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Old_Salt Posted - Oct 17 2006 : 18:53:50
I've never been thru Keku though!

6. I'll follow up in the thread "Keku Strait"

Rob, going South from Kake, through Keku Strait, was the most fun I had in 148 days of the 2002 Southeast trip. Rocky Pass, The Summit, and Devil's Elbow are distinct and memorable sections of this passage between Kupreanof Island on the East and Kuiu Island on the West. The key is to hit the summit when there is some water in it ... and, oh ... before that, to miss all the rocks in Rocky Pass ... and, oh ... after that, to stay outta' the kelp in Devil's Elbow.

Keku Strait is shown on charts 17368 and 17372 to be rocky, shallow, and kelpy; narrow, twisty and crooked - did I mention kelpy? We got the high temperature alarm in Devil's Elbow and making tea on the starboard engine was a snap! I stopped, let her cool down a bit, went into hard reverse and blew kelp ALL OVER the landscape. Had to do it a second time before the day was done. Keku floods from both ends and rather unpredictably, so it's when you actually get to The Summit that you find out whether you ride the ebb South or continue to ride the flood South OR get overpowered by the greater flood still coming North! Neat!

On the 1997 versions of the 2 charts, there were 3 nav aids out of place on the chart. They were in the correct place IN THE WATER but you didn't know that until you got there. I had drawn my route through the red and greens prior to leaving Stedman Cove and I just couldn't figure out what the USCG had been thinking when they laid those buoys out. Why would they have chosen a passage over the rocks rather than through a relatively comfortable 5' of water (relatively comfortable to 4' of water).Turns out it was NOAA and their charts that were wrong. A great day of boating. Stedman Cove to Point Baker - 32 nm - most of it at 4 knots.

It was so much fun that the next time through I'm gonna use my old charts, even if NOAA has corrected theirs.

10   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Jgsons2 Posted - Mar 23 2012 : 10:42:55
Steelguy you were right to say Old Salt is the one to ask about the west coast. I have found his knowledge to be right on. He is very SAFTY first person.
BillV and Old Salt I don't know how much bottom fishing you two do. If you are like me I lose lead jigs about every trip out. The reason I am bring this up is there is going to be a lead melt in ARLINGTON, WA on April 7th. If you are interested go to Then go to Forums click it , Then click Washington State, scroll down to " Special Olympics 2012 lead melt at dragonballs "here are the GUIDELINES". I am bring 10lb down rigger ball mold and molds for buzz bombs, zingers, and a few other molds.
Old_Salt Posted - Mar 21 2012 : 23:52:37
Bill V:

I edited the Nov.30 post, wrt the Keku Strait chart reference I made in the post. ...

"AND … I finally found 17372 .. not the way I wanted to present it, but if you go here and click on the chart you can work with it."

The word "here" was underlined in the post and was actually the web address for the Keku Strait chart.

The web reference was changed and left my earlier reference meaningless, so I located the chart and changed the address of "here" so that it contained the new web address and the new chart could be located.

Seems to work now, ...
... for the time being, anyway.

BillV Posted - Mar 21 2012 : 21:36:43
Not sure what OS edited but sure am glad to see him back. I was concerned that maybe he had been "dry docked" or in an "overhaul" situation. What say you OS?
Old_Salt Posted - Aug 15 2010 : 17:43:47
The snotty Brit won ...


For starters, your day is going to be much shorter on Sept.7 than my traveling days were in 2002 and 2008. Try for a high water timing at The Summit for about mid-day, leaving you a little daylight at each end of the trip.

My July 14, 2002 trip was from Stedman Cove at the north end to Point Baker. The tides were given for Keku Strait on Ketchikan. The morning low of –2.1’ was at 10:25 am ADST and the following high of 15.2’ was at 4:54 pm for Ketchikan. Kake, at the north end was + 5 min. and – 1.4’ on the high, + 12 min. and – 0.1’ on the low. Monte Carlo Island, at the south end was + 2 min. and –2.8 ‘ on the high and + 3 min. and –0.1’ on the low. The Summit was + 31 min. and +0.3’ on the high, and + 37 min. and +0.1’ on the low. The total distance to be traveled was 30-35 nm and I figured 5-6 hours for the trip.
Don’t forget that Keku Strait floods from both south and north, meeting near The Summit.

My 2008 trip north was on July 1, with a Ketchikan LW of –2.8’ at 5:58 am and HW at 12:27 pm at 13.5’. Started out at 7:30 am. See photos above. Reached Monte Carlo Island at 10 am. Entrance Island anchorage at 1pm. It passed muster, so I went to Kake for fuel and water (since Craig would be my next fuel and water stop and was about a week away) and returned to Entrance Island for the night at 5:40 pm. The trip south on July 2 had a LW at 6:50 am and HW at 1:19 pm. Started out at 8:30 am. Got down to Monte Carlo Island by 12:30.

Timing like this may work well for you on Sept.7, where I get sunrise at 6:12 am with a LW at The Summit of –2.3’ at 7:00am AKDT, and HW of 16.8’ (Boy! Are you gonna’ get a boost up that hill, or what!?”) at 1:12 pm, based on Ketchikan, with a sunset at 7:34 pm.

Be ready to heave the anchor over, to slow you down!

This was my first run through Keku Strait and the ONLY way I was going, was on a rising tide. If I was going to get stuck, I wanted enough of the rising tide left to get me out of the goo or off the rocks. We decided to leave around noon even if that meant going against the last of the flood on the south side of The Summit

We were up at 5:45 am listening to the weather forecast and essentially ready to go after brekkie. It was overcast with high cloud, and a forecast for S to SW winds of 15 knots maximum. We fired up at 11:51 am and exited Stedman Cove at 11:58 am running at 1200 rpm and doing 6.3 knots with the start of the flood.

Aside from the confusion with the erroneous 1997 vintage charts, things went pretty well. We reached Green 33 at 1 pm and issued a “Securite” for the benefit of any northbound vessels. Crept past Green 23 at 1:30, having cleared The Summit. At 2:52 pm we passed the Red 4 running 1675 rpm and making 5.2 knots against the flood from the south. We are basically clear of the trouble spots in a 3 hour run. GPS showing about 17 nm covered.

3:19 pm S/B engine high temperature alarm. Shut down the S/B and manouevered out of the kelp, cooling down to 180F in 20 min. Fired both up and 10 seconds of hard reverse filled the air with flying kelp. All was well until I did the same trick all over again before getting to the entrance of Point Baker, where a humpie played “Oh No, You don’t either!” every time we tried to sneak by him and get inside.

I recommend that you acquire Coastal Pilot 8, Dixon Entrance to Cape Spencer; all the relevant NOAA paper charts you will need for your boating in SE Alaska waters; Nobeltec vector charts for SE Alaska if you use the Nobeltec laptop navigation system; and a tide book.

If you go North to South, get fuel and good water at Kake. If you go South to North, take on fuel and good water at Ketchikan or Thorne Bay, on the East side of POWI or at Craig, on the West side of POWI. Do NOT take on water at Point Baker … but you should fill a small disposable water jug at Point Baker just so you can see what I’m talking about.

Have a great trip, and if you don’t post here at the end of your trip, WITH PICS, we will hunt you down. If I can be of any help, please ask.


Old_Salt Posted - Aug 15 2010 : 16:11:44
Hi, Steelguy and welcome to the IP!

Are you taking the trip to, and/or from, SE Alaska as well as doing a run through Keku Strait? Chartering? Who are you taking for crew? Solo? Enquiring minds need to know!

I’ll get right on this as soon as Federer beats that snotty Brit!

Steelguy Posted - Aug 15 2010 : 11:35:37
Old Salt,

You very much appear to be the man to ask for advice. I am cruising up Keku Strait around Sept. 7th and very much enjoyed reading, and studying your post. Do you have any further advice to offer? I will be taking my 30' Sisu downeast lobster boat, inboard diesel which has a 3' draft and cruises at a top end of 8 knots. Going slow and being cautious is no problem.

Thanks, Steelguy
Old_Salt Posted - Nov 30 2008 : 13:35:20
Thanks, Richard.

"I wonder about the kelp - thick enough to catch on my stern drive and shut off water flow?"

Oh, yeah!

This is where twin engines pay for themselves.

My KELP (Kelp Evasion Lifetime Project) actually showed a 50% improvement this 2008 trip over the previous 2002 trip. In 2002, we got nailed twice, on just the Southbound leg. This year I only got stoopid twice, ... once Northbound and once Southbound. I took that as an improvement.

I think the high temperature alarm is quite piercing, and more urgent sounding than in the busted impeller scenario, when kelp is the culprit. It's like "Help! I'm choking down here!" instead of "Kettle's boiling!".

"I had this happen once in Wrangell Narrows, and found myself adrift in considerable current until I got the kicker going. Could be pretty exciting in so narrow a place as Rocky Pass."

Isn't it interesting that Wrangell Narrows and Keku Strait provide alternate routes going from Sumner Strait to Frederick Sound, and both of them take you through the kelp patch, and the only other ways North are to get yourself stuck in the mud in Dry Strait, or to get your tail kicked going out around Cape Decision?

Maybe we ought to get sailboats?

The main difference between Keku and Wrangell, as I see it, is that you have less likelihood of being run down by a cruise boat in Keku Strait, and you don't want to be travelling Wrangell on the Saturday morning of the Petersburg Fishing Derby.

" ... is the kelp just unavoidable?"

Yes! ... so far.

NewMoon Posted - Nov 30 2008 : 08:57:49
Nice job, OS!

I have the chart, but Rocky Pass is one place I have not yet traveled. I wonder about the kelp - thick enough to catch on my stern drive and shut off water flow? I had this happen once in Wrangell Narrows, and found myself adrift in considerable current until I got the kicker going. Could be pretty exciting in so narrow a place as Rocky Pass. What do you think? Does a bow watch help, or is the kelp just unavoidable?
Old_Salt Posted - Nov 30 2008 : 00:22:56
Keku Strait

Chart 17372 shows Keku Strait, at 1:20,000, from Monte Carlo Island at the South end (in Sumner Strait) to Entrance Island at the North end, a distance of about 18 nm. Depths for this NOAA chart are given in feet. The Summit and Devil’s Elbow are shown in Insets at 1:10,000. This chart is not available from the NOAA website at this time. Sorry. Coast Pilot 8 is available here. Go to Chapter 7, Sumner Strait, page 248, Keku Strait, for the details.

Here is the Chart 17378 for Port Protection , my o/n anchorage for June 30. My anchorage was just east of the 2 islands with 100 and 200 foot contour lines. This is a great o/n stop if you aren’t stopping at Point Baker floats.

AND … I finally found 17372 .. not the way I wanted to present it, but if you go here and click on the chart you can work with it. Use the “+”,”-“, and arrows at the bottom to manouever on the chart. The South end, off Sumner Strait, is on the RHS and the North end, off Freerick Sound is on the RHS.

Left the inner lagoon at Port Protection at 7:30 am July 1. This is the view back to the south from Sumner Strait. Mt. Calder shows above Port Protection.

The fishing fleet was out and I got a couple of shots due east up Sumner Strait. This is a very pretty area to travel.

View to the North from Sumner Strait. Monte Carlo Island is the first feature shown on the chart at the South end. Left bottom corner on the Right Hand Side of Chart 17372.

Red 2, North of Monte Carlo, is the first Nav Aid showing from the South end. The blowup of this photo shows the rocks, reefs, and ledges already showing at this location.

G11 doing it’s job at the south end of Devil’s Elbow, due East of Eagle Island, near center, RHS.

R24 is one of the new markers added in The Summit since my 2002 trip. They placed so many additional markers that they had to use the suffix “A” to identify some of the new nav aids.

View to the Southwest from my anchorage on the south side of Entrance Island.
Who IS that masked man?

July 2. 8:30 am start back to Port Protection. R42 is the first Nav Aid heading south. It is located at the south entrance to Stedman Cove.

It really does get interesting in places, trying to manouever ‘tween the red and greens.

Back in my Port Protection anchorage for the night.

2 days, 16 hours traveling, 97 nm logged from Port Protection to Kake and back.

Old_Salt Posted - Nov 29 2008 : 18:34:36
Well, it appears NOAA is still correcting their chart 17372 "Keku Strait-Monte Carlo Island to Entrance Island". Thing is, they haven't made it available to the on-line viewer yet.

Every boater who has the spirit of adventure that demands that he/she get away from the dock once in a while, (usually the spot nearest the gangway, and hence, the pub) should own at least one chart like NOAA 17372. You pull it out of the file, spread it on the table, and before you take that first taste of ____ ,(insert your favorite beverage here ... mine's Glenfiddich Solara Reserve) and while completely sober, you ask yourself, "Do I really want to go back there and do that again?" The almost immediate answer is, "HELL, YES!" And then you start planning.

I have a couple of charts like NOAA 17372. They make you smile, way down deep, inside, even if it doesn't show on your face. If you have been there, and done that, they make you feel pretty good about yourself, as a boater, and as a child of God, whether my God or one of your upbringing. My 2002 trip through Keku Strait was undertaken in innocence and ignorance. The Summit caused me to swallow hard a couple of times as I progressed South at or near High Water, when the sounder started reading less than 4 feet, in the dredged channel that got down to 20-30 feet in width, all too often, with bare rocks poking up on both sides. I was grateful for the Admiral's assistance. The chart vendor, at the Tongass Trading Company, in Ketchikan, had pointed out that the chart had several nav aids shown on the chart in incorrect positions. When the sounder went to less than 3 feet, you can bet we were paying a lot of attention to the placing of the nav aids in the water.

Now wearing the big smile on the outside, I knew I could work TWO passages of Keku Strait into my 2008 Prince of Wales Island trip. When I would arrive at Point Baker, at the NW corner of POWI, it made more sense to go through Keku Strait to Kake for fuel and Water, than to run out of fuel trying to make it all the way to Craig, which was the only satisfactory supply stop on the west side of POWI. It's a done deal! I get to run Rocky Pass, The Summit and Devil's Elbow in both directions this time! And ... using my old chart with the 3 nav aids in the wrong places! Without my wife's company on this trip, much as I would miss her, it MIGHT just be a passage with a lower decibel level, too!

In place of Chart 17372, I’ll offer a Google Earth locator for Keku Strait


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