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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Destinations > Pacific Northwest & Alaska
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Old 10-10-2011
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Deadheads & other interesting navigational hazards

Hi there,

I'm reading through the hugely enjoyable The Curve of Time (much to my wife's annoyance) and came across deadheads - that is, vertically floating logs (rather than psychedelic rock groupies)
that lurk about just under the surface, waiting to take out a passing boat.

Given the demise of the logging industry in recent years, are deadheads still the hazard they once were? I assume you find them in "places less travelled" - would this be correct, and do folk still keep a wary eye out for them? Are there other navigational hazards specific to the PNW that I should become aware of?

TIA
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Old 10-10-2011
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In the Chesapeake deadheads arise from trees that fall over into the water following torrential downpours.
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We see them in the Ohio river from time to time..saw one that looked like about a 20' long manatee, probably more a danger to powerboaters who hit them with some speed, if you are sailing you can usually see and avoid them
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Old 10-10-2011
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We fished in the Hakai Pass and Rivers Inlet areas for many years. Yes, last year there were still lots of logs, both vertical and horizontal, floating in the water. As mentioned above, at sailboat speed you should be able to see them, unless you are running at night. In all the places we fished in BC waters there are lots of "wash rocks", not seen at high tide unless there is a big sea running. When it is calm you can't see them and they are just under the surface. Many are far from shore, unlike the Northern California coastline. Get a good set of charts and use them all the time, the wash rocks are everywhere.

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Old 10-10-2011
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Are there other navigational hazards specific to the PNW that I should become aware of?
Lots of deadheads and during certain times of the year, lots of crab pot buoys.
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Old 10-10-2011
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I saw a deadhead this summer off Cape Beale. It sure surprised me.

I once saw one in Homphrey Channel that I thought was new port hand buoy - it was huge.
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Old 10-10-2011
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One can still get this type of debris when rivers flood and wash trees off the shores down the river into the salish sea etc. There are still lots of logs etc on the beachs that can still get refloated....With this all in mind, going from the longest back I can go, ie about 8 yrs old on the sound in dads boat, there does seem to be fewer than years past. I would not go so far to say there are none. There are still plenty to be worried about IMHO!

The other that may make fewer dead heads, is logs are not shipped floating as much as they used to. so fewer of them to get free etc. This to me is probably the BIGGEST reason!

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It only takes one!! We were coming back to the lodge, choppy, not much light, and I hit one at about 25MPH. Luckily, I hit it straight on and launched the boat straight over it,
kind of like a ski jump. Another guest at our lodge, fishing by himself, hit one and was thrown out of the boat. Fortunately he wasn't too far from shore and drifted up on some rocks where he was recsued a few hours later after his boat was spotted empty. However, as mentioned, at sailboat speed you should be able to see most of them if you are keeping a good watch. Here is an interesting site about log barges:

TheLarrytwo's Channel - YouTube

Dabnis
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Old 10-10-2011
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Originally Posted by dabnis View Post
It only takes one!! We were coming back to the lodge, choppy, not much light, and I hit one at about 25MPH. Luckily, I hit it straight on and launched the boat straight over it,
kind of like a ski jump. Another guest at our lodge, fishing by himself, hit one and was thrown out of the boat. Fortunately he wasn't too far from shore and drifted up on some rocks where he was recsued a few hours later after his boat was spotted empty. However, as mentioned, at sailboat speed you should be able to see most of them if you are keeping a good watch. Here is an interesting site about log barges:

TheLarrytwo's Channel - YouTube

Dabnis
Just look at the amount of cr@p on that EMPTY barge - no wonder there's so much junk in the water.

Deadheads seem to be fewer than years ago but there are still lots of floating logs and junk in the water. They regularly tow booms up Howe Sound to Squamish and lots of junk still escapes. I see some every time I'm out. It is definitely worse after the spring freshet brings trash down the Fraser.

One thing I can't understand is how the guys in big muscle boats survive running at high speed around here. Reggie Fountain was in my local boatyard a couple of years ago with a 38'ish footer with a couple of blown big blocks in it. they were running it at speeds near 100 MPH in the mouth of Howe Sound - there is no way they could have time to avoid a deadhead or a log floating awash. Even some of the larger trash would be enough to wreck them at those speeds. I've seen others doing similar things lots of times.

Anybody here have any experience with those things (or someone willing to admit it. ) that can explain how they do it? Survive that is.
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Originally Posted by SloopJonB View Post
Just look at the amount of cr@p on that EMPTY barge - no wonder there's so much junk in the water.

Deadheads seem to be fewer than years ago but there are still lots of floating logs and junk in the water. They regularly tow booms up Howe Sound to Squamish and lots of junk still escapes. I see some every time I'm out. It is definitely worse after the spring freshet brings trash down the Fraser.

One thing I can't understand is how the guys in big muscle boats survive running at high speed around here. Reggie Fountain was in my local boatyard a couple of years ago with a 38'ish footer with a couple of blown big blocks in it. they were running it at speeds near 100 MPH in the mouth of Howe Sound - there is no way they could have time to avoid a deadhead or a log floating awash. Even some of the larger trash would be enough to wreck them at those speeds. I've seen others doing similar things lots of times.

Anybody here have any experience with those things (or someone willing to admit it. ) that can explain how they do it? Survive that is.

I suspect they do what I did, just bounce right over the top. However, their boats are a lot bigger and heavier than a 17 foot Boston Whaler and they are going a whole lot faster than 25MPH, I think their momentum keeps them stable? Kind of hard on on the running gear I would imagine? I don't think even the best pair of eyes can see debris at that speed? Here we are when the visibility is about as good as it gets:

100 4097 - YouTube

And my wife catching a nice 15 pound Coho:

100 4120 - YouTube

Dabnis
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