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Old 05-18-2021, 07:09 AM   #1
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N.j. Icw

Has anyone run the ICW from Cape May to Atlantic City in the last year or so? All of the shallow water cautions on Active Captain are so old they are not relevant. We draw 4’6”, big keel and shoe, totally protected rudder and prop. Not afraid to push some mud. Hopefully it is a viable alternative to waiting in Cape May for the ocean to calm down.
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Old 05-18-2021, 07:23 AM   #2
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I used to operate in that stretch for 15 years as an assistance tower.

I would estimate 90% of reports by transiting, even local boaters were really incorrect. Bet they still are. Most aground claimed they were in the channel, till I showed them they weren't and there was plenty of water in the channel. No different than parts of the ACIW.

There are always areas on any inland waterway that are troublesome, but dredging
and good local knowledge made the passage possible.

The best data available is probably from the local Sea Tow in Cape May. Boat US may be OK...but historically the Sea Tow operation was an all year, not just seasonal operation, had more boats, etc. It may have changed in the last couple years so, check with both if you feel uncertain.

Greater than 4 foot draft hurts, but depending on tide cycles, traveling on the top 6 hrs or even 4 hrs makes it less so. At 50 statute miles or so, doing it in one day may be tough as a couple draw bridges can slow you down, especially if they break as they are old.

Townsend inlet is an easy to use with a quick brief from a local captain thats about 15 miles north of Cape May. Most NJ inlets get snotty with a strong easterly and outgoing current, but probably not dangerous for your trawler if less than 15 knots.
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Old 05-18-2021, 07:42 AM   #3
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I draw 3’9” and bumped a few times on my last trip. I disregarded the tidal state, and would have been ok if I had paid more attention to it. [also if I just slowed down at the shallow spots.]


The bridges south of Atlantic City can be trying and I wouldn’t recommend the trip on a weekend. There are folks who drop anchor in the channel to fish, and there are a couple of boat ramps right on the route where folks pile up.

If faced with waiting for a few days for weather or going inside, go inside.

Navionics Sonar charts would be helpful.

Really folks have a quicker run outside, but that’s somewhat due to the fact they run overnight from Sandy Hook.

I think last time I did this inside it was 3 days from Sandy Hook to Cape May.

It’s a soft bottom, so no sweat if you nudge the bottom, just do it on a rising tide.
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Old 05-18-2021, 03:43 PM   #4
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I did it about a year ago, and it was my least favorite stretch between Charleston and Albany. I draw about 3.5' and got stuck twice. My charts weren't very detailed, which didn't help. It took a very long time, and I was held up by bridges several times. I also went on a sunny summer Saturday on opening bobfish day, so traffic was frankly absurd.

It's certainly possible, but if given the choice, I would rather have even a marginally comfortable trip outside. If I ever do have to take the ICW through that stretch, I'll make it a two day trip.
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Old 05-18-2021, 03:50 PM   #5
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From everything I've ever read, there's no way I'd even consider most of the NJ ICW with 3'8" draft and exposed props. There will be a day eventually when we head down that way. I'd much rather burn a good load of fuel to go outside (given reasonable conditions I could cover the outer buoy at Cape May to the tip of Sandy Hook in 6.5 - 7 hours at the expense of a little over 200 gallons)
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Old 05-18-2021, 04:50 PM   #6
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Or get stuck on Cape May for over a week due weather.

Sure, any ICW transit can be a gamble for bridges, shoals, traffic, etc....

It's OK to be wary, but remember 90% of boaters are really not that knowledgeable or good at navigating.....therefore their negative reports are pretty iffy.

Newbies and large commercials work those waters all summer long...if you are any good, you can probably do it too.

At least call and get an update from a local assistance towing company, PM High Wire (a TF member) or me for specific areas. Mine might be out of date but for 15 years I ran it most days, the trouble spots were consistent, just not exactly the same.
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Old 05-18-2021, 09:05 PM   #7
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I just went through the troubled section north of the Wildwood train bridge and its better now with a couple red daymarks replaced with red nun buoys set in good water. Really narrow curved channel at R452, maybe 50 ft wide at best. There are shoals on BOTH sides. IDLE SPEED through there. Unfortunately there will be many small fishing boats fishing in the channel. Active Captain hazard comments updated. The bottom is hard sand. I have NOT been north of the North Wildwood Causeway Bridge lately.
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Old 05-19-2021, 04:24 PM   #8
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So we just had a perfect day. Left the Summit North marina on the C+D canal at 5 AM. Ran to and through Cape May and up the outside to Atlantic City. 112 miles in 11 hours. Thanks everyone for the input. I called all the AC bridges yesterday and learned about the recent repairs to the NJ Transit rail bridge, now requiring a four hour advance to open. Trying to time that up with the other bridge schedules( top of the hour only ,15 and 45 minutes after the hour,1/2 hour etc.) sounds like a nightmare. Tides and shoal spots I can deal with. Been through dozens of bridges and locks in 3 round trips to and across Florida. Always inside through Ga, SC, NC and the entire AICW. But here, 35 miles from my home port this stretch has me stymied. I will still explore this stretch as a back door from Barnegat Light to Cape May when it blows stink out of the northeast which makes the ocean route miserable and also pumps up the tide in the back bays. One lesson I have learned along the way is to call all the bridges on your next leg( on the phone) a day or so in advance to make sure they ain’t broke. Thanks again.
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