Thursday, March 13, 2014

Victoria and the Turn Toward Home

Distance traveled:  41.2 statute miles
Travel time:  5 hours, 18 mins

In the afternoon we meandered around town, peeking into galleries and shops, buying a few items at the hardware store, and  taking a brief tour of the Parliament Building, Empress Hotel and other notable stops. Inside the Victoria Convention Center is a lot of First Nations art, including impressive totem poles.

The Empress Hotel is a lovely example of the chateau-style that emerged during the time it was built close to 100 years ago. Inside is grand and not at all modern-looking, though clearly the infrastructure has been upgraded to modern day standards.

We had a delightful "last supper" with Robin and Jim at ,a Polish restaurant with authentic Polish food, owned and operated by an all-Polish staff of fairly recent immigrants. It was delicious.

Thursday morning we got up with the alarm clock at 5:30 and pulled out of Victoria Harbor after hugging Robin and Jim goodbye, as they came to kindly cast off our lines. For the next 5.5 hours we traveled southeast across the Strait of Juan de Fuca toward Port Townsend.

At the early morning hour of our departure, the Harbor was beautiful and the Parliament still lit.

The weather turned out to be even better than forecast. Of all our Strait crossings over the past 9 years, this one was the easiest and most beautiful. Waves never exceeded 1 foot and the wind was calm.

The sun rose above the horizon during our first hour of travel.

Freighters, military ships and very occasionally another boater appeared.

The not-so-distant mountains were spectacular, with sparkling, snowy peaks.

We arrived in Port Townsend early afternoon, cleared U.S Customs by phone, and took reciprocal dockage again at Boat Haven at the south end of town. Huge boats came and went throughout the afternoon.

"Gyrfalcon" shown below, 86 feet long and built in 1941, arrived about 5 pm to prepare for a month-long haul-out during which a lot of hull, shaft, bearing and through-hull work will be done as part of a refurbishment to prepare it for world travel by its' new private owners. In a previous life it was owned by the government and did survey work in Alaska.

We walked the mile into town and poked our noses into dozens of shops and galleries. This was perhaps the quietest we've ever seen Port Townsend, as it's a lively town that attracts hordes of visitors during summer months.

The Wooden Boat Center had lots of beautiful boats on display and in various states of repair or construction. The forecast for Friday was not so good, while Saturday looked much better, so our plan is layover in Port Townsend another night.

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