Day 1: Gig Harbor to Seattle
Distance traveled: 24.9 miles
Travel Time: 3 hours, 2 mins
Despite a somewhat formidable weather forecast from NOAA, Thursday morning dawned calm and sunny. We slipped our lines at Peninsula Yacht Haven in Gig Harbor for the last time, as this is the trip that will result in our moving Next To Me into a slip at Bremerton Yacht Club, which we joined 6 weeks ago.
Mt. Rainier kindly showed her face as we rounded the mouth of the harbor at the lighthouse.
We saw only one recreational vessel the entire trip, but the Coast Guard was busily zipping around.
And 3 commercial fishing vessels were out doing their thing in the cold weather (temp about 38).
Winter cruising just doesn’t get much better than this! Washington State Ferries and Mt. Rainier (14,409’ elevation) are two iconic figures in the Seattle area.
Coming into Elliott Bay on the shore of downtown Seattle we had to stop the boat for a bit, as 3 ferries and a freighter converged in the Shipping Lanes right where we had to cross. Those ferries travel at 20 mph, and we only do 8 mph, so it’s pretty crucial to stay out of their way.
Bell Harbor Marina, owned and operated by the Port of Seattle, is literally right downtown, only blocks from another Seattle icon, Pike Place Market and with spectacular views of city lights at night, with the ferris wheel and Mt. Rainier in the background. It’s a steal of a deal at the winter rate of $1.00/foot plus $5 for electricity. See Next To Me slightly right of center in the bottom half of the photo, just behind the blue skiff?
After securing the boat and registering with the Harbormaster, we walked to Pike Place Market, one of the oldest and best Farmer’s Markets in the nation, open 7 days a week and hugely popular among both locals and tourists.
Our son Ryan and his fiancée Jaime (wedding less than two weeks from now on New Year’s Eve; exciting!) live in a downtown condo a few blocks from Bell Harbor, so at 6pm they joined us on the boat for dinner. We had lots to talk about and hope we enticed them to come boating with us next summer if not sooner.
Day 2: Bell Harbor Marina in Seattle to Bremerton Yacht Club in Bremerton
Distance traveled: 18.8 miles
Travel time: 2 hours, 35 minutes
After a calm, comfortable night we awoke to SNOW, a first for us in terms of boating experiences. While “following summer” around North America doing The Great Loop in 2012-13 we never even saw really cold weather, much less snow, and mostly had hot temps, so this is a new one.
Today’s weather forecast, regardless of sources checked (Bob checked many), said it wouldn’t be a nice day by any measure, but the morning was to be better than the afternoon, and we didn’t want to be in downtown Seattle all weekend without a car, so at 8am slipped our lines and headed west, destined for Bremerton Yacht Club.
As expected, the wind blew 20-25 mph with gusts to 30, and waves were 3-5 feet for the first hour in the open section of Puget Sound. The southerly wind was directly on our beam, and Next To Me handled it well, but was so roll-y we couldn’t walk on the flybridge or outside decks, wore our life vests the whole time, and Cathryn was tense. As you’ll note if you look at the green track marking our course, we altered our route to the southwest, then to the northwest to make the waves easier to steer and tolerate. Bob is great about putting on a calm, confident face which contributes to Cathryn’s willingness to tolerate travel of this type. In any case, it was nowhere near as bad as our day in the Atlantic Ocean off the shore of New Jersey in June 2012 where we encountered a squall and 8-foot waves, and keeping that perspective helped.
Now we’re happily tucked into our new slip (where even in the blustery wind our docking went well!) and plan to spend two nights on the boat before returning home by car.