After making it through Deception Pass with our lives intact we completed the day of sailing (of mostly motoring) to get up to Shaw Island in the center of the San Juan National Monument. Our target was Blind Bay – on the north side of Shaw Island – where we arrived just fine. We poked around looking for a spot that called out to us, but nothing did. We ended up taking a mooring ball on a small island at the mouth of the bay – Blind Island State Marine Park.
Ah, how the weather has changed. Just two weeks ago the summer season was still alive and kicking. In Everett we hunkered down to avoid a big one-day storm which brought thunder and lightning. It sprinkled the entire sail up to Oak Harbor. In Oak Harbor we hunkered down to avoid a day of 30+ knot winds – which we both feel we are not wanting just yet. And now, on the weekend we leave Oak Harbor to return back to the San Juan Islands, the weather wasn’t going to play nice either. Rain and moderate winds were the forecast. At least with our new foul weather gear we are prepared to head out in some mild rain.
It wasn’t ideal, but we would have to get use too it eventually. Living in the pacific north west means it will rain. A lot. We’ve bee lucky that during this summer it has not rained much at all, but this weekend we had little choice but to sail in not-ideal conditions. To bypass the worst of the weather coming in the afternoon, we left Everett before the sun rose. That is right, Kerri got up before the sun! We even had to turn on the tri-color navigation lights it was still so dark out. The traffic on the Snohomish River – our only way out of Everett – was like rush hour traffic. Fishing boat after fishing boat, all stacked nose to tail on their way out to open waters.
On a calm morning we moved Meriwether to the north guest docks in Everett Marina to use the pump-out. There is even a small park on this side of the marina. Moose would surely enjoy some grass and bushes during his walks. We also had better access to the restaurant and distillery that we wanted to visit during the week. Allow me to emphasize the distillery. It was also a much prettier part of the marina – being newly built and all – to call home for the remainder of our stay.
We have an affliction. It is the nomad blood in us, as well as years of practice. It is a simple one, but one that can either lead to adventure or heartache. Not only do we have a very difficult time staying in one place for more than a week or two (a standard nomad issue), but the affliction demands that we take a different route/road/waterway than the one we took before. This leads me to our current predicament; go north the way we came from – past Port Townsend and across the Strait of Juan De Fuca on the western side of Whidbey – or go out of our way (nearly twice the mileage) to sail up the eastern side of Whidbey Island along a route we had not already done? Yeah… the long way it is.
The town of Port Gamble was about a half mile away, accessible by a dinghy ride to the boat launch. It’s a historic lumber town dating back to the mid 1800’s, though the lumber mill shut down in 1995, after 142 years of operation. Today – still owned by the mill – the town has been preserved, designated a National Historic Landmark, and is still quite active as a tourist destination.
After only a single night’s stay we would leave Pleasant Harbor, knowing we would have hours of motoring (and no sailing) in our day. Kerri even got out of bed at a respectable hour so we can get started early in the day – like so many sailors do around here – but the fog would keep us in the harbor. We figured if one could not see the exit channel at all, it is best to stay put. Which we did. For a few hours. Until the fog seemed to be clearing, at which time we made a break for it.
There was only one way to go now – North, back up the Hood Canal. It took us two long days of travel to get all the way down here, and we would have two long ones to make the return voyage. After another stop at Potlatch State Park for a final shower, we were back on the water for a 22 nautical mile back up Hood Canal. At least the wind was not scheduled to blow directly in our face during the trip. In fact, it turned out not to blow much at all, so we motored for seven-plus hours for the day – our longest stretch of motoring to date. We were tempted to raise the main sail once, but it was stacked and packed away again pretty quickly as the wind didn’t justify it up. Good practice in the end. Unfortunately, this long stretch of motoring has put us over 50% of our travel-time on the motor. We really prefer to sail, but we have heard a 50/50 is normal for the Puget Sound where the wind is unable to run free thanks to all the islands and landmasses around.
While we wait “down below” for some rain to pass through, I thought I’d start a little series showing the interior of Meriwether. Considering how much time we spend down here, I’m surprised at how few photos I’ve taken/shared. Here you’ll start to experience the full-fledged ridiculousness of boater terms. Some are necessary. But when it comes to interiors, there are already so many perfectly good words that are just as applicable!
Rested from the long sail, Kerri and I (Moose too) motored the two miles to our final destination in Hood Canal – the tiny town of Union, Washington. Union is located on the southern shores of the “Great Bend” in the canal. The marina area consisted of only a market-slash-trinket store, a Mexican-food joint, and a small country store across the street. Not much else nearby without a fair distance walking. The tiny marina here allowed us the opportunity to pump out our black-tank and fill both our water and fuel tanks. It was during this process that we got first wind on the hospitality of the locals, who were oddly excited to see such a large boat this far down the canal.