Photo: Fog in outer Fords Terror.
From Gambier Bay we crossed Stephens Passage and entered Endicott Arm. Our plans were to anchor for the night at Sandford Cove just beyond the entrance, go up the rest of the Arm to Dawes Glacier the next morning, then return part way to Fords Terror for that night. But clouds were forming, the barometer was low and the north wind that had given us a nice sail across Stephens Passage would make Sandford Cove a lee shore. We decided to go another two hours to outer Fords Terror. It's a better anchorage and would make our trip the next day to the glacier and back shorter.
When we rounded the corner to enter the outer harbor, we could see wisps of fog swirling around cliffs obscuring the entrance to inner Fords Terror. It was beautiful seeing sheer cliffs above the fog but I was glad we were planning to go through the narrows the next day instead of that night. A passage through the Fords Terror narrows is terrifying enough without fog.
Through the fog we caught glimpses of a powerboat. We turned on the radar and continued in, following the south face of the basin's cliffs. We passed the powerboat and were getting the anchor ready to drop when a man came out of the boat's cabin and said, "You're welcome to come alongside." We took him up on his offer and tied up. The boat was Candor
of Bainbridge Island its sole occupant was Mike Zimmer. As we introduced ourselves I noticed a small multi-colored cat on the boat. "That's Izzy," Mike said. "I guess your cat is named Jigger." He had a copy of Glaciers, Bears and Totems
and had been reading it.
Mike told us he was planning on entering inner Fords Terror that night; he was waiting for slack tide. "You should leave now," said Steve, "or you might miss it. It's getting late."
Mike raised his anchor and we untied Osprey
and dropped our anchor where Candor
had had his. We watched as Candor
motored over to the four branch waterfall, then turned and headed for the entrance and into the fog. When Candor
disappeared in the fog, we watched it on the radar as Mike made a perfect entrance. He paused for a long time just before the turn into the Narrows and we wondered if the current was strong against him. The process looked frightening from our point of view but I realized Mike could probably see the entrance while we couldn't.
The fog in the outer basin settled in even thicker. The tide was going down and we weren't sure where we were in relation to the shoal near the entrance (it's not charted). Steve set the alarm on the depth sounder. "If we make it to 10:30, we'll be safe," he said.
At 10:00 the depth sounder alarm went beep. "We've still got 3 meters beneath us," Steve said. "We just need to watch it." At 10:20 we were looking at the depth sounder when suddenly it changed from 3 meters to 1.5 meters. "Can't be, we'd be aground," Steve said. We got out the lead line and I took it up on deck. Less than 2 meters. We were aground. We'd swung over a rock.. Fifteen minutes later we drifted off. The tide was now on its way up.
The next morning it was pouring rain. "Does it make sense to go to the glacier in the rain?" asked Karen. We decided to wait for the rain to diminish before leaving, but the tide was going out again so we raised anchor and went farther into the basin and closer to the wall. There we found plenty of deep water for anchoring, in fact it was hard to find water shallow enough. Eventually, the rain tapered off and we left. We'd be back that afternoon to brave the narrows.
Photo: one of two uncharted shoals on either side of the entrance to Fords Terror. shown at low tide the next morning. (Looiing out towards Endicott Arm.)