We are under way in the north Atlantic, off the coast of New Jersey. While there are protected, inland alternatives for us to travel the length of the east coast from Key West all the way to Delaware Bay, there is simply no alternative to an ocean passage to move past New Jersey.
Consequently, we spent three days in Atlantic City, waiting for decent offshore weather to make the passage. We anchored in a familiar spot there, just east of the Golden Nugget casino (map). The casino also operates the State Marina, a convenient place to tie up the dinghy as needed. On this visit, we also had sporadic WiFi available, courtesy of the same casino.
Vector in Atlantic City, as seen from west of the bridge, near Harrah's. The tall building to the right is the short-lived and now-shuttered Revel resort.
We splashed the tender immediately after arriving Tuesday, and tendered in for dinner at the casino. Having learned all the tricks on our last two visits, we opted for happy hour in the bar at the Chart House, the best deal in the casino.
Coming home from dinner Tuesday evening.
Wednesday, as predicted, we were pinned down in the boat all day, with a giant thunderstorm moving through the area. As it turns out, we got a break in the evening and probably could have made it ashore, but we instead had a nice dinner aboard. I made a little progress on getting materials together for the sales listing for the bus, and also spent a few hours working on route planning for the next few legs of the trip.
Yesterday the weather inshore was quite pleasant, and I ended up going ashore, stag, for a massage in the hotel spa, taking full advantage of the spa amenities such as the hot tub, steam room, and a luxurious shower. Afterwards I walked around the point to Harrah's Casino Resort which, sadly, no longer has is own marina or docks. We had dinner at an old standby, the Back Bay Ale House at historic Gardner's Basin.
One thing I did during my route planning session Wednesday was to find a way to break up this leg into two chunks. The last time we came by here, we ran all the way from Sandy Hook to Atlantic City in one hop, some 75 nautical miles. That makes for a long day -- 12 hours or so of running time -- and an early morning start is dictated, no matter what the tidal current may be doing.
There are precious few inlets along this coast, and even fewer accessible to Vector. The "logical" breakpoint would be Barnegat Inlet, but this inlet is uncharted (the channel is constantly shifting and the buoys are moved accordingly) and carries as little as five feet at low tide. It's possible for us only at high tide and in settled conditions, and even then, the charts and guides strongly advise against it without local knowledge.
The next inlet north is Manasquan, which we've done before and found to be fairly straightforward, so long as arrival can be made around slack tide. Once inside, however, our only option there is to dock at a marina, starting at around $150 per night. Even a single night is spendy, but getting pinned down there by weather can get very expensive indeed. The one time we did it, we needed a dock anyway because we had guests coming aboard, and so we were happy to have it.
There is, however, one more inlet a bit further north, at the Shark River. On our last pass, we did not consider it, because it has a tricky entrance involving a bascule bridge that must be fully raised by the time you are powering into the channel. But we passed it fairly close in, and had a chance to look it over as we did so. We also go to watch two fairly large charter boats negotiate it as we went by, and we judged it to be passable. At just eight feet federal project depth, it's a shallow entrance and channel, but I downloaded the latest Corps of Engineers surveys and the depths are adequate for us right now.
What the Shark River has that Manasquan does not is an anchorage. The anchorage is also part of the federal project and is surveyed at over 11', so it should be a fine place to spend the night. As an emergency fall-back, the Belmar marina on the other side of yet another bridge supposedly has enough water for us on their outermost dock, but just barely. Other than that one spot, there is no place for us to dock on the Shark River.
At just 58 miles from Atlantic City, that makes for a somewhat shorter day today, and also gave us the flexibility to wait until slack tide to leave, rather than fight over two knots of current. Slack was at 10am, so we will not arrive until after dinner, around 7:30ish, but with plenty of daylight to anchor.
If the forecast holds for tomorrow, we should be under way in the morning for New York Harbor. We'll lose our fair tide just as we arrive at The Narrows, so we will probably drop the hook in Gravesend Bay and proceed up the Hudson on Sunday with the current behind us.