Five Finger Light and cell phone hotspots in SE Alaska waters.
27 June 2011 | posted at Juneau
Photo: Five Finger Light in Stephens Passage.
On one of our earlier trips to SE Alaska, I read the mystery, Murder at Five Finger Light by Sue Henry. The resolution of the mystery depended on a cell phone call from the lighthouse area. I was skeptical. Was there really cell phone service out in the middle of Stephens Passage? We hadn’t found any along the shore, why should there be service in the middle. But later that year, at Taku Harbor, we met volunteers who worked at the light and I asked them about the cellphone service. They assured me it was there and the author had visited the lighthouse and confirmed it.
We would be sailing right by the lighthouse on the way to Pybus Bay so I decided to test the service. As we left Cleveland Passage near Cape Fanshaw, I turned on my phone: nothing. But a few minutes later I tried again: one bar! A bit farther and I had two bars, then three. Quickly, I made a call, then Steve made a call too. As we passed the lighthouse, the three bars dropped to two then one.
Five Finger isn’t the only cellphone hotspot in remote locations in SE Alaska’s waters. Of course, just about every town of any size has service including Hydaburg, Klawock, Ketchikan, Petersburg, Wrangell, Juneau, and Hoonah among others, but not including the very small ones like Meyers Chuck or Whale Pass.
Here’s a list of the more remote hot spots that we’ve come up with so far.
Ratz Bay on Prince of Wales Island. The bay is deserted but there’s a cell phone tower on a hill above the bay. I made a call using it this year as we sailed by the entrance.
Offshore of Gambier Bay, Admiralty Island. Someone else told us about this one. When we sailed by we found only one bar, briefly two, so if you’re desperate it might be worth going closer and sailing back and forth to find the best place.
Icy Strait near Sisters Island. We were sailing west in Icy Strait in 2008 when I surprised to hear my cell phone ring., A friend was calling us from his boat, somewhere ahead of us. I’ll need to check the exact location of this hot spot but I think it’s real.
Cross Sound within view of Cape Spencer.
Any more? Add them by comment or email me and I'll add them to the list.