Braving Nakwakto Rapids. July 22, 2014
02 August 2014 | posted at Port McNeill
Photo: Signs put by boaters on Turret Rock in Nakwakto Rapids
Kelp streamed seaward as we motored up Schooner Passage against the current. Off to the side, water piled up on the upstream side of rocks, creating dizzying vortexes on the downstream sides. It was two hours into the ebb at Nakwakto Rapids and more than a mile away from them we could see the effect of the strong outbound current.
Descriptions of swirling, foaming water in the cruising guides led me to imagine being swept through the rapids out of control. I was glad we were approaching the Rapids on the ebb rather than the flood; any currents would be pushing us away rather than through. A 6 knot boat would be no match for 14 knot currents.
Near the rapids, around the corner and out of sight of their swirling dangers, we pulled into Cougar Inlet and anchored. We had four hours to wait for the slack-before-the flood at 6:57 pm when we would go through. Only the slightest current flowed through this little tree-lined inlet, more influenced by the stream at the inlet's head than the Rapids.
At 6:30 we raised anchor and got underway. We rounded the first corner to see Turret Rock surrounded by calm seas. Motoring by it we picked up speed as the flood commenced. There was just barely time to snap photos of the many signs nailed on trees, commemorating other boats' passages through the rapids.
In a few minutes we were through and turning north towards Belize Inlet. I looked back at Turret Island, still surrounded by calm water, then I looked at Steve and we both laughed. An easy, uneventful transit: we had timed it right.