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Thread: Whittier West Wind

  1. #1

    Default Whittier West Wind

    I was all packed up to go last Friday morning but bailed when the weather station at Whittier Harbor was reporting gusts to 50. What puzzled me was there was no small craft advisory. I am a newbie to the Sound, 24' bowpicker style boat, high sided but not self-bailing (wish it was). Seems gusts that strong would make it hard to fuel up and dock.

    Any info on what these winds do and how far down Passage Canal they start to mellow out would be appreciated, it was such a perfect day over in Anchorage, was sad to see it slip by. Thanks for any info!

  2. #2

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    Usually when the winds are from Whittier towards the sound, its a tight chop and not so bad. When they blow from the sound towards Whittier, they can make big ugly waves. 50 mph is way more than I'd attempt no matter which way it was blowing.

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    Member theultrarider's Avatar
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    Usually on days like that it lays down somewhere between shotgun cove and decision pt. First couple years fishing out of whittier I spent many days in the parking lot hoping for the winds to die down. After fishing Homer for 30 years you don't go out in that kind of wind. Whittier is a different deal. That glacier hanging there tends to create it's own wind. Many many days from Wells passage and beyond it is dead calm and flat glass. But in town it's blowing 50. Especially if the winds are coming from the glacier blowing out.

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    Member tlingitwarrior's Avatar
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    When its like that, I pull up the Wells Passage buoy data. If its lumpy out there, I don't go. Like previously said, lot of time its a little uncomfortable to start but lays right down.
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    Member Lone Wolf1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BQuad View Post
    I was all packed up to go last Friday morning but bailed when the weather station at Whittier Harbor was reporting gusts to 50. What puzzled me was there was no small craft advisory. I am a newbie to the Sound, 24' bowpicker style boat, high sided but not self-bailing (wish it was). Seems gusts that strong would make it hard to fuel up and dock.

    Any info on what these winds do and how far down Passage Canal they start to mellow out would be appreciated, it was such a perfect day over in Anchorage, was sad to see it slip by. Thanks for any info!

    The "pressure differential" between Anchorage and Whittier sets up a venturi effect coming over Portage Pass. I have a 28' Bayliner with high sides and a fly bridge, so it's hard to dock/launch in high winds. Having said that, I did launch Friday morning, and it was a real pain. I only did so because I had another friend along to help my wife manage dock lines. Complicating matters was a low tide. Managed to get out and over to the fuel dock without ending up on the rocks. I usually refrain from attempting to return to Whittier launch ramp in anything above 25 mph unless absolutely necessary. Strong winds near the dock are a nightmare for me. As said, West winds near Whittier are usually okay as far as seas go. Strong Easterlies up Passage Canal, however, are a real pain.

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    Sponsor potbuilder's Avatar
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    sunny and clear and its usually blowing in that dump town but 90% of the time by the time you get to pigot its flat calm. The bad part is if you heading into town the waves just get bigger and closer together the closer to town. What kind of bowpicker do you have that the deck isn't self bailing ? Must either be a Roberts or Orca they were the only 24's i remember ??

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    Member DMan's Avatar
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    Seeing is believing on a west wind in my opinion. Use the weather cams as well. I have driven down there before and not gone out, but usually when I get down there on a west wind its doable for me.

    "If its going out, go out. If its blowing in, stay in"

    A lot of times when its blowing out (west wind) its only choppy until you get to Port Wells. Not always but true more often than not.

    Biggest thing is how comfortable you are with your boat at the dock and in the harbor on a windy day, east or west.
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  8. #8

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    I agree with what others are saying about the West wind in whittier. In my experience it usually lays down before decision point depending on how strong it is. I left the dock last Friday around 1pm and it was still gusting in the harbor. On that day it was fine as soon as you got to Shotgun cove. It was a light ripple across Port Wells and further out. As mentioned, the port wells buoy should help you decide:
    http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/station_page.php?station=46081
    Too bad you didn't get to go out but it's better to play it safe until you have local knowledge.

  9. #9

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    Thanks for the tips.

    Quote Originally Posted by potbuilder View Post
    What kind of bowpicker do you have that the deck isn't self bailing ? Must either be a Roberts or Orca they were the only 24's i remember ??
    It's not a real bow picker, just that style, aluminum, aft cabin, deck space up front. Listed as a Homebuilt, was a skiff then higher sides, and cabin added later, was used for a mail boat during the Valdez spill. At some point it was decked over, but poorly braced, previous owners had bracing added and lowered the deck, we just had some hull work done fixing old patches and pinholes. Would like to convert it back to self bailing, but want to make sure the hull is solid before sealing her back up. She's a good little boat though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Wolf1 View Post
    The "pressure differential" between Anchorage and Whittier sets up a venturi effect coming over Portage Pass.
    You can figure 7 kts of wind per millibar of pressure differential. I had a 26 single screw Tolly in a slip in Whittier in the early 80's and it was a bear getting out of the slip with the Whittier west winds blowing until I figured how to use a spring line. I missed a lot of good days out on the sound before then stuck harbor sailing. One of the toughest trips I had was coming back into Whittier from a deer hunt in December in my 38 footer. 10F with frozen "smoke" on the water made it an interesting ride. No gps chartplotter in those days and radar was the only way I could see where the harbor entrance was. We were glad to get back safe that day but would have waited it out at Shotgun if I knew what I was headed in to.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fish Witch View Post
    You can figure 7 kts of wind per millibar of pressure differential.
    Thanks for that info, good to know!

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    Never hurts to check the buoy info, it's located east of Pigot in the center of Port Wells.


    http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/station_page.php?station=46081

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    Member theultrarider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian in AK View Post
    Never hurts to check the buoy info, it's located east of Pigot in the center of Port Wells.


    http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/station_page.php?station=46081
    Sure is good info when it's working. Glad to see it back up and running again.

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