Sunday, June 21, 2009

#24 - Prince of Wales Island: Dry Pass Anchorage to Hole-in-the-Wall #2

Our anchorage today is another Hole-in-the-Wall, which we call #2 for clarification. #2 has a shallow entrance so we need to arrive near high slack tide. But also we need enough water depth to exit Dry Pass and El Capitan Passage without touching bottom, a small dilemma solved by compromise. At 10:30AM the rising tide will be +4 feet, just enough to exit, and still rising in case we ground the boat.

El Capitan Passage: Dry Pass to Shakan Strait

After traps and anchor are pulled, we slowly enter the shallow western exit channel from Dry Pass, concentrating to keep center channel with red markers on our right side. “Securite Securite Securite, this is the 60-foot motor vessel Wild Blue westbound exiting Dry Pass for El Capitan Entrance”. This message is hailed over the VHF radio to alert oncoming traffic. We listen for a response, and receive a call back from Yachette, but he is further east, behind us. As no other call is received, we continue. The chart notes “6 FEET APR 2005” which is scary until you realize the tide is now +5 feet and rising. The rising tide brings with it the tidal current, which works against our forward progress. We 're doing turns for 6 knots, but the GPS says says we're making just 3.5 across the bottom. It's slow going.

Dry Pass Western Exit: “Red Right Returning” applies here, even though we are not.

Our Forward Looking Sonar: This device helps keep the boat in center channel

The relatively low tide exposes a small beach along the sides of the channel, making it skinnier looking. There is only room for one-way traffic, no passing, or U-turning. This is where a Securite call on the VHF Radio quite useful. We always send a Securite call in these situations, but some don't. Later we heard radio traffic between Coastal Messenger and Yachette as both met somewhere, mid-channel. One had to stop, reverse engine, and back out, which could have been avoided if either had made a Securite call prior to entering the channel.

We're almost free of El Capitan Passage, the western entrance/exit is just beyond the small island in the middle of the picture.

We reach Shakan Strait and heat it up to 9 knots. We need to make Hole-in-the-Wall #2 while the tide is still rising. When Wild Blue motors at 9 knots, it generates a huge wake, rolling anything as it passes. Birds, seals, logs and kelp all get rustled by our wake. As we approach and pass a sleeping sea otter, he continues snoring and dreaming and is undisturbed by our wake.

Sea Otter sleeps his way through Wild Blue's wake

We eventually arrived at Hole-in-the-Wall #2 on Prince of Wales Island's northwest shore. The entrance is narrow, shallow, has three well-marked rocks, and is about ½ mile long. The tide was high so the depth was suffient and we easily made it through the narrows to a wonderful bay. We set a trap just outside the entrance and one near a freshwater creek, each baited with fresh chicken legs, in hopes of interesting a few crabs.

Entrance to Hole-in-the-Wall #2: Note rock just left of bow.

Inside the bay is round like a bowl

Later in the day, we take a dinghy tour and land onshore. The Wild Blue exploration team, including a biologist and a forestry expert, hike the shoreline and coastal forest. Bones from recent deer kills and bear tracks are discovered and the flora is examined. The team deems the area healthy wilderness, without need of intervention.

1 comment:

  1. I may have to try a smaller "cruise" ship. Great photos and report. Thanks for sharing! We put together tips for a cruise on the bigger cruise ships: