Street Signs in the Wilderness. Green Island Anchorage. July 23, 2018.
20 August 2018
Photo: A "street sign" identifying Green Island Anchorage.
From Fitz Hugh Sound, we turned into Fifer Bay then into the narrow channel between Sweepe and Blair Islands. From there we exited into Patrol Passage, entered Illahee Inlet, passed two unnamed islands and finally put Green Island to Starboard before swinging around to drop our anchor.
We knew where we were from the chart, but If we had had any doubt after all those turns, all we had to do was to check a wooden sign on a small unnamed island at the anchorage entrance: "Green Island Anchorage" it said, its black letters just barely visible beneath the green lichen draping the sign.
Many, but not all, of the undeveloped anchorages on the Inside Passage have such signs, usually near the entrance of the bay or cove. Who puts them there, I've never been able to find out, but I doubt it's anyone official. When I first saw them, I thought they were just a quirky characteristic of the Inside Passage. But I've come to see them as something more: a reminder that the Inside Passage is more than just a playground for recreational boaters. It's also a historic highway. Before the European explorers arrived, First Nation peoples plied the Inside Passage in their canoes -- visiting, trading and even warring with other tribes. As Europeans settled the land, they too used the Inside Passage as a highway for goods and people while the First Nations continued their travels, sometimes commuting to summer jobs of hop picking in Puget Sound and fish processing all up and down the coast. During the Klondike Goldrush, the Inside Passage was a highway to riches, or at least adventure, bringing goldseekers to Alaska and gold south.
Today, a parade of tugboats, ferries, fishboats and even cruise ships pass through these waters. It's still a highway, but it's also a wilderness.