July 7 – July 8, 2021
We left around 10am to head to Fords Terror to hit the 1:04pm high-tide window for entering. As we were leaving the anchorage, we were called by vessel La Vida asking our intentions. After we told them Fords Terror, we had a few exchanges about hoping there was enough room and we’ll see what happens when we get there. In the 2.5 hours it took to reach Fords Terror we assimilated La Vida into our group and had plans to add them to our raft for the night.
Arriving at Fords Terror there was a boat that had passed us and decided to not go in. They communicated that there were already two boats waiting and they did not want to risk the crossing with other boats. We briefly had the same thought but decided to push on. The worst-case scenario was that we’d have no place to anchor and would have to leave at the late-night high tide. Not the most optimal of outcomes but we’d make it work.
It turns out that one of the boats waiting was a charter and had no plans to go into Fords Terror. They had their dinghy down and were ferrying people in and out of the area so they could kayak and see the sites inside. The other boat waiting was a smaller boat, and another smaller boat came in behind us and radio that they would follow us and there was going to be plenty of room. Turns out that was Intuition, the red boat that was checking at the Sydney border crossing just before us!
After a brief wait, it was time. We headed for the rapids right before the tide time, but the current was visibly slower. Coda led the way. It was a fun ride. We all went a little sideways and Coda was probably closer to the side wall than I’d prefer but we all made it thru with just a little jockeying. Check out Christian’s drone video as it does a good job of showing the ride.
The area inside Fords Terror is amazing. Great waterfalls and an overall awesome experience. The anchorage is rather deep being in the 90-foot range. We sent Tonia and Christian off in the dinghy, and they set a stern anchor in the mud flats with some finagling and resetting to reach Coda’s stern line. The bugs were not friendly but Christian was quite the trooper! We set a second anchor off the front, and we were set in our 3-boat raft.
Our new boat in the raft was La Vida and their crew was Konrad and Lea from Dallas. La Vida was a charter boat that they picked up in Sitka as part of a group and they broke off for two days to visit Tracy Arm and Fords Terror. We all got together for a delicious potluck dinner.
After dinner we went out and checked the shrimp pot and were pleasantly surprised with a bunch of shrimps. The next day we had multiple hours until the high tide at 1:45pm. Just before coffee we went out and pulled the shrimp pot and got a full load of just about 3 quarts. Enough for snacks, dinner, and leftovers with a to-go baggie for La Vida too. I would say we’re getting better at shrimping, but it was our only real success so probably need more data.
After coffee, we took the dinghies around the area to check out all the waterfalls and the other side of the arm. Steve and Barbara pulled the dinghy up to shore and planned to walk around but that was cut short by a bear that happened to be feeding nearby. The bear took off running and Konrad and Lea got a video of it swimming and running for the hills. Steve made a quick retreat to his dinghy as well!
It was eventually time to head back to the rapids and our 1:45 high-tide appointment. We broke up the raft, pulled in the stern anchor, stowed the dinghies, and motored back to the rapids.
I would have to say that the trip back across the rapids was not easier, and it was actually a little more anxiety-inducing and terrifying. We were the last boat thru after watching La Vida and Coda traverse. La Vida looked to pause in the middle, and we had a little fright that they may end up in the rocks. Coda took it a lot faster and made it with a little side motion. For us, I think we went just when the tide was switching, and we had some swirly action. We also had radio chatter about a boat on the other side that was a little impatient and was going to go so we had additional stress. Luckily, the boat stayed put when they saw us around the corner.
Overall, Fords Terror was amazing, and I would highly recommend it even with the 15 minutes of stressful maneuvering it takes to get in and out. Here’s the rest of the photo dump: