Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Puget Sound Shake Down Cruise Part II Oak Harbor, Edmonds and back to Shilshole

Puget Sound Shake Down Cruise Part II Oak Harbor, Edmonds and back to Shilshole

My original idea was to go to La Conner instead of Oak Harbor. La Conner is accessible by way of a man made channel, the Swinomish Channel, that also offers another inside route to the San Juans. After reading about the currents and other challenges I changed the itinerary to Oak Harbor. My thinking was why bite off more than you can chew, especially for our first shake down cruise. If we learned to successfully navigate to Oak Harbor then we will probably be ready for that adventure on the next trip. Also on the bucket list is to navigate Deception Pass which is just around the corner from the Swinomish Channel and offers a thrill checking that passage off the list. The currents running through Deception Pass are legendary and timing is everything for a vessel that can only muster 6-7 knots under power. We have been by car to the Deception several times and I spend a lot of times just watching vessels of all types run through the pass. 

6.21.18 Port of South Whidby to Oak Harbor
Time: 1015-1400, 18.3 Km, Overcast, 68, SW 5-10 Notes: motor sailed

Deception, La Conner and Oak Harbor are all on this chart. Port of Oak Harbor is man made by dredging a shallow lake and an inlet to the harbor from the Sound.


On the way to Oak Harbor I wanted to sail close by the shores of Camino Island and find the Center for Wooden Boats outpost at a state park there. I tarined there to work as a volunteer but never took advantage of the opportunities.

They have cabins that volunteers can stay overnight in for free if you make the drive up to volunteer.

As we near Oak Harbor  you can see beyond the N end of Camino Island to Skagit Bay, that way to La Conner and or Deception Pass

Oak Harbor is a big Navy town. There is a considerable base on the East side of Oak Harbor and then a much larger Base to the Northwest.

Just after we docked in Oak Harbor Marina this Harbor Seal Greeted us while taking a break from feeding on a school of bait fish, after he caught his breath he was back down munching some more.

What do you make with Lemons?

Sadly Waiting for her man to return from the sea.


As you walk towards town you walk along the Walk of Honor that borders Oak Harbor Bay.

The Walk of Honor


Plaques Line the Walk of Honor and after reading a few it seems that notable service persons who served at the Navel Air Station, Whidby Island and made a contribution of some type to the Oak Harbor community were honored along this walk.


An amazing number of Pacific Operation sites are patroled by NAS, Whidby Island

A sailor friend of ours who now lives in Corpus Christi spent many of his Navy days here at this NAS. Johnny Huddelston often ask me what the water temperature is in the Sound as he bask in the warm Gulf of Mexico

Oak Harbor Founders 1850's

There is a Bar on every corner to serve the NAS.

Island Spirit



Oak Harbor is not really a tourist destination unless you love hearing jets screaming over head at all hours. It's a Navy town so we took advantage of the free island bus service and went to the Coopville Ferry Dock and went to Port Townsend for the day.

Looking out towards the Strait of Juan De Fuca

A weathered cliff meets you at the Port Townsend ferry docks.



Absolutely no other community like Port Townsend anywhere.

At Hudson Point Cafe adjacent to the Hudson Point Marina, Mighty Fine Salmon Burger for sure!

Back on the ferry to Coopville.

The constant stream of container ships heading to Vanvouver, BC, Seattle or Tacoma enters here from the Strait.

There shear size on the water...

I never knew

But now I do.

Oak Harbor Marina is very protected from all wind directions

We took along our dingy, I new we would not be using the dingy much if at all on this trip but I wanted to practice securing it to the davits for a cruise and thus make it part of the shake down. I went for a marina cruise in Snowflake and met a couple of friendly guys as I was wondering what this vessel was. Then I saw the Bayliner insignia and was astounded that Bayliner had even produced a sailboat. I asked the guys on the dock if they knew anything about this boat, they handed me a beer and it seemed like old times on the Corpus Christi docks.

This is a Bayliner Buccaneer! They told me this was not a real sailboat? I really would like to see inside this vessel I will check one out on yachtwordls later but I bet it is very roomy due to the large coach roof that extends almost all the way out to the toerail.

Port of Oak Harbor to Port of Edmonds
Time: 0830 - 1500 5.5 hrs, 33.9 KM.  60, Overcast, light winds, Motor sailed.
There She Blows!


We were just clearing the entrance to Oak Harbor channel and I got the sails up quickly, the Admiral yells PUT IT IN NEUTRAL! I reached over and put the transmission in neutral, she said there are whales right in front of us. I did not see them, then she said There they are right in front of us! The winds were light but we were making about 3 knots. I looked but saw nothing, Then  I said maybe we passed them? How far out were they? RIGHT IN FRONT OF US!, I scanned behind us and we sat quite for a moment, neither of us saw anything else again. She saw 4 distinct spouts. We discussed what they may have been and her best guess is they may have been Minke Whales since all she saw were spouts, but we could never really know for sure.

The Coopeville docks.



Is this a work boat conversion?

You will see a super yacht everyday on the Sound.

The South end of Camino Island with Langely to starboard



As we pass Everett we started seeing several groups of plans flying in formation, we guessed there must have been an air show of sorts at the Boeing Field in Everett.


Port of Edmonds just ahead but need to safely navigate past the Ferry Lane first. There is a Ferry loading so it is always a guess as to when the ferry will leave the dock....you just do not want to be in the Ferry lane when it does, they move fast and are not patient.


There was a line of vessels queued up to enter the Port of Edmonds, we took our place in line as we noticed a large ship entering and causing everyone else to hold their position while the ship docked.
Made it safely to the dock. The gap leading into the Marina is very busy with traffic coming and going from the North and South, You can not see what is coming at you until you get inside the breakwater and then you better be prepared for plan B in a hurry. Going slow is best choice but not all are doing so. The fuel dock is just inside the breakwater to the South, We stopped there first to top off the tank, thank goodness they have full time line handlers at the fuel dock and the guest dock and they are very professional.We got fueled up and then I simpley reversed off the fuel dock and moved to the guest dock where the same line handlers met me to help me again squeeze into a tight fitting dock assignment.


So you can see we are moored on the dock just behind the fuel dock That vessel you can just see the bow of on the right side is a very large whale watch vessel. Small craft enter and leave the guest docks constantly.You may notice that I have a line of defensive fenders on the port side just in case on the recreational craft entering or leaving may be having To Much fun.  I took the following video just after a constant steam of vessels, big and small, were all navigating in the same small space, it slowed down a bit when I started taking the video but you can get the idea...See: https://youtu.be/_P_TVeA4PEo


We planned just one night at Edmonds but the Admiral suggested that we stay a second day, she said 'vaction is over when we get back to Seattle, I knew she was right. Edmonds was a big surprise for us. There is lots to do here, they have a easy to walk to shopping, restaurant, and bar district that is was full of weekend fun-seekers. And they had live music at the Marina:
See: https://youtu.be/7STEzQnqLWY
The day was pretty breezy out on the sound so we were glad to have made the decision for a second day in Edmonds. The music and other recreation around the Marina made for a fun weekend.

This is the closet thing to a sunset I could manage, the clouds rolling in denied a proper sunset. Tomorrow back to Shilshole.

Edmonds to Shilshole
6.25.18 time: 10:30- 12:30, 12.5 Km., Notes, light rain and 0-5 SW winds, motored.


We departed Edmonds just as a light rain began.

We have not added radar or AIS to SNOWBALL yet so we are keeping a close eye on the developing weather even though it will be a short trip.

Looks like a bit more rain near Shilshole.

As we neared Shilshole it got a little more windy and the raining more.


Just as we turned down the fairway to our slip it really started pouring, but the winds died down. We are a much better machine now after our 10 day journey so it was no problem docking and getting the boat put away.Our trip was a success as our vessel and all her systems performed just right. The Admiral and I got to know our boat and we both felt happy knowing we had done well getting the vessel up to cruising speed.Still a couple of items on the list like adding radar and AIS which is essential when navigating the Sound in the off season. It's much more obvious why the boating culture in the PNW is so different from the sailors on the Gulf of Mexico coast. The tides, currents, constant ship traffic, lots of recreational vessels, trees and logs in the water, small islands of kelp or other seaweed, wildlife distractions like eagles, seals, whales, otters and a wide variety of destinations within a relatively short distance all add to the complexity of sailing the Salish Sea.


Future cruising will include the following:

Definitely transiting Deception Pass either coming or going from the San Juans.

The San Juans, mainly San Juan Island and Orcas.

And after all that then the Gulf Islands in just to the North of the San Juans in BC, Canada.








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