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Shipping traffic offshore of NYC?

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#1 music321

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Posted April 11 2013 - 1:21 AM

How's the shipping traffic between Sandy Hook National Park and South West Long Island (Floyd Bennett Field area)?  Obviously, this is one of the most heavily trafficked areas on the planet.  But, I wonder how problematic dealing with it would be if you were fishing this area.  If you were motoring to try to stay above a ledge, or something, would you constantly have to be moving to escape freighters?  This close to port, are the freighters in pretty defined lanes, so that you can find quiet areas in the midst of all the traffic?  Does time of day matter?



#2 pakalolo

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Posted April 11 2013 - 5:59 AM

Check out a CHART of the area, all the info is there!


#3 music321

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Posted April 11 2013 - 12:41 PM

will do.  it's sort of embarrassing to be schooled in something so basic, but now i'm on the right track.



#4 fly rod

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Posted April 11 2013 - 1:28 PM

There's both lots of shipping and lots of recreational boaters. You can often hear the ships blasting their horns at fishing fleets in Ambrose Channel. Also, there's a military pier inside of Sandy Hook. When a naval vessel is departing, they'll chase you out of the channel with a Navy rib sporting a 50 caliber. :shock:

BTW, you can get "real time" ship locations from the AIS systems.

I don't know if this will get me in trouble, but here's a link:


Type "New York" in the blank for "area" and hit enter to see a current map of the ships in the area. Or if the link gets removed, just Google "AIS"; the website should be the first hit.

Good luck and have fun in the NY Bight.

-- Fly Rod

#5 Swanney

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Posted April 11 2013 - 2:57 PM

Fly Rod, that site is great. Thanks for letting me know about it.

#6 music321

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Posted April 14 2013 - 12:42 AM

I'm a freshwater/shore fisherman.  I don't have a saltwater boat yet, or a boating license. 


From the continental shelf in-sea to New York Harbor, there are "shipping lanes" separated by "separation zones" (I think that's what they're called).  It seems that in the "separation zones", people can remain stationary in a boat.  However, it seems that a large vessel might still intrude on this territory.  Is this the case?

Also, most of the area is shipping lane.  Are these areas always off limits for keeping a boat "stationary"?  Are they open during certain hours?  Certain days? 

I've tried finding this info on charts and in the "rules of the road", but have found nothing.  maybe i'm overlooking it.


As for the site mentioned above, I just checked it out.  It's 1:30 am.  It seems that there are only a few tugs and two tankers in the entire area.  based on this, I wonder if traffic is far lighter at night.



#7 superfly

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Posted April 15 2013 - 12:51 PM

Shipping traffic will be the least of your problems, the majority of headaches come from rec boaters as it gets very busy especially from Memorial to Labor days.
Don't ever anchor in the channels, if that's what you mean by keeping a boat "stationary".

#8 eddiespaghetti

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Posted April 18 2013 - 9:24 AM

Music - It's not as bad as one might think.  As previously posted forgetaboutit on summer weekends.  Those shipping lanes are full of recreational boaters doing the same thing you are mentioning above.  CG will be patrolling up and down moving everyone out of the channel, lots of recs not minding their wakes, can get hairy at times.  Mid-week you will be fine though, just keep safe distance from incoming ships.

#9 CWitek

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Posted April 24 2013 - 1:05 PM

Like anything else, use your head--and your eyes--and you'll be OK.

The marked shipping lanes are a good start, but don't depend on the ships to stay there. You'll find freighters, especially the small ones, well inside the lanes at times running west along the beach.

Be careful in the fog. If you don't have radar, think twice about going anywhere near a place where there might be ship traffic if visibility is poor. I can tell horror stories about being out with folks in the fog, when it came in so thick that you couldn't see the close-in float on the shark rigs. And then you hear the engines, with the big props chugging slow, until you can hear the sound of the water sliding up along the ship's hull--but you don't know where it is. The captain of the small boat has turned the engines on, and is staring toward the sound with his hand on the controls, hoping that if the sharp gray line of the vessel's bow comes towering out of the murk, he can goose the outboards and get the boat out of harm's way before it's smashed under, but you don't really know if that's true. And he doesn't want to move the boat before he sees anything, because he could just as easily be moving it into harm's way as taking it to safety. Then the sound of the engines crescendos--you swear that you can hear the bubbles of the wake boiling up--and just begins to fade away before the wake hits, an you hold on as the boat pitches, knowing that this time, you got away with it...

Remember that a fiberglass boat is a poor radar target, and won't be picked up until the ship is close, and by that time, the little boat may be in the shadow of the ship's bow, in a blind spot where neither radar nor human observers can see. Remember, too, that until they are close to harbor, ships often run on autopilot, and there may be no one in the wheelhouse standing watch. There was a classic incident out on the Bacardi wreck on the night of July 31/August 1, 1989, when a big freighter far from the marked shipping lanes plowed though a tuna fleet comprised of well over 100 boats--maybe double or triple that number--anchored on and around the wreck, many with crews completely asleep, and it was only thanks to the alert eyes of a handful of anglers, and their timely warnings, that kept anyone from being killed, although there were some very close calls. I had friends out there that night that are still spooked by the memory, one who was close enough to read the big print on notices on the wheelhouse bulletin board as the ship passed by.

If you anchor anywhere near the lanes, even on a clear day, use an anchor ball that you can cast free if you need to move in a hurry. Remember that it's not only the big ships that you have to worry about; seagoing tugboats and barges often pay little heed to the shipping lanes, and are quite common as they run along the coast. Such vessels offer the operators little visibility, so always assume that you are the one who has to move. If you're drifting, don't be slow to move if you see something coming. If you're trolling beyond sight of land, make a pass a few hundred yards behind the ship, crossing its wake; tuna are sometimes drawn up by the commotion, and you may get your only hits of the day--but don't come so close that you might be seen as a threat to the vessel, and stay well clear of Navy or Coast Guard ships, or anything that might be carrying flammable cargo--they're pretty protective about such boats.

The bottom line is that you're far, far more likely to be done in by a drunk in a Sea Ray than by any of the big stuff moving outside. But keep your eyes open anyway.

#10 fishinsurfer

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Posted May 03 2013 - 1:41 PM

Good info CWitek, if I can add something..... when fishing where there is traffic with the ships, keep in mind they monitor CH's 16 and 13 - so should you. 13 is the ship to ship channel and if you have to communicate with a ship, that Is the channel to try first - example- you are double anchored on a wreck and you see a ship or tug and tow approaching your position from a distance. Good idea to call the ship to see their intentions and if they can give clearance. When these ships are running the channel, remember that they are probably only clearing the bottom of the channel by a couple of feet and cant and wont turn. Never cross closely in front of the moving ships, its can be deceiving, they move fast!!!