Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Destination: Agate Pass

If you arrived here by searching for a chart, please see this page.
Think of a gateway. Agate Pass is a gateway to the beautiful lake-like waters behind Bainbridge Island.

Agate Pass is the narrow waterway which separates the north shore of Bainbridge Island from the Kitsap Peninsula mainland. In fact, it is so narrow (about 300 yards) that in 1950, a bridge was built across the Pass. The $1,351,363 expense was repaid in one year by charging a 35 cent toll. There are many on the Island who still rue the day that the bridge opened, because it changed Island life, forever.

For a tide-scoured channel, the Pass is surprisingly shallow. One needs to particularly pay attention to the lengthwise shoal at the North end, whose northern end is marked by a red buoy. Because of this shoal, the center of the navigable channel for a deep draft boat is really about the southern one quarter of the width. Depths range from 23 feet at the North end to about 30 feet at the South end.

This picture (thumbnail as usual... click on it to get a full-size version) shows the entire length of Agate Pass, from the North end looking South.

One might expect that tidal currents would be terrific in the narrow channel... but they are pretty benign. Although the flow can be as much as 3 kt during a large tide change, it's organized, like a river - not the roiling turbulent flow of Deception Pass. Although we do not attempt Agate Pass against the current, we regularly transit with the current. Even at max flood, the flow is smooth so there is no risk of loosing control of the boat.

The bridge at the south end has a vertical clearance of 75 feet at MHW. If your air draft is in this neighborhood, you may need to avoid high slack. Eolian needs about 65 feet, so we don't worry, although it always looks scary when you pass under.

After passing under the bridge, you enter the waterways behind Bainbridge Island. Having crossed 4 miles of the sometimes boisterous Admiralty Inlet, and another 2 miles of the only slightly more protected Port Madison Bay, you enter a very different world. It is calm, but more, it is intimate. Heavily wooded shorelines surround you on all sides, and a complicated shoreline tempts the eye to explore.

It is entirely fitting that this place should have a gateway; Agate Pass fits the role perfectly.

1 comment:

John Kling said...

Bob , Nice Job of this Blog site , real cool. Thanks for sharing this. My Capt was standing at %th Jackson yesterday , his boat is down in Mexico came back to do taxes and doctors visit.
John Kling

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