Bill and Jo kindly changed their travel plans to leave from Cordova, eliminating the need to head back to Whittier and the long journey back across the sound to begin our trip out to sea and on to Glacier Bay, some 400 miles to the south east.
I had doubted that I could use the very narrow, shallow channels on the east of Hinchinbrook island and would have a 50nm detour around the west coast but garnering local knowledge from the fisherman and harbour master I was convinced “Yep, no problem!” Just follow the “boo-ies” and the “sticks” and ignore the charts as the mudbanks shift each year. OKAY say I, centre-board and daggerboards raised, with her shallow draft Novara's will come into her own once more.
Mmmmmm, had I only of known how much nervous energy would be spent slowly inching our way down these channels, trying to avoid mudbanks that at half tide were all around us and not be distracted by how cute the 100's of otters were that lay around sunning themselves....I would have gone around.
The Boo-ies were not so bad once you realised that they were not in pairs but were positioned alternately with red/green opposite the European convention. It was the “sticks” that were the problem. These were decent sized poles but positioned somewhat randomly against the side of the channel “Keep the poles close to port” was the advice so I did.....and ran aground on pole number 3.
Once again Novara proved her worth as I ploughed a furrow through the mud into deeper (3 feet) water. In my defence against criticisms from more able seamen I had timed our departure to get to the more problematic areas at a rising half tide so had over 6ft of water to float us off had we gone seriously aground and would never have attempted it in a conventional keel boat.