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Old 03-29-2015, 08:53 PM   #1
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Alaska USFS mooring buoy question - size limit?

We are planning on several weeks in Alaska this summer and wanted to know if anyone has more information on the USFS buoys? I know that they are few but I was wondering what, if any, are the maximum size limits are for one boat.

Their information (posted below) only lists limits if you are rafting more than one vessel.

Thanks for any info!

◆ Mooring Buoys:
A reservation for a USFS cabin does
not include exclusive use of the buoy
if there is one near the cabin. Buoy use
is on a first-come, first-served basis;
however, use and mooring of more than
one vessel is permitted, provided the
party there agrees. Here are suggested
mooring guidelines:

1. Three vessels less than 21 feet.
2. Two vessels over 21 feet but under 30 feet.
3. No rafting of vessels over 30 feet.
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Old 03-29-2015, 09:00 PM   #2
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I would be prepared to anchor anytime you're in Alaska. You might find a mooring buoy, you might not, but I'll guarantee you they are few and far between.

Be prepared for Deepwater anchoring, hundred feet deep is about the norm.
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Old 03-29-2015, 10:56 PM   #3
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I would be prepared to anchor anytime you're in Alaska. You might find a mooring buoy, you might not, but I'll guarantee you they are few and far between.

Be prepared for Deepwater anchoring, hundred feet deep is about the norm.
Agreed. In PWS, I don't think are are any mooring buoys.....Unless they added a some in the last few years. Not soure about SE Alaska.
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Old 03-30-2015, 01:53 AM   #4
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Most USFS cabins on beach locations around Ketchikan have a mooring buoy. Logic has boats in your site photo as acceptable in that I have witnessed boats moored in your range. Please if there is a boat on the buoy, skiff to shore and inquire as to the status and if sharing is in the cards. There is history on boats deciding that sharing without asking that has a unfriendly and deadly outcome!

I don't argue with Ksanders as to where he may be located in Alaska. In our area 6-10 fathom is a normal anchorage depth and 20 fathom max. In depths Ksanders post in relationship to our general area means you are in fords situation. I would think that seeking a shallower cove or inlet a more reasonable anchorage. But that may just be me and my familiarity with Southern Southeast
Perhaps purchasing one of the excellent cruise books that contain about every conceivable anchorage on the normal traveled routes would be a good investment. The ones that I have reviewed are overly detailed on all aspects of such a voyage you have mentioned.
Another suggestion if you are in the area in July and August during commercial salmon seining season, you will find the skippers of these boats most willing to share thoughts on anchorages in the area that you find yourself and them at the same time. They all anchor out during the fishing period and know the areas they fish well.
Have a wonderful voyage up here, take your time, you will truly enjoy your anchor times with cool beverage and great sunsets.

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Old 03-30-2015, 02:28 AM   #5
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Most USFS cabins on beach locations around Ketchikan have a mooring buoy. Logic has boats in your site photo as acceptable in that I have witnessed boats moored in your range. Please if there is a boat on the buoy, skiff to shore and inquire as to the status and if sharing is in the cards. There is history on boats deciding that sharing without asking that has a unfriendly and deadly outcome!

I don't argue with Ksanders as to where he may be located in Alaska. In our area 6-10 fathom is a normal anchorage depth and 20 fathom max. In depths Ksanders post in relationship to our general area means you are in fords situation. I would think that seeking a shallower cove or inlet a more reasonable anchorage. But that may just be me and my familiarity with Southern Southeast
Perhaps purchasing one of the excellent cruise books that contain about every conceivable anchorage on the normal traveled routes would be a good investment. The ones that I have reviewed are overly detailed on all aspects of such a voyage you have mentioned.
Another suggestion if you are in the area in July and August during commercial salmon seining season, you will find the skippers of these boats most willing to share thoughts on anchorages in the area that you find yourself and them at the same time. They all anchor out during the fishing period and know the areas they fish well.
Have a wonderful voyage up here, take your time, you will truly enjoy your anchor times with cool beverage and great sunsets.

Al. Ketchikan-(Bridge to Nowhere) Alaska

Al

I think yoy are correct, they are fiords.

What we find is a large area sloping from around 200' to around 80' then a very steep rise at the end to a shallow shelf where the gravel washed out of the stream that is at the end of almost every one.

The problem is that shelf starts around 20-25' deep. With our 10' plus tides, and any scope at all you can find yourself on the sea bed or perched on a large unmarked Boulder at low tide. Not something I'm fond of doing.

Occasionally we find a nice shallower anchorage of 60' or so, but these are generally in larger more exposed to the weather bays along sandy shorelines. These places make for a good lunch anchoring spot on a nice day, or a place to clean the fish, but not something you'd want to spend the night in.
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Old 03-30-2015, 11:05 AM   #6
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I've spend quite a bit of time in Alaska. Especially SE. And the deepest anchoring I did was up Inlet from the popular place in Foreward Harbour .. in Canada. That was 85' deep where I put the anchor. Up north I passed up quite a few anchorages that were 75 to 125' deep that probably were better than where I went.

BUT .. When you anchor deep an anchor that performs well at short scope is golden. Many anchorages are so small anchoring 30 to 50' deep will put you on short scope. But the weather in SE is frequently to mostly to almost always is overcast so most of your anchoring will be in calm water and no wind blessed w reflections. And in calm water any anchor 25% as big as what's normal for your boat will hold you well.

And 95+% of the time you'll hear when a gale's comming and then it's best to head for a town and tie up to a float. I love little SE AK villages and half the time I prefer them to anchoring out.
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Old 03-30-2015, 12:08 PM   #7
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Thanks all. I'll get my anchor out of dry storage for the trip. ;-)

We've got a good set up for the trip, dual anchors both with 400 foot of chain. Wish I had some extra rode for these depths but we'll choose our anchorages based on our capability. I've got several guide books and am painfully detailed in my research so I'm not worried about finding good anchorages.

My original question related to the mooring buoys, yes specifically in the Ketchikan area. Per the USFS, they have about 14 sites and we like to plan for a variety of mooring types (balls, floats, anchoring and marinas). This question was simply to discover if my 55', 55 ton boat would fit on the buoys. I do understand that the buoys in the lower PNW are not capable to handle my boat. I'll call the USFS if I cannot get an answer from the board here. Neither the USFS website nor my guides have this specific information.

I'd rather have the info now rather than when approaching an attractive looking mooring buoy and not knowing.....
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Old 03-30-2015, 12:59 PM   #8
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I can see you're concern Rsysol but I've not seen a FS bouy that I can recall. Tied to a bouy near Whale Pass (Blashki Is) but don't know it it was FS. At another FS cabin there was a float but I didn't use it. That one was near Wrangell. Having our boat we never searched out the cabins.
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Old 04-04-2015, 02:51 AM   #9
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Eric, You have brought up a point that Randy may overlook or be overly concerned. The scope- As you indicated short scope in many of the chosen anchorages. In general I use 3 to 1 as a guide based on what the shoreline reveles in visual and the depth of the point of anchoring. It is supposed that a circle of the chosen point is made with the fathom meter to confirm depth.
We carry about 150 feet of 1/2 nylon shore line for those really tight anchorages where one hoovers up to the shear of a bite's steep shore. In our case and with a specific anchorage in mind, about 30 feet deep and less than 100 feet wide.
What is said here is that the accepted norm of 7 to 1 scope is a tough test to make in Southeast Alaska. I had not mentioned this in a PO to Randy I was remiss in that.

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Old 04-04-2015, 11:23 AM   #10
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As people who rarely anchor, we did the night before and after Glacier Bay. 8 to 12 fathoms. Definitely not room or need for 7 to 1 in those areas. 7 to 1 on 12 fathoms is going to give you a total swing of over 1,000 feet. We were about 3 to 1 or slightly more and no issues.
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Old 04-04-2015, 11:43 AM   #11
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Some of the forest service cabins have buoys or floats. Here's a list of cabins: Tongass National Forest - Camping & Cabins:Cabin Rentals

I remember seeing a mooring buoy in Punchbowl Cove in Misty Fjords (or is it Fiords??). I don't know what, if any, size restrictions the USFS has. Personally I'd rather anchor...I know the condition of my own ground tackle, but I have no idea what condition the buoy and its associated gear is in.
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Old 04-04-2015, 12:02 PM   #12
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Thanks all, we will skip the balls based on feedback here. I'm never that comfortable with taking one anyways based on our size. We've got good ground tackle and anchor frequently so we will continue to do so.
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Old 04-04-2015, 02:43 PM   #13
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As people who rarely anchor, we did the night before and after Glacier Bay. 8 to 12 fathoms. Definitely not room or need for 7 to 1 in those areas. 7 to 1 on 12 fathoms is going to give you a total swing of over 1,000 feet. We were about 3 to 1 or slightly more and no issues.
Three to one is typical in SE and 2-1 in nice weather and very small places. Most of the time one can set at 4 or 5 to one and take up to limit swinging dia. An anchor that holds fairly well at 3-1 (like a Claw) is a blessing in Alaska. When the gales come I go to town (given time) or find a 5-1 scope anchorage.
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Old 04-04-2015, 03:02 PM   #14
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Three to one is typical in SE and 2-1 in nice weather and very small places. Most of the time one can set at 4 or 5 to one and take up to limit swinging dia. An anchor that holds fairly well at 3-1 (like a Claw) is a blessing in Alaska. When the gales come I go to town (given time) or find a 5-1 scope anchorage.
We had oversized claw type anchors. They worked very well in Alaska waters. What we set at was largely determined by what was around us. You want not just to give yourself distance so you don't hit anything on your swing, but so if your anchor does break loose you can get the boat started and stay off of whatever is around you. An alarm does you no good if you can't get your engines started before you land on the rocks.
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