Boaters always have needed to be wary while turning from Skagit Bay into the south entrance of the Swinomish Channel, not far from LaConner, Washington because the depth of the dredged channel changes frequently. The danger has gotten worse, the Coast Guard reports, because of sedimentation from the outflow of the nearby Skagit River.
The Army Corps of Engineers has budgeted $920,000 for dredging in the vicinity of Goat Island, but the work won’t begin until fall.
The Coast Guard recommended passage be made “at the highest tide possible” and that boaters “exercise good seamanship and voyage planning.”
Shoaling is a continuing problem and it’s not unusual to see pleasure or works boats aground because operators cut the corner turning Goat Island or drifted out of the marked channel.
Swinomish Channel is a favorite with many boaters – both recreational and commercial – coming north from Puget Sound and bound for the San Juan Islands or Canadian waters because it is protected (although subject to strong currents). A more direct route crosses the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but it can be a mean crossing even in moderate winds.
Shoaling is worst on the north side of the narrow channel between day beacon 13 and entrance light 11. The channel turns sharply north towards LaConner at a point known as the Hole-In-the-Wall. The channel north of the turn was dredged last fall.