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4. CAPE ST. ELIAS TO CAPE HINCHINBROOK AND
MONTAGUE ISLAND (OUTER COAST)
Between Cape St. Elias and Cape Hinchinbrook there are numerous high, snow-covered mountains that are visible on a clear day, but identification is difficult and they are not of much use in fixing positions.
It has been found convenient to approach Hinchinbrook Entrance (p. 56) on a radio bearing using the radiobeacon station at Cape Hinchinbrook, and taking cross bearings on the radiobeacon at Cape St. Elias as an aid in clearing Wessels Reef and Seal Rocks. It is reported that the currents along this approach set southwesterly invariably, and occasionally with a velocity of 212 knots; accordingly extreme caution is required in approaching Hinchinbrook Entrance in thick weather.
CONTROLLER BAY (chart 8513) is formed by Okalee Spit and Kayak Island on the south and Wingham and Kanak Islands on the west. For some distance back from the eastern shore the land is but slightly above high water, and is broken by many streams. Quicksand has been found in the channel at the mouth of Edwardes River. The bay is filled by flats between which are two principal channels, one from Kayak Entrance to the northern end of Kayak Island, and Okalee Channel.
Kayak Entrance, between Kayak and Wingham Islands, is rocky and foul, there being numerous lumps on which the least depth found is about 12 feet (3.7 m). The channel with a depth of about 12 feet (3.7 m) is 12 mile wide between a sand spit, largely bare at low water, extending 1 mile westward from the side of the low wooded spit on Kayak Island, and a reef, partly bare at low water, extending 350 yards off the southeast end of Wingham Island. The approach is lumpy, with numerous rocky spots of 2 to 3 fathoms (3.7 to 5.5 m) inside the 5-fathom (9.1 m) curve. The latter is about on a line from the southwest point of Wingham Island to the high bluff point on Kayak Island 31/2 miles 201° true from it. A reef, partly bare at low water, extends 600 yards southward from the southeast point of Wingham Island.
The following directions lead in the best water through Kayak Entrance, but the entrance should be used with caution and at high water only.
Steer for the end of the low wooded spit on the northwest side of Kayak Island on a 60° true course until the southeast tangent of Wingham Island bears 6o true. Then steer 18° true and give Wingham Island a berth of 350 yards.
Anchorage can be made about 250 yards northeastward of the point of Wingham Island just southeast ward of Kayak, in 3 fathoms (5.5 m), or a short distance southeastward of this position, in depths up to 4 fathoms (7.3 m), bottom soft in places. Good anchorage may also be selected anywhere in the channel from the southeast end of Wingham Island to the northern end of Kayak Isnand, for which chart 8513 and the lead are the guides. There is some local chop with strong winds, but no outside swell enters the bay either through Kayak Entrance or around the northern end of Kayak Island.
Kayak, on the east side of Wingham Island, 38 mile from its southeast end, is abandoned.
Wingham Island is 4 miles long and wooded, and has three hills, the highest, near its northern end, having an elevation of 832 feet (254 m). The western shore of the island is precipitous.
With heavy easterly winds anchorage and shelter can be found in 16 to 18 fathoms (29.3 to 33 m) 38 to 1/2 mile from the western side of Wingham Island, abreast its middle and lowest part.
Both Wingham and Kanak Islands are fox farms, the keepers living throughout the year on the eastern side of the islands.
Small vessels can anchor in the narrow channel close to the eastern side of Wingham Island. This channel is about 300 yards wide and extends nearly 2 miles southward from the northern end of the island, with depths of 7 to 12 fathoms (12.8 to 21.9 m) for 1 mile and then shoals gradually southward. The flats on the eastern edge of the channel have depths of 7 to 11 feet (2.1 to 3.4 m) and are generally steep-to. The mid-channel leads about 200 yards from the sland. A depth of 6 feet (1.8 m) at low water can be carried through close to the island to Kayak Entrance. At times the tidal currents have a velocity of 3 knots or more in places in the narrow channel eastward of Wingham Island. A shoal extends about 200 yards off the middle of the northern end of the island.
Okalee Channel, between the north end of Wingham Island and Kanak Island, is 5/8 mile wide, with depths of 6 fathoms (11 m) at the entrance, and these depths or more can be taken through the greater part of the channel. The channel is a secure harbor, and is marked by five buoys. It is reported that the buoys are hard to pick up in approaching from seaward.
The shoal on the southeast side of the channel 112 miles northeastward from the northern end of Wingham Island is bare shortly after high water, and this shoal and the one on the opposite side of the channel are generally partly indicated by breakers, especially at low water. The shoal extending southward from Kanak Island is mostly well out at low water. Above these shoals the flats bordering Okalee Channel are partly bare at low water only, and there is nothing to indicate the channel when the flats are covered. On the edges of the channel the shoaling is abrupt except at the entrance and on the southeast side where it changes direction southeastward of Kanak Island.
Vessels sometimes anchor in Okalee Channel about 2 miles above the northern end of Wingham Island. This part of the channel is generally easy of access in clear weather. Above this point Okalee Channel should be navigated at low water only, in the absence of aids or local knowledge, and extra care is required to keep in the channel. Chart 8513 and the lead are the guides.
Kanak Island, is 314 miles long, very low and flat, and wooded in the middle. The tank on the southern end of the island has collapsed, but pyramid-shaped ruins still show. An extensive shoal makes out
southwestward from the island, about 3 miles from its southeast end and 2 miles from its northwest end. The southern edge of the shoal passes about 1 mile northwestward from the northern end of Wingham Island. When off the southwest side of Kanak Island, vessels should keep in over 5 fathoms (9.1 m), low water. The range of the north ends of Wingham and Kayak Íslands, bearing 119o true (E. mag.), leads clear southward of the shoal.
The passage between Kanak Island and Strawberry Point is used only by boats and launches at high water.
Point Hey is a projecting and prominent high, narrow point on the northwest side of Controller Bay 1 mile northward of Kanak Island.
Chilkat is on the west side and near the mouth of the Bering River, which flows into the northeast end of Controller Bay. There is a cannery here that is sometimes operated during the salmon sea
Vessels with freight for the cannery anchor in Controller Bay, and all freight is lightered in and out over the flats with scows and launches.
Weather.—During the summer the prevailing winds are from the east around through south to southwest. During the early spring and fall, northwest winds blow with great force over the flats. There is a great deal of cloudy misty weather during the summer. Fog is infrequent and usually clears off before noon.
Tides.—High and low water occur 25 minutes later than at Sitka, and the rise and fall of tides are the same.
The tidal currents set into Controller Bay through all the entrances on the flood and out on the ebb. In Kayak Entrance the ebb has greater velocity than the flood, and it is estimated that the greatest velocity at strength does not exceed 3 knots. Tide rips occur at times in the channel abreast the southern end of Wingham Island. The velocity of the current in the channel north of Kayak Island does not exceed 2 knots.
In Okalee Channel southeastward of Kanak Island, observations show an average velocity of about 2 knots at strength of current. To obtain the approximate times of the slacks and strengths add 20 minutes to the predicted times of current in Wrangell Narrows given in the Pacific Coast Current Tables. Small tide rips occur when the wind is against the current. Around the north end of Wingham Island the tidal current strengths have velocities of about 112 knots. The times may be obtained by adding 30 minutes to the predictions for Wrangell Narrows.
KATALLA BAY (chart 8513), 23 miles northward from Cape St. Elias, is included between Strawberry Point on the east and Martin Islands on the west, a distance of 5 miles, and indents the coast about 2 miles to the mouth of Katalla River. The bay is a roadstead anchorage sheltered from offshore winds, but exposed to winds from southeast, south, and southwest.
Strawberry Point is low and bare at the end and wooded toward the foot of the hill. There is a prominent hill on the point with a low break between it and the higher land northward. Å shoal with little water over it, and on which the sea generally breaks at low water, extends nearly 11/2 miles southward from the point.
The northeastern shore of the bay from Strawberry Point to the mouth of the Katalla River is a steep sand beach. The northwestern shore from Katalla to Martin Islands is foul and should be given a berth of about 34 mile.
Palm Point is 112 miles southwestward of Katalla. There is an abandoned railroad camp with sheet-iron buildings just northward of the point. A bowlder reef, bare at low water, extends 38 mile southward from it.
Martin Islands are two in number, about 60 feet (18.3 m) high, have steep rocky sides, and lie 1/2 to 1 mile from shore. The northern island is joined to the shore by a flat, bare at extreme low water. There is an abandoned radio station on the northern island.
Martin Islands Light is an unwatched light located on the southwest point of Kiktak Island, the outer one of the Martin group. The light is 150 feet (46 m) high and visible 9 miles.
Katalla is a post office on the northern side of the bay and on the western side of the mouth of Katalla River. There is a landing for lighters, which can be towed over the bar except at low water. The bar at the mouth of the river has a depth of about 3 feet (0.9 m) at low water, and the sea generally breaks on it. The entrance, which is narrow and rocky, requires local knowledge. With a smooth sea, lighters formerly landed in the bight on the northeast side of Palm Point. There is always some surf on the beach, and with southeasterly or southwesterly winds landing is impracticable. Goods are discharged by means of a lighter. The necessary towing is done by launches.
On the east branch of Katalla River, about 3 miles from Katalla, there are oil works which supply local boats with oil, gasoline, and distillate. The depth in the river is ample for boats that can cross the bar.
The oil company maintains telephone connection with the cannery at Chilkat and the town of Katalla. There is a weekly mail service from Cordova.
The engine of the wreck of the Portland can be seen at a good low water. It has not been accurately located, but it is reported to lie in the vicinity of the 5-fathom (9.1 m) curve as shown on the chart, about 1 mile northeastward of Palm Point. Shoals make out on both sides of the river mouth to the wreck.
The railroad, a section of which was built northward from Katalla, has been abandoned.
The anchorage in the bay is from 112 to 2 miles southward of Katalla, in 6 to 712 fathoms (11 to 13.7 m), with eastern end of the town bearing between 17° true and 355° true. The bottom is hard sand but the holding ground is generally good. . There are no dangers if the shore be given a berth of over 34 mile, but the wreck of the Portland and the shoal extending 11,2 miles southward from Strawberry Point should be kept in mind.
There is quicksand in the Katalla Anchorage and this has caused the loss of many anchors. Vessels should sight their anchors frequently.
Approaching from southeastward, vessels pass 1 mile or more southward of Cape St. Elias gas and whistling buoy. From a position 21/2 miles west-southwestward of Pinnacle Rock, a 12° true course made good for about 23 miles, will lead to the anchorage in
Katalla Bay. Strangers entering Katalla Bay should do so in the daytime and with clear weather,
From Katalla bound westward, vessels can pass 1 to 11/2 miles southward of Martin Islands and make good a 273° true course for 61 miles to a position 112 to 2 miles southward of Cape Hinchinbrook. This course, if made good, should lead in a depth of over 15 fathoms (27.4 m), 31/2 to 4 miles southward of the sand islets, lying 9 to 19 miles westward of Martin Islands.
COPPER RIVER (charts 8502 and 8513) emerges through the mountains between Miles and Childs Glaciers, above which there are rapids. Below the rapids the river flows through flats about 5 miles wide in many changeable channels, varying in depth from 5 to 20 feet (1.5 to 6.1 m) at high stages of the river, and not navigable. The current is swift and the effect of the tide on the current is only felt near the mouth.
The entire delta is low, marshy flats except for sand dunes, 50 to 150 feet (15.2 to 46 m) high, on the islands and banks of the main channel. From seaward the vicinity of Copper River shows as a vast, rugged mountain range, with numerous glaciers filling its gorges.
From Martin Point to Point Bentinck (eastern end of Hinchinbrook Island) the coast is fringed with a chain of low sand islets lying 4 to 5 miles from shore. The shoals extending seaward from the sand islets in the section off the Copper River Delta have not been developed by surveys; however, danger may be avoided by giving these islets a berth of more than 3 miles and by avoiding depths less than 10 fathoms (18.3 m). The shoals extending about 4 miles seaward from Egg Island and Point Bentinck were surveyed in 1916, see chart 8520.
The area back of the chain of islets between Points Martin and Bentinck is largely composed of tidal flats of mud and sand intersected by sloughs. The sloughs connect with the Copper River passes, Glacier River, Eyak River, and with channels in Orca Inlet (p. 62) and Hawkins Island Cut-Off; and they drain into channel outlets to
The principal channel outlet passes just eastward of Egg Islands, marked by a light, and is connected with Alaganik Pass (main outlet to the Copper River) by a comparatively deep slough across the tidal flats.
Half-way along the slough from Egg Islands to Alaganik Pass is a sand flat which bares soon after high tide. The slough skirts close to the northwestern end of this flat and leads off to the northward toward Glacier River for about 12 mile, thence leads in a straight line to the pass. The current flow in the slough is strong.
Navigation in this region is limited to small craft and local knowledge is necessary. Anchorage may be found in the wider parts of the sloughs northward of the Egg Islands; there is no protection from the prevailing winds but seas are broken down by the surrounding flats.
The Egg Islands (chart 8520) are low and partly grass-covered. On one of the islands is a group of trees of which a dead tree was the highest in 1916.