Sunday, June 29, 2014

Jarrell Cove, Lakebay Improvement Club

After two very enjoyable nights at Oro Bay on Anderson Island where we got skunked trying to catch crabs (only illegal females and not tasty Rock Crab; no male Dungeness, the prime catch of Puget Sound), we pulled out and headed north and west. We made a stop at Fair Harbor Marina in Grapeview where the very best marina gift shop in all of Puget Sound resides. As usual, Cathryn, who normally hates shopping, picked up a couple of items. Lynn and David re-joined us here, and after loading up the stuff they brought for 3 days, we headed south to Jarrell Cove on Hartstine Island, another perennial favorite.

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There are two docks in this State Park cove, and almost a dozen boats were at one dock, so we tied up to the other for more quiet and solitude. The small sailboat also parked nearby was unoccupied, so we had the dock to ourselves.


The weather was mostly cloudy and a tad chilly, but with frequent, if brief, sun breaks.


After dinner the four of us piled into the dinghy and went for an exploratory trip in the shallow, narrow coves nearby.


The scenery was beautiful, the water shallow (our portable depth sounder got another workout), but the only wildlife was a blue heron and a couple of seals.


The next morning we’d planned to travel to another favorite destination, Penrose State Park on Key Peninsula, but after checking tides, we realized the days’ unusual “minus 3.1 foot tide” would mean we’d be sitting in mud at the dock, if we could even get in. In our smaller boat in the past, we’ve had to wait for mid-tide to get in and out, and this boat has a 4-foot draft, so requires deeper water. So we headed for Filucy Bay instead, a new destination.

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The Lakebay Improvement Club at Filucy Bay has had a significant face-lift in the past 4 years, we learned. It would still be considered a “not fancy” marina, but it has wonderful new docks, gated security, wifi that actually reaches boats on the dock (not common at marinas) and an outdoor clubhouse facility with tables and chairs for enjoying sun or shade. The locals were friendly, and we were the only transient boaters there.


Lakebay Improvement Club sits in a well-protected harbor, and we’re told on sunny days it has a beautiful view of Mt. Rainier, but we missed that in the clouds.


We went for a walk and came upon the community cemetery, so spent half an hour wandering and reading headstones which date back as far as the first half of the 1800s to recent years, with lots of large family plots including many Scandinavians and former military folks.


We never did figure out why one grave had an “Inukshuk” on it, a human-shaped cairn commonly built by Inuit First Nations people in eastern Canada, something we saw lots of and learned about while in Canadian waters during the year we spent traveling The Great Loop back east.


Lynn provided delicious dinners both nights she and David were on the boat, and our good luck with weather held in that all the rain fell during the night while we were sleeping, or else when we were underway on the boat, so we were able to take lots of walks and sit outside for cocktail hour without getting wet.


Sunday morning we cast off dock lines and headed north toward home, expecting a long day. We traveled close to shore near the Narrows Bridge in Tacoma to get a good look at the interesting Salmon Beach community where 75 or so homes are built over the water on pilings, and residents have to climb stairs or a switchback path up a steep bluff behind their homes to get to their car parking area, as there are no roads down to their homes.


We were delighted to find the ebbing tide was with us almost all day, so this 7-knot boat (8mph) was traveling 13.9 mph as seen on the GPS below, with a maximum speed of 15.1 mph under The Narrows Bridge, way faster than we’ve seen her go before!  We actually ended the 44 mile journey for the day with an average speed of 10mph, a new record.


We had a wonderful 6 days on the boat, and Lynn and David were terrific boat crew as always, helpful and easy-going.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

South Puget Sound Cruise

After a month-long hiatus from boating, working on the boat, house and yard projects, a trip to Houston to visit Cathryn’s parents and some hiking and many dinner parties, we’re finally back on “Next To Me”.  This time of year the weather can be unpredictable, but it’s almost always calmer (wind and waves) in south Puget Sound, so we headed there for what has become an annual trip (this is #9).

The first leg took us 28 miles to Gig Harbor where we tied up at the free public dock at Jerisich Park.

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Boat traffic of all kinds is heavier this time of year than during our many winter cruises. This enormous Ro-Ro ship (roll-on, roll-off, usually transporting vehicles of some kind) was especially intimidating. Stay out of her way!


Bob enjoyed giving his super-duper new boat binoculars a try, a gift from our three kids for Father’s Day. He loves them, and they hold a much steadier image than the pair we’ve used previously. Thanks for the suggestion on brand and type, Aaron and Julie!



We’re enjoying the new upholstered cushions on the flybridge seats made with considerable guidance and assistance from Bob’s sister Lynn, a “master quilter”. These are made from Sunbrella fabric, and the colors in the photo below aren’t “true”, but one of the stripes almost perfectly matches the plum color of the bimini canvas.


It was the perfect day for dinner outside on the deck at Tides Tavern, a short walk from Jerisich Park where we tied up. Bob’s sister Lynn and brother-in-law David were good company as always. Can’t beat sunshine and 77 degrees.


Every Tuesday evening all summer the City of Gig Harbor sponsors live music performances in the park. The crowds are huge when the weather’s good, and this week’s band was excellent. The dock we stayed on is visible in the center of the photo in the background, and we sat on the flybridge to enjoy the music.


The dock was pretty much cheek-by-jowl, and for the first time we can ever remember, our boat was the biggest on the dock. It was mostly smaller weekend cruisers and ski boats, with a couple smaller trawlers thrown in.


Wednesday morning we left Gig Harbor and traveled south 17 more miles to a new-to-us destination in Oro Bay on Anderson Island. We joined Bremerton Yacht Club last Fall, and they own an “out-station” here for use by members.

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Tacoma Yacht Club owns the first dock (on left in the photo below) comprising their out-station, Bremerton’s is next, and Anderson Island Yacht Club’s mid-size marina makes up the last docks in the bay. Tacoma Yacht Club’s dock was empty, and ours had only one boat other than Next To Me, so the two of us parked facing each other. We’d met John and Nina on the other boat previously, so enjoyed chatting with them over a drink at happy hour. It seems they enjoy the same kind of cruising we do, and we might run into them in Canadian waters later this summer.


Mid-afternoon we hit the water to drop a crab pot and had a fun run in the dinghy that came with this boat. Other dinghies we’ve owned had 2hp or 4hp engines, and this has an 18hp engine, so we could actually get up on a plane, though mostly we puttered along checking out Oro Bay’s shoreline and homes.


There were lots of jellyfish in the water, and they look like enormous eggs cooking in a fry pan. This one is about 12 –15 inches across.


Last year for Father’s Day Bob received a portable depth sounder from our kids, and this was the first chance we’d had to use it. We wanted to make sure we were dropping the crab pot in water less deep than the line on the crab pot (a check we failed to make once in the past, thus lost a pot to the deep). You can’t see the digital read-out in this photo, but the depth sounder works great. You put the top edge into the water and within seconds it gives you a reading. Thanks Ryan, Mackenzie and Adrienne! We’ll show you how to use this too, Justin and Adrienne :-)


Wrapping up our dinghy exploration in Oro Bay, we came upon the shell of an old ferry named “Ocean City”. It’s pretty well stripped of anything of value with a badly rusted-through hull, and looks like it’s been sitting there a long time. An internet search yielded the story that a couple of brothers purchased it on a verbal contract in Baltimore years ago and brought it through the Panama Canal planning to put it into service here, bringing Anderson Island residents back and forth from the mainland near Tacoma. The contract to operate the island ferry service fell through when that contract was taken back by Pierce County who took over the service, leaving the brothers out in the cold with an expensive, unused boat. Thank goodness we have an attorney who would never let us buy anything on a verbal contract.