During the prime cruising season, twice a day around slack water at Dodd Narrows, Channel 16 is filled with Securité announcements from traffic passing through the Narrows. Many of these announcements are transmitted with the boat’s VHF radio on 25-watt “High Power” instead of the proper 1-watt “Low Power” setting.
For many years, the Waggoner Cruising Guide included a note suggesting that boaters might announce their movement in Dodd Narrows with a Securité call (on low power). While we still recommend using VHF 16 and Securité announcements for safety purposes, the 2019 Waggoner Cruising Guide’s revised write-up for Dodd Narrows passage suggests that boaters limit their announcements to vessels that only pose a safety concern for others. Take a moment to read the following copy of the 2019 Waggoner Cruising Guide’s revised Dodd Narrows information.
Dodd Narrows. Currents in Dodd Narrows run to 9 knots as water swirls through the narrow deep passage between cliffs. The narrows are best taken at slack water. For the hour or so before the predicted turn, boats collect at each end waiting for the right time. These boats include commercial craft, even tugboats with log tows or large barges, so the period around slack water can get pretty interesting. Generally, the boats on the upstream side go first, catching the last of the dying fair current. When they are through, boats on the other end go through, picking up the beginnings of the new (for them) fair current. It all works well as long as no one gets impatient. Vessels will be transiting in both directions during and around slack periods. Check for traffic by viewing AIS targets on both sides of the narrows and listen on VHF 16 for Securité calls from traffic that might pose a safety concern for other vessels. Tugboats with log tows and large commercial vessels will typically announce their intentions on VHF 16. In recent years, VHF 16 has been flooded with Securité calls from boats that may not need to announce themselves, so if your boat does not pose a safety concern for others, there is no need to make a Securité call. If you do make a call, be sure to use 1-watt low power. Don’t be in a hurry, and don’t try to pass a slower boat. Dodd Narrows is short. Travel single-file and leave room between your boat and the boat ahead and share the channel with opposing direction traffic.