|The ice fields just behind Juneau generate some incredible breezes in winter. They’re the Taku Winds. The Taku River comes off the ice fields just south of Juneau. When the breeze is up and it's 0 +/- the wind from the river inlet tears the tops off any waves, so the surface is near flat. The torn off wave tops are in the air, scooting along at 90 knots or more. |
Once, returning from a hunt further south in late November we laid over in a great little harbor just south to wait out a Taku. After a day or two with no let up we decided to hell with it and headed for home.
The straight course across the channel is a long haul with the wind hitting starboard broadside, so we went directly into the wind up the channel, turned and came down the opposite shore with the wind driving on our port quarter aft. It was maybe five or ten above zero and wasn't only the hull icing.
In to the wind wasn’t too bad, then having it coming from behind was sort of OK. The turn in that wind was probably the scariest thing I’ve done, was damned lucky we didn’t turn turtle.
There was a mail boat that regularly crossed that water on the way to Juneau, and out. They’d often radio in and have a crew waiting at the harbor to chop the ice so they could get off the boat. That boat kept on schedule no matter what, and the Taku wasn’t the only hazard on their route.
Funny how serious frights become fond memories.