The advice given on this site is based upon individual or quoted experience, yours may differ.
The Officers, Staff and members of this site only provide information based upon the concept that anyone utilizing this information does so at their own risk and holds harmless all contributors to this site.
Patrick, this sounds like quite a challenging run for a coastal cruiser due to weather, the series of tight coastal inlets along the way and the need for a large quantity of fuel if you plan to motor sail.
A good start would be to obtain an up-to-date set of charts, like Marine US, CMAP or Navionics. Paper charts are an excellent backup.
Also download a copy of NOAA’s Coast Pilot which provides a highly detailed set of descriptions about the famous or infamous inlets along the New Jersey coastline. Volume 3 includes the waters of NJ.
For commercial resources like fuel, marinas, repair and parts houses check the cruising guides. There are several printed and online resource guides and apps too.
Plan your passage hour-by-hour. Open the navigation app of your choice and zoom in on each inlet one by one. Use the chart to create a sail plan. But remember, don’t try to stick to a schedule, it’s just good to estimate how long certain passages are likely to take, then also figure on current and sea state. They can radically change your speed over ground.
Here’s a list of NJ Inlets: • Shark River - tight • Manasquan Inlet • Barnagat Inlet • Little Egg Inlet • Absecon Inlet • Great Egg Harbor Inlet • Corson Inlet - looks treacherous • Townsends Inlet • Hereford Inlet • Cape May Inlet Some of these are going to be better than others as you’d expect.
While I’ve never sailed there, it is well known that Ocean inlets are treacherous under several conditions: 1. Strong chop and swell conditions when approaching the inlet 2. Current opposing wind direction - so tide and current charts are essential 3. Shallows in the inlets - can develop big chop or standing waves 4. Shoals around the inlets. While nautical charts may indicate water depth at the time of printing, they may have changes during the last big nor’easter or hurricane. Superstorm Sandy and subsequent unnamed winter storms have changed coastlines and depths. 5. Be sure to cruise a safe distance from shore. Looking at the charts, a few miles offshore should be safe, but there are rocky areas extending a long ways offshore.
Use your VHF radio to check with locals about current conditions and sea states. Although this is nearly genetically impossible for most men, ask for advice and directions from locals. They know best.
Weather check. Constantly check local NOAA weather forecasts and changing conditions. Resources like Windy, Ventusky and Lightning Tracker are very useful. While I might be a little callous about weather in my homeport, when sailing in the Atlantic Ocean, even near shore, 15kt winds with 25 kt gusts can quickly become a nightmare when you have no safe refuge. If you have hours of exposure to strong conditions, you’ll get tired very quickly and begin to make mistakes.
As fall approaches, be sure to have enough warm clothing including hats, gloves, leggings, socks, rain slickers for everyone on board.
Make sure you know the time of sunset. It’s around 7:00pm through 20-Sept and earlier as we head into October.
Don’t do it solo or with inexperienced sailors or crew.
Like I say, this could be a great, fun adventure if you plan it well and have good luck with gear, weather, sea state and tides. Or it could be a nightmare. Don’t be impatient to wait for a good weather window, and don’t be afraid to turn back.
As they say among the old salts, “you have to go out, but you don’t have to come back”. Let’s hope that you always do.
I recently acquired the 2020 edition of The Waterway Guide, Northern Edition. It lists many details about the NJ inlets from Cape May to Sandy Hook. Direct message me at bruce2sail at aol dot com if you’d like details about any harbor.
[Edit]. Looking at the guide they are very clear about understanding strong tidal currents in the area. For example, many inlet entrances have drawbridges nearby the ocean where currents are strongest. They advise that when currents are moving, get the bridge tender to open the bridge FIRST, then proceed under the bridge, Not the other way around.
So Patrick, when do you plan to begin your trip? Timing is tricky since we’re going to get some weather beginning around Thursday and continuing for about 6-7 days. Not a TS, but a persistent onshore breeze at 20-30kts. Lee shore with strong winds are challenging.
Notice: The advice given on this site is based upon individual or quoted experience, yours may differ. The Officers, Staff and members of this site only provide information based upon the concept that anyone utilizing this information does so at their own risk and holds harmless all contributors to this site.