Grenville Channel

The Slot, the Big Ditch, or simply Grenville Channel.

Grenville Channel

Looking south in Grenville Channel

The nicknames are well earned on this long passage. On the maps it runs straight for over 44nm north and south and is the primary channel for all Inside Passage traffic. At our regular cruising speed of seven to eight knots it will take almost six hours to transit the channel. Six hours of very regular scenery, a wall of trees to each side of a half mile wide channel, it just continues for a seeming eternity.

The passage is broken by a number of excellent anchorages and inlets to explore. Places like Nettle Basin and Verney Falls, Klewnuggit Inlet, Baker Inlet and Watts Narrows all offer opportunities to break up the otherwise monotonous passage. Several of these places have been designated marine provincial parks.

At the north end you will find one of our favorites, Kumealon Inlet. An convenient few hours run from Prince Rupert it is the northernmost anchorage in the channel. The inner cove offers an excellent anchorage. Leaving Prince Rupert in the afternoon with enough daylight to reach this cove is a good plan.

Towards the south end Lowe Inlet hosts the large Verney Falls that doubles in height at low tide. With an early fall high tide coho salmon can be seen jumping the waterfalls as they attempt to reach the river above. There is a chance to see bears fishing here, waiting on the rocks at the left side of the falls.

The channel offers few navigational difficulties, almost no rocks or reefs to be aware of along the passage. The major issue is other traffic as almost all vessels transiting the Inside Passage use this narrow strait. Logs and other marine debris also demand wary piloting, particularly during high spring and fall tides that lift logs off of the local beaches.

Careful planning of the time and tides will aid your transit. A helpful push can be had if entering on an incoming tide and exiting with the outgoing tide. Otherwise expect to be fighting the tide all the way through. Facing an incoming tide one southbound passage we found our speed cut in half, dropping below four knots. A good time to duck into Lowe Inlet to explore Verney Falls while awaiting a favorable current.

An alternate route through Ogden, Principe and Petrel channels beckons on the map. This would add another day to your transit time, in exchange for a fascinating array of bays and inlets to explore. One of these years we are going to have to try that course.

About Andrew Cooper

An electrical engineer living and working on Mauna Kea, Hawai'i. Webmaster for the website. Sometimes the first mate/deckhand/launch driver/anchor detail/cook/dishwasher and mechanic aboard the Nordic Quest.
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