July 4, 2008 – Bainbridge Island

Our original plan was to head from Joemma Park to Des Moines. However, we had favorable currents that moved us along at 10-12 knots, which was about 4 knots faster than our normal stately pace. So, we were past the Tacoma Narrows Bridge by late morning. We decided to call our friends Mark and Karen Bryant who live on Bainbridge Island and see if they were planning to be home. As it turned out, they were having some friends over for a 4th of July dinner and we were invited to tie up on their dock and join them. We arrived to Eagle Harbor around 2 pm, but the tide was too low to approach their dock immediately, so we found a temporarily anchoring location and while we waited for the tide to rise, I baked some cookies to take to the party. We got to their dock about 4 pm and had no difficulty with the approach or depth at the dock. However, we knew we would have to leave by 10 am the next morning to avoid getting stuck in the mud.

We had a nice afternoon and evening. Karen and Mark are excellent hosts and always have great food. Mark made pulled pork and a friend Dave had several barbeques going with spare ribs. Many of the women brought salads (Chinese cabbage salad, potato salad, etc.) There were about 12 people there for dinner. They have a nice yard and plenty of outdoor seating. While it wasn’t quite as warm as the previous few days, it was pleasant when wearing a long sleeve shirt. Prince was able to run around with a few other well behaved dogs on the property and so he seemed happy not to have a long evening walk. When the sun went down, several of the neighbors on the harbor had private fireworks displays we could watch from the lawn. Then we enjoyed a nice beachside fire and the company of a few of the last guests who remained.

July 3, 2008 – Joemma State Park

We had read in a book about good dog hikes that Joemma State Park (formerly named Robert F Kennedy State Park) was a good hiking location. So, we left Jarrell Cove and headed south to Joemma Park. When we arrived, several mooring buoys were available, but a sailboat was leaving a nice location on the docks. So we waited while they got underway and then tied up in the newly vacated spot on the outside of the dock. The moorings and dock are fairly exposed to south wind and swells created from passing traffic. So we spoke with a sailor and asked if he might slide his boat to another spot on an inside dock so that we could fit in front of him. He was nice enough to accommodate our request and we felt better knowing we wouldn’t get wave slap on the hull all night. We had a short hike on short with Prince so get a sense of the trail system available, but it was disappointing. We also had a beach walk during the low tide, but Prince seemed to find that relatively boring.

The next morning we took another beach walk in the opposite direction and explored a saltwater lagoon and Corinne collected some small pebbles and shells for a table centerpiece. Since there were very few people around, we let Prince off his leash and he enjoyed the beach walk much more than the previous day. Perhaps it was also because he was able to enjoy chasing small waves as they broke on the shoreline and could wade in the water.

More photos –

June 29, 2008 – Fair Harbor Marina, Case Inlet

We took another long walk on the woodland trails at the park in the morning. Prince was able to walk off-leash for 90% of the walk because we were out well before any of the other campers or park visitors. We returned to the boat and had a nice pancake breakfast. Afterward, we got ourselves organized and headed off to explore some new places.

We traveled west via Pitt Passage and into Carr Inlet. It was sunny and the waters were calm. There were several other boats zipping about and we saw several boats with water skiers or inflatable craft being towed behind. We continued almost as far as Allyen, but turned into Fair Harbor Marina with expectations of finding some ice cream. We got instructions from a person at the gas dock on where we could tie up and we quickly headed over to their store to find many delicious choices for ice cream treats. With only a quick look around, Shawn decided that it looked like a good spot for an overnight stay. The woman running the store and fuel dock was very friendly and her dog seemed to approve of Prince after the usual doggy greeting. It was hot throughout the afternoon and from our folding chairs in the cockpit in the shade we had a front row seat for all of the activity of boats coming in for fuel. We took Prince for only a short neighborhood walk in the evening. We were all too hot to enjoy the exercise. However, by the time we returned to the boat, some clouds were starting to blow in. Our barometer was finicky, predicting rain and then changing to partly cloudy.

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June 27, 2008 – Penrose Point State Park

Many people may wonder what it is like to live on a boat. The nice thing about it is the chance to have very different experience on any given day. For the previous week, we have stayed at marinas in small towns. Living on the boat in these locations is like living in a small apartment (think studio apartment with 1 bedroom). The advantage is that you always have a waterfront view and if you move from town-to-town, you never had to worry too much about the neighbors. However, while being in town, you have to adapt to being carless. So most of the time, we walk to any services that we require.

On June 27th, we moved from Gig Harbor to Penrose Point State Park. Living on the boat here is like an incredibly luxurious camping trip with comfortable beds and private shower facilities. At this state park, there is a small dock suitable for several boats that are 35 feet or less in size and about 8 mooring buoys. A night on a mooring buoy is $10, which is very reasonable. Mooring buoys are heavily anchored in place and located a short distance from shore. A dinghy is used to commute from the mooring to the shore and in this case the small dock makes for an excellent location to land the dinghy. This park has excellent shore facilities and is popular with many campers and picnicers as well. Fortunately, the moorings are set off from the shore by enough distance that the chatter of people is only faintly audible, but we have only a short ride to handle the necessary dog walks twice or three times a day. The park has very good meadows and woodlands for walking with an interesting nature loop.

We arrived on Friday afternoon and were surprised by the number of people here. There must be many folks who have work schedules that are not strictly Monday to Friday. We were able to hook up to one of the last moorings available and the dock was already full. We also saw many campers and picnicers. We enjoyed a simple dinner on the boat and a nice woodland walk after dinner.

On Saturday morning we again went to shore and while the tide was low, Prince explored the tidelands seeing small crabs for the first time and wading in the shallow water. The tides are significant events in Puget Sound. The size of the tide is mostly dependant on the phase of the moon (e.g., full moon and new moon have larger tide changes) and season (i.e., the summer solstice brings the moon closest to this part of the country and creates larger tides). Sometimes the tide may fall from highest to lowest stage by 10 feet or so. If you are anchored on a long sloping tideland, you may look at your boat moored a long distance from the shore at night and wake to find you are only a short distance from dry land in the morning. With a low tide, the shores get much more beachfront area and sometimes spits of land previously covered by water can add a significant distance to the extent of your walking area.

Since we had lovely weather and no immediate need to move on, we decided to stay for another night on our mooring. It got very hot; over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. We didn’t do much but listened to the radio and read some books. In the early evening, we found a new wooded trail and hiked out to the shore near the mooring buoys that were on the south side of Penrose Point and looked at Mount Rainier in the distance. After we returned to the boat we sat in the shade and listened to the sounds of people swimming from the back of their boats. The water was probably very cold, but refreshing after the heat of the day. Shawn and I enjoyed an iced coffee and butterscotch pudding.

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June 26, 2008 – Gig Harbor

We worked on Thursday morning and then headed south in the afternoon. By 4:30 pm we had tied up in Gig Harbor which is approximately an hour north from Tacoma. Gig Harbor is a small town with an extensive maritime tradition. Many of the first settlers here were Yugoslavian immigrants who made their living from fishing the rich waters of Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean. Many marinas and docks line the shoreline and Gig Harbor has become a favorite town for people in their retirement years. Many large homes have replaced the former quaint cottage-style houses that were once the predominant residences. The main town area has several gift and interior decor shops and women’s boutiques. There are several small restaurants, but none that are very noteworthy. The most popular eatery is the Tides Tavern which hangs out on pilings over the waters of the bay. For us boaty types, it is also significant to note that there is a grocery store within easy walking distance of the marinas. A recent enhancement to Gig Harbor is the numerous signs along the main road which highlight the history of the town. These discuss the historic buildings and early settlers. There is also a brochure named the “Gig Harbor Waterfront History Walk” that discuss more of the history of the town. Currently, a new building is under construction near the head of the bay to house the Harbor History Museum. This will be a nice addition for the tourists who visit the town.

We stayed in Gig Harbor only for one night. The marina manager was expecting a busy weekend and since there were limited dog walk venues, we opted to head out by noon on Friday.

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June 22, 2008 – Poulsbo

We left Bremerton on Sunday and made our way north to Poulsbo which is on the Kitsap Peninsula. You can easily reach Poulsbo by car if you take a ferry to Bainbridge Island and travel north over the Agate Pass Bridge. The trip by ferry and car would take about 1.5 hours. There is no ferry that lands at Poulsbo, so boat traffic is mostly limited to pleasure craft and small commercial boats such as fishing boats and small tow boats. The town is extremely quaint. It was originally settled by some Norwegians and has retained the Norwegian atmosphere. The largest building in town is the Sons of Norway recreation and meeting hall. Lovely planters hang from the street lamps and the most popular stores are the numerous bakeries, gift shops and galleries. There are also numerous eateries which are open for lunch and dinner. Many of the store fronts have lovely gingerbread wood embellishments or window paintings that enhance the Scandanavian theme.

We decided to live/work on our boat in Poulsbo for the next 4 days. It had all of the services we might need (e.g., grocery stores, banks, postal and courier services) within walking distance and had excellent wi-fi internet connection and cell phone services. There were also some very good parks directly up the ramp from the marina and a great boardwalk to extent our stroll and let Prince get a good dog walk and “sniffy” experience. On a couple of evenings, we also extent our walk to explore some parks further afield. One of the best finds was the Fish Park which was at the head of the bay. This park is a restoration project aimed at enhancing a salmon creek (Dogfish Creek) and providing some nice gravel walkways and boardwalks through meadows and woodlands. The park is relatively small, but with the nicely meandering paths, one can get a good stroll while enjoying some excellent educational signs that discuss the restoration efforts and the enhancement of the native plants.

More photos at this link –

June 21, 2008 – Bremerton

Bremerton is accessible by an hour long ferry ride from downtown Seattle. The ferry travels back and forth on a frequent basis and some people even live in Bremerton and commute to work in Seattle. Bremerton is also well known as the U.S. Navy Shipyard for Puget Sound and for many years seemed to be a favorite location to “mothball” old navy ships. That has changed in recent years and a new marina opened there this spring.

We decided to leave on Saturday morning and head to Bremerton for a short stay. Since it was relatively close to Seattle, we stopped on the way at Blake Island for a walk. Blake Island is entirely a state park, accessible only by small tour boat or private boat. There are several mooring buoys that small boats can use to tie up to, which avoids hassles that would be associated with putting out an anchor. This is also more environmentally friendly, since for each anchor that gets set on the mud bottom with the associated chain or rope, marine life on the bottom can be disturbed. Over the course of many years, this can be quite detrimental. Blake Island has some primitive campsites (i.e., no power or water), picnic areas, and several miles of hiking trails through wooded areas. We thought a walk on Blake Island would provide a nice excursion for Prince who had been limited to urban walks on a leash for a couple of weeks. We were fortunate to find a nice mooring buoy that was vacant and it didn’t take too long to off-load our dinghy and get its outboard motor running.
The trip to shore was relatively easy and we had a very nice 1.5 hour walk through the woodlands. However, when we returned to our dinghy, we found that the falling tide had left it about 20 feet from the waterline. Some nice young men who were camping on shore helped us move the dinghy closer to the waterline, but we were not able to get it in the water immediately without getting extremely wet feet (in very cold Puget Sound saltwater). So, knowing that the tide was almost at its lowest stage, we decided just to enjoy a relaxing break sitting on a large dead tree by the beach until the tide would again float our dinghy. Our wait was only about 1.5 hours. Unfortunately, we found that our attempts to refloat our dinghy had resulted in some damage to one of the pontoons that keep our commuter craft afloat. It wasn’t serious enough to prevent our return to the boat and within a short time we re-stowed our dinghy and continued on our way to Bremerton.

At Bremerton, we found some guest moorage easily (being a somewhat cloudy and cool Saturday) and soon we three were off to explore the environs of the small city. Unfortunately, the city is going through substantial waterfront road construction. This has severely limited car and foot traffic. In addition, the loss of many jobs from the navy shipyard has negatively impacted the local economy. Many downtown shops were empty and the streets were dusty and grimy. It seemed that the majority of pedestrians were either other boaters or people heading for the ferry terminal to catch a ride to Seattle.

We made the best of our stay in Bremerton and found the lovely Fountain Park near the ferry terminal and an excellent city park that had terrific grassy areas and large trees that provided an convenient escape for the squirrels who chastised Prince when he attempted to chase them. We also enjoyed a nice seafood dinner at Anthony’s restaurant which overlooked the harbor. Bremerton also had the requisite Starbucks coffee shop so we could get a hot coffee to enjoy during our early morning dog walk.

Based on the limited redeeming features of Bremerton, we limited our stay to just one night. After a simple Sunday breakfast, we untied our lines and made our way up the west side of Bainbridge Island.