Puget Sound Spring 2012 Cruising Log

Sunset reflected in the pilothouse window as we approach the anchorage at Tramp Harbor.


With the official start of Seattle’s boating season nearly upon us, here’s our log for the winter off-season. On our weekend trips this year, we’ve ranged between LaConner to the north,Tramp Harbor to the south, Oyster Bay to the west and Bell Harbor Marina to the east, along with a week-long stay inside the locks along the Washington Ship Canal. Winter’s big storms have given way to calmer seas and warmer days. No matter where we’re moored, we tend to sleep soundly, but we have been woken a few times this year: early in the season by huge sheets of melting snow crashing onto the deck, occasionally by large ship wakes when we’re anchored off the shipping lanes, and more recently a Korean cargo ship docking in the wee hours at pier 66. We’ve seen an interesting variety of vessels pass by, including the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis. And we stopped at a new anchorage for us: Murden Cove.

Our winter travel log is below, or you can display it on a map view.

1/13/12: Langley
Sunset over Langley. We’ve not been here for ages, and never in the current boat. We’re anchored just off the marina in incredibly calm conditions. Hilltop houses cast a faint glow above us, and the lights of Everett twinkle to our east across Possession Sound.
1/14/12: LaConner
Dusting of snow at Swadabs Park across Swinomish Channel from LaConner. We’re in town for James’ cousin Kim’s birthday party. We were going to stay on one of the public docks, but boats longer than 45′ can’t dock there without previous authorization, so we went to LaConner marina instead.
1/15/12: Snow
Overnight, 2-3 inches of snow had replaced yesterday’s light dusting.
01/19/12: Blake Island
As the snow melts, sheets have been sliding off the flybridge brow and crashing onto the deck below.
01/21/12: Phinney Bay
Big winds last night. At 3am this morning, the wind speed shot up from an average of 7 gusting 15, to 25 gusting 38. We knew the winds were coming– the barometer fell 28mb, from 1004 to 976, in 24 hours.
01/22/12: Pressure swings
The barometer soared back up 32mb in under 24 hours yesterday, and is on the way back down again. The pressure already has dropped 10mb in 11 hours.
01/24/12: Seattle Boat Show
The Seattle Boat Show starts this Friday. We’ll be presenting on our trip to Prince William Sound, Alaska on Saturday the 28th at 1pm on the Silver stage.
01/29/12: De-watering pump
Testing the de-watering pump after maintenance–we have a Honda WX15X. The high-pressure, 106 gallon/minute pump can shoot water a long way.
02/04/12: Olympic Mountains
The Olympic Mountains, thick with snow, viewed from our flybridge at Bell Harbor Marina.
02/10/12: Blake Island
After two weekends at the dock, it feels great to be out. The boat is rocking gently at anchor, with the lights of Seattle twinkling across Admirality Inlet.
02/11/12: Rich Passage
We’re back at one of our unusual anchorages
02/11/12: Blakely Harbor
Feeling restless, we moved after lunch.
02/17/12: Blakely Harbor
A 992mb low will approach Vancouver Island tonight, bringing gale force winds to the Puget Sound. Gusts over 30 knots heeled us over 7 degrees as we crossed to Blakely Harbor. The weather graph shows the wind speed picking up as we got into more exposed waters, and easing off as we get inside the harbor. The winds currently are blowing steady 25-30 knots at West Point, but we’re tucked away and sheltered now.
02/19/12: Lost diver
The view from Bell Harbor of emergency vehicles lining Harbor Ave SW at Seacrest, searching for a lost diver.
02/24/12: Oyster Bay
A heavy rain is falling, with a “vigorous” cold front predicted. But we’re snug and warm in Oyster Bay. On the way over, we heard a sudden very loud machinery noise. It took a second to figure out that this Coast Guard helicopter was about 100 feet above us. They did a full circle of our boat, then of a nearby ferry, and then flew off in searh of other quarry.
02/26/12: Frosty decks at dawn
The front passed through Friday night. We got a little wind in protected Oyster Bay, but not much. Conditions at dawn are ultra-calm.
03/02/12: Yukon Harbor
Nordhavn 68 Zorro entering Bell Harbor Marina as we were leaving for Yukon Harbor.
03/07/12: Can’t shake winter
Snowfall on Bainbridge Island, viewed from our flybridge at Bell Harbor. Late winter snow fell over much of the Puget Sound last night, and the temperature was 25F in Tacoma this morning.
03/09/12: Blake Island
Usually this time of year, and with 20-25kt winds forecast, we’re the only ones off the island. But another boat is here tonight.
03/16/12: Tramp Harbor
Sunset reflected in the pilothouse window as we approach the anchorage. After a week with snow, hail, big winds, near-freezing temperatures and torrential rain, we had a calm, warm and sunny run south to Tramp Harbor. Shortly after we dropped the hook, Vessel Traffic radioed us, concerned that we were “a little close to the shore” and wondering if we were “just having a look around”. We expect they just had a shift change, and the oncoming operator, seeing us on AIS, was worried we were a commercial boat that had strayed out of the lanes.
03/23/12: Blakely Harbor
Looking back to Seattle as we left tonight. The sun is out, the wind is down, and the temperature finally is up into the 50s. A wonderful time to be out on the water.
03/25/12: Port Madison
Enjoying a warm afternoon on board Journey, one of three sailboats anchored in Port Madison when we arrived this afternoon.
03/30/12: Blakely Harbor
We’re back at Blakely Harbor to head through the locks tomorrow morning for a load of fuel. Winds were gusting over 40 from the southeast as we crossed, and the waves were big for the Puget Sound. A kite surfer was getting a good ride off West Point.
03/31/12: Covich-Williams
After passing through the locks this morning, we stopped at Covich-Williams to take on 1,583 gallons of diesel and 33 gallons of gasoline. We also changed the oil on the main and the genset, picked up a load of new oil, and offloaded our waste oil.
03/31/12: Canal Boatyard
A kayaker passing the Deadliest Catch boat North American, seen from our moorage alongside the wall at Canal Boatyard. One day we’ll finish all our outsanding boat projects, but that day has yet to arrive.
04/01/12: Resident duck
James feeding Canal Boatyard’s resident duck. The little feller slept on the dock beside our boat and caused Spitfire great concern.
04/06/12: Alaska Titan
Alaska Titan coming up through the big lock as we wait for the small one.
04/06/12: Locking through
Water pouring through the gates as the small lock descend.
04/06/12: Spillway
Spillway on Puget Sound side of locks.
04/06/12: Murden Cove
Murden Cove definitely is an unusual anchorage, but the city view is amazing.
04/06/12: USS John C. Stennis
The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis, passes in front of downtown Seattle with a Coast Guard escort. Likely they are en route from the carrier’s homeport at Bremerton.
04/05/12: Sunrise
Early morning sun reflecting in houses along Murden Cove with fog in the background.
04/05/12: Mt. Rainier
Mount Rainier viewed from the anchorage.
04/08/12: Victoria Clipper
Victoria Clipper en route from pier 69 as we enter Bell Harbor at pier 66, with Hispania Graeca and the Olympic Mountains in the background
04/08/12: Bell Harbor Marina
Our home port.
04/08/12: Breakfast on deck
The temperature was barely 50F this morning, but in the sunshine we were warm enough to have breakfast on deck without diesel heat.
04/13/12: STX KYLA
The 229m Korean-flagged STX KYLA towers above the pleasure craft at Bell Harbor. We were startled awake at 1:30 this morning by a horn blast followed by foreign language instructions over a loudspeaker. We went back to sleep, expecting to find perhaps a foreign Navy ship against pier 66. We’ve seen Russian, French, Japanese, Canadian and US navy ships there so far. Cargo ships don’t usually dock against against that pier though–we suspect it must have some kind of mechanical issue. The ship was newly launched this year and averaged only 6.7 knots between Port Angeles and Seattle. A more typical speed for a carge ship on that route would be 18-20 knots .
04/13/12: Oyster Bay
Running the narrow channel into Oyster Bay. We always seem to arrive on a low tide. On today’s 3.1′-tide, we saw a least depth of 11.1′ coming through. We anchored in 14′ and falling–shallow enough that we have to shorten the chain snubber otherwise it will touch bottom and fall off.
04/15/12: Port Orchard Police
The Port Orchard Police boat made a slow pass through Oyster Bay this morning, checking out the moored boats. They sure look well-equipped.

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4 comments on “Puget Sound Spring 2012 Cruising Log
  1. Chris, thanks for the blog comment. We’re having an amazing time. Its hard to believe this is only our second night. The weather is amazing with bright sun, no wind, and a peak of around 78F earlier today. This evening we are alone on a dock just north of Vancouver Washington watching the boat traffic and enjoying a wonderful 70 degree evening. So far, its been an amazing trip.


  2. Jim, thanks for the good luck. We were starting to think we were going to need it as we approach the Columbia bar at 6am yesterday morning, the Coast Guard had it closed to all recreational boat traffic. When we were 30 minutes out, it was opened but only to recreational boats longer than 45′. We were expecting a rough ride but it was actually anticlimactic. It was a nice easy cruise in and I suspect we could have crossed just as easily in our dinghy. I have no idea why it was closed to smaller boat traffic.

    Its been an amazing two days so far and we’re now just past Vancouver Washington.


  3. Chris Swanson says:

    Hi Jennifer and James. I have been following your cruise to the Columbia River since you left Bell harbor marina. On marinetraffic.com Love seeing your photos of your trip. have a safe trip up the Columbia. and god bless to you and your wife. Chris Swanson

  4. Jim Cave says:

    Hi Jennifer and James. Pam and I have been following your "curve of pursuit" to the Columbia River this morning. I have been plotting you progress on iNavx on my iPad on the NOAA charts. Good luck on your voyage on the Columbia!

    Crusing virtually and vicariously through your travels.

    Jim Cave

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