Much of the fun of a cruise in the Pacific Northwest is the joy of chance discoveries, the “Moonglow” you’ll experience as you travel between small and large harbors, developed marinas and remote anchorages. Long ago we learned that a wise person does not recommend restaurants, movies or blind dates-personal taste is too varied! The same holds true for travel plans; however, in an effort to reduce some of the planning confusion, we’ll map out a few general itineraries that you can use as a framework for your trip.
Although we’ll provide one with the boat, our recommendation is to first order a Waggoner Cruising Guide, available via our Links Page. It will be the best $25 you’ll spend on your trip.
Get out your AAA atlas or road map (but DON’T use them for navigation) to get a general feel for the layout of the Pacific Northwest. Read through the Waggoner guide and plan the next two trips!! Tab pages of the places of most interest to you. This will come in handy later when you are trying to find local information as you approach a harbor.
One final word of advice (well, there will probably be more-take them with a grain of salt) Do Not try to “do” the Northwest in a week. As a general rule, you should not average more than about four hours a day underway-that’s about 50 to 60 miles. Guys, we know you’ll try to do more but after four hours “someone” and you know who I mean, is not going to be happy.
Okay, so here we go with some ideas:
North of Port Townsend
- After your departure from Olympia, head up Budd Inlet. Check out your boating skills with a stop at Boston Harbor. Pam McHugh and her brother Don run a great little marina. Enjoy some of Pam’s food on the dockside patio, watch the kayakers and enjoy the local color. After lunch, cruise NW to Hope Island State Park watching for kayakers crossing the inlet. If the tide is turning you’ll also see the cross currents and eddies common in Puget Sound. If you’d like to try your dinghy skills, stop at the park, tie up to a buoy and row ashore. Check at the registration point to see the current charges (if any). There are two miles of hiking trails around the park. Back on the boat, cruise past the crowded little community on Steamboat Island then pass the native reservation of Squaxin Island and proceed under the Harstine Island bridge up to Jarrel Cove State Park. This is a popular park for local boaters. It might be a good stopping point for your first day. If you want to do some more exploring, do a shoreline tour north past Stretch Island to Fair Harbor and back to Jarrel Cove for your first night.
Jarrel Cove to either Gig Harbor or Tacoma Travel down the east side of Harstine Island (Case Inlet) checking out Joemma State Park and head to Filucy Bay. Filucy Bay is run by a local club and is an excellent overnight stop. There are good anchorages and the club has excellent docks with power and water. There are NO showers but the club has a floating “club house” dock with barbeque facilities and a paperback exchange. Facilities are in tip top condition. Take Balch Passage between McNeil Island (State penitentiary) and Anderson Island. You’ll pass the small but pleasant Eagle Island State Park. If you’re feeling like a little exploring, poke around Carr Inlet, then head up the Narrows. Passing under the bridge is spectacular. You can encounter some strong currents but your boat has the power to beat the tide. You now have a decision—city lights or quaint village. If it is “city lights” head over to Tacoma for a night at the excellent Dock Street Marina at the foot of the Foss Waterway. You’ll hear some traffic and trains at night, but the facilities are excellent, service likewise, and you are parked right next to the famous Tacoma Glass Museum. The marina will give you plenty of information on spots within walking distance that will make your stop enjoyable. If you opt for the “quaint village” go to Gig Harbor and get a spot at Arabella’s Marina www.Arrabellaslanding.com Local hot spots are the Tides Tavern on the water or Spiro’s Italian in the center of town.
- A short trip up Colvos Passage to the big city of Seattle and the Bell Harbor Marina or on to the quaint village of Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island or Kingston. Watch for ferry traffic at the north end of Colvos Passage and between Seattle and Bainbridge Island. There are too many things to describe so enjoy studying the Waggoner Guide!
- On to Port Townsend. For you wooden boat fans, you can stop at Port Hadlock and take a look at the Northwest Wooden Boat School. Then, dock at either Port Hudson or Boat Haven in Port T. Plan on a long day in Port Townsend. Walk up to Fort Worden, spend time at Port Hudson looking at the work centered around wooden boats. Breakfast at the Blue Moose in the Boat Haven boat yard.
- After breakfast at the Blue Moose (you won’t need lunch) cruise south to Paulsbo. If you’re dying to try Luda Fisk, this is the place-ya sure, you betcha. It is a great place to poke around. Ask about live music, there are usually some world class musicians jamming somewhere in town.
- Cruise down around Bremerton to see the big ships (don’t get too close) while watching for fast ferry traffic, maybe stop at Blake Island State Park to have salmon and see the native show at Tillicum Village (check for times) then make your last night in Tacoma or Gig Harbor. This sets you up for a fresh shower in the morning and an easy day back to Olympia. Day seven: Back to Olympia. Stop in Boston Harbor to top off the diesel, enjoy some lunch and then call ahead so we can check you in at the docks for an easy finish to this trip.