Sunday, August 15, 2010

#68 Friday Harbor Again and the last days of our 2010 Cruise

On Sunday it was time to get to the San Juan Islands and Friday Harbor. We arose early for a 5AM departure. Normally we go early because of weather, boat traffic or tidal current. The overriding consideration today is moorage in busy Friday Harbor, where it's first come, first served, and it's 8 hours to our destination

At 5AM you'd think boat traffic would be minimal, but on a Sunday in salmon season it's bumper-to-bumper boats especially in a big marina like Edmonds. Even on an end-tie with easy merge into the outgoing fairway, we had to wait our turn then hustle into the line of boats waiting to exit at this 0-dark AM hour.

Once outside, the sun happened, scaring the clouds away. The seas were flat and winds calm, a great day for power boating. We moved up Admiralty Inlet then entered the eastern portion of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Lady Anne was able to sleep in an extra hour or so since she cruises about double Wild Blue's speed of 8+ knots. She passed us near the middle of the Strait.

We did make it Friday in time to secure moorage inside the Harbor. Of course the Lady Anne was moored and washed by the time Wild Blue arrived. This fast yacht is owned by Hugh McIntyre. In 2008, the Lady Anne cruised alongside Seagate and Wild Blue in Alaska, Haidi Gwaii and BC. See www.baywoodinn/blog for that story. Hugh met Alex and Pat as members of the California Yacht Club. Hugh is a recently retired MD. Crew Cecilia is a professor of music. Yon, a retired engineer, is a long-time crew member for Hugh on various power and sail boats. He has great stories about growing up in Nazi occupied Netherlands during WW2.

Wild Blue crew Gene and Steve were able to grab two seats on a Kenmore Air float plane and left for home later in the afternoon. We've known the Grays for many years as they were our next door neighbors. Pat and Alex learned a lot more about health insurance and were greatly entertained by the Gray's many exciting life stories. Our favorite: frustration with a brand new Droid, then jettisoning it out the window to watch it disintegrate. Somehow Gene and Steve avoided this blogger's camera, so we don't have a photo to prove anything. Maybe next time!

Wild Blue northbound at 8 knots in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Lady Anne pedal to the metal at 15+ knots loves these conditions.

Hugh and Cecilia drive Lady Anne fast!

Over the next week or so we'll visit our favorite local marinas before putting the boat away in Anacortes. Poets Cove Resort and Vancouver's Quayside Marina will fit in there somewhere. And we'll finish off near where we started in Pat's favorite Brentwood Bay and Butchart Gardens. Have a great rest of the 2010 summer.

Cecilia and Pat make this piano come alive.

Hugh, Cecilia, Yon, Alex and Pat cap off another cruise with a great dinner.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

#67 Edmonds

Although the Poulsbo Marina was full without a slip available, we decided to move onto Edmonds. The Grays wanted to visit Friday Harbor, and Edmonds just below Admiralty Inlet, put us closer to it. It was an easy 2-hour voyage and the salmon sports-fishers followed by the Kingston-Edmonds Ferry, lead the way, across the shipping lanes, right to the marina entrance.

Our route from Poulsbo to Edmonds.

The Marina is very nice but has one of the narrowest entrance openings around. Just after entering, a hard port or starboard turn is required. Unfortunately a low-profile boat, is hidden by the break-wall, and upon exiting, can't be seen by an entering boat. We found out in a hurry why everybody slows down! Thankfully no fiberglass was exchanged.

The exciting Edmonds Marina entrance.

Edmonds is a clean marina with lots of activity. Narrow fairways can make transiting the harbor a "white-knuckle" experience.

Crews of the Lady Anne and Wild Blue dined ashore at Arnie's, one of the many seafood dinner houses populating this big boating complex.

Sunset in Edmonds looking towards the Olympic Penninsula.

Friday, August 13, 2010

#66 Poulsbo

The Grays joined us about 10AM and we decided to push on to Poulsbo. We made moorage reservations and Wild Blue followed Lady Anne from Des Moines. The sun was bright and we had a great view of Mt. Rainer in the distance.

Mt. Rainer looks good today at 50 miles away!

It's mid-summer now and there's lots of boating in the greater Seattle waters. The increased traffic creates some tense situations when navigating narrow passages like Rich Passage, filled with commercial, pleasure and ferry craft. Our transit today kept us close to the shallow sides of Rich Pass the through-way to keep away from numerous crazy boaters. It was one of the few times we have heard a Washington Ferry Captain hailing many smaller craft on the VHF and continuing to sound his whistle.

Our route provided lots of excitement due to the crowded waters near Seattle.

By mid afternoon Lady Anne and Wild Blue were moored in the harbor next to the pretty community of Poulsbo. Founded by a Norwegian immigrant in the 1880s, Poulsbo was settled in its early years by a large number of Norwegian and other Scandinavian immigrants because of its similarities to their native countries. In fact Norwegian was the spoken language until WW2. Today some 7,000 residents call Poulsbo home and continue many Norwegian traditions and businesses.

We enjoyed walking the town, then drinking, dining and desserting our way back to the boat.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

#65 Des Moines Again

Today Vince, Marianne, Marvin and Nancy fly home from Seatac. It's an afternoon flight so we do have time to get to Des Moines about 1 hour north. Des Moines is a short distance from the airport and the Marina folks have a free shuttle service for boaters. We make it there by noon and after docking, everyone pitches in to clean up the boat for Gene and Steve who although already here, officially arrive tomorrow. Hugh and the Lady Anne crew invite us for BBQ and we enjoyed a quiet evening aboard.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

#64 Gig Harbor Again

This is our second time around for Gig Harbor. We met up with Hugh McIntyre and crew from the Lady Anne. Hugh and crew cruised with us to the Queen Charlotte Islands during the 2008 Alaska Cruise. They just arrived from Portland where Lady Anne is moored. We'll cruise with them for a few days this week.

We again invited the Gene and Steve to dine with us at the local El Pueblito Mexican Restaurant. It was a good thing as Gene picked up the tab for all eight of us. But then again we are all his insurance customers and we did yak a bunch about health insurance.

Gig Harbor is a nice summer time stop. It has an affluent feel to it but nobody's nose is up in the air here. Try Kelly's for good family dining.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

#63 Tacoma Again

On Monday we left Boston Harbor for Tacoma and the Glass Art Museum. We visited there a week or so ago. The new Wild Blue crew wants to see the sights so we plan to hang here for a couple days. It's a straight forward 3-hour run north with the ebb tide helping our speed. We passed the McNeil Island penitentiaries, worked through Tacoma Narrows, and then turned hard right at Point Defiance into Commencement Bay and Tacoma. There were lots of sports fishers about as the salmon were biting. We slowed down and winded our way through a group of 20 or so just off Point Defiance. Once again we tied up at the Dock Street Marina, the 2009 Marina of the Year, adjacent to the Chiluly Glass Museum.

This classic yacht shows off just outside Tacoma.

The Tacoma Dome and other downtown venues are in easy walking distance.

This geese group has integrated with other species.

So was it something I said?

If walking isn't your thing, it a cheap ride on Tacoma's Sound Transit bus.

We spent two days touring the town. We found a great fish market and bought 6 pounds of Dover sole fillets. We really had too much sole but at $5 per pound, we took the Costco approach to buying. Luckily our next Wild Blue crew showed up in Seattle early. Gene and Steve Gray called while driving north from SeaTac. We immediately invited them for dinner and they flipped a U-turn on I-5. What a feat! They arrived about 40 minutes later just in time for cocktails. Pat, with Nancy and Marianne assisting, sauteed and served a great bunch of sole, and we almost finished it all.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

#62 Boston Harbor

Once outside of Hammersley Inlet we headed north up Pickering Passage for Jarrel's Cove located on the northern end of Harstine Island. After phoning ahead we learned that their dock was full so we continued on to Fairview marina. That marina has no dockspace and even though we could have anchored, it would be difficult for Marvin to get his morning newspaper. We U-turned and headed south back down Pickering Passage to Jarrel's Cove.

The Graham Point bridge connects Harstine Island to the Olympic Peninsula. It allows boats under 30 feet in height to pass. Luckily the tip of Wild Blue's radio antennas are just 28 feet above the water.

Once at Jarrel's we noticed space on the end of the public dock, so we moved in for a closer inspection. The chart shows just 6-feet in front of the dock which is cutting it close as Wild Blue draws just under that. However the tide was rising and would stay up overnight. Alex decided to attempt mooring while monitoring the depth. He pulled the boat parallel to the dock in 9 feet of water about 15 feet away. He then slowly thrustered the boat sideways towards the dock. The depth dropped as the boat neared the dock. Just as we closed enough to tie up, the depth dropped to 4.5 feet, too shallow. Luckily we didn't bottom out as Wild Blue's deep keel is centerline and the depth sensor is off center, next to the keel. We decided to head for Boston Harbor.

These homes along Pickering Passage offer beach style living for those with lessor incomes.
This Pickering Passage home offers upscale beach living.

These wave-riders really enjoyed Wild Blue's giant wake and entertained use for several miles.

We phoned the Boston Harbor Marina and secured dock space for the night. BH is an older marina in an affluent suburban setting. The Marina is the hub of this community of upscale waterfront homes. We walked the neighborhood and enjoyed manicured yards and pretty homes. The highlight of the day was Vince's homemade carbonara.

Boston Harbor, a small town near Olympia, has its very own unique identity. General Contractor Vince did notice that the electrical dock poles are in need of replacement. Newer docks run the power cables in conduits under the dock floats.

This affluent egret enjoys Boston Harbor's sophisticated ambiance.

Oh boy....It's Vince Fonte's famous pasta carbonara. Fantastic!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

#61 Port Shelton

We lingered in Olympia enjoying the environment until Swantown moorage checkout time of 1pm. Our next port is Shelton, the furthest point west in the South Sound. It lies at the west end of Hammersley Inlet. The 8 mile long inlet is obstructed by numerous shoals and has a minimum depth of 8 feet in the channel. The narrow channel is unmarked, and winds its way through the inlet, which means we will need to pay close attention to the depth sounder.

Hammersley Inlet runs east to west in deep southern Puget Sound.

The Inlet is wide but the channel within it is unmarked and narrow. This was our route through the eastern portion. Depth readings are in feet and the Wild Blue draws almost 6 feet.

It was an easy motor from Olympia at the base of Budd Inlet, north to Squaxin Passage. Once through the Passage and around Hope Island, we turned west into Hammersley Inlet. With Marvin carefully watching the charted depths, Pat's eyes glued to the forward looking sonar, and Marianne reading the depth gauge, we slowly entered what we hoped was the channel running along the north shore. The flood current was pushing us which is good if we grounded: the idea being that once aground the rising water level would float us free. The current was slow in the shallow bars and faster in the less shallow water, but pushed us sideways in the turns. It took paying attention to the charts and sounder along with careful steering for 70 minutes until we reached the deeper water near Port Shelton.

Port Shelton is a small mill town at the foot of the Inlet and provides the Oakland Bay Marina for small craft. We moored in the center of the Marina at their 50-foot guest dock. We were the biggest boat in the moorage. The dock fees were by far the least expensive of this year's cruise at $9 per night plus $3 for power. This compares to $135 per night in downtown Vancouver! We decided we should spend some bucks here and started hiking to town. After a 20-minute walk along we arrived "downtown" but all was pretty quiet. Luckily the Dairy Queen was open to satisfy our spending needs.

Beautiful homes with grassy lawns line both sides of Hammersley Inlet.

An historic steam locomotive is Port Shelton's centerpiece.

A running stream runs through the town and under this office complex.

At least one resident thinks the County Assessor asks for too much tax.

We enjoyed dinner aboard and planned our departure for tomorrow's high tide when we exit Hammersley Inlet.

Friday, August 6, 2010

#60 Olympia

Friday was our day for Olympia and we arrived after a short 2-hour motor from Longbranch. We moored at Swantwon Marina near down town. It's a great place with restaurants, coffee tasting room, pubs and a 5-day farmers market nearby. We rode the free shuttle into the town. Olympia is only 42,000 people about the same size as San Luis Obispo yet is the capitol of Washington. We self-toured the capital and grounds then ended up at a downtown pub. We finished the day with fresh BBQ oysters at the boat. There really is a lot to see in Olympia but unfortunately this blogger forget to carry and use his camera. Maybe next time.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

#59 Longbranch

On Thursday we left Des Moines and started our cruise into the wild places of South Puget Sound. This time we left Tacoma and Gig Harbour in our wake and entered Tacoma Narrows. All the water that floods and ebbs in and out of the south sound flows through this constricted waterway. The Narrows is spanned by the Tacoma Narrows Bridge which allows road traffic easy access to Gig Harbor, the Great Peninsula and Key Peninsula, without rounding the bottom of the South Sound. As we squirted through the Narrows under the bridge, we gained 4 knots of boat speed, a 50% increase.

The Tacoma Narrows Bridge
Speed Through the Water (STW) is 8.o2 while Speed Over the Ground (SOG) is 12.1 knots. This is a 50% boast in speed through the Narrows going with the current. I wouldn't want to be going against it!

Just before noon we approached McNeil Island and the Washington State Penitentiary.

After a 3-hour motor we came to Longbranch Marina and moored for the night. Nancy noted a local winery was promoting their brand with a wine tour and tasting. We called and they picked us up at the marina for a short ride to their vineyard and tasting room. The Trillium Creek Winery has several nice varieties if white and red wines. We toured then enjoyed their Chardonnay, Riesling, and a couple reds. Then we purchased a case of wine between us, a great start to our south sound cruise.

Longbranch Marina offers inexpensive moorage in the heart of Key Peninsula.

Vineyard owner Claudia shows off her Pinot grapes.

Winemaker Claude dazzles the taste buds of Nancy, Vince and Marvin.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

#58 Des Moines

No not Des Moines, Iowa....... Washington State. It's the port closest to SEATAC and a convenient place to exchange crew. We arrived at1PM and the friendly folks at the City of Des Moines really made us feel at home. After sprucing up the boat, and saying goodbye to Jan, Jerry and Justin, the City folks drove them to SEATAC for their flight home to Burbank airport.

The new crew arrived on Wednesday from San Luis Obispo. These "SLO" folks are fast poker players and rugged trail riders who like the western life. They also like to boat. Vince and Marianne Fonte are Alaska Cruise veterans who have crewed on Wild Blue for several years. Except maybe for that the storm off the southern end of Prince Of Wales Island in 2008, they have mostly fond memories of their cruising and continue to volunteer as crew year after year. Marvin Dee and Nancy are also joining the Fonte's and us this year for the South Puget Sound Cruise. We'll get going tomorrow.

Vince, Marianne, Nancy and Marvin.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

#57 Gig Harbor

We checked with the Arabella Marina in Gig Harbor and they made room for us. This is another first class marina operation except the mooring charges are way less than the 2009 Marina of the Year. Gig is a great place: many restaurants (try Kelly's and El Pueblito), 2 marine stores (West Marine is one), many pubs and a beautiful bay views. Spectacular homes crowd the shoreline here.

Gig Harbor north shoreline near the entrance.

Several different marinas are available for transient boats.

Arabella's is highly manicured and has a choice location near the downtown area.

Video of Gig harbor looking east to west.

This past 10 days or so the Wild Blue has been manned (and woman-ed) by the Jan, Justin and Jerry Watkins. The Watkins are veterans having cruised on Wild Blue in Alaska, the Queen Charlottes and BC's Gulf Islands. Jan is a court recorder, Justin is a future U-Dub Huskie and Jerry is an educator in Southern California.

We'll spend two nights here before we move onto Des Moines near SEATAC for a crew exchange.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

#56 Vashon Island

After "art glass" city, we headed just across Commencement Bay to Vashon Island and Quartermaster Harbor. It was a short cruise from the City to a suburban anchorage. We anchored in front of many waterfront home windows, hopefully enhancing their vistas. These million dollar homes surely enhanced our views!

Quartermaster Harbor is inside Vashon Island just across the bay from Tacoma.

One of the many waterfront homes in Quartermaster Harbor.

The harbor provided a calm anchorage with just a few other boats. Justin and Jerry went fishing and crabbing. Although the fish weren't biting, the crabs had a three chicken leg feast, leaving only the bones for us. Later, we feasted on home made linguine and meatballs and for dessert enjoyed a movie called "Nothing But the Truth".

Sunset over the Harbor.

We'll see if we can get into Gig Harbor tomorrow for a couple days. G-night!

Friday, July 30, 2010

#55 Tacoma

Tacoma was our next stop and the plan is to visit the Chiluly Glass Museum. The museum is close to the Thea Foss Waterway and we have reservations at the Dock Street Marina, the 2009 Marina of the Year.

Our route from Bremerton to Tacoma.

We worked our way north out of Sinclair Inlet and past Port Orchard, through Rich Passgae then turned south. along the east side of Vashon Island, crossing Dalco Passage and entering Commencement Bay and Tacoma.

The ferry Rhododendron, with Mt. Rainer in the background, runs between Vashon Island and south Tacoma.

Dock Street Marina was awarded the 2009 Marina of the Year. Its dock fee reflects that distinction.

The Tacoma area around the Chiluly Glass Museum has recently been redeveloped. New buildings, rehabilitated structures, modern bridges, and spacious public areas adorn the downtown. Dock Street Marina is quite close to all this and the Glass Museum. Art glass is scattered about the public spaces, walkways, and galleries as well as inside the museum. The museum was definitely interesting and worth a couple visits.

Glass artists demonstrate technique inside the Chiluly Glass Museum.

Outside glass art.

Bridge tunnel art.

More bridge tunnel art.

Even more bridge tunnel art.

Redeveloped Tacoma: new buildings made to look old.

Stairway in center of Tacoma redeveloped district.

Old building made to look new.

Tacoma is a great place to visit. We'll be here again in two weeks. Can't wait!.