Voyages North

22 September 2017 | Posted in Seattle
08 September 2017 | Posted at Spencer Spit, San Juan Islands
18 August 2017 | Posted at Spencer Spit, San Juan Islands
17 August 2017 | Olympia
22 August 2016 | posted at Prideaux Haven, Desolation Sound
29 July 2016 | Posted at Hakkai, Fitz Hugh Sound
29 July 2016 | Posted at Hakkai, Fitz Hugh Sound
29 July 2016 | Posted at Hakkai, Fitz Hugh Sound
08 July 2016 | Posted at Ucluelet

Discovery Passage and Seymour Narrows. May 24, 2013

28 May 2013
Elsie Hulsizer
Photo: Osprey following the shoreline in Discovery Passage to catch a back eddy

As we approached Cape Mudge at the south end of Discovery Passage, a line of breaking waves interrupted the glassy calm waters of Georgia Strait. We were going through large tide rips where the flood from Discovery Passage and the Straits of Georgia meet.

We had left Pender Harbour at 7 am intending to arrive at Cape Mudge about two hours before the end of the flood, giving us plenty of time to reach Seymour Narrows at slack before the ebb. The current floods south and ebbs north through both Discovery Passage and Seymour Narrows so to arrive at Seymour Narrows at the right time requires going against the flood. The trick is not to arrive too early when the flood is strong or too late to catch the slack. We'd encountered favorable currents in Malaspina Strait and had arrived early.

Although the destruction of the infamous Ripple Rock by the largest non-nuclear explosion in history took out the worst of dangers in Seymour Narrows for ships, for small boats the Narrows can still be dangerous: 16 knots of current at max current is nothing to play with!

Ahead of us the tug Arctic Titan, towing a large barge of containers, was disappearing around the bend at the cape. To our port the Western Titan towed another large barge of containers. Steve slowed Osprey down to let Western Titan get ahead of us and steered toward the shore. I glanced at the GPS and was surprised to see our speed was still seven knots, almost a knot above our usual cruising speed. We were in a back eddy.

We stayed close to the eastern shore all the way north to the Narrows, our speed varying between 6-9 knots with only an occasional dip down to four or five when we got out of the back eddy. On the radio we listened to Comox Traffic advising the tugs. In addition to the two Titans heading north, the tug Aware was heading south towards us.

We watched in surprise as the Western Titan started turning in the middle of the channel. "I'm doing a 360 turn," we heard him tell Comox Radio. "I don't want it to be too crowded going through."

Riding the back eddy, we reached the Narrows forty minutes before slack. But all appeared calm in the water, no whirlpools or over falls. There was no reason not to go through. On our chart plotter, we could see the AIS (Automatic Identification for Ships) symbol for the Aware. They would be arriving at the Narrows just when we would -- going the opposite direction. We stayed close to shore, almost touching the kelp, as we rounded the corner. And thank goodness we did, the Aware, a big yellow tug, pulling a large empty fuel barge was coming `down the passage. A few minutes later and we were through. The traffic had been scarier than the currents.
Tug Aware
Photo: The tug Aware going through Seymour Narrows.
Vessel Name: Osprey
Vessel Make/Model: Annapolis 44 sloop
Hailing Port: Seattle
Crew: Steve and Elsie Hulsizer (author of Glaciers, Bears and Totems and Voyages to Windward)
Elsie and Steve Hulsizer have sailed northwest waters since arriving in Seattle via sailboat from Boston in 1979. [...]
2017: local cruising including South Puget Sound and San Juan Islands 2016:north up West Coast VI, across QC Sound to central BC coast 2015: trip to SE Alaska 2014: Seymour and Belize Inlets through Nakwakto Rapids 2013: SE Alaska and back. 2012: from Seattle up the west coast of Vancouver [...]
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