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Thread: Beginner Saltwater Boating Questions

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2010

    Default Beginner Saltwater Boating Questions

    Hello All,

    I own an 18ft inflateable boat and have taken it on rivers and lakes many times, but have never been on the saltwater. I would like to do some weekend black bear hunts this spring, but I am looking for some advise from some experinced AK boaters.

    My boat is seems too heavy to drag up and down a shoreline without a 5-6 people. How do you anchor so you can have access during low and high tide?

    Is there a good way to guage what bays are protected enough from storms?

    Any other recommendations? I just want to make sure we have a safe, enjoyable hunt.


  2. #2
    Sponsor Duckhunter01's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Anchorage, Trapper Creek, Seward


    Sounds like fun for starters...don't see any issues with the size. There is a thread or article on an anchor system...something called the anchor buddy. Sounds like that is what you need. No longet than you will be on shore or on a should be good to go with a long rope securing the boat and gear. If moving it back into water on low tide is the concern..ten finf the anchor system above orher wise just drag a few feet.

    For protected area you want to hunt on google earth and watch weather..springtime south facing slopes are key eben in the bays..snow chutes and along the banks will produce bears.

    Get out there and have fun!
    President of Alaska Waterfowl Assoc.
    And God said, let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

  3. #3


    I would start off with the USCG boating safety class. My son and I took that class years ago and even though I had many years of boating under my belt I still gained a lot from the class. If you are heading out into PWS then I would highly recommend getting a copy of the classic Cruising Prince William Sound by Jim and Nancy Lethcoe. It has an incredible amount of information on the history, weather patterns, geology and lots and lots of great information on anchorages. Going from fresh to salt water one of the biggest differences you will need to get used to are the tides. Make sure you have a tide book with you and be aware of when the high and low tides occur and which way the tide is running. If your boat is too heavy to drag and the tide goes out you will have about a 12 hour wait to refloat. I would also suggest that you have a good radio with you as well as either an EPIRB or a Sat phone. Looking back over just the last few years you can read about folks whose lives were saved by having one of these. I have a three page check list that I use every time I go out. We Hunt the early part of the year for bear and the late fall for ducks and we have had trips where we didn't see another boat for hours. Unlike the summer months when there are boats everywhere in the spring and fall you are pretty much on your own. After years of boating I finally went through all of the hoops and got my captains licence-I learned quite a bit just studying for the exam. Always more to learn. Good luck and shoot me a PM if you have any other questions.
    Ruby at the end of a good day.

  4. #4


    Before one of my fellow skippers points out my error-it would be about 6 hours from going dry to refloating...12 hours from high to high.....
    Ruby at the end of a good day.

  5. #5
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006


    Dittos on the Lethcoe guide, it gives extremely detailed information about almost every anchorage in PWS, with information of what anchorages are protected from what wind direction. The USCG auxiliary class is well worth the time.

    If you've only been in fresh water than you may not have the required the safety gear for saltwater. You'll need signalling devices, a vhf radio, and items that aren't required but highly recommended is multiple means of starting a fire, a gps/sonar unit and cold water immersion suites. In pws there can be shallow rocks surprisingly far off shore, so I'd say a sonar is almost mandatory, and having a combo unit with a gps with charts loaded is highly recommended. Also your anchor road should be 600' long due to the water getting so deep so fast in many areas. And carrying a spare anchor isn't a bad idea though tough on a smaller boat.
    Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

    If you have a tenuous grasp of reality, Alaska is not for you.

  6. #6


    I subscribe to a free email newsletter from: I enjoy their boat/product reviews and videos. They have a 4 dvd boating course (not free) that might be a good alternative to the Coast Guard sponsored courses especially if class schedules conflict with your commitments. Another plus is that you can review the material and refresh your memory at any time. Dittos, also on the Lethcoe guide. Well worth the $.


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