Exploring Southeast Alaska
Dixon Entrance to Skagway

Readers' Reviews
First Edition


Howdy, Kris Jensen from Ketchikan, AK here. I used this book [Exploring Southeast Alaska] along with Proven Cruising Routes and a copy of the old book, Exploring the Inside Passage I picked up at Port Neville. Definitely played a large part in my enjoyment of this entirely too short trip from Anacortes home with the new boat. I used the 16 day got to get back before I'm late for work, haul butt itinerary. Not bad for a 5.5 Kt cruise and never sailing at night.

Anyway I did run into a minor problem at one point I figured you'd want to know about. On the second to the last day (21 Jun 01) we anchored in Morse cove on Duke Island. I noticed the current on our run in was near 4 kts in the narrow spot so I figured I needed to plan my departure for near slack water to ensure I'd be able to push out against the current. Low tide on 22 Jun was -3.75ft at 0810 at Ketchikan so I was concerned about the depth. My chart showed 1.25 Fathoms near the rock but your chartlet in the book showed 2 Fathoms. Hmmm. I figured I'd putt down there at low slack and see if you were right since I didn't want to hang around till high slack. If the chart was right I'd be right on the bottom, if you were right I'd have about 4 feet under the keel, no sweat. So we head down the narrow passage just after 0800. Very quickly I notice we are moving faster than I'd like to and throttle back. As we pass the last point I could possibly have tried a U-turn we're at idle and are doing over 5 Kts on GPS! My dad is on the bow spotting the channel, the bottom is very visible as we slide by the rock. Kelp is visible all across the channel beyond the rock, I aim for the thinnest spot. We run aground in gravel, sand and large rocks approximately 150 feet to seaward of the rock. The dink slams into the stern and fills about a quarter with water before it bounces back up and slides around to the side. I get this great idea to spin the boat sideways and increase our drag and heel to hopefully lessen our draft and carry us over this high spot. Deeper water is plainly visible only 20 feet ahead. I allow the current to pull the rudder to one side and we slew quickly broadside to the current and heel approximately 20 degrees. It feels like we're moving but I think it's just the rushing of the water. Yep, definitely stuck. The rudder is jammed hard over against a rock, I'm worried about it so we stand on the bow waiting for slack water. My dad wonders aloud why we came down here at 7 in the morning and I realize I forgot to change my watch over to AK time when we crossed the line! Arrggh! Saw no bugs at all during our evening in Morse Cove, now that we are sitting ducks, they descend in clouds as we wait on the bow. After significant loss of blood we say "screw the rudder" and run for the cabin. At about 0815 (Alaska time) the boat stands up and we wait for the tide to turn. Watching from the companionway hatch the tide reverses at 23 mins after low slack in Ketchikan. Now the concern is how fast will the current be when there is enough water to float us out of the pocket our keel is now sitting in. I really don't want to be carried backwards by the current and find a big rock with my rudder. As the current begins to flow and the boat rises we are able to spin back around into the current with a shot of throttle against a hard over rudder. 30 minutes after slack we are lifted free and I feel us slip backwards a few inches and bump another rock. I pop the engine in gear and slowly motor forward against the current until the keel hits the sand again. I figure I'll hold it against the ground as long as possible and try to do a 180 if I can't out run the current. Soon we are running at cruising RPM which usually nets about 5.5 Kts and have only a little throttle left. My dad is up on the bow looking for a path through the rocks, he says it looks a little deeper to starboard once I get around this big rock. I back off the throttle about 3 RPM and we slide back a few feet and maneuver around a large rock. I have to go to full power to get moving forward again. We slowly crawl past the kelp and large rocks toward deeper water. Finally our speed begins to increase over the ground and the Depthfinder has something to report. So, I can accurately report that on a minus 3.75 foot tide there is somewhat less that 4 foot 7 inches in the channel at Morse cove. Looks like the chart was closest.

Next item is just for information. I work at the Coast Guard Loran Station at Shoal Cove in Carroll Inlet. We commute by boat from town and I have acquired some useful knowledge you may wish to add to the sections on page 112 and 113. The Coast pilot entry for Shoal Cove (actually the little cove just north of Shoal Cove) is seriously out of date. There are presently no logging operations going on the eastern shore of Carroll Inlet, the logging camps have been dismantled. The Forest Service has installed a very nice float with a vehicle ramp and about a 35 foot finger on one side. This is a public access float and may be used by anyone on a first come first served basis. The only thing you may wish to consider is leaving the front face of the main float open since that is the only area easily accessed by float planes. It's also where we tie up our 44 foot crew boat on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings to do crew swaps and pack stores. If there is no space when we show up we'll make you move. (privilege of being the only people who have to pay to use this dock!) There is all kinds of water on all sides of this float so draft is not a concern when tying here. I've even checked the shore side of the finger and on the lowest of tides there is still room to get a boat drawing 6 feet back there. Water and Gasoline are no longer available. Occasionally there are Forest Service people working out of the camp just up from the dock, you'll be able to hear the generator running if they're around. If you do find yourself in a non-emergency situation that doesn't require a seaborne response (i.e.: medical, mechanical, electrical) the Loran Station monitors channel 81A during waking hours and is about a four mile drive from the dock. We are not specifically tasked with search and rescue but being who we are, were usually glad to help out when we can. Normal SAR of course is via 16 like always, but it will take the stations boats around 40 minutes to an hour to get there. We also have a rickety old float on the south shore of this cove. We park our morale skiff over there and occasionally personal boats. Mooring is not allowed without the Commanding Officers permission. If there is no room at the Inn you could try radioing the station and requesting permission, but it depends on the CO's mood. Also I wouldn't tie up anything of size if the wind is blowing, the concrete abutment the float is attached to is eroding away from underneath and is eventually going to tip over and fall in the water a larger vessel with more wind load might exacerbate the problem. Towards the Island on the north side of the cove is a large round steel buoy, low in the water. Not a threat for an approach from the South or West but if you head in or out from the North in low light it's something to think about. In about 100-120 feet of water to the xxxxx of the island is some of the best Dungeness crabbing to be found. Got several near 8 inches across last time out.(crabbing info to be held in the strictest of confidence) North, in Shelter Cove they are doing some logging, the Forest Service has built a float similar to the one we have in our cove there also. Further north in the head of the inlet is the Swan Lake Hydro project. It is just past a large sandbar from the outflow of the river. The sandbar extends almost halfway across the inlet from the Eastern shore right under the power lines where they cross, so don't spend all your time gawking at the towers and the staff quarters, check your chart and depthsounder. There is a public float and a picnic/recreation area and public restrooms. When you arrive check in with the Dam staff via a phone on the dock, if they're not busy you can get a tour of the powerhouse. The short (.5mile) uphill hike to the top of the dam is pretty cool. Make sure to try the road just before the top when you come back down, it curves back around for a nifty view of the face of the dam.

Back in Ketchikan I believe the old section of floating bridge is no longer in use as the airport passenger float. Whenever we take anyone to or from the airport we tie up at the south end of the seaplane floats. There is a small building on the float and room to tie up several boats. The ramp goes almost directly up to the terminal. This is all on the North side of the Ferry dock. Well that's what I got, hope to see you up this way in the future, I'll probably be in town, Shoal Cove gets a new XO this summer and I'm taking on the Electronics shop on the Base.

Kris Jensen
Fair Winds


Dear Fine Edge,

I have a copy of "Exploring Southeast Alaska" and have a problem.

We are using the "Classic Itinerary" as a course for our trip. There are 5 stops on that Day 48,49,50,51 and 52 that are not listed in the "appendices and References" Do you know what pages we might locate them on. We are buying our charts based on our itinerary and need to make sure we have them all.

Derek Ingram

Dear Derek,

Don and Reanne are in Alaska at the present time, and unavailable to answer your query. So the crew at FineEdge forwarded your question to me.

It sounds like you have a lovely trip ahead of you. For your information the stops on days 48, 49, 50, 51, and 52 are not described in "Exploring Southeast Alaska", but they are described in "Exploring the North Coast of British Columbia" The Itinerary includes a stretch through Petrel Channel, Principe Channel, Estevan Sound, Camaano Sound, Laredo Channel, Laredo Sound, and Milbanke Sound. This is a beautiful trip, but it does include a short-cut through Higgins Passage, which is a drying channel that you must transit only at high-water slack. I would not recommend transiting Higgins Passage if your boat draws more than a few feet of water. Your other options are:

1) Go around the south end of Price Island (Catala Passage) and across Milbanke Sound to Seaforth Channel.
2) Transit Myers Passage to Klemtu and then either Jackson Passage or Oscar Passage and through Reid Passage, or directly from Klemtu to Seaforth Channel

The route is shown on pages 507 to 509 of "Exploring Southeast Alaska"

The anchorages you will be interested in are as follows

Day 48 Captain Cove--page 319 "Exploring the North Coast of British Columbia"
Day 49 Patterson Inlet--page 310 "Exploring the North Coast of British Columbia"
Day 50 Helmcken Island Cove--page 225 "Exploring the North Coast of British Columbia" (should read "Smithers Island Cove"-Helmcken Inlet)
Day 51 Kynumpt Harbour (Horsfall Island)--page 103 "Exploring the North Coast of British Columbia"
Day 52 Goldstream Harbour--page 89 "Exploring the North Coast of British Columbia"

For more information
1) Higgins Passage--page 212 "Exploring the North Coast of British Columbia"
2) Catala Passage--page 211 "Exploring the North Coast of British Columbia"
3) Myers Passage--page 215 "Exploring the North Coast of British Columbia"
4) Jackson Passage--page 191 "Exploring the North Coast of British Columbia"
5) Oscar Passage--page 190 "Exploring the North Coast of British Columbia"
6) Reid Passage--page 185 "Exploring the North Coast of British Columbia"

You can see the entire route (except for Captain Cove) on Canadian Hydrographic Service chart 3744, or on the FineEdge planning maps available through the FinEdge web-site. I also strongly suggest obtaining a CHS Canadian Chart Catalogue (and a NOAA US chart catalogue) from any chart seller, and use it to select the charts you will be needing. I also find the Chart Catalogue invaluable in the wheelhouse. One glance at the catalogue will tell you which chart to pull out of storage next greatly simplifying the task of managing your charts.

Best wishes
Kevin Monahan
Shipwrite Productions


Hi. My son and I recently returned from Alaska's Inside Passage. Your book was indispensable. Our trip was much more enjoyable, and safer, because of it.

Dave and Jacqui Barrie
Yarrow, BC, CANADA


To FineEdge.com,

I love your publications and am currently using "Exploring Southeast Alaska" to plan our cruise this summer. We are cruising from Sitka to Glacier Bay June 23 to July 7, 2001 and are first timers to Alaska. I am seeking additional information specifically great fishing/crabbing sites along this route. Will "Proven CruisingRoutes, Vol. 1" provide any further insight or can you recommend any publication or internet sites for bare-boat charters?

Also, if you had only 14 days to make this cruise, what must-see stops would you recommend? Thank you in advance for any information you may be able to share.

Happy cruising,
Brenda King


Glad to hear you are making the trip. Great place. If you want the really great scenery and are skilled and confident navigators I would head north along the outer coast of Chicagof Island. Some really great crabbing can be found using safer Peril Strait. You should stop on the south side of Tenakee Inlet at or near Crab Bay. Fish and crab can be found almost anywhere.

"Proven Cruising Routes" does not cover the area you will be transversing. You will be in a largely wildness area and there is not a lot of data on the area. Check with the people furnishing you the boat – they may have suggestions.

All the best,
Don Douglass

Summer 2000

Dear Don,

Thank you so much for your reply. We would love to try the outside cruise but lack the confidence to try it on our first adventure. We will most likely use Peril Strait coming and going, even though it adds more mileage. Please let me know if you are ever in Portland speaking or just passing through. We would be honored to make your acquaintance.

Warmest regards,
Brenda King


Don and Réanne,

It was so nice to meet you both in Anacortes. With the help of your and arrived in Juneau on time for the cruise around Admiralty, Baranof and Chichagof islands. We reached Margery Glacier and saw whales, stellar sea lions, otters but sadly only one small black bear in Tracy Arm Cove.

Best wishes,
Ann Fraser,
"Gollywobbler" U.K.

Summer 2000


The Alaska book is totally amazing! Lots of new pictures and other stuff. I can’t believe how thick it is. What a deal for the price!

Also, the Proven Cruising Routes book is spectacular. I like the way everything is laid out. The spiral binding is perfect. In fact, you should put spiral bindings on all of your cruising guides. It would make it easier to lay them open on your chart table or wheel house.

Reader from Massachusetts Summer 2000


We have received your new book and enjoy it like we have your others. When we return to our cutter in Alaska it will be our main reference. I hope that we run into you when we are cruising SE Alaska and BC. You have experienced God’s handiwork much closer than most.

Tom and Kathy Bollman




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