Sailing Puget Sound for Labor Day Weekend

We spent much of August on the dock in Anacortes doing a few boat maintenance projects. That included a trip to Bellingham for bottom paint and a little fiberglass work to fix one of my navigational mistakes. 


But one Monday, our friend Shirley said, “Hey, lets all meet at Scotts for dinner.” 

Sure, it’s a 1.5 hour drive down to Edmonds, but these are our best friend. Almost all of us are retired and on the road…a lot. We don’t get to see each other as much as we used to. You don’t have to ask us twice.

It was during that dinner when David Huntsman said, “We’re not going to be able to take time off to sail the San Juan’s this year. Why don’t you sail down to Puget Sound for Labor Day Weekend. We could go to Gig Harbor, I’ve never been there.” 

Now I was thinking, no, that will just get in the way of my boat projects.

But David said, “Hey, you’re retired. You can do anything you want.”

And the more I thought about it, it made perfect sense. I was thinking with my old, must get it done, brain.  I am retired and if I want to sail to Gig Harbor to see friends, dammit, I can.

I also get to choose my own schedule.  Which is why, after our dental checkups, Karin and I headed South on a Monday on Endless Song. We could hard motor to Seattle in a day….but we didn’t need to. We wouldn’t me meeting David and Gyung until Friday.  We could go as slow as we wanted.

That first day we just plugged around in Rosario Straight, never losing sight of Anacortes. We checked James Island state park. No room on the dock? No worries. We’d cross back to Bowman Bay for a night.


Then next day we’d head for Port Gamble. As we sailed by Port Townsend, we called into Point Hudson Marina in Port Townsend just to see if they had any slips.


We knew they’d be full come Labor Day Weekend, but it was Tuesday, and they had plenty of room.  I love this little Marina.  It’s the best place to be when in PT.  All the best marine services are right there, and it’s a short walk to downtown.

We were going to stop in Port Gamble the next day, but the wind and current was pushing hard into Puget Sound, so we just rode it down.

Side boating note. Whenever we’re out near the traffic lanes in Admiralty Inlet or Puget Sound we are always on the lookout for big freighters.  They move fast and can be up on you quickly.  When you see them, it’s easy to stay clear.  

If you ever see a big freighter with the word ONE written on the side be extra careful.

All freighters will have a big rolling wake, but there is something about this boat’s hull shape that creates a wake like I’ve never seen before.  This wake was huge, 12 feet at least. It was larger than any freighter wake I’ve ever seen on Puget Sound. And it had a curl. You could have surfed it. I’ve never seen that on freighter wake before. 

I was lucky that I spotted it in time to turn into it. Had it hit us on the stern quarter as it was going to do it could have done serious damage. Even turned into it, we still buried the nose of the boat in the wave, and it shipped green water all along the deck of the boat and up the cabin sides, filling up the area along the toe rail until it drained out the scuppers.   And yes, we had a few portlights open, so we got a nice saltwater bath in the head and one berth. Nothing major, just a reminder why we dog those ports down underway.

 We popped up quickly through that wave, and slammed down hard on the other side.  No harm done to the boat, but it was a big reminder to us of the power we’re dealing with out here.

 After collecting ourselves, and starting the drying process, we continued around Point No Point, and all the way to Bainbridge Island and pulled into Eagle Harbor. 

 I’d heard the new Winslow city dock was nice, and it was.  I was hoping that by getting in on Wednesday that the Labor Day Weekend crowd would not be in yet.  They were not.  We had a big empty dock to hit, and when we tied up at the end we even had a pumpout hose right there. 

While on Bainbridge Island, we walked the city and found lots of cool new shops and restaurants. Maybe too many.  A city can lose it’s soul.

Sailing a ferry to Seattle

 We also walked on a ferry to downtown Seattle so we could see what it looked like with the viaduct mostly gone.  Impressive.  After landing we walked up to the Pike Place Market to buy cheese and vegetables from Franks Produce….just like we did when the kids were small. 

Finally, Friday…the start of the Labor Day weekend…we sailed for Gig Harbor.  I wasn’t sure how many people would be crowded into the harbor, but I was surprised when we got there to find only a small number of boats were out.  It was easy to find space to anchor.  A few hours after we did, David and Gyung Huntsman pulled in and rafted up to us.


 It was great to see them and to be out on the hook with them again. Great friends.

 We took our dinghies into the city dock, and walked up for coffee and then to 7 Seas Brewing.  After that we walked back to the dinghies so we could motor over to The Tides tavern.  This is a legendary bar in Gig Harbor with it’s own dock.  If you don’t feel like going in, they will serve you on your boat.  Sweet.   In truth, we walked by it on the way back to the boats, and could have just walked in.  But I told David it would not be the true Gig Harbor “Experience” unless he arrived by boat.

After we did I suspect David would agree.


 Sunday morning we were off to head back North.  We were going to meet Christian and Kim Monday afternoon, and needed to get up there.   We could have waited until Monday to head North, but the wind was supposed to be right Sunday.  And when the wind is right, you go. 

Winds were funky at first, but finally filled in from the South and we were able to play with the spinnaker and still make the boat move. 

After a night on the hook and Blakely Harbor on Bainbridge Island, we crossed over to Bell Harbor Marina on the downtown Seattle waterfront.  You have to love a city that has an all transient marina right below the Pike Place Market.  You could not ask for better.   Weather was perfect for our one evening stop.  Christian and Kim came by for a few hours to chat in the cockpit and have drinks.


 Then it was bedtime.  We had to get up at 5am to push off for Anacortes in one day.  We needed to get back to begin the transfer to Endless Song, Due….our trailer to begin the fall sailing….on land.   Idaho, Yellowstone, Teton and Moab…here we come.

Winking smile
Winking smile















Categories Cruising

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