New Jersey Intracoastal - (NJICW/NJIWW)

Cruising the NJICW - Manasquan to Cape May

The New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway (NJICW) stretches about 117.7 SM (102.3 NM) from Manasquan Inlet, located about 40 NM south of New York City, to the western entrance to the Cape May Canal on the Delaware Bay.

New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway

Beginning at Manasquan Inlet, the NJICW takes you up the Manasquan River before turning south and entering the Pt. Pleasant Canal which connects to the northern reaches of Barnegat Bay. Once through Barnegat Bay, it continues south taking you through a torturous winding route, reminiscent of the AICW in Georgia; passing through marshes and small bays until finally arriving in Cape May Harbor. From Cape May Harbor your route turns west into the Cape May Canal for about 3.7 SM before arriving at the Delaware Bay about 2 NM north of Cape May Point, NJ.

Aids to Navigation

Buoys and Marks

Navigation is fairly straight forward, New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway buoys and beacons are marked like most other lateral marks in the U.S. the difference is that either Yellow Triangles or Yellow Squares are added to the mark to indicate they are ICW markers.

The rule is: When proceeding south on the NJICW (Manasquan, NJ to Cape May, NJ), markers with yellow triangles are kept to starboard and yellow squares are kept to port at all times.

Green ICW Marker Red ICW Marker

Regardless of the Color of the Mark!

This becomes critically important when the ICW temporarily merges with or crosses a second navigable channel.

Lights and daybeacons should not be passed close aboard because those marking dredged channels are usually placed back from the bottom edge of the channel and others may have rip-rap mounds around them to protect the structures.

Charts

NOAA Charts #12324, #12316, and #12317 provide coverage of the New Jersey ICW from Sandy Hook, NJ south to Cape May. Chart #12317 provides a large scale harbor chart of Cape May.

Chart #12324 - NJICW - Sandy Hook to Little Egg Harbor provides coverage of the New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway from Mile Marker 0.0 in Manasquan, NJ to approximately Mile Marker 45.0 at Long Beach, NJ.

Chart #12316 - NJICW - Little Egg Harbor to Cape May provides coverage of the New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway from Mile Marker 45.0 in Long Beach, NJ to approximately Mile Marker 118.0 at Cape May, NJ.

Chart # 12317 - Cape May Harbor provides large scale coverage of Cape May Harbor.

Distances and Mileages

All distances along the New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway are given in statute miles unless otherwise noted. Statute miles are used in order to conform to the distances shown on the small craft charts typically used along this route.

The New Jersey ICW (southbound) is measured based on increasing mileage between Manasquan Inlet (MM "0.0") and the western end of the Cape May Canal (MM "117.7") which marks the official end the New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway.

Channel Depths

The proverbial fly in the ointment! Every effort is made to maintain a controlling depth of 6’ throughout the waterway, but due to continuous shoaling, depths of 3’ MLW may be found especially in the areas south of Barnegat Bay.

The Cape May Canal Project Depth is 12’ between Cape May Harbor and the Delaware Bay. Mariners should be aware that the last survey of the Cape May Canal, done in April 2013, showed a least controlling depth of 4.1 feet mid-channel with 1.2 feet in the left outside quarter, between Spicer Creek Canal and the Delaware Bay at MLLW.

Communications

Bridges – VHF Channel 13.

Bridges, Locks, and Overhead Power Lines

New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway - Bridge Schedule

From Manasquan Inlet to Absecon Inlet the minimum clearance found for fixed bridges is 60 feet. From Absecon Inlet south to the Delaware Bay, the minimum clearance is 35 feet.

The following table lists the bridges; their schedules, and restrictions along the New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway (NJICW).

This list is believed to be accurate as of July 2020. If any errors or omissions are noted, please e-mail us at with any corrections or recommendations.


Open Down Arrow NJICW - New Jersey Bridge Schedule
Manasquan to Atlantic City

New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway


Manasquan to Atlantic City

Mile Marker Bridge Charted Vert. Clear. Schedule Restrictions VHF
0.9 Brielle RR Bascule Bridge 3’ Opens on Demand   13
1.1 Route 35 Bascule Bridge 30’ Opens on Demand 5/15 to 9/30 - On Saturdays, Sundays and Federal holidays, from 0800 to 2200, the draw need only open on the 1/4 and 3/4 hour. On Mon. thru Thu. from 1600 to 1900, and Fri. xcept Fed. holidays from 1200 to 1900, the draw need only open on the 1/4 and 3/4 hour. Year-round from 2300 to 0800, the draw need only open if at least four hours notice is given. 13
2.8 Route 88 Lift Bridge 31’ Opens on Demand 66’ Open 13
3.7 Route 13 Lift Bridge 30’ Opens on Demand 65’ Open 13
6.3 County 528 Bascule Bridge 30’ Opens on Demand Memorial Day through Labor Day on weekends and Federal holidays from 0900 to 1800, the draw need only open on the hour, 20 minutes after the hour, and 40 minutes after the hour. 13
14.1 Route 37 Bridge 60’ Fixed Bridge    
14.1 Route 37 Bascule Bridge 30’ Opens on Demand From 12/1 through 3/31, the draw need only open if at least four hours notice is given. From 4/1 through 11/30 from 2300 to0800, the draw need only open if at least four hours notice is given. From Memorial Day through Labor Day from 0800 to 2000, the draw need only open on the hour and half hour. 13
36.1 Donald J Henderson Bridge
(Route 72)
55’ Fixed Bridge Twin Spans  
67.2 Route 30 Bascule Bridge 20’ 4/1 to 10/31 - 0700-2300 need only open on the hour. 4 Hour notice at all other times. 11/1 to 3/31 4 Hour notice at all times. On 7/4 or 7/5 the draw need not open from 2140 - 2315. During the Atlantic City Airshow the draw will open every 2 hours on the hour from 1000-1600 and need not open from 1600-2000. 13
68.9 AMTRAK RR Swing Bridge 5’ Opens on signal from 2300-0600. From 0600-2300, the draw shall open on signal from 20 to 30 minutes after each hour. Opening of the draw may be delayed for RR traffic 13

Open Down Arrow NJICW - New Jersey Bridge Schedule
Atlantic City to Cape May

New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway


Atlantic City to Cape May

Mile Marker Bridge Charted Vert. Clear. Schedule Restrictions VHF
68.9 A C Expressway Bridge 35’ Fixed Bridge    
70.0 Albany Ave. Bascule Bridge 10’ Opens on demand except that: Year round 2300-0700 and from 11/1-3/31 1500-2300 4 hour notice is required. 6/1 to 9/30 - 0900-1600 and 1800-2100 opens on the hour and 1/2 hour. From 1600-1800 the bridge need not open. On 7/4 or 7/5 the draw need not open from 2140-2315. For the Atlantic City Airshow (the 3rd or 4th Wednesday of August), the draw will open every 2 hours on the hour from 1000-1600 and need not open from 1600-2000. 13
72.1 Dorsett Ave. Bascule Bridge 9’ 6/1 thru 9/30 – From 0915 to 2115 opens on the 1/4 and 3/4 hour. Other times on demand.   13
72.9 Margate Bascule Bridge 14’ Opens on Demand   13
77.5 Route 152 Bridge 56’ Fixed Bridge    
80.4 Route 52 Bridge 55’ Fixed Bridge    
84.0 Roosevelt Avenue Bridge 35’ Fixed Bridge    
93.0 County 625 Bridge 35’ Fixed Bridge    
97.2 County 601 Bridge 35’ Fixed Bridge Due to bridge construction, vertical clearance reduction through 25 May 2021.  
102.0 Stone Harbor Blvd Bascule Bridge 10’ Memorial Day thru Labor Day from 0600 to 1800 on weekends and Fed. holidays, opens on the hour and every 20 minutes thereafter. From 10/1 through 3/31 from 2200 to 0600 opens with eight hours notice. Other times on demand. From 2200 on 12/24 until 0600 on 12/26, the draw need open only if at least two hours notice is given. 13
106.6 N. Wildwood Blvd. Bridge 55’ Fixed Bridge    
108.9 G Redding Bascule Bridge 25’ Opens on Demand   13
112.2 Two Mile Bascule Bridge 23’ From 0915 to 1030 on the fourth Sunday in March of every year, the draw need not open for vessels. If the fourth Sunday falls on a religious holiday, the draw need not open for vessels from 0915 to 1030 on the third Sunday of March of every year. From 2230 on 12/24 until 2230 on 12/26, the draw need open only if at least two hours notice is given. Other times on demand NOTE: A proposal to replace this bridge with a 80’ vert. clnc. fixed bridge has been submitted to the USCG for approval. 13
115.2 GSP Bridge 55’ Fixed Bridge    
116.1 Seashore RR Swing Bridge 4’ Normally Open Closes for RR Traffic 13
116.2 NJ 162 Bridge 55’ Fixed Bridge    

The New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway Bridge List can be downloaded for your personal and private use below. The ZIP files contain the schedules in Adobe (.pdf) file format:

NJICW Bridge Schedule - Download

Temporary Long Term Bridge Restrictions

New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway

Mile Marker Bridge Charted Vert. Clear. Restrictions
97.2 County 601 (Avalon Blvd) Bridge 35’ From 01 September 2019 until 25 May 2021, the bridge will have a reduced vertical clearance of 33’.

New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway - Locks

None.

New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway - Overhead Cables and Power Lines

At last count, there were (12) cable crossings on the NJICW. Manasquan Inlet south to Absecon Inlet (Atlantic City) the minimum authorized clearance found for overhead cables is 72 feet on the northern end of the Pt. Pleasant Canal. From Absecon Inlet south, the minimum clearance for overhead cables is 35 feet found at the Roosevelt Blvd. Bridge.

Tides and Currents

The tidal range varies by location, with areas near inlets having a higher range than in areas well away from the inlets. Manasquan Inlet has a mean tidal range of 4.0 feet, Barnegat Inlet at 2.2 feet, Atlantic City with 4.0 feet, and the Cape May Canal (western entrance) at 4.8 feet.

Caution should be observed during times of strong long duration winds as they may cause variations in tidal levels of as much as 3 feet below MLW and 3 feet above MHW.

Current velocities may reach 3 knots in the inlets and their connecting channels leading to the NJICW while in the back bays portion of the NJICW the currents are less.

Extra caution should be exercised when transiting the Pt. Pleasant Canal. A combination of strong tidal currents, heavy boat traffic, (2) lift bridges, direct and reflected waves, wakes, and chop all combined and packed into a steel bulk-headed canal about 1.8 miles long and averaging about 135’ wide will require a little more attention by the captain.

New Jersey’s Entrances, Inlets, and Passes

There are numerous Entrances, Inlets, or Passes between the deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the outer coastline of New Jersey. Between Sandy Hook in the north to Cape May in the south, there were 12 at last count. The principal shallow-draft entrances are Shrewsbury River inlet, Shark River Inlet, Manasquan Inlet, Barnegat Inlet, Absecon Inlet and Cape May Inlet. There are several others that are unimproved and/or require local knowledge to safely enter.

Most all provide access to sheltered inland waters as well as providing access to the New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway.

The best time to enter any New Jersey Inlet is on a rising tide with a smooth sea; passage can become extremely hazardous during easterly gales and heavy seas.

We have listed them on the next page along with useful information on each to aid you in deciding if you wish to use a particular inlet.

NEXT - NJICW - New Jersey Entrances, Inlets, and Passes

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