I have purchased your Waggoner Cruising Guide for the last two years.

As a matter of fact, I met you at the Vancouver Boat Show last year. I have made many trips from Campbell River, up Johnstone Strait, into Port Hardy and to the Broughton Island area. My boat is a 28′ Harborcraft named “Babu”.

However, I have never crossed the Queen Charlotte Sound. I have read your remarks on checking weather on West Sea Otter Buoy. The Marine Atlas Volume Two, Port Hardy to Skagway, says to only cross the Queen Charlotte Sound in a small boat at flood tide only. I want to go in mid-August, and if I read my tide chart correctly, high tide would be at midnight until 2:00 am, or mid-afternoon. If I wait until mid-afternoon, I would probably have to contend with winds.

What are your thoughts in this regard, and what is your favorite route to cross the Queen Charlotte Sound? I would appreciate your comments.

Wendell Umble


Response

Wendell,

You’re right: the mid-August tides aren’t pretty. August 15 is near new moon, and the big ebb tide bottoms out in the middle of the day. From our experience, the biggest problem crossing on an ebb is off the mouth of Rivers Inlet. A lot of water pours out of Rivers Inlet and it collides with ebb currents from Fitz Hugh Sound and the other inlets. In calm conditions the result is big rollers. If an on-shore wind is blowing, it gets pretty bad. Ebb or flood, if an on-shore wind is blowing, I would wait.

Don’t cross in the dark. There’s too much drift floating around out there.

As I look at my tide book I see we’re going to face the same situation going north around July 1 coming south around July 20. Hmmmm. I think we might try to go north a week earlier, on smaller tides, and south a week earlier, again on smaller tides.

On the other hand, I see from my logbook that last summer we faced big ebbs in the mornings on both crossings, and the crossings went well. Going north, we left Port McNeill at first light and carried the ebb across Queen Charlotte Strait to the Jeanette Islands, then turned toward Cape Caution. We rounded Cape Caution at noon, and carried the afternoon flood into Rivers Inlet in mid-afternoon.

Coming south, we exited Fitz Hugh Sound in late afternoon, and because there was no wind, we changed our plan to overnight in Rivers Inlet Instead, we carried on and had an excellent crossing. Ebb or flood, you have to judge the conditions as they are that day, and make the best decision you can.

For a morning crossing on a big ebb, I would use the Pine Island route, and I would get well offshore, especially off Cape Caution and off the mouth of Rivers Inlet.

As general advice, I would say that you should be cautious and conservative, but not paralyzed. The weather on any given day can run against the general pattern. Cape Caution always is interesting. Dealing with Cape Caution is part of the satisfaction. Being north of Cape Caution is the reward.

Regards,
Bob Hale

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