Monday, February 12, 2007

Spring Cruise, Part 1

The Adventures of Rikki-tikki-tavi

March 27 to April 12, 2006
South Puget Sound Cruise - Part 1
We bid farewell to our new friends in Port Ludlow Marina on a pleasantly sunny day. The breeze outside the harbor was brisk but going in the wrong direction. We motored south to meet Juniata in Port Madison, a quiet harbor on Bainbridge Island. Our Spring Cruise of South Puget South had begun. We anchored off an idyllic-looking private island compound sprouting a lovely home, a treehouse, a couple of rope swings out over the harbor, kayaks on the private pier, and cushy deck chairs on the porch. We figured the owners for Seattle residents, their island get-away visited only on long weekends or over summer vacations. Dave and Marcia joined us in the cockpit. The sun warmed Rikki-tikki's decks and our faces as we talked about the month ahead. The weather, so far, looked promising. We discovered that our computer could pick up an open wi-fi network, so we checked email from the boat.

Gray skies next morning greeted us as we got underway early to catch the slack current in Agate Pass. Even though the bridge clearance is 75 feet, we sucked in our breaths as Rikki-tikki's nearly 60-foot height passed beneath. There were long-tailed ducks and a few loons along the shore. We followed in the wake of both Juniata, Dave and Marcia's 37-foot Pacific Seacraft yawl, and Serendipity, my maternal grandparents' 37-foot custom motorsailer. Julian and Olive were on the same course through Agate pass back in April of 1965 and their adventurous spirits are held dearly in my heart. We pulled into Poulsbo at the head of Liberty Bay and dropped anchor in the shallow water. Two friends of Dave and Marcia's motored out to Juniata in their dinghy, and we joined them all for lunch in the cockpit. After eating, Dave lowered his new 6 HP outboard onto their Porta-Bote. He let Clark start it for the very first time (!) before they went out for a spin on the glassy bay.

The next day, we got Dave to tow Darzee into town with his new motor, while we sat back and enjoyed the ride. The little town of Poulsbo (pronounced "Pauls-bow") is popular in the summer, but this time of year things are fairly quiet. Dave, Marcia and Clark posed for a photo in front of the famous bakery, resisting the temptation of sugary morsels laid out in the window. We sat with a cup of coffee in the Poulsbohemian Café, where a couple of gals added sections to the world's longest knit scarf.

Slowly we sauntered in and out of the shops and back to the marina, where there was something even more interesting to see- the world's largest (perhaps) trimaran. Dave towed us over to gawk at a trimaran so big that we guessed Rikki-tikki would fit on one side deck! Wow, it was huge.

After a full run around this leviathan (it's for sale!), we headed back to Rikki-tikki for a yummy sardine mash lunch. Marcia wasn't so sure she would like it, but with capers and sundried tomatoes added, sardines, besides being very healthful fare, taste great. It's our staple lunch- quick and easy.

Rain soon settled in and we watched from the shelter of our cockpit dodger as a several fleets of kids raced small sailing dinghies for an hour despite the wetness. After three nights in Liberty Bay, we decided to go back to Port Madison for the wi-fi and to explore the length of the inner harbor in our new kayaks. The wi-fi remained open and we accomplished some essential tasks online. It was only a matter of time before the open network would be accessed only with a password, so we took advantage while we could.

Next on the agenda, kayaking. We enter the kayaks off the stern where I tie both ends of the 'yak off to the handrails. That way, when I get in or climb out, the plastic boat doesn't zip out from under me. Clark is much more agile and he ties only one end. Our water-level tour around Port Madison gave us a new view of the multimillion-dollar homes that line the shore. We donned our drysuits next morning and got into the water to scrub all three of Rikki's hulls, scraping and brushing off the many forms of algae that seem to grow back overnight. Clark spent the entire next day, which just happened to be April Fool's Day, working on our contribution to the Northwest Multihull Association newsletter. They had invited us to write about our 2005 trip up the West Coast. About 5 PM, he called Juniata on the walkie-talkie to announce that "writing is painful", and mentioned vodka may be the cure for his pain. After two chilled coconut concoctions and some mango ginger Stilton cheese, Clark and the rest of us were feeling quite relaxed.

Juniata sailed away for Blake Island, leaving us behind to wait for their friends, Larry and Marcia, aboard Sail La Vie, a Gemini 32 catamaran. When they arrived, we enjoyed cocktails and dinner aboard Rikki-tikki-tavi. Next day we both headed south, but our destination was Blakely Harbor. On our way past Eagle Harbor, where the Washington State Ferry traverses between Bainbridge Island and Seattle, we turned in for a look. It was raining and we were slowly cruising the harbor looking at boats. I spotted an interesting white trimaran on the end of a dock. As we approached, a powerboat drove out from the fairway behind the tri, stopping us dead in our tracks. Clark looked to starboard as we waited for him to pass and there, just a few feet away, was Bacchanal, John Marples' Searunner 37, vintage 1970s. The companionway was open, so we hailed the owner. Patrick popped his head out and motioned for us to pull in behind his trimaran.

What a great treat to meet Patrick here! He had introduced himself by email many months before as we were making our way up the coast toward Cape Flattery, saying that he'd been watching our building progress on the internet for years. He had invited us to come by to say "hi" when we got to Seattle. Eagle Harbor is across The Sound from Seattle, so we were surprised and glad for the serendipitous meeting. Patrick arranged for us to stay the night on the Pub Dock behind Bacchanal. After hours of talking, dinner and wine aboard Rikki-tikki, breakfast the next morning too, we got to know Patrick and he us.

Here in Eagle Harbor, Rikki-tikki-tavi meets his brother, Bacchanal. (They are both male boats!)

The next day, April 4th, we left Eagle Harbor enroute for Gig Harbor, some 28 nautical miles away. Puget Sound was all new territory for us and we enjoyed the afternoon with a bit of sailing and motorsailing. When we arrived at the entrance to Gig Harbor with its serpentine shallow sandy bar, it was right at a minus 0.07-foot low tide. We were glad for our mere 38" of draft! Juniata and Sail La Vie were at the City Dock, their crews wondering what had been keeping us. We excitedly related our chance encounter with Patrick on Bacchanal.

Three chums, each of a different "feather" (different number of hulls), at the Gig Harbor City Dock.

We visited Gig Harbor again on the way back from the South Sound. The city allows two free days at their dock, which is centrally located to the little town with a grocery, post office, shops, marine stores, and restaurants. Between thundershowers, we walked the long frontage road to see the historical points of interest in the harbor and town. A historic walking tour brochure and placards along the way explain key aspects of the growth of the area and the fishing industry. There is still an active fleet of seine boats.

Our first trip under the Tacoma Narrows bridges, both the old and the new one now under construction, was under a full jib and with a favorable current. The clear blue sky put smiles on our faces. Checking grandpa's log, he and grandma motored under the Narrows Bridge at 1537 hours (that's 3:37 PM) on April 9, 1965. His notes say, "Rainy & cold all day." We headed for Penrose State Park, where we were promised fresh oysters and clams. Larry and Marcia had shellfish licenses!

We all stood around watching Larry and Marcia while they dug the clams and shucked the oysters on the muddy flats. After returning the oyster shells to their beds, we all went back to the dock for fried oyster appetizers. The clams were hung over the side in a net bag to purge themselves. The fishery notice on the park bulletin board stated that crabbing was open, so Larry also deployed his trap and next morning came back with three large rock crab- our first! Returning from the second day of clam digging, the notice stated that crabbing was closed! Were the crabs now illegal? Oh well, they'd already been cooked. So yummy, too, I sat on the dock long after everyone else had finished working to get out every last shred of meat.

While Marcia shows off the harvest, "The Other" Marcia digs clams at Penrose Beach.

Our three boats all carry or tow Porta-Botes as dinghies. Darzee has two buddies!

Appetizers enjoyed at the dock- it can't get better!

Cruisers are very self-sufficient. Dave gets a haircut, then it's Marcia's turn.

Next morning, we followed Juniata through Pitt Passage where there were two fishing boats with divers in the water. The large-diameter hoses led overboard told us they were probably harvesting geoduck clams, a tough business. There was not enough breeze for sailing into Olympia, so we motored over to tie up at the Swantown Marina transient dock. Dinner for eight aboard Sail La Vie featured garlicky clams, salads, and Clark's zucchini cake with coconut cream cheese frosting.

Clark's cousin, Betty, who lives just south of Olympia, came to pick us up. She took us shopping and to her home, where we met a long-time friend of hers. Unfortunately, I spent a good deal of the time on the computer in a frustrated attempt to complete our taxes online using TurboTax. Even though Betty's internet access was fast, I didn't have time to finish and I missed out on a lot of the conversation too! The following morning, I tried in vain to get the Swantown wi-fi to work. I even took my computer outside and held it up directly in sight of the antenna on top of the laundry/showers building. Drat it! We needed to get our taxes e-filed before leaving. Back at the dock, the iBook Airport hooked into an open network of unknown origin, but I thank whoever provided this access because I was able to complete and send our federal and California forms successfully! What a great relief. Now we would need to find another open wi-fi in a few days to confirm that the tax agencies had accepted our forms. Who knows where we might be? Rune, Betty's friend, Rune, came down to boat to get a tour before we left.

Leaving Olympia on a mirror of silvered, watery clouds.

On April 9, our first stop out of Budd Inlet was for fuel in tiny Boston Harbor. It is amazing, given the size of Budd Inlet and all the boats in Olympia, that there is no fuel dock. It is perhaps because Budd Inlet has very little exchange of water, it being at the extreme south end of Puget Sound. Four hours of motoring later, we arrived at Jarrell Cove, where Juniata and Sail La Vie were already tied up at the park dock. We elected to anchor out because we had also elected not to buy a Washington State Park Pass. Anchoring is always free. We took the dinghy into the dock for BBQ with the two Marcias, Larry and Dave.

The weather was kind to us here, as it had been for my grandparents when they stopped here, apparently for lunch, on April 11, 1965, on their way to Shelton from Filucy Bay. "Sunny- warm, calm. Beautiful weather." Most likely little has changed since their visit. We got out our hair scissors, our barstool, and gave each other haircuts. A local paddled out in a kayak to comment on the unusual sight we presented perched atop a barstool on the wide side-deck of our trimaran. Dave and Marcia, out in their inflatable kayak for the very first time, arrived at our stern. They got out of and back into the 'yak without falling in, though I was ready with a camera just in case they didn't.

April 11 was David's 59th birthday. We enjoyed delicious smoked salmon dip, salad, and BBQ'd New York steaks from Olympia's famous Farmers Market. David's "cake" was a walnut chocolate brownie with caramel sauce. Larry set the mood for the evening with 50's music on the MP3 player. We all had a great time.

We weighed anchor just before noon next day, our courses set for Filucy Bay, where Serendipity had experienced chilly, overcast, breezy conditions exactly 41 years ago to the day. The wind out in the inlets was brisk, up to 25 knots, generally holding between 12 and 18 from the south. We rolled out the jib and arrived about 3.5 hours later, also a bit chilled. As we carefully searched for a secure spot to set the anchor, my thoughts were of those intrepid, amazing sailors aboard Serendipity.

Clark & Nina

s/v Rikki-tikki-tavi

(Rikki-tikki's motto, and that of all mongooses, is "Run and find out.")


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