- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

12 august 2013; British Columbia Inside Passage.

As we were going for a late tide at Seymour Narrows, the trip towards it was a slow one. With the sedate speed of 10 knots we trundled north following the coast of Vancouver Island, while staying more or less in the middle of Georgia Strait. The latter being the body of water that separates Vancouver Island from the mainland. Then the closer you come to Discovery Pass, in which the Seymour Narrows is located, the closer our course line comes to the Vancouver Island side. Finally we come to the point that is called Cape Mudge and that is where the start of the Narrow Passage begins. This is also the location, where I arrive on the bridge. Here the opposing traffic comes quite close to the ship and decisions that have to be made, in principle by the pilot as he is conning the ship that might go beyond the authority of the navigator to approve. There is normally quite a bit of traffic going either way, as every ship, boat or tug aims for the period that the currents in Seymour Narrows are at least below 4 knots. For the cruise ships, the pilots make arrangements before we come to Cape Mudge. Each cruise ship is on a different schedule and wants to maintain a different speed as soon as it is though the gap. Each captain discusses his needs with his pilot and then we normally come to a mutual arrangement. As we have a fairly slow average speed to maintain to get to Ketchikan, I prefer to go last and to get all the boys that are in a hurry ahead of me. That is easier for a second reason as well. Those that are ahead have to deal with all the traffic, while the Statendam following in the slipstream does not have a care in the world.  In this case there were only two cruise ships, the Celebrity Century and us. The Century is in a hurry as it has to go to up to Alaska for her first call and thus she went ahead of us as soon as we cleared the Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver harbor. Then it is just a matter of joining in the parade. Normally you stay about three miles away from each other, so there is room in case something happens. When you get closer to the Seymour Narrows, the line up becomes 5 minutes apart, which means that every 5 minutes a ship pops through the hole.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   In the Seymour Narrows there is the right of way for those who are on the following tide as it is much more difficult to stop or to hold position. When going northbound you have the round island – Maud Island- on the Starboard side. Here the current curves around the bend, which makes the approach so dangerous with strong currents. The tide will keep pushing you ahead, sometimes with five or six knots while you are on the approach. If you are bucking against the tide, it is much easier. You just put your bow into the current and maintain position on the engines. This time we had the tide with us, so everything north of the Narrows had to wait. In this case, log barges and fishing boats. We did not have any pleasure craft this time and that always makes life easier as not every yacht owner prepares for the voyage as good as they should and quite often do not have a clue what is going on. Becoming a danger to themselves and to others. At 03.20 we sailed through Seymour Narrows 20 minutes before slack tide with only 2.5 knots of current left. Then for the remainder of the night we sailed through Johnstone Strait, entering Queen charlotte Sound around 10 am. After a little haziness in the early morning it turned into a very nice day. A good day to start the Alaska cruise. Tomorrow we will be in Ketchikan and also there the weather forecast is calling for dry, even sunny weather, not too warm and very little wind.

2 Comments

  1. Very interesting. I would love to be up and out on the deck just once going through Seymour Narrows!

    Does HAL sail Grenville Channel / Princess Royale Isalnd now? This was such a great route! Humpbacks were so common and the scenery was outstanding!

    Hope you are getting back into the ship routine comfortably

  2. We will be sailing from Vancouver to Alaska next month albiet on the Century and therefore your latest blogs are even more interesting than usual! Thank you.

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