked that more than markers elsewhere stopping and starting at landmarks, boundaries, or wherever the Coast Guard and the Army Corp of Engineers decided.


The last basic fact about the NJICW is that there are drawbridges just like you'd find elsewhere up and down the coast. While there are a few with low, low clearances, most of them are at least 22 feet tall. (Gauges measure at low steel.)

CLICK HERE TO SEE OUR ENTIRE ALBUM OF PICTURES AND VIDEOS DURING OUR RUN UP THE NJICW! 

Heading north, the point of no return, so to speak, is at the George Redding Bridge. The bridge tender also responds to it being called The Wildwood Bridge or The Route 47 Bridge. It's 3.6 miles north of the Cape May basin and is the last stretch of the NJICW that is unfettered and easily accessible. After you cross under that bridge you will need to have your plan in place. You need to have your tides lined up right, and you need to know where the possible trouble spots are.

The first thing you notice about the NJICW is that if you like to drive your boat, this is nirvana for you. If you like to enable the auto-pilot, sit back and watch the State of New Jersey roll by, you will be unhappy and perturbed to no end. You need to have your hands on the wheel and your eyes out in front of you. You also need a good chartplotter with updated charts. I use Navionics Sonar Charts, and because they harvest recent crowd-sourced sonar data, their depth contours are probably more updated than most. They weren't perfect either, but they were more accurate and detailed than what NOAA charts have to say, in my opinion.



 Here's our cruising strategy for the NJICW. You're most likely going to cruise it in two day-long halves. The South Half: Cape May to Atlantic City (50.6 miles), and The North Half: Atlantic City to Manesquan (65.0 miles). Take each of those days and divide them fairly evenly in thirds. Navigating the southern 2/3s of each half requires that you pay close, close attention to tides, currents, and wind. Tidal depths on the NJICW are as dependent on wind as lunar influences. When we cruised the routes, we concluded that the upper third of each half is a bit more generous with depths and have more wide-open cruising areas. We also had very little wind.

CLICK HERE TO SEE OUR ENTIRE ALBUM OF PICTURES AND VIDEOS DURING OUR RUN UP THE NJICW! 

It was also fortunate happenstance that the tides were in our favor both days. We had flooding tides during the early morning hours while we cruised through the southern 2/3s of each route where we needed the extra water. When we reached the northern third of each route, having a high tide was not as necessary. Saying all that, it doesn't mean we didn't have any challenges. We did.

Here is where we had to watch our nautical Ps and Qs the most:
Day One
North of the Rio Grand Bridge – Do not go to G-463. The marker itself is shoaled in a ways out.
Ludlum Bay – south end, between R-348 and G-349 and R-350, is very shallow, 4' to 6' one hour after high tide. It gets shallower as tide drops. The north end of the bay is deeper: 12' to 19' near high tide.
Markers 314 to 297 – Water level after high tide was 4' to 5.5' at R-314 to R-310 1.5 hours after high tide. Our sonar showed 1' under our keel. It's just plain shallow at G-297. Watch it.
Dorsett Bridge – Call the bridge tender on channel 9 way before you think you need to, around G-211. It is a very abrupt blind approach.


Day Two
Entering Great Bay – G-131A: the deeper water was not in the locations indicated on charts, including Navionics.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the challenges we faced, but they were the most notable to us. These are the places we had to hold our breaths.

So, now I've scared you into thinking that you would never, ever travel on the NJICW. Don't be so judgmental about it. There are lots of good reasons to travel it. It's meandering route reminds you a lot of cruising on the AICW in Georgia and the Carolinas. There are basic marina services available. If you're into gambling, you're going to spend the night in Atlantic City. There are some very beautiful bodies of water, like Barnegat Bay. But perhaps it's most redeeming quality is that you CAN keep on the move if you so desire rather than languishing at either of its ends waiting for perfect ocean conditions.

Now, there is one question that we have been asked that I want to touch on. We have been asked if cruising the NJICW is like cruising the AICW. Yes and no. It is an ICW, with the gold reflective shapes on the markers, and you keep the red markers on the right as you head south. And it is a channel like the AICW. It would be easy to let your mind slip into thinking they are the same. They are not. Your captain's mindset needs to be different. You have to pay a lot closer attention to what you're doing on the NJICW.

The best way that I can describe it is that motoring on the NJICW is not for the faint of heart nor deep of draft. But it's doable if you have the right boat and play it right. We educated ourselves about it. We sought out the advice of a very seasoned local captain who gave us invaluable information. And when we set out up the NJICW, we took our time; we didn't press it so hard that we were forced into making poor choices.

I'm very glad we chose to climb New Jersey on their Intracoastal Waterway. It was a great boating and skippering experience. And as Lisa and I like to rack up bragging rights when we cruise, this fills the bill very nicely.

So, have you ever cruised the NJICW before? We have.

#boating #boater #trawler #greatloop #liveaboard #wkglgt #theonboardlife #skipperdarrell