February 9, 2016

Cruising to Alaska; Thoughts and Resources

This is the beginning of what will become a series of our thoughts and guidance- as locals who live and travel in Alaska on our boat-  for those considering visiting Alaska on their boat. 

We occasionally participate in various boating forums. [See our Some Forums We Read sidebar for links...] 

Some of those topics may be relevant here, so once in a while we will repost on our blog for reference.

The following may be one of those cases. To accommodate our non-boating blog readers, sometimes we add some {additional information and links} to the original forum post. (below)

Link to original post [2-Feb-2016]

Re: Anchoring [Etc.] recommendations in the PNW [Pacific Northwest and Alaska]?

Originally Posted by Dancin' Bare View Post
I am cruising the Inside Passage of BC towards Alaska in early spring.
I hope to spend most of my evenings on anchor. I currently have a #40 Danforth and #45 Mantus. Both are on 50 feet of chain. The Danforth has been fantastic in sand and has been my primary anchor, but I gather from my readings I will mostly be over clayey bottoms with significant tidal surge. The Mantus is a plow type anchor that in theory resets well if I catch a tidal change and float back over it. I haven't been challenged while using it so far. I do my best to anchor up stream/wind from the charter boaters when I can't avoid them. I usually end up in deeper water 35ish to let out a good scope. I mostly single hand and prefer not to stern tie. I am looking for recommendations from those who have been there dun dat…..

Am I reading more into the tidal change/currents than I need to be?

Recomedatiosns/tips/experienced insights….. favorite anchorages away from the crowds?????

Thank you!
Hi Dancin',

It sounds like a fun trip you have planned. Your questions are somewhat broad and will require you do do some additional research and reading...

My goal is to help get you started in the right direction and provide some resources we use and rely upon, as well as some of our own writings covering the broad categories you ask about.

RE: Anchoring as you head north:

From my experience you will need at least 300 ft of all chain anchor rode to be safe in our often deeper than usual anchorages on the northern part of this coast.

You mentioned 50ft of chain, but didn't mention how much rope rode you have. Assuming you have a combination chain/rope rode, you will need more like 500+ total ft of rode to achieve 7:1 scope for your Mantus in deeper anchorages. More to use the Mantus recommended 10:1 in windy conditions.

For comparison: On our present boat, I put in a new windlass with all new chain in June 2014 to accommodate simultaneous use of 2 permanently installed anchors on the bow (5 anchors on board) The main bower has 360ft of 5/16 G4 chain (the max I could fit on that side of the anchor locker...) attached to 100ft of 1in 3-strand rode. [The Hail Mary rode to be let out in an extreme situation where we might have to cut and run...] The secondary anchor has the remaining 190ft of the chain [550ft/barrel of 5/16in G4...] attached to another 100ft 1in 3-strand... I also have 3 other 300ft 3-strand with 40ft chain in bags for deployment of other anchors as needed... you get the idea. Why? In years past I've been blown off my anchor in williwaws in the dark and I don't want to ever experience that again...

Here is our inventory of all ground and safety tackle.

Pay attention to tidal variations when setting your scope. If you don't have electronic tide tables, learn the 'Rule of 12ths' with regard to tides so you can interpolate the tide change based upon your current time and depth. We use it alot when sea kayaking so we can estimate where to pitch our camp and how far up the beach to moor our kayaks to keep them accessible at high tide... [You will be transiting areas where the daily tidal range is as low as 14ft and as high as 22 ft. consequently you will also need to plan for the currents in various passages as they will impact your transit scheduling.]

You will find quite a bit more on anchoring in this area on our Blog, linked below. You may want to investigate my post on using shore lines as well...

Many of your other questions will be answered in the cruising guides for the areas you will be transiting.

The free one you are likely already familiar with that will take you through the BC coast is Waggoner's. [There is sometimes a pdf version on their website.]

For planning we prefer the volumes published by Fine Edge authored by Douglass and Hemmingway-Douglass. They are more detailed and among the few that publish somewhat timely updates online.

Charlie's Charts North to Alaska is a good resource as well.

Don't forget to download or purchase the Coast Pilots 7 & 8, and the Sailing Directions [There are two versions. You need the Enroute #154 covering BC, and if you plan to venture into outside waters, download the Planning Guide #120...]

I hope this helps get you started with your planning, and look forward to hearing about your adventures.

Ask away if you have more questions....



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