View Full Version : Passing inside Tatoosh

05-11-2014, 10:04 AM
My name is showing up entirely too much on this forum for which I apologize. Having said that I'm very curious to know if any Northwest sailors have any experience of passing inside Tatoosh Is. I have done it once in settled conditions and it cut hours and hours off the trip south but I've never had it explained to me whether it should be treated like a bar crossing (which is certainly is) nor do I know which wind direction and speed is safe. We favoured the island side of the passage and went thru' a series of reasonably sized standing waves. I'm hoping Paul Elliot or someone with local knowledge might respond.

Paul Elliott
05-11-2014, 12:09 PM
My "local knowledge" consists of sailing into the strait of Juan de Fuca one time, from the northwest! I've got friends who have some serious local knowledge though, and I will ask them.

05-11-2014, 06:52 PM
Hi Peter,

I've passed inside Tatoosh a few times, usually when coming up the coast from Oregon. There's a rock in the middle that you can see when there's some swell. Here are some pix from the last time thru with LaDonna.622623624

Paul Elliott
05-11-2014, 11:15 PM
I asked around and the answers I've gotten range from "perhaps on a very calm day with no current" to "Hell no!" I'm not going to try it myself...

05-12-2014, 05:54 AM
Thanks Paul, there was certainly no danger the day I did it and the local trollers seem to do it regularly. I've also felt pretty nervous going outside when motoring with a big lump, strong current and no wind, spending 3 or 4 hours keeping the engine ticking over by willpower alone.
For those reading this but unfamiliar with the area..(and this is from memory). Tatoosh lies about half a mile off Cape Flattery and is separated from it by fairly shallow water. On the other side of Tatoosh is clear water for, perhaps a mile and then there are a group of semi submerged rocks that are ugly but well marked. After that you again have clear water but every ship heading into the Puget Sound or Georgia Strait area ie bound for Seattle Vancouver etc converges just here. Now add very strong currents and a ton of fog and the advantages of slipping behind Tatoosh and heading south becomes obvious, especially if the westerly is working its evil magic. Rob and Ladonna have done it without trouble a few times, I've done it once.
I think probably the best thing to do is speak to some of the native guys in Neah bay who live there and do it all the time.

06-18-2014, 04:02 PM
I spoke to a bunch of fisherman who all said you could pass inside Tatoosh anytime regardless of tide or weather so we did. No problem and saved a lot of time and frustration.

06-19-2014, 10:49 AM
Tiger Beetle also made the trip last month - those of you who know the boat know it draws at least 8 ft and the skipper is very conservative with risk. Local friends who have done it tens of times also indicated there is no problem; favor the island side though, staying about 50 feet off it. Yes, you could see evidence of the rock (Jones, I think?) as others mentioned above, but it seemed harder at high tide. We were following a large fishing trawler, but as we stopped to pick up a cool fish float they got further ahead of us. They naturally passed inside of the island, but considering current and increasing winds and case of first impression, Beetle decided to head outside the island, though we were pretty close to it and still went inside of Duncan Rock (around a mile north). The trawler did get way ahead of us, eventually, (they are obviously faster to begin with) but I honestly don't believe going outside of the island cost us tons of time. Maybe 45 minutes or so, given our boat speed and conditions, but the lower stress of having a little more runway in case something random happened to the motor was calculated to be worth the extra time.