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The Hudson River

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The Hudson River Guide

The Hudson River stretches from its point of origin in the Adirondack Mountains of New York to the river’s mouth at The Battery in Manhattan where it empties into New York’s Upper Bay. The lower portion of the Hudson from the Federal Lock and Dam at Troy, NY south to New York City is the area of the river that we will be covering and is technically a tidal estuary.

The Hudson River is an especially important waterway for those cruisers bound north for the Great Lakes or the St. Lawrence River. Its importance stems from the fact that it provides one of the few navigable passages connecting with the New York State Canal System.

Navigation on the lower Hudson River between New York City and Kingston, NY is pretty straightforward with well marked channels and plenty of good water. Above Kingston the channel narrows considerably with middle grounds, flats, and shoals as far north as Albany, NY. From Albany north to Troy, NY, once again good water is available almost bank to bank.

On average, the lower portion of the Hudson River has (2) high and low tides every 24 hours with tidal forces affecting the river as far north as Albany and Troy. Once near the Troy Lock however, the tidal current does not flood and a persistent ebb current exists.

The salt line of the river varies depending on seasonal patterns with snow melt runoff and the typical spring rains pushing the salt line below the Tappan Zee Bridge. Summer seems to see the salt line establish itself just south of Newburgh, NY and in the times of drought the salt line may push as far north as Poughkeepsie, NY.

Navigation Season

The navigation season for the Hudson River is unrestricted except in the event of heavy ice conditions during the winter months. During such times, low powered vessels may encounter difficulties in navigation north of the Tappan Zee Bridge.

Length

From its official headwaters at Henderson Lake in New York, the Hudson flows 274 nm (507 km) southward to New York City. While the overall length of the Hudson River is of interest, more important is the lower Hudson River that stretches 134 nm (248 km) from The Troy Lock & Dam south to The Battery in New York City.

Aids to Navigation

The Hudson is well marked along its entire length to Troy, NY with lighted buoys, ranges, fixed lights, and directional lights.

NOAA Charts # 12335, 12341, 12343, 12345, 12346, 12347, 12348, provide complete coverage of the Hudson between New York City and Troy, NY. (You can click on the chart# to view the corresponding chart.)

A list of major features along the Hudson converted to waypoints; is available as the Hudson River Waypoint’s - Download.

Channel Depths

Channel depths along the river vary; with a least depth of 43’ being found mid-channel from the mouth of the river to a point a little over 5 miles north of The Battery. Above this point, the project depth is 32’ to the Turning Basin in Albany, NY, with a small section at 30’ found in the vicinity of Edgewater, NJ. From Albany to the head of navigation at Troy, NY the project depth is 14’.

Depths of 216’ can be found in the vicinity of West Point.

Bridge Clearances

17 bridges and 8 overhead power lines span the Hudson River between New York City and the head of navigation at Troy, NY. (2) of these bridges, the Railroad swing bridge at Albany and the Green Island Lift Bridge at Troy operate on restricted schedules. Minimum bridge clearance of the fixed bridges on the Hudson River is at Troy, NY with a reported clearance of 55’. Minimum overhead power line clearance is 87’ also located in Troy.

A complete list of bridges and clearances can be found at our Bridges and Locks Table below.

Hudson River Bridges and Locks

Mile Marker Bridge Charted Vert. Clear. Schedule Restrictions VHF
9.5 G. Washington Bridge 213’ Fixed Bridge   --
23.5 Tappan Zee Bridge 139’ Fixed Bridge   --
40.6 Bear Mountain Bridge 155’ Fixed Bridge    
53.5 Newburgh-Beacon Bridge 172’ Fixed Bridge    
65.1 Mid-Hudson Bridge 134’ Fixed Bridge    
65.6 Walkway Over Hudson 167’ Fixed Bridge    
82.7 Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge 135’ Fixed Bridge    
98.7 Rip Van Winkle Bridge 142’ Fixed Bridge    
117.8 Castleton RR Bridge 139’ Fixed Bridge    
117.9 Castleton-Hudson Bridge 135’ Fixed Bridge    
126.4 Dunn Memorial Bridge 60’ Fixed Bridge    
127.2 Albany RR Swing Bridge 25’ On Demand December 16 through March 31, the draw shall open on signal if at least 24 hours notice is given. 13
127.8 Patroon Island Bridge 60’ Fixed Bridge    
130.5 Troy-Manands Bridge 61’ Fixed Bridge    
132.2 Congress Bridge 55’ Fixed Bridge    
132.7 Green Island Lift Bridge 29’ From April 1 through December 15, the draw shall open on demand from 0900 to 1600. The draw need not be opened from 1800 to 0700, unless notice is given before 1630 of the time the vessel is expected to pass, and need not open from 0700 to 0900 and 1600 to 1800. 13
133.0 Collar City Bridge 64’ Fixed Bridge    
134.0 Federal Lock at Troy   On Demand Closed 01 December through 30 April. 13
 

This table can be downloaded for your personal and private use. The file is Zipped Adobe (.pdf) format. Hudson River Bridges & Locks - Download.

Communications

With the exception of the VTS in the Lower and Upper Bays with their adjacent waters, and portions of the East and Hudson Rivers, no communication requirements exist. However, the prudent mariner would be well advised to maintain a listening watch on VHF channels 13 and 16 when in the vicinity of commercial traffic.

Vessel Traffic Service - New York

Mandatory Participation is required by:

Mandatory Monitoring of VTS- NY is required by:

Regardless whether you are required to participate in, or simply monitor the VTS system, you are required to have on board a current copy of the Vessel Traffic Services New York User’s Manual. A copy of this manual is available for download - VTS New York User’s Manual.

Speed Limits

There is no speed limit for the Hudson River except as defined by the COLREGS and common sense. The standard caveats apply to wake responsibility.

Transit Times

While transit times will vary based on vessel speed and currents encountered, for planning purposes figure on approximately 13½ hours to make the passage from New York City to the Federal Lock at Troy at 10 knots.

The Distance Table can be downloaded for your personal use as a ZIP file. The file contains the schedule in Adobe (.pdf) file format.

A distance table for the Hudson River useful as an aid in planning is available for download

Hudson River Distance Table

All Distances in Nautical Miles
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The Battery 0.0 9.5 23.0 32.6 44.9 52.6 67.0 79.0 97.3 116.9 124.3 134.0
G. Washington Bridge 9.5 0.0 13.5 23.1 35.4 43.1 57.5 69.5 87.8 106.5 114.8 124.5
Tappan Zee Bridge 23.0 13.5 0.00 9.6 21.9 29.6 44.0 56.0 74.3 93.9 101.3 111.0
Haverstraw Bay 32.6 23.1 9.6 0.0 12.3 20.0 34.4 46.4 64.7 84.3 91.7 101.4
West Point 44.9 35.4 21.9 12.3 0.0 7.7 22.1 34.1 52.4 72.0 79.4 89.1
Newburgh 52.6 43.1 29.6 20.0 7.7 0.0 14.4 26.4 44.7 64.3 71.7 81.4
Hudson Halfway Point 67.0 57.5 44.0 34.4 22.1 14.4 0.0 12.0 30.3 49.9 57.3 67.0
Kingston 79.0 69.5 56.0 46.4 34.1 26.4 12.0 0.0 18.3 37.9 45.3 55.0
Catskill 97.3 87.8 74.3 64.7 52.4 44.7 30.3 18.3 0.0 19.6 27.0 36.7
Castleton-on-Hudson 116.9 106.5 93.9 84.3 72.0 64.3 49.9 37.9 19.6 0.0 7.4 17.1
Port of Albany 124.3 114.8 101.3 91.7 79.4 71.7 57.3 45.3 27.0 7.4 0.0 9.7
Troy Lock 134.0 124.5 111.0 101.4 89.1 81.4 67.0 55.0 36.7 17.1 9.7 0.0

This table can be downloaded for your personal and private use. The file is Zipped Adobe (.pdf) format. Hudson River Distance Table - Download.

Tides

Tides in Hudson River can be greatly affected by a number of outside environmental factors. Because of these variables the predictions given in the Tide Tables for points above George Washington Bridge are based upon a 6 month average for the period, May to October, when the freshwater discharge is at a minimum.

The mean range of tide along the Hudson varies from 4.5 feet at The Battery dropping to 2.8 feet at Newburgh and increasing again to 4.7 feet at Troy.

Currents

Currents in Hudson River are influenced by the same factors that affect the tides. This results in extensive changes in both times of slack water and velocities and durations of flood and ebb. The currents usually set fair with the channels except in the vicinities of bends and wharves.

Velocities of currents tend to increase from 1.4 knots flood and 1.4 knots ebb in the vicinity of The Battery to 1.6 flood and 2.2 knots ebb at George Washington Bridge. North of the GWB current speeds tend to lessen slightly averaging 1.1 knots on the flood and 1.3 knots on the ebb as far north as Kingston. Once north of Kingston the current speeds drop again averaging 0.3 knots on the flood and 0.8 knots on the ebb. Once near Troy lock the current does not flood and the and the ebb has a velocity of 0.7 knots.

Keep in mind that these values are for the summer months when freshwater discharge is minimal.

Passage Pack

All tables mentioned above including: Hudson River Waypoints, Bridges & Lock Table, and Hudson River Distances can be downloaded as a single file.Hudson River Passage Pack - Download