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.

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 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 2019. 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    
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’ Opens on Demand 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. 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

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.

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 and Cape May to the south, there were 12 at last count. The principal shallow-draft entrances are 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 or closed to navigation.

Most all provide access to sheltered inland waters with many 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 below along with useful information on each to aid you in deciding if you wish to use a particular inlet.

Open Down Arrow NJICW - New Jersey Entrances, Inlets, and Passes
Shark RIver Inlet to Beach Haven Inlet

Shark River Inlet

Shark River Inlet lies 18.0 NM south of the entrance to New York Harbor and 5.6 NM north of Manasquan Inlet. Providing access to Avon, Bradley Beach and Belmar, NJ.

The approach is marked by buoy (RW "SI" Mo(A) WHIS) located at 40°11’09" N / 074°00’03" W, approximately 0.3 NM ESE of the entrance.

The entrance is protected by jetties to the north and south. The north jetty is marked by a lighted beacon (Fl R 4s 33ft 6M) and the south jetty by lighted beacon (Fl G 4s 33ft 7M)

A dredged channel leads through the jetties with a controlling depth of 10.5 feet to the Ocean Avenue Bridge. From the bridge a least controlling depth of 8 feet will be found.

There is no access to the New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway via the Shark River Inlet.

Cautions - Given the strong currents and the bridge at the entrance, it recommended this inlet only be attempted in settled weather without local knowledge. Vessels for which the Ocean Avenue closed bridge clearance (15 feet) is insufficient, should not attempt entrance until the bridge is completely open.

Tides and Currents - The mean range of tide is 4.0 feet in Shark River Inlet. Strong cross currents, strongest on the ebb, may be encountered at Ocean Avenue Bridge at the inner end of the jetties. When the winds and the tides are opposed, the inlet is difficult to enter.

Dangers - In stormy weather, breakers form along the bar off the inlet, but entrance can be made in moderately rough weather with some local knowledge.

Manasquan Inlet

Manasquan Inlet, located 22 NM south of Sandy Hook Light and 21.2 NM north of Barnegat Inlet, is the entrance to Manasquan River and the northern terminus of the New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway. It provides access to Brielle, Pt Pleasant Beach, and Manasquan, NJ.

The approach is marked by a buoy (R "2M" Fl R 4s) located at 40°05’32" N / 074°00’48" W, approximately 1.0 NM southeast of the entrance.

A dredged channel leads between two jetties, the north entrance jetty is marked by a lighted beacon (Fl R 4s 30ft 8M "4") and the south jetty by a similar beacon (Fl G 6s 35ft 8M "3" HORN (MRASS)). Last reports had 11 feet of water available until through the entrance and then 7.5 feet until the Pt. Pleasant Canal, 2.2 NM above the entrance.

The New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway is intersected at the outer ends of the entrance jetties at (MM "0.0").

Cautions - Traffic conditions in Manasquan Inlet can be hazardous due to the large volume of commercial and pleasure boat traffic. Mariners are advised to exercise caution and control speed and wake while transiting the inlet.

Mariners should exercise caution when entering Manasquan Inlet when the winds and tides are opposed; local knowledge is advised.

Tides and Currents - The mean range of tide is 4 feet in Manasquan Inlet and the current velocity in is about 1.8 knots.

Barnegat Inlet

Barnegat Inlet is found 21.2 NM south of Manasquan Inlet and 28.4 NM NNE of Absecon Inlet (Atlantic City, NJ). Providing access to Barnegat Bay, Barnegat, and Forked River, NJ as well as the NJICW.

The approach is marked by buoy (RW "BI" Mo (A) WHIS) located at 39°44’28" N / 074°03’51" W) approximately 1.6 NM southeast of the entrance.

Conspicuous is the 391 foot cooling tower of Oyster Creek Power Plant. At night, Barnegat Light (Fl 10s 163ft 22M at 39°45’51" N / 074°06’22" W), on the south side of the inlet.

The entrance is protected by jetties with rip rapped lighted beacons. The NNE jetty shows (QR 40ft 5M "6") and the SSW jetty Display a (QG 35ft 5M "7"). Two white and orange danger buoys are just off of the northern most jetty and mark the submerged portion of the jetty.

The inlet is subject to continual change due to shoaling. Buoys inside the channels are not charted because they are moved frequently to mark the best water.

It intersects the New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway 5.2 NM above the entrance at (MM "26.0") near buoy (R "42" QR).

Cautions - Strangers should not attempt to transit Barnegat Inlet under anything other than ideal conditions.

Tides and Currents - The mean tidal range at the Barnegat Inlet is about 4 feet. The current velocity in the inlet is about 2.5 knots, although currents as high as 7 knots have been reported.

Dangers - Breakers make across the inlet with an ebb tide and an easterly wind.

Beach Haven Inlet

Beach Haven Inlet, lying 17 NM SSW of Barnegat Inlet and 10.2 NM NNE of Absecon Inlet, is un-marked and has numerous un-charted wrecks in the entrance.

The bar at the mouth of the inlet with depths of 2 feet and less breaks in all but the most calm of seas. Due to constant shoaling it is advised that you seek local knowledge prior to use of this inlet.

The New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway can be intersected approximately 1.0 NM above the entrance at (MM "51.4") near buoy (GR "LEI" Fl (2+1) G 6s).

Cautions - The entrance to Beach Haven Inlet should not be mistaken for Little Egg Inlet, which is close to the south.

Open Down Arrow NJICW - New Jersey Entrances, Inlets, and Passes
Little Egg Inlet to Cape May Inlet

Little Egg Inlet

Little Egg Inlet, 19 NM SSW of Barnegat Inlet and close southward of Beach Haven Inlet. It affords access to Beach Haven and Tuckerton, NJ as well as Little Egg Harbor and the NJICW and is used considerably by local pleasure and fishing boats.

The inlet channel and shoreline are constantly changing, but the entrance is well marked. Buoys are not charted because they are frequently shifted in position. Depth over the bar is ample for any vessel that can navigate the inside waters.

The NJICW can be intersected near (MM "51.4") near buoy (GR "LEI" Fl (2+1) G 6s).

Cautions - In very heavy weather breakers form all the way across the entrance bar.

Dangers - An unmarked partially submerged wreck was reported at about 39°29’09" N / 074°17’31" W.

Brigantine Inlet

Brigantine Inlet, 2.6 NM SSW of Little Egg Inlet and 7.1 NM NNE of Absecon Inlet, has shoaled to such an extent that it is considered unsafe for navigation.

The inlet is unmarked with breakers forming across the entrance even in calm weather.

Absecon Inlet

Absecon Inlet (Atlantic City), 8.7 NM southwest of Little Egg Inlet and 7.7 NM northeast of the Great Egg Harbor Inlet. It allows access to Atlantic City and Brigantine, NJ as well as the NJICW.

The approach is marked by a pair of lighted buoys (G "1" Fl G 4s) and R "2" Fl R 2.5s) approximately 1.1 NM SSE of the end of the south jetty.

Conspicuous are the large buildings to the south of the inlet, visible well offshore at night.

The inlet is protected at the entrance by un-marked jetties a revetment extends along the Atlantic City side of the inlet.

The entrance is deep and well-marked, but the channel is subject to continual change and the buoys are frequently shifted to mark the best water. A fixed bridge, 1.5 NM above the entrance crosses the head of the inlet with a vertical clearance of 60 feet.

The channel through the inlet intersects the New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway 1.9 NM above the inlet entrance at (MM "65.1") near beacon (QR 15ft 4M "182").

Cautions - Care must be exercised when passing through the fixed bridge because of the strong currents. Velocities of 2.5 knots have been reported.

Tides and Currents - Mean tidal range at Atlantic City is 4 feet. Currents on average run about 2.5 knots, however velocities up to 6 knots have been reported in the inlet channel.

Dangers - Brigantine Shoal, 1.7 NM northeast of the entrance with depths of 5 to 17 feet.

Great Egg Harbor Inlet

Great Egg Harbor Inlet is located 7 NM southwest of Absecon Inlet and 25.4 NM northeast of Cape May Inlet. It allows access to Longport, Ocean City, and Somers Point, NJ as well as the NJICW.

The approach is marked by buoy (RW “GE” Mo (A) WHIS) located at 39°16’14" N / 074°31’56" W, 1.8 NM SSE of the entrance.

The entrance is well-marked, but due to severe shoaling, the buoys are not charted as they are frequently moved to mark the best water. A least depth of 14 feet can be expected on the approach and in the entrance channel.

A fixed bridge .75 NM above the entrance has a vertical clearance of 65 feet.

The New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway can be intersected at (MM "79.2") near buoy (R N "250A") approximately 1.3 NM above the entrance.

Cautions - Local knowledge is advised at all times when using this inlet.

Tides and Currents - The mean range of tide is 3.8 feet in the inlet.

Dangers - Breakers extend along the bar even in moderate weather and are hazardous to small boats.

Corson Inlet

Corson Inlet, 14 miles southwest of Absecon Inlet and 19.1 NM NNE of Cape May Inlet, is unmarked and is subject to constant change in depth and is considered to be unnavigable. It is reported that the entire entrance breaks in moderate weather.

Townsends Inlet

Townsends Inlet, 20 NM southwest of Absecon Inlet and 14 NM northeast of Cape May Inlet provides access to Sea Isle City and Avalon, NJ as well as the NJICW.

The approach is marked by lighted buoy (R "4A" Fl R 4s BELL) located at 39°05’23" N / 074°33’57" W; approximately 1.2 NM NE of the entrance.

The entrance while subject to changing positions and depths, is well marked with uncharted buoys to mark the best water. Numerous wrecks and obstructions are in the approaches to the inlet from seaward.

The bascule highway bridge over Townsends Inlet, approximately .9 NM above the south entrance jetty has a clearance of 23 feet in the closed position.

The New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway lies just west of the bridge (.1 NM above the bridge), and can be joined at (MM "96.5") near buoy (R "372" Q R).

Cautions - Local knowledge is advised at all times when using this inlet. The bascule bridge over the entrance is known to cause clockwise currents which may at times create hazardous conditions.

Tides and Currents - The mean range of tide is 3.8 feet in the inlet.

Dangers - A bar with least depths of 2 feet extends along the bar bordering the northern side of the entrance approach and breaks even in moderate weather.

Hereford Inlet

Hereford Inlet, 28 miles southwest of Absecon Inlet and 5.6 NM northeast of Cape May Inlet affords access to Stone Harbor and Wildwood, NJ as well as the NJICW.

Hereford Inlet is un-marked and considered unavigable and only seasoned and experienced locals tend to use the inlet.

The upper end of the entrance is crossed by a bascule bridge with 15 feet clearance in the closed position.

The inlet is subject to rapid changes and breakers form at all times on the bar and shoals across the inlet. The approach to the inlet is extremely dangerous with a following sea.

Conspicuous at night is Hereford Inlet Light (Fl 10s 57ft 18M).

Intersects the NJICW 1.5 NM above the entrance at (MM "104.4") near lighted beacon (Q R "436" 4M),

Tides and Currents - The mean range of tide is 4.1 feet in the inlet.

Dangers - A shoal in the middle of the approach to the inlet that bares at low water. This shoal breaks even in moderate weather.

Cape May Inlet

Cape May Inlet, found 34 miles southwest of Absecon Inlet and 12.3 NM northeast of the main entrance to the Delaware Bay provides access to Wildwood and Cape May, NJ. It also intersects with the NJICW and the Cape May Canal.

The approach to Cape May Inlet is marked by lighted buoy (R "2CM" Fl R 2.5s) located at 38°55’47" N / 074°51’21" W approximately 0.6 NM SE of the entrance.

Conspicuous from well offshore are the lights on the abandoned LORAN tower on the northeastern side of the inlet.

The entrance is protected by jetties marked with lighted beacon being shown from the ends. The northeastern jetty displays (Fl R 4s 25ft 6M "4") and the southwestern jetty (Fl G 4s 38ft 6M "5"). The entrance is deep and well-marked with range lights and lighted beacons and buoys at its upper end.

Depths between 11 and 30 feet can be carried through the inlet to the end of the inner jetties. From the inner jetties a channel marked by lights and daybeacons leads west through Cape May Harbor then divides north to the mouth of Cape May Canal and south to the mouth of Schellenger Creek.

The NJICW is intersected at (MM "112.7") near lighted beacon (Q R 13ft 5M "4").

Tides and Currents - The mean range of tide is 3.3 feet in the inlet. Tidal currents average around 1.6 knots in the inlet.

Dangers - A Coast Guard rifle range extends out approximately 0.8 NM from the shoreline and 0.8 NM westward from Sewell Point westward approximately 0.8 NM from the Cape May Inlet.

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