Thursday, June 30, 2016

Alaska 2016 | Day 45 | Ford's Terror

Ford's Terror came through again. Sunny skies, warm temperatures, bears on shore, breathtaking scenery. Yep, it's my favorite anchorage.

Safe Harbour and Airship anchored in the west arm of Ford's Terror.
The west arm of Ford's Terror shoals rapidly. My boat is the one further out and I'm anchored in about 130 feet of water. Anchoring in less than about 70 feet of water puts you perilously close to the mudflat.
The west arm from above. Drone = personal, live Google Earth
I spent a bunch of time exploring the rapids in the dinghy. My first trip to the rapids was about mid-way through the ebb. The current was running about 6 knots, but the water wasn't that turbulent.

Kevin, Laura, and I went back close to low water in Juneau and found a whole different beast. The ebb was roaring through the rapids, creating a nasty set of standing waves. Running at a slow plane in the dinghy, I was making no progress against the current. I'd estimate the velocity at 10 knots.

Low water in Juneau (a 1.2 foot tide) was at 12:55 p.m. Slack at Ford's Terror didn't happen until 2:32 p.m.

While we waited for the current to turn, I flew the drone and got some great aerials showing the shoals when approaching the rapids. Paradoxically, we found the safest route through is to pass directly over the southern of the two charted rocks (this rock doesn't actually exist). A course from the waterfall to this charted rock to mid-channel in the rapids keeps you off all the shoals. None of the shoals are charted.

Complete info on getting into Ford's Terror will be posted on my new website ( in the coming weeks.

Looking into the rapids from the waterfall
Over the rapids, looking down and towards the waterfall
After I flew the drone and the rapids calmed down, I played in the dinghy. Laura got a bunch of pictures of me coming through the rapids. Slow boat, fast dinghy!

Catching air!
When we got back the boats, a brown bear was foraging on shore. The light wasn't great, but we were able to get very close in the dinghy. The bear looked up at us periodically and then continued flipping rocks over in search of mussels and clams. Watching the bear flip over rocks weighing several hundred pounds with almost no effort really puts their strength into perspective.

Apparently the bear had taken a swim a little while before we got there.
Hungry bear


  1. Great story & fabulous pictures. Thanks for such a post that makes you feel you are RIGHT there.

  2. Great story & fabulous pictures. Thanks for such a post that makes you feel you are RIGHT there.