Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Ketchikan to La Conner 2015: A delivery Home

Prince Rupert to Lowe Inlet   57-Miles

The Inside Passage along the  British Columbia Coast is largely made up of fjords, a flooded coastal mountain range that created the many islands, inlets and passages.  The "main route" or "highway" between Fitz Hugh Sound and Prince Rupert are the Grenville & Princess Royal Channels.  There are other passages and routes, but the majority of yachts, fishing boats, cruise ships and ferries transiting the passage stay on this shortest and sheltered route.

Two ships or one?  A lighthouse south of Prince Rupert

We are working our way south at a pretty rapid pace, with limited time for this delivery.  We too are travelling the main channels and I wanted to take a little space to talk about the way the tides and currents affect these waters.  Channels are different than inlets in that they are open at both ends, as a result they fill and drain with tidal flow from/to both ends. It can be a great benefit if you plan your transit with this in mind.

Our first long channel is the Grenville.  The North end is 25-miles below Prince Rupert, the other end is 45-miles to the south.  The tidal convergance/divergance is near Evening Point, this is the point that a flood tides fills to, or an ebb drains from.  

My quick calculaton for the day:  Departing Prince Rupert, our days destination is Lowe Inlet, which is 10-miles south of the convergence.  The convergence is 48-miles away, or about 6-hours at 8-knots (our hull speed).  High tide is 1:26PM and is 13.5-foot rise so the current will be significant. With a couple of knot boost we will need to leave around 9:00AM to catch the current and arrive at the convergence at 1:30PM (4.5-hours).  Once we get to Evening Point the tide should change and we, in theory, should be able to ride the ebb towards Lowe Inlet for the final 10-miles (For a total of 5.5+ hours)

Let's see what we really did:

8 AM:  Checked the engine and fired up the Ford Lehman, noticed the charge voltage was too low. Shut down the engine.  Inspected the alternator and its belt.  I pulled the external regulator and alternator off the engine.  We walked to the local Prince Rupert NAPA auto parts store and hoped we could test the gear, unfortuneatly they got rid of their alternator testing machine a few years ago...  Bought a new regulator, they did not stock our alternator.  The local motor rewind shop is closed on weekends so that was not an option.  We then went out to breakfast as we had already missed our tide!   Re-installed the alternator, put in the new regulator and...

Steve pulling the alternator

12:10 PM:  Fired up the engine and the alternator worked.

12:20 PM:  Departed Prince Rupert.

3:50 PM:  Entered Grenville Channel, bucking the current we made the 25-miles in 3.5-hours.

Grenville Channel - it is really gorgeous!

6:40 PM:  Passed Evening Point (6.3-hours)

8:10 PM:  Anchored in Lowe Inlet after bucking a couple knots current for much of the trip  (7.8-hours total, Ouch!  Missing the tide cost us roughly 2.5-hours)

Verney Falls

Lowe Inlet and and and its upper moorage Nettle Basin is gorgeous.  Verney Falls puts on a great show at low tides.  We anchored in 45-feet of water and had a great nights sleep.