Inside Passage Blog

By Linda Lewis

 

 

June 14, 2007 – Wrangell and Rocky Pass

 

We are trying to take a few routes we have not used before and stop in at places where we have never anchored.
 
While we have been to Wrangell before, it has been about 10 years since our last visit. I was very curious to see how it has changed. Well... not much. Unfortunately, we managed to arrive right at the start of a three-day fishing derby. There was not an inch of space available as this is a very serious fishing area. So we just toured through and then left and anchored at Sokolof Island.
 
Here is the entrance to Wrangell's harbor, looking at what is called Reliance Dock.

The boats were truly wall to wall. Here is an example of boats rafted five deep.

Wrangell is building a new much-needed marina just south of the main harbor. Here is a picture of the under-construction Heritage Harbor. They hope to have it operational by September.

We have heard from a number of people that the ice is especially thick this year and it is not yet possible to go up Tracy Arm to see Sawyer Glacier. Some of the charter vessels have tried, but they can only get about a third of the way up and no further. So we decided to change our initial plan of a counter-clockwise route through SE AK to one that is clockwise. We'll go to Tracy Arm on the return leg of our summer trip, hopefully after the ice has done a lot of melting and we can get up to Sawyer Glacier.
 
That change in routing meant to me: ROCKY PASS. Yeah. So we went west from Wrangell along Sumner Strait and entered Keku Strait / Rocky Pass for a south to north transit. Fun again. (The last time we did a north to south passage.)
 
While anchored at the south end of Rocky Pass we noticed one of the markers in very open water was completely tipped over. Obviously it had been badly damaged by something. Here is the CG Elderberry steaming on its way to fix it. Clearly the Coast Guard is taking good care of the Rocky Pass markers. There was a period of time when that was not the case, but things have definitely changed.

While we were approaching an anchorage at the south end of Rocky Pass (to await the best timing for the transit) we noticed a familiar boat anchored in the bay, also waiting:  Abyssinia. Kim and Eric are delightful folks (they live aboard at Shilshole Marina in Seattle) and we usually cross wakes with them while we are up here. They use their vessel as a mothership for chartered kayak trips up here every summer. This was their second transit through Rocky Pass, a place they now consider a great kayaking location for them.

One of the questions I frequently get from boaters is how big a boat can make it through Rocky Pass. Well, the picture is the best answer: Abyssinia is 65 feet long and has a 6 foot draft. Here they are passing through the north leg of Devil's Elbow. After clearing the shoal you see, they will turn to port and head west towards green marker # 17.

Eric commented on watching my zig-zagging routing through here and said he was glad to see me heeding the rocks noted on the chart. He said he reconnoitered the tricky places by dinghy before going through the first time. He said emphatically that those rocks are really there. Anyone who is tempted to just do a straight line from one marker to the next is going to get into trouble in Rocky Pass for sure.
 
After a quick stop in Kake for a few groceries, we headed west in Sumner Strait and this is what we saw. Glorious snow capped mountains on the east side of Baranof Island.

This is truly glorious country.

What a privilege it is to be here.

Linda & Dave
M/V Royal Sounder

 

 


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