Recently I met up with an old sailing acquaintance of mine down in Barnegat Bay, NJ for a group sail with some members of the TSCA (Traditional Small Craft Association). My friend Kevin was launching his newly completed Welsford Navigator Yawl, built in his Maryland home shop last winter. I was very curious to see the boat, because this is a design that I am considering for a future building project of my own.
We launched from the Ocean Gate Yacht Basin at the mouth of the Toms River, sailed out to the barrier island before a light westerly, and anchored for lunch. There were ten boats in all, including several Joel white designed Marsh Cats, a Melonseed, and recent version of an Ed Monk sloop design
from the 1930's.
During lunch, the southerly filled in, and we had a lively thrash towards Barnegat Light in a good 15 knots of wind, with a steep chop. The Navigator acquitted herself well in these conditions, carrying full sail without alarming her crew in the least. She's a full-bodied boat, with a ton of interior space on a relatively short waterline, but with bow sections fine enough not to pound unmercifully.
We again joined the other boats at anchor behind Island Beach State Park.
This is a popular anchorage with the power boaters as it allows access to the ocean beach and bathhouses. Some of the group crossed over to swim, and some hit the heads facilities. We tucked a reef into the Navigator's main for the run home, jibing frequently (planned and otherwise) without incident. The other boats were reefed down as well.
Barnegat Bay is an excellent destination for sailors or kayakers, with a lot of challenging, open water, and excellent beach access. The marina at Ocean Gate charges $10 to use their ramp, and parking for boat and trailer is available. This is probably a better weekday destination, as I'm sure the area fills to capacity on the weekends.