Entering Fords Terror. June 27, 2013
24 July 2013 | posted at Craig
Photo: Currents at the entrance to Fords Terror
We arrived back at the entrance to the narrows into inner Fords Terror at 4:30 p.m., just a few minutes before high tide at Juneau. In previous years Steve and I had concluded that the narrows would be passable anytime from high tide at Juneau to an hour after. But this time we could see mist and standing waves just outside the narrows, indicating the tide was still flowing in too strongly to enter safely. The current would be with us but we could be dashed on a rock trying to negotiate the turns.
"I'm glad it's not foggy like yesterday," I said. "It would be terrifying not being able to see where we were going while hearing the sound of the current." Both Dave and I thought we could hear the sound of rushing water from the entrance but Steve was skeptical. "I think you're just hearing waterfalls," he said.
We took a turn around the outside basin, waiting for the current to slow. Two other sailboats were entering the outer basin and we knew Candor was inside already. Three other boats were two more than we'd ever seen inside before.
"That's what you get from writing articles about Fords Terror!" Steve told me.
As we watched, we could see the current diminishing and the mist that had been hovering above the narrows dispersing.
"It's time to go," said Steve. He lined up Osprey with the four stream braided waterfall, and headed 290. The other two sailboats fell in behind us.
In seconds we were in the current, picking up speed. Ahead we could see swirling water, green in the sunshine. We raced by the entrance and Steve turned Osprey to starboard to make the turn. I looked over at the side to see water boiling by the cliffs and up ahead to see the tall canyon walls of Fords Terror. It was terrifying and exhilarating.
"Wow!" said Karen. "This is the best place we've been in this whole trip!" I agreed with her. I'd been here two times before, but it still thrilled me. As the current slackened, we slowed down and had time to enjoy the scenery. We passed a tall waterfall with a powerboat anchored at its foot and looked up at the walls above us to see hundreds of smaller waterfalls. The canyon here is so narrow, we motored in the shade. We turned the corner into the West Arm and our anchorage opened up: green forested slopes with mountains above and plenty of room to anchor off the tide flats.
More photos of Fords Terror: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ejhulsizer/sets/72157639369206166/