- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

26 August 2013; Inside Passage.

According to plan we arrived at 02.15 at Cape Mudge which is at the entrance of where it gets narrow and which leads to the Seymour Narrows. It was quite busy and the pilots had a lot of work with getting some tugboat captains to comply with the necessary passing arrangements. We were coming up with the current behind us and so we had the right of way, but there were a few tug and tows waiting on the other side that were not exactly planning to wait for that. However wisdom prevailed (plus the fact that the Canadian Coastguard is listening in as well on the VHF channels) and all was well in the world. We had a beautiful wind still clear night and as soon as we were away from the glare of Campbell River we could see all the constellations lined up in the sky. A great night for the cadet to figure out where the Big Dipper and Orion was and what that bright star in between was. Which turned out to be a planet.

In the mean time I was trying to figure out the weather forecast. Gale warnings had been given for Johnstone Strait and 50 knots of wind later in the day for Queen Charlotte Sound. But outside it was completely wind still and also the latest weather charts were not indicating what was announced. Then by 4 am. the weather updates came in and the gale warnings had been reduced down to a maximum of 35 knots of wind from the South East. That would be a following wind and thus not much of an issue for us. The ship was making 18 knots, the wind was going to be at a maximum of 35 knots and that meant not too much relative wind on the deck. It turned out that the weather front West of Vancouver Island had not moved further inland and was dissipating slowly.

Indeed only for a few hours did the wind reach 35 knots but most of the time it was under 25 knots and that made it pleasant on deck with only a gentle breeze to contend with. Apart from that there was the rain. Each weather system brings rain towards the coast and thus we had a lot of it. That reduces my hopes for tomorrow for a dry day in Ketchikan. In the morning the weather looked like it was shaping up to be dry, but as this weather system was blowing itself out off the coast, it had as a result that the rain clouds will remain where they are and linger over the southern panhandle.

By 07.00 hrs we were through all the narrow parts of the passage and I could stand down for a few hours. The pilots left as planned at their pilot station and then we sailed into Queen Charlotte Sound. A peculiar thing was that we hardly saw any whales today. Also the sightings in Alaska are going down, so I wonder if the whales are leaving early this year. There are still enough of them around for good sightings, while near Glacier Bay, but the count is down compared to last year. What we did see were lots of small dolphins or Porpoises. At least 200 of them near Blackney Pass (see post of 24 August for the chart); all in a sort feeding frenzy so they must have come across a shoal of fish. The way they went about their business gave me somehow the idea that not much was going to be left of that shoal once they were through.

Tomorrow morning at 05.00 hrs. we will be at the Twin Island pilot station to embark our American pilots and then head for Ketchikan. Then we arrive around 06.30 near the dock. Nearly wind still weather is predicted but I wonder how wet it is going to be.


  1. Going back to the subject on your Vancouver post. Thank you for the explanation as to how you true your compasses. Do you have to also true your radar ? How is that done.

    • A gyro error is much less of an issue. And if we observe any, it can be corrected on the machine. Plus DGPS gies such correct readings in heading and speed that we always know the true heading to deal with.

      Thank you for reading my blog

      Capt. Albert

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