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Category Archives: Cruising
The currents were in our favor, so caution was thrown to the wind and we spooled up the big engines and headed for the Tacoma Fuel Docks. We arrived safely about 2 hours later, with the fuel tank reading fumes, and filled up with fuel that was $100 cheaper than what Boston Harbor Marina would have charged. I will be SO glad when Swantown gets their new fuel dock operational this spring.
After filling up with diesel, we headed over to Gig Harbor, just in time to snag the prime spot on the very end of the Public Dock. I was very surprised to find that power was now available on the dock (which is no longer free, but quite reasonable at $0.50/foot/night). We registered at the Kiosk and had some issues with the GFCI tripping on the pedestal, but eventually made it work and settled in for a weekend of fun.
There are lots of good restaurants in the area, so we ate well and were very happy with the many changes to the waterfront that had happened since our last visit a couple of years ago. I also had to chuckle at one of the captains that came by to congratulate me on my docking skills. He said he’d watched while I docked and was very impressed that I had pulled off parking in a tight space without the use of any thrusters. He said he was giving me a 9.9, which made me smile and chuckle when Sherri reminded me, “not to let it get to my head”. 😉
It snowed overnight on our second night, which was beautiful and we headed home through light snow flurries and and made it back to the boathouse before the gale force winds hit. What a great way to start the New Year!
Olympia Yacht Club braved the elements to venture out onto Budd Inlet for the 45th annual Lighted Ships Parade.The wind was howling out of the Southwest and the freezing rain was biting, but Yes Please and 27 other boats from the
This was the first time we had participated in this event, the first time we had decorated the boat and the first time we had been out at night in the new boat. It was also the first time we had the Kirk’s aboard as guests with their Baby and Three year old daughter. What a way to be introduced to boating, night time operations in the winter during a storm!We had a blast, kept warm and managed to navigate out to Boston Harbor without incident. We had the wind at our back, which made our eight foot tall mascot stand tall and proud. When we made the turn to Cooper Point, we suddenly had the strong winds and waves on our beam, and things got interesting. Our mascot blew over, so I asked Sherri to unplug it. When she pulled the plug, all the decorations died. Can you say, “blackout?”
All of the Christmas lights on the boat made night vision nearly impossible, but I was managing. The complete blackness was pretty eerie, but after a couple of attempts to figure out what had gone wrong (GFCI had tripped due to salt water hitting an extension cord), we got the lights back on and carried on with the rest of the parade.
After about 3.5 hours, we put the boat back, snug into her boat house and decided that next year, we will secure the inflatable much better. And, there will definitely be a next year, the parade was a lot of crazy fun.
With a firm date approaching to pick up Lauryn at Friday Harbor, I noticed a couple of days with very mild tides, so headed to Lopez Island to try my luck at the entrance to Fisherman Bay. Approaching from the NorthWest, rounding the red day marker and the sand spit is pretty easy, even when maneuvering around a departing sailboat. Where most boaters run into trouble is just past the green markers, where a sharp turn to port is required. The entrance opens up to a wide and calm Fisherman Bay, but there is a long, shallow, sand bar blocking the entrance. It extends almost all the way east to the Islands Marine Center dock, so do not turn south until you pass the #8 Red Buoy. This is well charted, but looks confusing when entering for the first time because there are so many boats and mooring buoys covering the entire bay.Once clear of the sand bar, we putzed over to the Lopez Islander Resort and Marina and tied Yes Please up in a slip. The marina has a lot of deferred maintenance and is in need of some TLC. I was surprised by the cost (very high) and lack of services for visiting boaters.
Venturing ashore, we found Lopez Village to be charming and enjoyed bicycling around the island (which is relatively flat). The dog was captivated by the overabundance of bunnies (aka rabbits) that are everywhere and spent most of his time testing my arm strength (and the leash) trying to chase running bunnies. He reports that bunny poop is very tasty and wants to know when we are returning to Lopez.
The Lopez Islander Resort itself is well past its prime. The onsite restaurant, Islander Bar and Grill, advertises itself as “fine dining since 1952”. Our experience is exactly the opposite. Service is glacial (about 45 minutes to get a menu and another hour or so to get served, even on a slow day) and the food was the worst I have ever been served in the San Juan Islands in the 40 years that I have been visiting. The “medium rare” rib-eye steak I was given was pretty much shoe leather, that was nearly impossible to cut with a steak knife, much less chew, with zero seasoning.
We spent two days at the marina, visiting the restaurant several times for breakfast, lunch and dinner and found the food to be universally, very bad. We will be back to Lopez Island, but will skip the Lopez Islander.
Anchoring in Fishing Bay is a little challenging. The shallow part of the bay is marked as a “no anchor” zone to protect eel grass, which means you have to anchor in deeper water on a very steep slope. I dropped the hook close to Indian Island and ran out 150′ of chain before attaching the chain snubber and checking the anchor’s set. It was good, so we dropped the dinghy in the water and ran the puppy over to the public dock and made the long hike to town.
Eastsound is pretty touristy, with a few hotels, numerous restaurants, too many gift stores, and a very large grocery store. It would be a great place to provision if you didn’t have to hike so far to get back to the public dock. Speaking of the public dock, it is very small, very shallow and pretty busy. Watch the tides and your draft when tying up as the inside of the dock can shoal at minus tides. We picked up some fresh food and replenished the wine supply before returning to Yes Please to enjoy the magnificent view. A beautiful, new, Back Cove arrived with a boat load of kids and attempted to anchor near us. While admiring the new boat (which looks very similar to ours), we watched more than two dozen failed attempts to set the anchor. I was just getting into the dinghy to go over and offer some assistance when they gave up and headed for Judd Bay. It was quite obvious to me that the boat’s operator was backing up much too fast while lowering the anchor (both 500 HP motors were in reverse) and was pulling it off the steep slope and into water deeper than he had chain out. I’m never quite sure if an offer of assistance would be welcome and did not want to embarrass the boat’s crew.
We headed to the White Horse Pub for dinner, which was meh, and saw lots of interesting sites around the Eastsound Public Dock, including some naked bathing off the beach, lots of drug deals along Haven Road and made the obligatory stops to buy some trinkets in several gift shops. I was glad that we stopped to visit, but doubt that we will be coming back.
The small West Sound Cafe was just up the street and had excellent reviews from several sources (Active Captain, Yelp, etc.) so we sauntered up the road for dinner and were amazed. The menu was very unique, featuring locally grown/harvested foods. When dinner arrived, it was cooked perfectly, melted in your mouth and tasted so good, that we stayed for two desserts!! Shhhhh, don’t tell anyone!
We departed a little after 0800, into pea soup fog, with all 45 boats lined up, single file to parade past the Olympia Waterfront. The boats and their guests were treated to an amazing display by the local police and fire departments, which lined the Port of Olympia wharves with hundreds of police cars and fire trucks, lights flashing in the fog, horns blaring.
The fog broke as we approached Hope Island and the Dockmaster’s at Island Home did a masterful job of queuing up the arriving yachts and getting all 45 boats secured to or rafted up at the two small docks. Great food was cooking on the firepits, including traditional salmon by the Chehalis Tribe and there were an abundance of games and entertainment available.
Everyone had a great adventure and a beautiful, sunny day of fun and relaxation at Island Home. The Yes Please crew felt very honored to be able to participate and give back to our service men and women that give so much to each and every one of us.
Heading South from Patos Island on a rather stormy day, we decided to poke our head in at Deer Harbor and see if they had room. The Marina Staff went out of their way to find a spot for us and met us at the slip as we backed in to help with the lines. Deer Harbor is an older Marina, but is maintained beautifully and offers outstanding amenities for visiting boaters.The Hotel across the street is no longer associated with the Marina (so no pool any more) and the Restaurant has been closed and turned over to the Marina for remodeling. I suspect it will be a great place to eat once finished as the little cafe out on the dock makes some of the best burgers I’ve ever tasted. Mmmmm!
The weekend-only restaurant at Deer Harbor Cottages is worth the hike down the road, offering excellent food in a very historic old building.
We spent a great couple of days at Deer Harbor and I was continually impressed by the Marina Staff. They will take great care of you, take pride in their work and we will definitely be back again.
Active Cove, which is named for the tidal currents that race between Patos and Little Patos islands contains two mooring buoys and a few camp sites which are managed by Washington State Parks. The island itself is Federal land, managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The small cove is open to the West, which can subject boats to rollers from passing ships and waves from the Straits of Georgia.Catching a mooring ball in Active Cove requires a bit of luck, since there are only two, along with the right timing. Once secured to a buoy, you will often see boats cruising by, taking a peek to see if there is room in the cove. It is possible to anchor in the cove, but it is shallow and very tight, making it far more suitable for a day stop than overnight.
If you do get the chance to visit Patos Island, you definitely should. It is stunningly beautiful and about as remote as you can get. Yes Please arrived early, dropped her hook for a few hours until a mooring ball was free, then moved to the ball for a worry free overnight stay.We hiked around the island and out to the magnificent lighthouse on Alden Point. With only two boats in the cove, you really do feel like you are all alone on a beautiful, deserted island. I have definitely found my new favorite place to visit in the San Juan Island’s! I highly encourage boaters to take the time to check out Patos Island. You will not be disappointed! Early in the evening, as the wind was picking up and the weather deteriorating, we saw a very old row boat shoot through the tiny gap on the East Side of Little Patos. I was amazed that anyone would row to Patos, especially given the sea state and wind, so went ashore to congratulate them with a frosty cold beer. It turns out that Tate Wester and his girlfriend had rowed over from Waldron Island (where he grew up) in a beautiful wood boat that was hand built by his father (blacksmith Jim Wester, North Bay Forge) twenty years before. Check out the photo of the boat. Is is incredibly well built, tight as a drum without a drop of water inside, despite a three foot chop and a 7 mile journey from Waldron.
The kids appreciated my last cold beer and spent a wet night ashore, with plans to row over the Sucia Island the next day (a three mile journey). We wished them well in the morning after offering to tow then, but they declined the offer and we headed south into building seas for another adventure.
Park sits right on the border between Washington State and British Columbia at the south end of Georgia Straight. It was purchased by the local Yacht Clubs (Grand 14) and donated to Washington State to be used as a boat-only Marine Park. It is a very popular destination for boaters and is one of my favorite places in the entire world.Sucia Island State
We head up to Sucia at least once a year and this was the first trip for Yes Please. Since we arrived before the peak season traffic and the weather was a little on the iffy side, we found Fossil Bay to be nearly deserted. We grabbed a buoy that should be protected from the predicted SW winds by the cliffs on the south side of the bay.It turns out the forecast was wrong about the wind direction and we had very strong southeasters that made for a bumpy night spent on the buoy. In the morning, we moved to the dock and tied up for a better night’s sleep and to make taking the dog in much easier.
There are several excellent hikes on Sucia Island and we set out to conquer each and every one of them. Yankee thought it was great fun at first, but by the end of the day he was one pooped puppy dog!!On our return to Fossil Bay after Independence Day, we found it to be very busy with all of the moorings taken. Fortunately, good timing meant some boats were leaving as we arrived and we grabbed a mooring ball and enjoyed the calm, tranquil waters. The boats on the docks were rafted up three deep and were partying into the wee hours of the night. When I took the dog ashore early the next morning, the dock looked pretty bad (beer cans, bottles, clothing, etc. strewn everywhere). I was glad we were parked far enough away.