Our speed from Vancouver to the ‘Great Land’ and our first port, Juneau, is governed by the time of slack water at Seymour Narrows. The parameter for the transit of this narrow passage is dependent on the speed of the current. We have compulsory pilots with us, from the Pacific Pilotage Authority, and they have more or less set these parameters after years of experience. Most will go through with a current of 4 knots or less, on the ebb or flood, ideally around ‘slack’, when the tide is about to turn. The challenge with this is that any vessel, be it cruise, fishing boat or tug and tow, are also trying for the same ‘window’ of opportunity, some going north and others going south; so as one can imagine, it can be hectic at times.
After leaving Vancouver, the ideal time for a ‘slack’ tide is around 11 p.m. that evening, this results in a manageable speed to Juneau. This week, unfortunately, the tide was earlier and even had we left Vancouver 1-hour early, we would not have been able to make it and so I, reluctantly had to ‘bite the bullet’ and go for the next opportunity, this was at 0240 on the Saturday morning, (having departed Vancouver on Friday afternoon). We slow steamed towards Seymour, biding our time until the early morning tide and once through had to put the ‘pedal to the metal’ to achieve a speed of over 20 knots in order to arrive in Juneau on time. This was achieved, however looking at the fuel consumption on my Bridge instruments, on our way north, it brought tears to my eyes, (metaphorically speaking).
Beautiful weather for our guests this week, glorious sunshine and calm water, we were once again treated to pods of humpback whales in Chatham Strait and Steven’s passage; they all seemed to have stayed further south this year, as the regular ‘whale sighting’ reports indicate few to the north. The fishing boats are out in force during ‘openings’; allotted times in varying areas when salmon may be caught, apparently it’s a good year for the salmon run.
I have first-hand knowledge of it, for in Skagway, just by the bow of the Amsterdam is a ‘salmon ladder’, a contraption which assists the salmon (coming in to spawn), through the dock ‘wall’ by way of a pipe, which leads to Pullen Creek a few yards away. A short stroll along a footpath which meanders alongside the creek, (it’s about 20 feet wide) and lo, one could walk on water, or on the backs of hundreds of salmon, battling their way upstream, one could almost reach out and touch them.