|1. It's all about Sea and
|On our way home in 1997, we
holed-up at Duncanby Landing in Rivers Inlet for three days waiting for
the Northwesterly to go down. It was an unusual weather pattern
where the wind, which usually goes to light each evening, persisted
through the night. For three mornings I had diligently roused
myself at 4:00 AM to check the weather, only to hear "Northwest 30
and gusting" from the lighthouse on Egg Island.
|When I awakened on the fourth
morning, Egg Island and all of the other reporting stations in the area
were reporting light & variable or westerly 5 knots. Oh for joy...we
are outta here this morning. We got underway shortly before first
light and made our way out into Rivers Inlet. It was not too bad going
out past Cranstown Point but there was a pretty big westerly swell
running from the three days of incessant wind. The swell exploding
on the shoals made for a spectacular show as we picked our way between
the fountains inside of Dugout Rocks.
All was a little rolly, but not bad,
until we passed False Egg Island at the north end of Smith Inlet. As we
continued south, the swell grew, become steeper and began to break.
This was all made worse because we were taking it on
the stern quarter and rolling our guts out. It was about this time that
I realized my mistake - The tide! - I didn't check the tide!
Scrambling for the tide book, I soon new that I had sailed off into one
of the largest ebbs of the year. What we were experiencing now was a
huge ebb current from Smith Inlet meeting the very large swell from a
three day blow.
We spent a very uncomfortable
three hours rounding Cape Caution, the first mate terrified and the dogs
cowering under the settee as Shelyann rolled, pitched and yawed in the
following breakers. We eventually made our way into Allison Harbour,
collapsed on the bunk and slept away the rest of the morning.
Through all of this, there was no wind;
It was all about sea and tide.
|2. Minimum depths in
lagoon entrances have little to do with the outside tide.
|College of the North Coast
|We had spent a leisurely
morning gunkholing along the Inlet when we eventually reached the
entrance to Ellerslie Loagoon. I hadn't thought previously of
entering the lagoon but as we arrived off of the entrance the current
was gently ebbing through the narrows of the rapids. It seemed
perfect, the slow ebb current would allow for good steerage while
entering and provide the option of drifting back out in a controlled
fashion if I didn't like what I saw.
The Coast Pilot and the chart said there
was three foot minimum in the entrance and the tide was now rising from
a mid-day 8 foot low tide. OK, a minimum of 3 feet says the book
and the tide is now over nine feet above datum... there should be
at least 11 feet through the entrance and I'm against a slight current
so we can back out if necessary. It was here that I made my mistake.
We proceeded, with Claudia on the bow
watching for obstacles which we found some distance off of the entrance.
After backing off and moving farther north in the channel we approached
the narrows which appeared narrower and narrower the closer we got.
Looks tight but "No problemo - 11 feet through the fairway." I
Just as we passed the tightest point in
the narrows we both spotted the rock shelf ahead. A couple of feet below
the surface, it appeared to block the entire channel...crap!!
Ok, no panic, just keep her straight with
the rudder and an occasional bump into gear and let the current drift us
out. It took a moment to realize that this strategy was not working as
we continued to advance on the shoal ahead. The current had chosen
that moment to reverse and we now had a following current carrying us
through the narrows towards the rocks ahead.
|As I prepared to reverse and
apply power to back us out our fate was sealed. One of the batwing
stabilizers bumped a rock, turning us broadside in the channel which was
barely wider than Shelyann is long. There being nothing more that could
be done at the wheel we both tended the pike poles, doing our best to
fend her off as we bumped and clanked over the rocks in the channel at
the mercy of the following current. Moments later the danger had passed
and we found ourselves drifting inside of Ellerslie Lagoon. After
collecting our wits, we made our way to anchor in front of the
spectacular waterfall at the head of the lagoon, all the while wondering
what happened to our 11 feet of water...
|3. An anchorage with
drifting icebergs is not a good place to anchor with a stern tie.
|Fords Terror Alaska
|4. I haven't done #4 yet.
Check for updates next year.