Our trip through was uneventful, but I wanted to share some things about it.
The Swinomish Channel is a 7.5nm long waterway, measured from the railroad bridge on the north end to the south exit located just west of goat island. It separates Fidalgo Island from the mainland and requires dredging every three to five years to keep it navigable. It is also one of only three ways to get between Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands.
The complexity was due to several things.
- It was our first time through.
- It was shallow all the way.
- It was narrow, with lots of sandbars.
- It was easy to get distracted while sightseeing.
- We are a deep keel, slow moving sailboat.
- The current was strong.
- We were running between storm fronts.
Numbers for our transit, October 14, 2020
La Conner low tide 10am @ .63 feet
La Conner high tide 4:23pm @ 10.41ft
Left Anacortes at 9:15am.
Arrived at the railroad bridge and north entrance to the channel at approximately 10:30 am.
Passed La Conner at 11am. Tide was at 1.6 feet and rising.
Cleared the south end of the channel west of Goat Island at 11:45 am.
Advice for when you go.
Go with the flow.
Pick a leap tide. This should minimize the current so if you decide to dock in La Conner, it shouldn’t be much of a problem.
Know your chart plotter and use it.
Stay in the middle of the channel.
Keep a constant watch on the depth.
If you plan ahead and then stay focused during transit, Swinomish Channel shouldn’t pose a problem for even deep keeled sailboats.