Barnegat Bay 2022

August 3rd, 2022

I’m still up in New Jersey after helping my in laws move, so I thought I’d go on a long solo adventure. This time the weather looked like I might be able to do a 40 mile trip down Barnegat Bay with a side diversion through some marshy islands over to the inlet to see the lighthouse. Then I’d continue on down most of the length of LBI to a public ramp in the marsh above Great Bay. Due to light wind at the start, getting lost in the marshy islands, and relying on my father in law for transportation I decided to call it quits around 3:30pm and head for Leamings Marina as one of my bailout points. I did 29.2 miles in 9 hours 10 minutes with an average speed of 3.2 mph and a max of 7.3 mph.

I launched at the Trader’s Cove municipal ramp right at the foot of the bridge to Mantoloking for the cool sum of $20. Just after I left two guys and a support boat set out on a swim. I wonder if they had to pay the launch fee.

The wind was pretty light and I made 1-2 mph. The swimmers gradually splashed their way out of sight!

Then the wind got even lighter and I drifted along at .5-1 mph.

About halfway to the bridge to Seaside Heights I came across an abandoned house on Middle Sedge Island. In 2015 it was put up for sale for 6.5 million. I think it’d be a pretty cool place to live for about three days before the bugs, screeching seagulls, and bird poop got to be a bit much.

Closer to the bridge the wind died down to a whisper so I started up my trolling motor. This is a new addition I’ve been working on for a few months. With the recent addition of my son, my wife has insisted I take a motor with me. I’ve never felt great about my British Seagull so lately I’ve been working on building a trolling motor setup.

The control box has an ammeter, volt meter, usb charger, and speed control knob within easy reach. I also cut the head off the trolling motor and shortened the shaft so it’s waterproof and not as in the way. The motor bracket needs some improvement, but overall I’m pretty happy with it. Speed 3 added about 2 mph to the boat speed.

Once I got through the bridge the wind finally shifted and I had some great sailing at 4.5-5.5 mph for nearly two hours. When I’m done with the trolling motor I turn it 90º sideways and lift it straight up. The shaft stays out of the way of the boom and the motor clears the water.

I set my sights on the decidedly rectangular Barnegat Lighthouse off on the horizon and started dodging boat wakes from the scores of motor boats heading over to beaches on Barnegat Peninsula. I saw a cigarette boat roaring up and down the bay with a wall of spray that must have been at least 5 boat lengths long.

From poking around on Google Earth I found a channel through Sedge Island (what is it with NJ and naming everything Sedge Island?!) that I thought would be fun to explore.

Unfortunately the tide and wind were against me and I got stuck in shallow water before I had a chance to tack back up to the channel. So I got out, pulled the boat into deeper water, and took off with the help of the motor.

There’s enough deep water if you know where to go. There were a handful of fishing boats back here too.

Working my way through the maze of marsh grass.

Hard to make out but there was a great egret on the point there. He didn’t seem too bothered by me as I made a 180 around him.

Finally out of the marsh and sandbars and I cut across Barnegat Inlet to get a picture of the lighthouse. Just my luck, they’ve got it covered in scaffolding! I guess I’ll just have to come back and try again someday.

Heading back towards the bay at 5 mph with a helping tide. Quite a few boats fishing through here and lots of wakes, but not nearly as crowded as Beaufort Inlet was last year on Labor Day weekend.

Through the Double Creek Channel wing and wing.

Passing an oyster farm.

My plan was to continue 17 miles south to Great Bay where I’d haul out at a public boat ramp, but it was getting late. I figured it’d be 6:30 or 7 before I made it so I decided to call it quits since I was relying on my father in law to pick me up with the truck and trailer. I checked my list of bailout points and chose Leamings Marina as the closest. I set out on a run and had a great half hour surfing the building waves at 6-7 mph.

Just outside the entrance I dropped the sails and started the trolling motor. Speed 5 pushed me nearly 3.5 mph with 180 watts.

One of the downfalls of looking for boat ramps on Google Earth is they might be private! It turns out this ramp isn’t actually connected with Leamings Marina, but the owner does have a key to open it for… you guessed it… $20.

 

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