Puget Sound Sailing Opportunities


Will I choose to live around Puget Sound?

When we left Boulder Colorado in late March the key question about Seattle was whether this could be a new home.  Boulder, my home for the last twenty years, is a place of great raw beauty and dear friends.  It is always difficult to reach out to new places and experiences.  During an azure sky afternoon, we left Colorado to head west via Wyoming.  The next morning we crossed Wyoming in a spring snow storm and headed west toward Seattle.  April first we took an apartment for six months in Mount Lake Terrace, Washington and  began our exploration of Seattle with a greeting from Sally and Kevin at Shilshole marina. After four months we reached a decision to settle here.

Sally & Kevin @ Shilshole marina

Sally & Kevin @ Shilshole marina

I hope to tell you about the places, people, culture, and institutions that have won my heart.

The Salish Sea alive with Orcas, marine life, islands, and an extensive deep waterway.  I can only hope to see a fraction of this magnificent sea.   It is absolutely massive, diverse.   Yes…..I know the Orcas are endangered.  Locals are continually hopeful for babies and its not happening.   The Salish Sea Sanctuary is a proposed marine sanctuary.  We need places like this desperately.  Saving our oceans and mountains is saving ourselves, our grand children, our species.  There are numerous opportunities for wandering these waterways.


Bainbridge to Seattle Ferry

Bainbridge to Seattle Ferry

A great option for exploring the sound are the Washington State ferries.  They are numerous and as a walk on passenger the fare is from ten dollars to twenty dollars one way.  The Bainbridge ferry has downtown Seattle as a backdrop as you cruise across to the islands.  Another great cruise is a sunrise or sunset ferry passage between Anacortes and Friday Harbor.   You can take a morning ferry to Friday Harbor. In the afternoon you can whale watch or kayak in Haro Straits and then return in the evening to Anacortes.  Smaller islands such as Whidbey can also be reached by water transport. The Victoria Clipper is a faster transit from Seattle to Victoria, BC that can be done in one day.

Schooner Zodiak

Schooner Zodiak

There are also many classic boats and smaller vessels that offer classic & more intimate ways of exploring the waterways both locally and to Alaska via the inside passage.  S/V Zodiak based out of Bellingham cruises the San Juan Islands and Desolation Sound.  Finally for the adventuresome there are numerous boats that can be chartered in many local waters.  I’ve tried to provide a sampling of the opportunities for exploring the area.  The depth of possibilities can be more fully realized by considering Seattle. From April thru September the choices are staggering.  Regattas, races, flotillas occur every weekend along with Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday night races on the sound, Union, & Washington lakes.  The local sailing magazine 48 North is full of the possibilities.

In July there is a maritime festival on the Seattle waterfront that features mostly working boats.

DSCN0134 Puget Sound tug boat


The Center for Wooden Boats on Lake Union is a place to volunteer and learn about boat building, sailing, navigation, and local maritime history.  They host a wooden boat festival in July along with free sailing rides on Saturday and Sunday on Lake Union.

Center for Wooden Boats

Center for Wooden Boats

Center for Wooden Boats

Center for Wooden Boats

The other and more notable center for wooden boats is Port Townsend.  The Festival for Wooden Boats held in September of each year is a wonderful reason to travel to Port Townsend.

This is a short survey of things to do in the Pacific Northwest and its waterways.  If you have comments or questions I would encourage you to comment and I will do my best to respond.

Crewing, Meetups, Blind Dates & Personal Safety


Shilshole Marina Puget Sound


One could pose the rhetorical question “What does a sailor bring to a blind date?”.  Based on the title some search engines will be here for the wrong reasons!  My experiences with crewing & sailing meet-ups are very similar to blind dates.   Some can be wonderful and the beginning of new friendships while others are problematic and to be avoided in the future.  Certainly, my experiences with the crew of S/V Duck Soup have been auspicious.  A new network of friends who are well skilled sailors of even temperament.  I can only hope that I give to them the same friendship and courtesies they have extended to me.


S/V L'Amarre an Alberg 37 in Charleston Harbor

S/V L’Amarre an Alberg 37 in Charleston Harbor

Other settings have stretched me into areas of “more challenge than I anticipated” resulting in considerable discomfort.   Moving L’Amarre from Charleston to Marthas Vineyard via the gulf stream in early April is the prime example.  Three days, out of five, that required “one hand for me & one for the boat” along with only bottled water and power bars quietly characterizes the last 3 days approaching Marthas Vineyard.

SV Tate

S/V Tate @ Royal River Maine

Finally, there are times to just get off.  I consistently need to appraise the balance between aspiration, discomfort, & safety.  There are times of self honesty when the answer is simply…….just get off.  So….An appropriate question for me had been “What do you take on a blind date?”.

Personal Safety Gear


These are my choices for personal safety gear.  My life vest, a retaining strap to keep the life vest from escaping over my head, and D rings to clip off my dual tether are with me every trip.  Since I’m in Puget Sound, the life vest is aways worn.  If I’m working on the deck, especially offshore, the tether is always used.  The other devices (radio, compass, gps, headlamp, Spot satellite communicator, knee pads, & weatherman) are equally important but will not keep me on the boat.  I understand that this list my not be yours and may well be adjusted based on the setting of your voyage.  This for me is a situationally based bare bones kit.  Let me know what your experience has been.   I welcome your thoughts.


Be well…..Fair Winds…..

An Afternoon on Possession Sound


Possession Sound

Possession Sound is the body of water bounded by Whidbey Island to the west and the shore of Snohomish county to the east.  It was claimed by George Vancouver for England during his exploration of the area on June 3, 1792.  The Tulalip people were the local residents.  The Snohomish river flows into the sound on the east and the sound opens to the Puget Sound basin to the south around Mukilteo.  Along the eastern shore of Whidbey Island is the Saratoga passage bounded on the east by Camano Island.  This passage provides an opening to the Straits of San Juan da Fuca via Deception Pass.  Transiting this area requires tide timing since the current my reach 6 kts at times.

On Thursday with a forecast of 10-15kts from the south east the crew of S/V Duck Soup slipped the lines of Duck Soup and we ghosted out of the marina for an afternoon of pleasure, conversation, & friendship.  It was what I’ve come to regard as ideal fall sailing weather.  Gray, chilly, rainy and good winds.  If I come wearing my foulies and rubber boots, a sun break is a bonus surprise!

Scott Selby & Wayne Porter

Scott Selby & Wayne Porter

With Scott as the skipper, in his cheerful yellow foulies,  we headed out of the channel and south west toward Hat Island.  The smiles reflect the quality of the day for the crew.   Cold, rainy, good winds!  The perfect day.


Hat Island

With Hat Island off the starboard we turned south west towards Puget Sound.


Mukilteo Clinton Ferry

As we zipped along on an autumnal breeze with Whidbey to our right and Mukilteo off the port we passed astern the ferry.

Mukilteo Ferry

With the knowledge that the ebb was coming and the light waining we came about and started our  return north to the marina.


Port of Everett

A quintessential afternoon that brought smiles, good conversations, and friendship.  Below is a brief video of segments from the day.  Click on the link below to view the smiles.   Be well….