Sailing in Barnegat Bay and to Tices Shoal New Jersey
Barnegat Bay, New Jersey offers some of the best sailing on the East Coast and is especially well suited for smaller boats. Whether you have your own sailboat or not, there are plenty of opportunities for enjoying all that the Jersey Shore has to offer. Keep your own boat at one of the many marina's, charter a boat for a day or a weekend, hire a captain to take you out on a cruise or take a sailing class. Explore Tom's River, Tices Shoal, Forked River and Island Beach State Park while you sail under great conditions in protected yet breezy waters.
Barnegat Bay is located at about the mid-point of the New Jersey shore south of Tom's River and north of Barnegat Light. It can be accessed via the Garden State Parkway and Route 9. Most of the Marina's are located on Tom's River, Forked River, or in Bayville.
Sailing conditions in Barnegat Bay can be considered ideal with steady breezes, low tidal changes, and protected, clean waters. Because Island Beach Peninsula is so narrow, the sea breezes blow right across and over Barnegat Bay each afternoon at about 10-18 miles per hour. And, because the Bay is only 2 miles across at it's widest point and is protected by the peninsula, the water is generally calm and waves don't have a chance to build up. Yet, the 2 mile width and 20 mile length give plenty of room to sail with no commercial traffic. Finally, the water of Barnegat Bay is clean enough to swim in and supports a wide variety of marine life.
One watch-out for sailing Barnegat Bay is the chance of running into afternoon fog during the summer months. Make sure you're prepared with the proper equipment including a detailed chart, a compass or GPS device, a sound producing device, and a VHF radio and cell phone. If fog rolls in, visually check your location and then decide whether to head back to the marina or to anchor and wait it out.
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There are are several options for sailing Barnegat Bay.
- If you have your own boat, you can launch it at Cedar Creek Marina in Bayville, NJ. Or if you store your boat at one of the many marina's in the area, hop on board with your gear and set sail.
- If you'd like to charter a sailboat, there are two businesses that I know of. The first is Nelson's Sailing Center in Island Heights, NJ on the Tom's River (www.nelsonsailingcenter.com). Nelson's has over 40 sailboats ranging in size from 19' to 35'. Charters range from 3 hours to an entire weekend. You can even pay a fee to have access to a specific boat the entire summer. The second charter business is Barnegat Bay Sailing School in Bayville, NJ. They have 19' to 23' boats and rent them for 4 or 8 hours at a time.
- If you don't know how to sail yourself but want to sail Barnegat Bay, you can hire a captain for a charter cruise. Nelson's offers this service. So do several other companies including Barnegat Bay Sailing School, Edcon Marine Charters, Seaside Sailing (Captain Mike), and Jersey Coastal Adventures. Rates vary but are about $250 for a private three hour charter.
- Finally, if you don't yet know how to sail but have a desire to learn, you can get on Barnegat Bay with a sailing lesson. ASA certified courses are available from Nelson's Sailing Center as well as Barnegat Bay Sailing School.
Probably the most popular destination for boaters in Barnegat Bay is Tices Shoal and Island Beach State Park. Both are located directly east of Forked River. Tices Shoal is a great place to put down an anchor and relax on the boat. During the day, you're sure to find many other boats in the area with boaters hanging out, swimming and partying. The water here is quite shallow so watch the depth before anchoring. You'll need to anchor further back from Island Beach State Park than the power boats. From there, you can swim or take a dingy to the peninsula. Bring a lunch, lawn chairs and beach gear and walk over the path to the ocean side where you can enjoy the beauty of the natural sand beaches complete with dunes.
Island Beach State Park, with it's 10 mile long white sand beach, is a preserved barrier island. The park is so well preserved that it resembles the barrier islands that Native Americans from the Lenape tribe and early European explorers discovered hundreds of years ago. You'll find an abundance of wildlife including Red Fox, unique species of birds, and many different varieties of fish. Most people come to the park to swim, surf and relax.
Marina's and Restaurants
There are several marina's and restaurants that offer boat-up service. Many of the marina's offer transient boat slips for overnight guests. Some have swimming pools, restaurants, and bars. All have the typical Marina supplies you'd expect.
- In Bayville, try the Water's Edge Marina. They offer a restaurant with water taxi service from your mooring or anchorage.
- In Forked River there are a few options. Try Captain's Inn for a restaurant, tiki bar, and overnight slips. Southwinds Harbor Marina also offers overnight slips and has several restaurants within walking distance. Finally, Tall Oaks Marina has overnight slips and the Forked River Diner for breakfast.
- In Barnegat Light try the High Bar Harbor Marina and Kubel's Restaurant.
- In Waretown try the Key Harbor Marina at Barnegat Bay. They offer a marina and pool.
- And finally, in Tom's River, the Lobster Shanty provides a great place to dock and dine but has no facilities for overnight stays.