S/V Hello World's Travel Log

the gallant fox - tidal rapids

Continued from here.

Rapids, right. That's a great question. [ed: talking about tidal rapids throughout the Inside Passage] I've never navigated rapids either. At least, not in a 40' sailboat. Love to hear what advice you have on that.

Gallant Fox:
Fear not. Here's what I learned:

Go thru all rapids as close to slack as you can. Doesn't matter what phase of the moon you're in - just aim for slack. The WA & BC tide tables are both excellent for determining slack - just pick whichever set is easiest for you to understand - making sure it covers all the areas you plan to go. Also, read the introductory parts to make sure you allow for Daylight Saving Time if necessary - so you don't shoot the rapids early or late.

If you plan to go thru the set of 3 rapids on your way up to Johnstone Strait (Whirlpool is one of them), look in the Douglass cruising guide or Northwest Boat Travel for the timing of each of the 3 rapids - I recollect for those, if you're moving north you hit the first set a bit earlier than slack on an outgoing tide; aim for total slack for the middle set; & pass the 3rd set after slack when the tide's outgoing (that is, going north if you're going north).

Malibu Rapids, going in to Princess Louisa, is tricky because it's a blind S-shaped curve. But, if you're up there in April, there's likely no other boat traffic around you. Go thru this one at absolute slack (you'll see the difference on the water with the currents, if you get there a bit early). It's scary but doable - and worth it. If you can, follow another boat in who's been there before.

So that's it for shooting rapids. It's easier once you do it once or twice. Just keep it at slack & you'll be fine - our boat's a 40-footer too, 6-foot keel, & we did fine. Don't be shy about revving up your engine if you feel the current grabbing your keel.

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