Uganda Passage

For the crew of the David B, the most challenging passages can be the most rewarding.


Christine Smith

Yesterday afternoon, Jeffrey turned to me while I was having a cup of tea on the bridge deck. “You’re going to love this place I’ve picked out to go through tomorrow.” I smiled at him trying to decide if his tone indicated a challenge. “Uganda Passage,” he said, looking up at the chart hanging from the overhead. He pointed to a thin snake of a channel between Marina Island and Cortez Island. I squinted at the passage and wished I’d had my reading glasses handy. “Nice, looks like a tight squeeze,” I replied. I could tell that Jeffrey was hoping I’d show a little more fear, but over the years, I’ve come to enjoy the challenging passageways and anchorages that Jeffrey loves to navigate.

The biggest joy of cruising for Jeffrey and me is exploring new and interesting places. While we're on the David B we prefer to have a flexible itinerary. We'll plan to go to one place, but as the day wears on, Jeffrey will start wondering if maybe there's an even better place. That's how he decided that we'd anchor in Gorge Harbor at Cortez Island. As he spent the day driving and studying the chart he noticed Uganda Passage. It's a narrow cut at the end of a long spit. Uganda has two sets of close-together buoys with a sharp turn between the sets. While he explained the fun of Uganda Passage to me, I checked it out to make sure he wasn't missing something. I doubted he would have, but just in case I quizzed him about the depth of the water, it's width and how much current might be flowing at the time we'd be making our passage. I looked closely at the chart and noted the similarity of Uganda Passage to the narrow pass between Lopez Island's Spender Spit and Frost Island. After I'd inspected the chart and Jeffrey had answered all my questions I began to look forward to today and our little jaunt through Uganda Passage.

We hauled up the anchor this morning around 0700. Uganda Passage was just under a mile away. Since I knew that Jeffrey and I had both spent time looking at the chart and talking about it together, I was confident that all would be well. As we approached Jeffrey called me up from the galley. I grabbed my camera, and as is my habit, I stopped to look at the chart plotter before l took a seat next to Jeffrey. I surveyed the scene. Jeffrey pointed out the sets of buoys. It was a little deceptive. If I had't studied the chart, I would have been fooled into thinking the first red buoy and the last green buoy were the passage, but I knew better and I identified the correct way. I went up to the bow to watch the rocks pass on our starboard and the sandy spit pass on our port. It was both beautiful and impressive. The one-two-thee sound of the David B's antique engine's exhaust was the background music for the drama. Jeffrey navigated through the channel just perfectly, and the moment we'd passed over the most shallow part of Uganda Passage, I heard the engine speed up a couple RPMs. I knew our planning and talking to one another paid off. We'd made it through and we were on our way.