Inside? Outside? Hybrid?
Lets start with the Cape May Canal in 30 seconds time lapse into Utsch’s Marina. (see our post on Utsche’s … including how to get in.)
We had two beautiful cruising days, Saturday and Sunday to make Cape May from Del City, and then did Atlantic City on the outside. However, conditions like that would not last. 2-3 foot waves (but oddly, no wind) was forecast for the next hop.
Weeks ago, my first look at the “inside” route (NJ Intracoastal Waterway) was short-lived. Spots with only 3 feet of water meant we’d have to time it all with the tide… which is changing as you progress your day on the inside. We assumed we’d go “outside all the way”.
After our experiences waiting nearly a week for a good weather window to transit Chesapeake Bay, and nearly another week before we could take this video into Cape May, we needed to re-evaluate! We didn’t want to wait another week in Atlantic City, nice as Atlantic City is. (I mean it has great dining (which we already have on-board), but watching seniors pour their money into noisy slot machines is not OUR idea of “entertainment”!)
Shelly suggested we take another look at the inside route. The passage from Little Egg Inlet to Manisquan River actually looked doable. It was the section from Atlantic City to Little Egg that I did not like.
My work schedule was clear on Monday, save for one call I could simply sit in on from the bridge. There were no winds above 10 mph in the forecast, but waves were predicted to be 1-2 feet off the starboard quarter most of the way.
Tides were irrelevant on the outside, but they coincidentally worked to our favor on the inside passage.
We decided on a float plant to start off outside knowing we could pull into Little Egg Inlet if we didn’t like what we saw. That’s exactly what took place. We did not like it on the outside so we went in at Little Egg Inlet, (which was not fun in these conditions… even with no wind.)
The odd forecast of very little wind but waves after two picture perfect calm cruising days, unfortunately turned out to be correct. Except the waves were more like 2-3 feet with an occasional 4 footer. Not good.
Side note: after two beautifully calm cruising days, how can a third day, still have no wind, but call for waves?!?! Where do the waves come from!!! Trying that logic out… trying to out-smart the forecasts… just didn’t work! LOL
We successfully got into Little Egg and finished our passage to Manisquan River all on the inside with tides in our favor the whole way.
While it was flat dead calm the whole way (once inside!), I cannot write you to say I was “relaxed” at all! The unknowns of a long trip with only inches beneath our unprotected running gear at times with several hours like that still to come made it a nerve-wracking day… only to be finished by a roller coaster ride through the canal at the end with 1.5 knots of current pushing us along!
Once secured for the day in a rolly Manasquam River (Clarks Landing) we picked up all the stuff that got thrown around the cabin earlier in the day, then Shelly made a killer fish chowder, and then, needless to say, we slept very well!
I was disappointed to hear that Hoffman’s is now getting $5/foot for the night. The anchorage options aren’t great. Perhaps finding an anchor spot before hitting the canal would have worked? Clarks would do for now.
Post evaluation: If sea state conditions were any worse than we had today, making Little Egg Inlet would not be advisable IMO. So, my advice, “Do NOT consider Inlets like these to be a reliable storm ‘escape plan’ if confronted with a bad day on the outside.”
We have only 25 nm left before we cross our wake! For the finish, we plan on waiting patiently for a VERY nice day in deep, open water, to cross, thank you very much.
After all, I don’t want Shelly to fall over board in the middle of Ambrose Channel (the Atlantic’s approach to NYC) when she is up on the bow changing the old white burgee to a new GOLD one.