Chatham Strait, or Shee ya xhaak in the Tlingit language runs 150 miles from the southern tip of Baranof Island to Lynn Canal where it joins Icy Strait. Admiralty Island is on the East, Baranof and Chichagof Islands to the west. It is part of the same fault system that created Lynn Canal. George Vancouver named it after the first Earl of Chatham, William Pitt. We traveled south through calm seas under dramatic skies with rainbows. The storms in Lynn Canal had dissipated while we waited in Juneau for engineers and divers to check on damage to the ship. The Captain timed our departure to meet slack tide in Sturgis Narrows.
We turned west at Peril Strait, created by another fault line that divides Baranof and Chichagof Islands and makes Baranof Island its own tectonic plate. The 50 mile long strait was entombed in clouds until we got to the choke point, Sturgis Narrows. Once you turn into Peril Strait you are in Sitka, at least in the city limits. You are still several hours from the Sitka Ferry Terminal.
Peril Strait is not named for potential danger to mariners from weather and tide but rather because it is a place where 150 seal hunters died after eating shellfish contaminated with Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP). Along the strait you find Poison Cove and Dead Man’s Reach, which was as far as some of the party got, after eating the shellfish, and before dying.
It was a calm sail, no poison, no peril. We went through Sturgis Narrows into Salisbury Sound and in an hour were home. (To learn more about the Alaska Marine Highway, Click Here.)