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post #1 of 12 Old 01-08-2010 Thread Starter
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Fraser River Approach

Hi all,

As I plan to live aboard at Shelter island marina in April, I wonder if I could get some help from any of you local sailors on when and how to head up the south arm of the Fraser River from Point Roberts?

I've looked at tide tables for Sand Heads and purchased charts 3463 )Georgia Strait) and 3490 (Sand Heads) but unsure of currents. Seems to me that getting local info is always best.

I am relatively new to sailing and this is my first sailboat.

Thanks

Stephen
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post #2 of 12 Old 01-08-2010
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I've not done a lot of river travel in years, but generally you'd want to be entering the river on a rising tide to minimize your contrary current. The area around Sand Heads (south arm entrance) is notorious for random currents and confused seas esp in big river flows vs a strong Westerly wind. If you're doing this soon, the river flow will not be too bad as it's been cold in the interior and the runoff is relatively low.

The biggest issue is the deceptive nature of the lay of the land in this area. Leaving Pt Roberts and passing the ferry terminals and coal port there's a strong tendency to think you need to "turn right".. in fact you need to be mindful of the shoals which are a long way off shore - miles, in fact. Your course will carry on almost straight, seeming heading for Powell River to get to Sand Heads. There are markers at the edge of the shoals and a couple of key buoys to keep an eye out for. In foggy or low visibility conditions things are, of course, worse. A handheld GPS is quite helpful here... you just need to believe what it tells you.

So take the time to plot a course and bearings to refer to off the chart if you don't have a GPS to back it up. Try not to cut corners as you approach the Sand Heads light, keep an eye on your sounder if you have one.

Best of luck!

Ron

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post #3 of 12 Old 01-08-2010
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Hi Stephen

You should purchase a Current Atlas and Vol 5 of Tide and Current Tables. The Atlas can be used with the Tide Tables for Point Atkinson, or with Murray's Tables or Washburne's Tables. These are available at any chandler such as Steveston or WM. They are a part of any boat's navigational publications.

The Altas has a section (Part C)in the back for forecasting the currents in the Sand Heads area which are heavily dependent on the flow of the Fraser River as a result of snow melt and rainfall.

Coming from Point Roberts will require that you are very careful is avoiding Roberts Bank which extends at great distance offshore. It is marked with nav aids.

The trip from Sand Heads to Steveston requires special caution as you can get rough seas developing from strong winds over Roberts Bank.

Congrats on the lifestyle change.

Jack

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post #4 of 12 Old 01-08-2010 Thread Starter
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Fraser River

Thanks so much for the fast response. I was out yesterday riding my bike around Stevenson and as I looked out towards the river entrance, the buoys marking a channel extended as far as I could see. Your description fits. Looks like one really must head way out before finding the approach.

I do have a GPS onboard. I plan on making the trip at the beginning of April.

Thanks again this help loads!

Stephen
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post #5 of 12 Old 01-08-2010 Thread Starter
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Thank you Jack,

I will pick up an Atlas first thing tomorrow. I have read of a number of capsizes at the entrance during bad weather. This convergence of currents is quite powerful I guess.

I sure do have a lot to learn!

Stephen
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post #6 of 12 Old 01-09-2010 Thread Starter
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Jack,

Purchased current atlas and Washburnes Tables. The first thing I noted was his warning about not using the atlas to predict slack tides and suggests using Government tables for precision. Obviously to enter the Fraser I will need to be quite particular.

Have you any experience with the Avadepth site for forecasting best transit times? It is designed to aid deep sea vessels. It looks useful, especially once I am able to make it work for me. There is a function which will display an animated image showing current velocities but it does not seem to generate...at least not for me.

Thanks again!

Stephen

BTW: Where do you instruct the CYA advanced course?
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post #7 of 12 Old 01-09-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StephenBrooks View Post
Jack,

Purchased current atlas and Washburnes Tables. The first thing I noted was his warning about not using the atlas to predict slack tides and suggests using Government tables for precision. Obviously to enter the Fraser I will need to be quite particular.
Vol 5 provide info for First and Second Narrows, but not the Fraser. Use Fasters advise on going in a flood current which will counteract the river.

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Have you any experience with the Avadepth site for forecasting best transit times? It is designed to aid deep sea vessels. It looks useful, especially once I am able to make it work for me. There is a function which will display an animated image showing current velocities but it does not seem to generate...at least not for me.
That is a great site. Did you set up an account? I was not aware of it. The only times I have been up the South Arm was on powerboats. I have been on the North Arm on sailboats.


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BTW: Where do you instruct the CYA advanced course?
I usually work for one of the West Coast sailing schools. I will PM you with that information.

Jack

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Fraser River South Arm

Yes I did open an account with AVADEPTH. I found it a couple of months ago while searching for info on the Fraser.

It looks quite useful now that I can understand the data. Well, sort of anyway. Since I have only a 9.9 hp outboard on my boat, I will be extra careful about when I come and go.

Stephen
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Stephen... the 9.9 should push your Vega along just fine...but paying attention to the tide will make things go more quickly.

All the best!

Ron

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post #10 of 12 Old 03-07-2010 Thread Starter
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Fraser River Trip

Well, I made it. Now safe and sound at Shelter Island Marina on the Fraser River.Thanks to all of you for your guidance. While most were enjoying an exciting hockey game and the streets of downtown Vancouver packed with thousands of spectators, I was making the trip... a long trip. Seven and a half hours from Point Roberts. I arrived in darkness, a bit tense but nothing too concerning. There was a moment when I was off Roberts Bank and suddenly remembered Faster's words.

"A handheld GPS is quite helpful here... you just need to believe what it tells you.

I looked down at my iphone (with navionic charts) and saw I still needed to head out further. Thanks again!

Stephen
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