Inside Passage Blog

By Linda Lewis



August 4, 2007 – Petersburg, then Down through Wrangell Narrows


Petersburg is one of our favorite stops in SE AK. It is still a true, active fishing community. At the same time, everyone there makes cruisers like us feel welcome.
The vessel below is off-loading its catch at the fish-processing plant.

Cruisers who moor at the North Harbor have to anticipate being moved around because we are actually parked in a fishing boat's temporarily vacant spot. If the fishing boat needs to get back in, we are asked to move to another spot. That's called "hot-berthing." In our three days at Petersburg, we were in three different slips. Not a problem. Good docking practice.

While some were working, however, some of us were just lounging. Weird foot rests.

But comfy... This is the best spot on the boat for looking around during morning coffee.

Purse seiners getting their nets ready to go out fishing.

When you leave Petersburg, the very fun 18 mile passage through Wrangell Narrows awaits you. Although passage isn't restricted by current patterns, those currents can sure affect your speed. Here's a marker in the water showing the current running at about 3.5 knots. We wanted to make our move that day, so we just lived with going against this current and having our speed markedly reduced.

This passage is really well marked with stationary markers (as above) and buoys in the water. It is so well marked, that looking down the waterway ahead of you can be a little disorienting. That's a lot of markers! You need to keep track of which marker is next in line and make sure you remember which side of the boat you leave the reds on and which side you leave the greens on. It's not hard; it just means staying alert and keeping track.

Here are some markers showing up on the radar screen. The single line to the top of the screen is the direction our boat is moving. The blobs in front of and to the right of the line are the markers and buoys. As helpful as radar and electronic charting are, Wrangell Narrows is a place where boaters have to be looking out the window. Traffic is a real issue here. There are some spots that are narrow enough that cruisers like us have to move to the side so the larger commercial vessels can pass through the bottlenecks first. Most of our attention during this passage is outside the window. (With quick checks of the depth sounder.)

Range markers are also very helpful along the way for staying in the center of the channel. The idea is to get these two red and white boards to line up with each other, one below the other. When they are lined up, you know you're in the channel.

Now, we're in the channel!

Here's the prize at the end of the narrows. More glorious country to look at.

Linda & Dave
M/V Royal Sounder



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