Agate Passage and Rich Passage questions - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 6 Old 10-20-2013 Thread Starter
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Agate Passage and Rich Passage questions

I know that it is not wise to go thru Deception Pass with a strong current (or against it either).

What about Agate and Rich Passages around Bainbridge Island? The currents at their peak are brisk and I don't think I would be able to motor against them. But what about going with them? Do you guys think they are to swift to be safe?
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post #2 of 6 Old 10-20-2013
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Re: Agate Passage and Rich Passage questions

I would avoid both at peak flood or ebb (at times over 4 kts), even if moving with the current. I have been through both, Agate is narrow in spots and Rich has rocks and ferries. Keep in mind the published currents are averages, there will be areas that are faster, and others slower or even flowing the other way in eddies and small whirlpools. I would worrry about the ability to maintian directional control in a slower boat. Pheraps others will chime in having run them at peak, I am not that brave.
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Re: Agate Passage and Rich Passage questions

Neither pass is as dangerous as Deception since the currents are quite a bit lower at max ebb and flood. Both can be navigated safely and easily under auxiliary power. Navigating either under sail requires greater care. The winds are generally fluky and variable and generating enough power to offset the effects of current can be difficult. I ran them regularly when I sailed there in my 27 footer more years ago than I care to count.

If you have a deep keel you will find that the currents can swirl and push you off course vigorously and quickly so you need to keep a firm hand on the tiller or wheel.

Use care if running them in the fog. Good seaman's eye in good visibility or intimate familiarity with a good plotter in the fog will be needed due to the need for significant compensation for set and drift.

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post #4 of 6 Old 10-20-2013
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Re: Agate Passage and Rich Passage questions

I know that it is not wise to go thru Deception Pass with a strong current (or against it either).
Actually, we like traveling with big currents. We plan our Rosario transits, Deception Pass transits and Cattle Pass transits when there's a good current going with us. We just don't like motoring that much and if a 5 knot boost will get us there faster, that's what we do.

The exception is we avoid a strong current flow if an opposing wind has been blowing for awhile.
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Re: Agate Passage and Rich Passage questions

I'd suggest trying them at 2 knots the first time, then increasing perhaps 1 knot faster each time to find your own comfort limits. Agate Pass can get quite fast, it peaked at 4.9 knots in the last half hour.

Like erps I enjoy using the current to help me, but it depends on the exact pass too and what else is nearby. Agate is pretty straightforward, just watch for the shallower bits on the west side. Rich Passage is wider but twisty with rocks which means you'd probably want to avoid full currents. If you are going in higher currents be careful of eddy lines, crossing them will turn the boat in a hurry.

The timing of those two passes can make it tricky to try and do a full loop in one day. Next weekend would work, the neep tides are weak. If you go through Rich Passage at 9am you'd want to get to Agate sometime between 2 and 4pm. That gives you lots of time to explore and stop somewhere for lunch.

Going against the current can be made a lot more tolerable by finding the back eddys and staying inside those. For example in Rich Passage on the ebb the current should stay to the eastern side of Rich Passage and there is likely a back eddy running up the western side between Orchard Pt and Wautauge Beach. I don't know this for sure, just a guess.

During the flood on a spring tide week you can find a big eddy line coming off of Meadow Point just north of Shilshole Marina. is a very good website for visualizing currents around here.

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Re: Agate Passage and Rich Passage questions

Rich Passage will be fine as long as you have an auxiliary engine. Try to time it with the current and keep an eye out for the ferries. My first time ever sailing was this summer. Fifteen min after I left the Bremerton Marina in my new (to me) sailboat, and right in the middle of the ferry lanes my outboard overheated and died. I had read a ton of books, but never stepped foot on a sailboat before. I ended up sailing through Rich Passage against the current. It took me several attempts before I found the eddies and where the wind shadows/shifts were. I was solo and learned a LOT that day. I didn't plan on raising a sail until I got to Vashon Island but Mr Murphy had other plans.. what should have been a six hour motor to get my Aquarius 23' home turned in to a 4 day sail, and I have been sailing my arse off ever since (Still single handed, and still learning a lot every day).
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