Entering the NY Harbor from the Ocean:
In order to find the currents information refer to Eldridge – Tide and Current book of the present year or use one of the tides & current websites recommended below. The reference point is The Narrows, NY Harbor – which is located at under the bridge – mid channel (40°36.56’N 72°02.77’W)
Ideally getting under the Verrazano should be timed for the time where the flood starts (south to north) .The flood typically runs for approximately 6 hours with velocities ranging from 1.4 – 2.3 knots (depending on moon cycle). The maximum flood is 2 hours and 25 minutes after flood starts.
If you happened to miss the flood window you will just have to take into account being pushed back the ebb (north to south). Ebbs (velocities are ranging from 1.7 – 2.5 knots and the maximum ebb is 3 hours and 15 minutes after the ebb starts. If that happens try to steer your boat as much as west as possible (remember – maximum current will be in the middle) where the current is relatively weaker. On the east side the current is relatively stronger as it is affected with both the Hudson River current and the East River Current.
Sailing by Liberty and Elis Islands: Identify white floating marks around both islands that are designating the security zone around these islands. Avoid getting between these marks and the islands as if you do – you’ll get a police boat approaching you in just a few minutes 😉
Do not attempt going west of Liberty Island (behind the statue) as this area is restricted as well as contains unexpected shallows. Same for Elis Island (that also has a bridge running between the Island and Liberty State Park which is pretty short).
Please note that the area south of Liberty Island is rocky and in low tide depth are getting extremely shallow (between 30cm – 2.5m/ 1-7.5 feet). If you wish to navigate west of the Statue of Liberty in order to get a spectacular view of the harbor enter a well marked channel with red and green buoys (remember: Red Right Return! Meaning on your way west you’d like to keep red buoys to your starboard and green buoys to your port). The first buoy is a nun red buoy 2, marked in Navionics as “National Dock Channel Buoy 2” (40°41.155’N, 74°2.657’W).The channel runs south of Liberty Island and narrows as it gets more west and closer to Liberty State Park. If you follow the buoys all the way in your will end up at a well protected cove where you can anchor overnight. Make sure to check your depth before anchoring – in general – the northern part is deeper (3-4.5m/9-14 feet) than the southern part (rocks awash – 1.25m/4.9 feet). (See Navionics screen shots).