The slow way around Bainbridge

We took nearly four days to complete what should be about a eight hour trip. A slow circumnavitation of Bainbridge Island was a perfect journey for the long weekend.

Hong and I had the opportunity to get out for a few days without the boys over Labor Day weekend. So we snagged some goodies from the market, and headed down to the boat. Our plan initially had been to spend a few nights somewhere new, Illahee State Park, but as it turns out it wasn’t in the cards. We got a late start on Thursday evening, and although our destination was just a short jaunt away we would have gotten there in darkness and Hong wasn’t comfortable with that idea.

Since we were so close to Blake Island, when it became obvious that we weren’t going to make it all the way to Illahee, we decided to grab one of the North end buoys. We secured the boat just as the last of the light faded to darkness. Having missed our sundowners, we set about fixing drinks and dinner simultaneously. With our annual state park moorage pass we are supposed to go ashore and drop a ticket with our pass number in the box, but as this would have required dropping the dinghy and digging the lights out of where-ever I “stashed” them, we decided to skip it.

The morning sun danced across the headliner, and woke me from my slumber all to quickly. Hong can sleep through anything, but the sun wakes me up every-time. I ambled out to the galley to get the coffee going. We’ve got a Nespresso at home, but on the boat I prefer the areopress, it conserves power and makes better coffee, and really I like the process of it all. Hong was finally tugged out of bed by the scent of fresh coffee – and after enjoying a spot of breakfast we raised the main and sailed off the mooring with just the sound of calling gulls.

We took advantage of what little breeze there was and drifted into Rich Passage. If you’ve never been through here by boat, it’s the quintessential northwest passage. A narrow “S” bend that connects Puget Sound to Sinclair Inlet. Any time you come through you are almost assured to share the passage with the Bremerton Ferry, and it’s just a treat.

Our stop for the day was Illahee State Park and a mere 6 nautical miles or just under an hour away. The quick trip served at least one purpose of giving us hot water for showers, always a welcome scenario to not have to fire the generator up just for hot water.

Illahee is an “interesting” spot. I was certainly not impressed. It felt like being at the end of 100 telescopes. I’m certain that was just my imagination, but the moorings are at the south end of the park, and it’s just hundreds of houses in every direction. Hong didn’t mind – but if I can tell what program the folks in the nearest house are watching by seeing their TV through the window, I’m too close. We spent the day lounging about, picking blackberries ashore and pulling crab up from the bottom for dinner.

Although Hong would have been contented to spend the following night there as well, I suggested we push up to Poulsbo and have dinner out in town. That thought was enough to bring her on board with the idea. We lounged around for most of the day. Taking a dinghy ride down into Gig Harbor to check out the sites, and then cast off in the afternoon to make our way up to Liberty Bay.

It was a gorgeous sunny afternoon and everyone had their boats out. The cut into Poulsbo was filled with all manner of craft, and there were as many people coming out as steaming in. We putted past Lemolo point and the bay came into view. It looked like the 3rd of July in there! It’s not very often I see so many boats in the Bay. We found a little spot at the northwest corner of the anchorage and dropped the hook in about 18  feet of water. We let out about 12 fathoms of chain and let the anchor settle in a bit before we backed her in hard. Liberty Bay is very protected, and has great holding, 3.5:1 is probably more scope than I needed.

With the Rocna set well, we dropped Mishka (our dinghy) into the water, and pulled her along side. The afternoon winds were picking up as they often do, and we took a bit of spray over the bow as we zoomed over to the dinghy dock. We filled up our gas tank and then set out for a walk about town. Hong always finds shops she wants to visit, and the general store in the center of town is one of the few places I can find Hallon Båtar (raspberry licorice boats). We ate some dinner and as the sun threatened to set, we gathered our wares and headed back to the dink. We climbed up the boarding ladder just as the sun dropped into the trees.

Sunday morning I woke to a start. The 70 stinkpot (motorboat) anchored next to us was having trouble getting their anchor up and the skipper was letting the whole anchorage know that he wasn’t happy with his mates performance. We ambled about, not really wanting to go ashore again, and opting instead for a little coffee and breakfast aboard before we headed back to Seattle.

We decided then, that even though we’d likely have a bit of contrary current, that we’d make this into a full circumnavigation of Bainbridge and take the northern route home through Agate pass. Indeed we did miss slack tide and took the pass with about a 3 knot current running against us. Not the end of the world, nor as bad as it gets in there, but it made slow going of that mile or two.

We popped out into the Sound with a bit of a breeze building from the north that allowed us to sail, often very slowly, all the way back to the mouth of the Duwamish. All in all a wonderful way to spend the weekend.

48.1 nautical miles in 4 day and 3 nights


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