Ok. Not really two weeks. But that was our plan!
Our first adventure up to Friday Harbor and back, stopping by several marinas each way. This trip turned Josh into a
real sailor. We took lots of photos as we documented our way through this trip. It was quite an adventure!
On the boat w/ the family, heading on a 2-week journey up to the San Juan Islands. Living on the boat for two weeks, hopping from marina to marina, or the occasional harbor where we have to anchor out – this is the life!
Day one: we headed out of the Olympia marina and made our way to Tacoma. The weather was cooler than our typical boating weather, but that’s ok – that’s what blankets are for. Tacoma isn’t very far away from Olympia, even by water. Twenty nine nautical miles, at 8 to 10 knots for most of the trip, means that it took about 3 to 4 hours. We could have made it much further than Tacoma, but we wanted to take it slow and enjoy each of the stops along the way. The Tacoma club marina has reciprocal moorage, which means that members of other reciprocal boat clubs get to dock overnight for a measly $2. Some clubs charge $5. Not too bad at all either way! Between my wife, our kids, and my mom, there is plenty of room on the boat for hanging out, and more importantly, for sleeping at night. Oh, and we brought Porter (one of my two black labs) along as well. He seems to be doing just fine on the boat.
We took Porter for a walk this morning at the marina in Tacoma, and found this four-leaf clover. My lucky day!
Day 2: we left the Tacoma marina and made our way up to the Edmonds marina. One the way, we passed by Seattle and Richmond, and finally pulled into Edmonds. The Edmonds marina has a large rock breakwater area, and very tight spaces. I came pretty close to bumping into another boat while docking! Fortunately, Kendra is a great First Mate and she kept us away from it. The Edmonds marina is very different than the Tacoma one. The marina in Tacoma is secluded and beautiful, especially at night. It’s also right behind the Point Defiance Zoo, so we woke up to howling primates! But the Edmonds marina is much more… commercial. Restaurants and shopping nearby, but not with the quiet, quaint old-town feel like Poulsbo (which we really enjoyed). It’s nice, but not really a destination marina. There’s a beach nearby, so that’s pleasant.
Day 3: We left Edmonds early in the morning and headed to Port Townsend. We had somebody tell us that if we liked mooring at Poulsbo (which we did, last month), we would really enjoy Port Townsend. They were right! Little old-town shops, really great gourmet pizza, and a Safeway within walking distance, which means we could stock up on supplies. Oh… also, a shower at the marina. Yay! While we were there, we also saw an amazing old ship in the yard: “Lotus,” an old cruiser from 1909. The owner was there and told us all about the boat’s history, the multiple changes-of-ownership (the owner sold it twice and got it back twice!), and their current project cleaning it up and repairing it in time for a wedding next week. Apparently, they rent out the boat for events and overnight stays in Seattle. So cool! Anyhow, it’s a windy night tonight, so we are hunkering down, tying everything off really snug and making sure we get a good night’s sleep. We have a long trip between Port Townsend and Friday Harbor.
Porter discovered salt water. He jumped off the boat swim step and dock a couple of times to cool off.
Day 4: We left from Port Townsend and made our way through wide open water to Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands. We picked this location because Kendra and I spent our anniversary here last year. Back then, we took a sea plane out to get here and marveled at all of the beautiful boats in the marina. This year, we are marveling at the fact that we got here on a beautiful boat! Friday Harbor is a tourist destination, no question, what with whale watching tours scheduled on the hour, and sea planes coming in regularly. However, it has enough old-town-by-the-sea feel to it that it still feels like you got away from everything, even with the tourists snapping pictures of everything. For that matter, I was snapping pictures of everything. One of the things we decided to do while we were here was to get a crab pot and make use of this fishing/crabbing license. My two youngest daughters went out on the dinghy with me to drop the pot full of old salmon scraps. They are very eager to see what comes up in the morning.
Success! Well, sort of. The crab pot held two Dungeness crabs, but both were females, which you can’t keep. But it was fun pulling them up and seeing them! Porter waited patiently for us to get back.
Day 5: We decided to stay a second night in Friday Harbor and do some things that you typically do when you are here. Namely, rent kayaks. I rode behind in the dinghy while Kendra and two of my daughters paddled the kayaks. We ventured out into the harbor, nearly getting mowed down by an incoming sea plane, as well as by a large trawler that came withing several feet of us. Scary! But fun, regardless. Rather than stay in the marina after our fun (but unbountiful) crabbing expedition and kayak ride, we took the boat out and explored the islands. We didn’t have a specific agenda, although spotting a whale or orca would have been nice. Instead, we decided to check out some other bays – marinas, anchorages, and state park mooring buoys. While out, we swung by the north side of Jones Island, but it was pretty full. Next, we headed out to Deer Harbor, a “marina and resort,” which sounded like a good place to explore later on a future trip out here. We then headed down to the south side of Jones Island and came across the most amazing little bay, with some scenic rock outcroppings and a pebble beach. The beach was breathtaking. Clear water, rhythmic waves, a couple of seals… it was a little paradise, and we had it to ourselves! After hooking up to a state park buoy, we took a couple of trips with the dinghy and brought the family to shore… including the dog. I think my dog had the most fun, as he got to chase a tennis ball along (and into) the water. One fun thing about this particular excursion is me, jumping into the water from the swimstep of my boat. That certainly wasn’t the agenda, either. Long story short, Kendra and my two youngest took one more trip out on the dinghy to see if they could get a better view of the seals. While out, they dropped the one oar, so they spent some time trying to get it back on the dinghy. And then… the oar began to sink. Rather than lose it, I jumped off my boat to get to the oar before it was completely gone. The Puget Sound is COLD. But at least we still have an oar for the dinghy!
Day 6: Today can only be described as harrowing. It started off beautifully. So peaceful and calm at Friday Harbor, as we took off early to take advantage of the tides between the islands and Poulsbo. Aside from my first-mate Kendra and myself, everybody on board was peacefully asleep as we headed into calm waters with coffees in hand. We had music playing, and at an amazingly opportune time, the theme song from Pirates of the Caribbean came on… and then the waves started to pick up. And increase. And in short time, we were being tossed around in swells that threw all of us around the boat, and honestly had me concerned that we would capsize, or worse. I had everybody put on their life jackets and brace themselves for every crashing wave. Additionally, the tidal flow was so strong to the west that we were pulled way off course. I had to keep the bow pointed at the waves to prevent us from being knocked over, so the more I maneuvered to keep us pointed at the waves, the further off course we headed. The only way to get back on course was to turn the ship around. So I did. At the right moment, I spun the ship around and pointed her roughly back in the direction of our route, and then I fought the waves as they came behind me. This is much calmer for the passengers, but much more challenging for the captain, as I had to make sure that I kept the boat pointed forward as we tumbled down each swell. There were many moments when I was certain that the bow was going to plunge into the water and break apart, but after a while, I figured out how to adjust the throttle to ride the waves – gunning it when the wave was immediately upon us, and letting off when we were on the backside of a swell. After three exhausting hours of fighting the waves, we finally made it into the calmer waters near Port Townsend, and continued towards Poulsbo. We are alive. Thank God. And we are also more experienced sailors now. Kendra and the girls are just fine going on another adventure, although none of them are eager to hit waves like that again. My mom, on the other hand, is certainly not excited to join us on our next vacation.
Day 7: a day of rest. Seriously. I think I slept through most of today, but Kendra and I did manage to walk nearly 5 miles, going back and forth from the boat to downtown Poulsbo three separate times – once for breakfast (gourmet doughnuts), next for some shopping and for me to replace a cleat on the boat, and then finally for dinner at the Slippery Pig brewery. It was hot out, but significantly cooler in the shade, so when we weren’t walking around, we stayed cool under a little fan on the boat. Not a lot of pictures on this post. It was a really low key day. Very relaxing.
Day 8: We left the lovely town of Poulsbo this morning and decided that we were going to take a straight route home, meaning an 8-hour boat ride through calm waters. Before we left, we fueled up at the fuel dock, dumping 150 gallons of diesel into the two tanks. She gets decent mileage for a boat… about 4 gallons an hour at regular cruising speed, which is about 8 knots. But that adds up pretty quickly. On the way out, we happened to stop by another little island with some state park mooring buoys, and we saw a couple of bald eagles and some raccoons. As we continued home, we had some more opportunities to snap some photos of Seattle, Mt. Rainier, and the Narrows bridge, each more picturesque than the next. As we headed south of Tacoma, we saw a whale-watching tour boat… and I figured I’d follow it as best I could. It was going much faster than we could go, but I had some clue about where it was going. There were some orca sightings in the past couple of days, so… “Sometimes you have to travel through the edges of the Salish sea, in order to discover that what you were looking for was in your backyard the whole time…” Orcas. A whole pod of them, hanging out near Harstine Island. We took so many pictures and videos… I’ve attached a few here. Seeing them was so magical. There were two large males, and 6 others that were smaller. They went between boats and in quick lines, playing with one another and seemingly with the boats. It was a breathtaking experience. What a great way to close out our boat vacation. We loved every moment of it, but we are glad to be in our home port of Olympia. Thanks for joining us on our journey!
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