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Old 02-10-2019, 11:45 AM   #21
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Jay, Dave and Puget, When you tow through Wrangell Narrows, how do you time the tides? I'd guess you'd want the current on your nose for steerage (?), although you've got 18 miles to cover at slow speed so you'll see much of a tide cycle. Take us through your logic of the timing of the tide you want to go through there. We can learn from your experiences.
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Old 02-10-2019, 11:51 AM   #22
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We enter on last half of a rising tide. Time it to arrive about at marker 44 or 46, where tides meet, at high slack. You'll have a boost on the way in, and again on the way out. If you're doing 7-8 knots relative to water, you have no steering problem.

Might be "a bit" more complicated for the tug/tow. How fast do they travel in WN?
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Old 02-10-2019, 10:04 PM   #23
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I haven't been thru there in over 20 years, but like most places like that you want to try to time it so as much as possible is slack, and not too much current one way or the other. Modern tugs with lots of HP can buck some current but with a barge behind, running with it can get interesting if its nearing max. The WTB fleet has many new and very powerful boats. When I started working there in the early 80's, they had 4 boats, the most powerful had about 1200 HP. Now they run something like 20 boats with the big ones close to 5000HP I believe. Most of the newer class boats also have Z drive systems, instead of more conventional shaft and prop.
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Old 02-10-2019, 11:03 PM   #24
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Old 02-11-2019, 12:22 AM   #25
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Still able to eat off the engine room deck I see....
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Old 02-11-2019, 12:36 AM   #26
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Couple pinch points, for sure:

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Old 02-11-2019, 01:38 AM   #27
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Jay, Dave and Puget, When you tow through Wrangell Narrows, how do you time the tides? I'd guess you'd want the current on your nose for steerage (?), although you've got 18 miles to cover at slow speed so you'll see much of a tide cycle. Take us through your logic of the timing of the tide you want to go through there. We can learn from your experiences.
Hi Ken - Well, I remember what it is for WESTERLY! Going with the current is the preferred mode.

Be at Pt Alexander northbound at Petersburg HW - 1:30. At 7 kts water speed, this gets you to Papke's Landing or even Mountain Point where the ebb starts, and you will dock on the early ebb at Petersburg. If wanting to arrive at Petersburg at HW slack, you will want to enter a little earlier, and will end up bucking the last stretch from Scow Bay into Petersburg. Also, you can enter the narrows a lot earlier if desired, and kill some time in Scow Bay before continuing to Petersburg.

Of course, these times may not work as well for faster boats. Also, note that atmospherics and variations in tidal exchanges can effect current velocity, and where the current changes.

Southbound from Petersburg: Depart at Petersburg HW - :30. Even with WESTERLY's cruise at 7.2 knots, the ebb will push you past Pt Baker on a large tide.


Transiting the narrows with a loaded oil barge is not too much different than the times above. There is a relationship between the weight of the tug, the power of the tug, and the weight of the barge to maintain a speed where you can keep the barge in the channel (assuming a short towline). Generally about 70% power allowed sufficient reserves with a fully loaded barge.

The critical timing was to be off the old Union Oil dock in Petersburg north harbor at HW slack, and it was always desirable to transit during a rising tide.

As noted by others, there are much larger and more powerful tugs towing larger barges through the narrows these days, capable of increased speeds and control.
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Old 02-11-2019, 09:24 AM   #28
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Been through there numerous times over the years with factory trawlers up to 225' with no problems, planning ahead a bit is your friend as is VTS. Lot's tighter spots in the Northeast, I used to go through Woods hole all the time with draggers, narrower and more tide.
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Old 02-11-2019, 11:33 AM   #29
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Been through there numerous times over the years with factory trawlers up to 225' with no problems, planning ahead a bit is your friend as is VTS. Lot's tighter spots in the Northeast, I used to go through Woods hole all the time with draggers, narrower and more tide.
So here is my Woods Hole story
Going through from east to west against a strong current.....cans are mostly underwater. (This is for pleasure on a bluebird day.)

Coming the other way (down current) is “Bucky”. “Bucky” is a tug with a barge loaded with cement in a short tow. (“Bucky” is a slave to that current. If he ever tried to slow or stop, the barge would roll over him and keep on going.) I flip over to channel 13. We hear “Bucky” tell a ferry that is entering Woods Hole channel from the dock, and I quote....you should be ok captain.
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Old 02-11-2019, 11:59 AM   #30
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So here is my Woods Hole story
Going through from east to west against a strong current.....cans are mostly underwater. (This is for pleasure on a bluebird day.)

Coming the other way (down current) is “Bucky”. “Bucky” is a tug with a barge loaded with cement in a short tow. (“Bucky” is a slave to that current. If he ever tried to slow or stop, the barge would roll over him and keep on going.) I flip over to channel 13. We hear “Bucky” tell a ferry that is entering Woods Hole channel from the dock, and I quote....you should be ok captain.
I've heard some pretty upset pleasure boaters on the VHF when they see those cans underwater making a wake like 40 foot sportfisherman while standing still. Quicks is better for pleasure boats.
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Old 02-11-2019, 12:09 PM   #31
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We make it a point to stop at Quicks for a swim at least once a year.
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Old 02-11-2019, 12:15 PM   #32
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We make it a point to stop at Quicks for a swim at least once a year.
It is nice although I've never been swimming there, too many white sharks.
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Old 02-11-2019, 12:33 PM   #33
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It is nice although I've never been swimming there, too many white sharks.
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Old 02-11-2019, 01:32 PM   #34
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After the first few times going through the narrows and following the advice of the guide books, we have changed our strategy a bit. Most books talk about how you should plan to try to be somewhere around Green Point or Falls Creek at high slack. That would give you a push the whole way through. We now try to time slack closer to when we are in Petersburg to lessen the excitement around the docks there. If you have ever tried to get on or off the fuel dock in Pburg at full current times.....
The narrows itself is well marked with enough space to get out of others way as long as you are paying attention. We have met the ferry, a tug with multiple barges, groups of seiners, probably the hardest obstacle are all the little aluminum Lund fishing boats out in front of the lodges in summer, full of guys thinking they have right of way because they are salmon fishing.
BTW we went through in November this past year when we brought the boat up, no problem with enough daylight for a 7 kn boat even that time of year.
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Old 02-11-2019, 02:12 PM   #35
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I once made a gravel pit trip on one of the oldest tugs around, the BEE. Built before the turn of the century, the 20th that is. 65' long and had one of those early Cats in it, 240HP or something I think. It was with my dad, and another tugboater name Cliff Thompson, no relation I suppose. He was a good friend of dads and of the Shrewsburys. Seattle to Steilacoom and back. This was mid to late 60's I think.
Hummm- I know the Bee from around 1960 when Lloyd Whaley owned it, It had and has an old Atlas as a power plant. She is currently sitting in Wrangell under tarp with a owner effort to reconstruct the house ongoing.

When Lloyd owed it he was employed with Standard oil, as myself, as a warehouseman. He had the Bee, the Francis W. and one other old tug. He operated a "Skinny" tow boat service on the side. One time with the Bee under a tow, she ran out of fuel. Whaley really had to scramble to find fuel and deliver it. Tight race between the log rafts and the Bee on the beach. He made it because a good samaritan held the whole show off the shore.

A short story on Lloyd, His towing business cards used the Standard Oil office phone number and Standard Oil plant VHF call sign, The VHF radio was employed to maintain contact with the oil barge that supplied the outlying towns and logging camps. Lloyd would routinely use the radio to contact his boats. Often the phone calls were for Lloyd as well, k One day, while sitting in the main office, the manager who had just finished reminding Lloyd for some incident one of many, had exited the office for his managers office space. Several of us other employees, knowing the issue and witnessing to a degree, the reprimand, He lite up a 1886 cigar, leaned back in the chair and smiled, a call came in and the clerk advised the manager it was for him. Where upon Lloyd in a loud voice, in a hallow of cigar smoke, said "Make the call short, I am expecting a long distance call".

I swear to God, you can not make this stuff up!!! ,
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Old 02-11-2019, 02:41 PM   #36
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Thanks for sharing AL. Sometimes we forget the past.......
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Old 02-13-2019, 10:26 PM   #37
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Found a short video about running the narrows in the fog
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Old 02-14-2019, 10:48 AM   #38
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Awesome video. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 02-15-2019, 01:44 PM   #39
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I think the title of the thread was meant to be 'itinerary'?
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Old 02-15-2019, 04:41 PM   #40
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We enter on last half of a rising tide. Time it to arrive about at marker 44 or 46, where tides meet, at high slack. You'll have a boost on the way in, and again on the way out. If you're doing 7-8 knots relative to water, you have no steering problem.

Might be "a bit" more complicated for the tug/tow. How fast do they travel in WN?


And that’s all there is too it. It makes for good magazine drama, but really isn’t a big deal.
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