October 5, 2018

Friday Funny 10-5/18 (Rocks in the Pass)

Don't HIT Me!

Yes, we are at it again, more rocks. I thought Whale Pass was a challenge, but I hadn't been through what is known locally as Rocky Pass, on the chart it is Keku Strait on Kupreanof Island.

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My son sent me the Google Earth photo, and said, "Doesn't seem like you can go through there."

I said, "Sure didn't seem like it from this end either."

There's a section in our Douglass/Hemingway Cruising Guide, Exploring Southeast Alaska, that a guest mariner contributed, it's called, "Rocky Pass Conquered!", by Linda Lewis, and Dave Parker. They tell about how busy they were with watching depth, current, tide, daymarks, rocks, kelp, and other traffic. It's only 23 miles long, but if you time any of the above wrong, it can be very tricky.

Going in....

The beginning was nice, large rocks with dozens of comorants, gulls, and otters. I was hoping for orcas too, but no luck.

I though 35ft of water under the keel was skinny, it gets worse.


The deeper we got into the pass, the narrower, shallower, and more congested with kelp it got.
You can hear the propeller slicing it up as it turns.

Next it was down to about 17ft under the keel, and later it gets shallower.

Can you see the small numbers marking the depths? They say, 4, 6, 9, and that's not fathoms, it's feet! Chart on left, forward-looking sonar on the right, they agree with depths.

We entered the pass as the tide was coming in, so depths were going up, and if we happened to shoal, (get stuck on the bottom), the tide would be increasing the depths, and float us off. Up till this point, I had been outside on the aft deck taking pictures, Bill reminded me that if we were to hit something, it would be a hard jolt, and I might fall off. I retreated to the inside of the cockpit, so now pictures were taken through the clear plastic windows, and they're not as clear.

Devil's Elbow, make a sharp starboard, (right), turn here, and hopefully no one is approaching from the other direction.

I'm not using zoom here, it really is this narrow.

The pass gets very narrow in an area that had to be dredged just to get 10ft of depth, (4ft at mean low water), and the markers are like going through a slalom course.

Turn left, turn right, avoid that rock!
I'm grateful that the electronic charts are up to date, and that the Coast Guard maintains the markers throughout this passage.

Another narrow turn.

We could see a commercial fishing vessel in front of us, and we followed at a respectful distance. It was interesting to watch him wind through, as he went through the twists, and turns.

See the boat ahead?

And then we're through the narrows, and it opens up to large bays.

The boat ahead picked one to anchor in for the night, and we moved onto the next one, and did the same thing.

Rocky Pass Conquered! The Wrangell Narrows will seem tame after this one.

As always, we enjoy hearing from you, either here in comments or on our Facebook Denali Rose Sailboat page.


  1. Rocky Pass Conquered! Now that you have met this challenge, 4 feet under the keel will feel like a mile. We had to recalibrate our comfort level in the
    Sea of Cortez for skinny water but usually it was just sand. Usually sand until it wasn't.

    1. Best wishes on your return to the cruising life!

  2. I’ve got to ask “Why”. Was it for the Adrenalin rush??😳😳

    1. How else can you have your Kake and...


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