Sunday, June 3, 2012

#20 - The Bay of Pillars

After filling the water tanks and adding another few items of provisioning last evening, we were ready to go at 6am.  The early departure means we can transit the Pillar Bay Narrows entrance near high tide of 1PM. High tide doesn't necessarily mean zero current because the size of Pillar Bay compared to the tiny entrance means water will continue to flow inward past the high tide time.  The Douglas Cruising Guide says the current continues for 60 or so minutes, so being a bit late is probably OK.  The Guide also states the authors "found 2 knots of flood current" so I would guess it probably doesn't ever exceed 3 or 4 knots?

Our route to the Bay of Pillars

We battled some swift currents around Keku Island and eventually things settled down once in Frederick Sound.  We followed the shoreline around the top, and then the west side of Kuiu Island.  The views westward toward Baranof Island were spectacular.  We dodged the ocean swells rolling up Chatham Strait by hugging the coast and running the passages behind the rocks and small islands. Eventually we entered the outer Bay of Pillars and began trolling for salmon.  After about 40 minutes it was time to brave the narrows and enter the inner Bay of Pillars.

Baranof Island looking west from Frederick Sound.

Baranof Island from the Outer Bay of Pillars.

Fishing the Outer Bay of Pillars and enjoying the view!

The Plight of the Alaska Fisherman.

The Bay of Pillars is complicated.

The narrow entrance to the Inner Bay is shallow.

The Douglass Guide recommends scouting the entrance by dinghy before attempting a transit.  But with a maximum current of 4 knots, we just need to steer clear of the rocks.  To insure we see the rocks, Vince mans the bow pulpit with two-way headset for direct communication to the driver.  We turn on the forward looking sonar, assign people to watch instruments and enter the narrows. 

Sea otters are everywhere in the Bay of Pillars.

Yet another otter-pop!

Vince looks like a jet pilot (or maybe TV announcer Curt Gowdy) in this Toys-R-Us headset.  The pair work great for around $40.  The marine version is several hundred.

The current is pushing us at about 1 knot or so, which is easily manageable.  Vince, now perched on the bow, says if there is a rock in front of us, he will let us know.  Pat calls depth and monitors the sonar.  We keep the rocks at bay and enter the inner Bay of Pillars.

Vince looks for rocks.

Pilothouse chatter in tight quarters.

The Entrance.

The inside is another world.  Quiet, serene and pretty.  From the Narrows, it's another 3 miles to the picture perfect anchorage.  We take many photos to record the sights.

Inner Bay of Pillars daytime.

Inner Bay of Pillars dusk.

Inner Bay of Pillars at 11PM.

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