We hear lot of stories of extreme shallows at Hell Gate, so this report from longtime contributor and experienced skipper, James Newsome, is good news, PROVIDED you take his and our advice to wait for mid to high tide if you draw more than 4ft. See http://cruisersnet.net/156050 . And see 9/24 report below.
I negotiated Hell’s Gate on Sunday 08/28/16 traveling northbound exactly two hours before low tide. High tide was approximately 7.3′ for this day. Therefore, we calculated that we had 1.25′ per hour x 2 = 2.5′ of water over low tide. The least water we saw was 8′ which means the net low was around 5.5′. We steered pretty much down the middle following the magenta line, not favoring any marker.
I draw 5’8″ to 6′ loaded which means I could have made this passage through Hell’s Gate an hour before low tide and barely had water under the keel. At low tide I could not have made it through.
Based on the draft of your vessel, Hell’s Gate is only a concern within an hour or two of low tide, and if you only draw 4.5′ you can travel through here any time of the day, unless there is a negative tide perhaps. Just take it slow and easy on the south side of Hell’s Gate. There is some squirrelly current on the southern entrance to Hell’s Gate, but it’s nothing to be too concerned about.
9/24 Nelms Graham had a less easy passage, even 3 hours after low tide and in a shallow draft vessel!
Transited Hells Gate on 09/24/16 three hours after low tide, “bumped” in channel approx. 75ft. from marker “89”, in vessel drawing 2-‘6.