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Old 18-02-2019, 10:03   #1
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Inside Passage - "Back Passage" Plus-es & Minus-es?

Planning our summer route up the Inside Passage on these snowy winter days.

We are both inclined to take the back roads whenever on any sort of trip, hence the back passage is drawing both of us: Cordero and Chancellor Channels and then Sunderland Channel back to rejoin Johnstone Strait. By doing this we can avoid Current Passage and Race Passage. I don't mind missing whirlpools.

Two questions - will we miss any "once in a lifetime"s? And what are the anchorages like on the back side? Or am I overthinking this and everyone takes the the back way so it'll be as busy as Johnstone?

We have no time schedule other than we're leaving in May and want to be back by late August.
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Old 18-02-2019, 10:44   #2
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Re: Inside Passage - "Back Passage" Plus-es & Minus-es?

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Originally Posted by redhead View Post
Planning our summer route up the Inside Passage on these snowy winter days.



We are both inclined to take the back roads whenever on any sort of trip, hence the back passage is drawing both of us: Cordero and Chancellor Channels and then Sunderland Channel back to rejoin Johnstone Strait. By doing this we can avoid Current Passage and Race Passage. I don't mind missing whirlpools.



Two questions - will we miss any "once in a lifetime"s? And what are the anchorages like on the back side? Or am I overthinking this and everyone takes the the back way so it'll be as busy as Johnstone?



We have no time schedule other than we're leaving in May and want to be back by late August.


You won’t miss any “once in a lifetimes” because you’re coming back. Do the back channel on the way up. Come down Johnstone with prevailing wind on your return. You transit narrows on slack so whirlpools won’t open up and swallow your boat. You just might be overthinking things if you are planning all the small details months in advance. Plan the big pieces “Haida Gwai in June” or “Glacier Bay on the 4th of July” and you can work out individual channels as you go based on weather and tides.
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Old 18-02-2019, 10:51   #3
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Re: Inside Passage - "Back Passage" Plus-es & Minus-es?

Quote:
Originally Posted by redhead View Post
Planning our summer route up the Inside Passage on these snowy winter days.

We are both inclined to take the back roads whenever on any sort of trip, hence the back passage is drawing both of us: Cordero and Chancellor Channels and then Sunderland Channel back to rejoin Johnstone Strait. By doing this we can avoid Current Passage and Race Passage. I don't mind missing whirlpools.

Two questions - will we miss any "once in a lifetime"s? And what are the anchorages like on the back side? Or am I overthinking this and everyone takes the the back way so it'll be as busy as Johnstone?

We have no time schedule other than we're leaving in May and want to be back by late August.
We've taken that "back passage" route many times, and it's never been crowded - generally quite the opposite.
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Old 18-02-2019, 10:54   #4
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Re: Inside Passage - "Back Passage" Plus-es & Minus-es?

How far north are you going? You could literally spend all your time between Desolation and the Broughtons and not cover the same ground twice. If you're actually going north the glaciers and snow capped peaks you expect don't start until Wrangell (not that there aren't any, just not as frequent). Beaches are better south of Bella Bella and either way anchorages are pretty quiet (even in the busy season) north of Hardy.
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Old 18-02-2019, 11:48   #5
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Re: Inside Passage - "Back Passage" Plus-es & Minus-es?

This is all good info - thanks.

Planning is part of the fun for me - I don't lock us in, but I'm having a ball gathering insight.

Part of the planning is that all our previous experience is in the Atlantic and this Pacific Ocean is a mite different. Depths, currents, distance between harbours, all new and exciting. Also we draw 10' and weigh somewhere about 50 tons - all this affects our choices.

I like the idea of the back way north and Johnstone going south.

We are going north until it isn't fun anymore or we run out of summer. We need a month back here at our base, just south of the Canadian border to get ready for the trip south to Mexico.
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Old 18-02-2019, 11:55   #6
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Re: Inside Passage - "Back Passage" Plus-es & Minus-es?

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This is all good info - thanks.



Planning is part of the fun for me - I don't lock us in, but I'm having a ball gathering insight.



Part of the planning is that all our previous experience is in the Atlantic and this Pacific Ocean is a mite different. Depths, currents, distance between harbours, all new and exciting. Also we draw 10' and weigh somewhere about 50 tons - all this affects our choices.



I like the idea of the back way north and Johnstone going south.



We are going north until it isn't fun anymore or we run out of summer. We need a month back here at our base, just south of the Canadian border to get ready for the trip south to Mexico.


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ID:	186182In Hartley Bay, fueling on low tide means they drop the hose down from 20 feet up. You know you’re not in Kansas anymore. We did an Alaska shakedown last year and are down in Mexico now. Don’t leave too late. Offshore in Oregon is miserable enough in August, I wouldn’t want to do it in October.
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Old 18-02-2019, 12:35   #7
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Re: Inside Passage - "Back Passage" Plus-es & Minus-es?

Forward Harbour makes a nice sheltered anchorage after you've finished all the rapids on that route ... sometimes its possible to time the tides all the way there from Gillard passage in a single day. But often it's nicer to spend the night somewhere between Dent Rapids and Greene Point Rapids, Shoal Bay is lovely (you can anchor or tie up at the dock - then get the local dog to take you for a hike up to the old mine). There's also supposed to be a good anchorage by the Cordero Islands, although I haven't stopped there.

After Forward Harbour, the currents can get pretty strong as you approach Alert Bay, but there's no "rapids". Or if you're going into the Broughtons via Chatham Channel, you need to be taking it at slack tide, I find Port Harvey a convenient anchorage before this, but it has a slightly "industrial" feel to it.

In May you probably won't be sharing anchorages with many other boats.
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Old 18-02-2019, 13:02   #8
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Re: Inside Passage - "Back Passage" Plus-es & Minus-es?

If at all possible April can also be an excellent time to travel north, better weather than August generally (north of Van island). Then you can spend more time in southern waters on your return trip after the water has had the summer to warm up for swimming if you're so inclined.
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Old 18-02-2019, 13:20   #9
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Re: Inside Passage - "Back Passage" Plus-es & Minus-es?

rbk, I'm curious, where do you keep your Tayana? I was born in Whitehorse at the Army hospital that is no longer there, apparently behind the RCMP detachment, towards the hill. Recently, I spent 7 summers at the Army Cadet Camp as an officer.
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Old 18-02-2019, 13:43   #10
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Re: Inside Passage - "Back Passage" Plus-es & Minus-es?

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rbk, I'm curious, where do you keep your Tayana? I was born in Whitehorse at the Army hospital that is no longer there, apparently behind the RCMP detachment, towards the hill. Recently, I spent 7 summers at the Army Cadet Camp as an officer.
Across the border in Alaska, i have one of the most spectacular drives down to the boat as I'm sure you're aware. My buddy spent 15? years as an officer in Cadets in Whitehorse, cant remember when he left but i want to say within the last 8 years or so. He is a regular fixture on board with a dedicated berth. My family has been here a long time as has my wife's, my parents are now just across the straight from you in Powell River.
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Old 19-02-2019, 08:21   #11
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Re: Inside Passage - "Back Passage" Plus-es & Minus-es?

Thanks everyone for your replies to the Original Poster.

We too are planning a trip up from SEA to AK and back this upcoming summer (early June to Aug/Sep). We are having a great time research stops and routes. Lots of Youtubes out there to 'watch'.

I sure appreciate the insight from those that have been there/done that. Keep 'em coming!
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Old 19-02-2019, 08:36   #12
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Re: Inside Passage - "Back Passage" Plus-es & Minus-es?

As i mentioned above I would get north sooner and be back south later. Best weather in AK is early in the early spring/summer with less fog, longer days, fewer people and generally nicer weather (getting into Bartlett/Glacier Bay there is a limit on how many boats can be in at any given time so less people means better chances) and the water never gets warm up here so you're not missing any swimming opportunities. Then take your time getting back south to warmer waters and beaches and be able to enjoy some swimming in desolation and the sunshine coast/Van Island. You can make it from Vancouver to Skagway on the inside in two weeks in a sailboat (long days, weather dependent) stopping at major ports for fuel, water and provisions. Faster if you can hop on the outside.
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Old 19-02-2019, 09:09   #13
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Re: Inside Passage - "Back Passage" Plus-es & Minus-es?

Without trying to go into too much detail - I'll give you the 'short' version of what we did for this particular section in summer 2017 on the way up to Petersburg, AK.

I'll start in Powell River, as that was our jumping off point to Desolation Sound.

Gorge Harbor =>Squirrel cove (anchored in outer cove) =>Refuge Cove for diesel and moved onto Teakerne Arm=>Tenedos Bay (great spot, we were there for Canada Day)=>Octopus Islands (we had to wait a bit at Hole in the Wall rapids for slack)=>planned for Otter Cove, but kept going to Mayne Channel and Blind Bay. Stayed at Blind Bay marina. =>planned for Port Neville but anchored in Forward Bay instead. =>planned for Indian Islands/Matilpi in Blackfish Sound. Made good time and anchored in Native Anchorage off Village Island (Mamalilaculla is not to be missed). Also, New Vancouver should be seen if possible - First Nations people getting back to where they were prior to the forced removal of the children to 'English' schools=>Port McNeill.

Some days were short and this was our first trip up the Inside Passage so we were feeling our way along. We did not do the Current Passage section of Johnstone Strait on the way back either as we went on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Hope this helps - PM me if you want more detailed info
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Old 19-02-2019, 09:49   #14
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Re: Inside Passage - "Back Passage" Plus-es & Minus-es?

Just reading the names of places and anchorages brought back wonderful and sometimes scary memories of my time towing logs and commercial fishing in the PNW back in the 70’s and 60’s.
The most poignant of which was the Nimkish Hotel at the top of the Gov’t dock in Alert Bay and losing my virginity to one of the native girls from Village Island just around the corner from Alert Bay when I was about 14 years old!
I envy you taking this trip as I recall vividly towing logs through Dent Rapids and being a young decky on the towboat, my job was to stand beside the skipper and roll him cigarettes out of a tin of Export A tobacco. He would take a couple of puffs then throw the butt overboard out the wheelhouse window and put his hand out for a new smoke! Those were the days!!
If you have time to stop off at Bones Bay, great anchorage and old cannery of 1940’s vintage to explore...
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Old 19-02-2019, 10:03   #15
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Re: Inside Passage - "Back Passage" Plus-es & Minus-es?

I've done it many times - both commercially and recreationally.
1. Going up the "back side" as you call it, you are NOT going to avoid whirlpools. Going north it's pretty well impossible to get through all the rapids - each perfectly at slack. You have to time for the best average.
2. There's 17,500 miles of coastline in BC between the Washington State and Alaska borders. There are TONS of places to explore and anchor. Enjoy!
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