Gig Harbor Boatshop
Mats Mats Bay
Olympia to Port Townsend
(June 22 - 28, 2019)
We’ve been stunned by the enthusiastic response to the small-boat cruise idea, and never expected 100+ sign-ups in such a short period of time. Boaters are coming from all over the Northwest to participate…and from as far away as Wisconsin, Florida, Texas and maybe even Pennsylvania. We’ve accepted spontaneous offers of help and participation from the South Sound Sailing Society, the Lewis-Clark Sailing Association, and other groups that have been in touch. The event will soon be the subject of features in Small Craft Advisor magazine; Three Sheets Northwest; the TSCA’s national magazine, The Ash Breeze; and (we hope) a variety of Northwest boating magazines and social-media outlets, including 48 North and Northwest Yachting.
As of early January, in addition to the small boats that have registered, we have a fleet of at least a dozen larger “motherships" that’ll join in the cruise to provide support to the smaller boats (if needed), including transport of extra food and gear; towing if anyone has trouble reaching a daily destination; and general monitoring of the small-boat fleet as they make their way north from Olympia to Port Townsend.
The event is being organized by the Port Townsend Pocket Yachters; commercially sponsored by Duckworks Boat Builder’s Supply, and co-sponsored by the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend, the Puget Sound chapter of TSCA—the Traditional Small Craft Association—the Artful Sailor shop in Port Townsend, Small Craft Advisor magazine, and Kingston Mercantile & Marine, the latter being our hosts for the overnight stay in Kingston.
The SALISH100 cruising plan is to launch (or otherwise rendezvous) boats at Swantown Marina in Olympia the morning of Saturday, June 22, and begin cruising together by late morning. Folks who are coming from British Columbia, Oregon, Idaho or Montana will need to hit the road on Friday—or earlier, depending on your starting point—in order to be in place by early Saturday. We’ll have a skippers’ meeting Saturday morning, somewhere in the launch-ramp area, before everyone casts off. (Details to come…)
Realizing that wind and/or general weather conditions might alter our daily goals and plans, here is the tentative itinerary:
DAY ONE (Saturday, June 22) - Olympia waterfront to Hope Island Marine State Park (#1 on the map), about 10 nautical miles. Like every other day of the SALISH100 the plan will be to ride ebb currents northbound, arriving at each destination by late afternoon. Hope Island has tent-camping sites ashore, some mooring buoys offshore, and good anchoring spots for those sleeping aboard…especially along the southeastern shore, close to a trailhead that leads across the small island to the tent-camping area. Smaller boats that can be beached, and are tent-camping ashore, will want to pull up on the beach next to a small micro-inlet on the south shore of Hope Island—closer to the campsites.
DAY TWO (Sunday, June 23) - Hope Island to Penrose Point State Park (#2 on the map), about 16 nautical miles. This will be one of the more interesting sailing routes, as we head east through Dana Passage, rounding the southern tip of Harstine Island, then the southern end of Key Peninsula before heading north through Drayton Passage and narrow Pitt Passage (next to McNeil Island) to enter Mayo Cove. Penrose Point State Park has mooring buoys, a totally protected anchorage, a park dock many of our boats can tie to, and lots of campsites up the hill. There are restrooms with showers and nice walking trails through the woods—altogether, one of our favorite marine state parks.
DAY THREE (Monday, June 24) - From Penrose, we’re heading north through the Tacoma Narrows to Gig Harbor, about 15 nautical miles (#3 on the map). The smaller sailboats with shorter masts will get to The Narrows via Hale Passage, between Fox Island and the mainland shore, passing under the 30-foot-clearance bridge. Bigger sailboats with taller masts will want to round the south side of Fox Island as they approach The Narrows. Once in Gig Harbor, we’ll head for the far end of the bay, anchoring near the historic Gig Harbor BoatShop whose staff will give us the best kind of welcome: Allowing at least eight of our skippers to sleep aboard the boat shop’s historic salmon seiner VETERAN (8 berths aboard, plus lots of deck space); or sleep inside the boatshop. Shop tours will be offered to our group that afternoon/evening, and the boatshop’s electric launches will help shuttle small-boat crew members to and from shore, as needed.
Finally, SALISH100 boats will be invited to raft alongside VETERAN if, as expected, the 1927-built seiner is anchored just offshore from the Gig Harbor BoatShop. In addition to the option of overnighting in or near the boatshop, we can personally recommend (maybe especially for larger support boats in our fleet), the terrific Gig Harbor Public Pier (halfway into the harbor on the south shore) which offers moorage with electric power and water at $1.00 per foot during summer months, and only .50 cents per foot during the off-season. Finally, our friends at Dunatos Second Wave marine-consignment store—just across the road from Gig Harbor BoatShop—will keep their doors open that evening and maybe also host a beachside barbecue to help welcome us to Gig Harbor.
DAY FOUR (Tuesday, June 25) - Gig Harbor to Blake Island Marine State Park (#4 on the map), about 16 nautical miles up Colvos Passage, between Vashon Island and the mainland. One of the great things about Colvos is that the current is always flowing northbound, regardless of what the tide’s doing. (We’re not talking about a fast current, but anything helps.) Blake Island Marine State Park is one of the premier state-park destinations for boaters, with lots of tent-camping sites, a small marina with moorage, restrooms, showers and lots of hiking trails that circle the island. Beach-campers will want to anchor just offshore or drag their boats onto the soft beach along the western shore of Blake Island, close to the northwestern tip. Boats seeking moorage slips and easy access to showers will head for the breakwater-protected marina, at the northeastern tip of the island.
DAY FIVE (Wednesday, June 26) - Blake Island north up central Puget Sound past Bainbridge Island to the Port of Kingston marina (#5 on the map), about 14 nautical miles. This leg will be the first where boaters are exposed to—and need to stay out of—the major north-south shipping lanes used by containerships, tugs pushing or towing barges, and of course state ferries that cross our planned route along the Bainbridge Island shore. We'll cross the entrance to Port Madison at the north end of Bainbridge, then round Point Jefferson and President Point and enter Appletree Cove and Kingston Marina. We are so fortunate to have co-sponsorship of the Salish100 by Kingston Mercantile & Marine, which will host our tent campers on a huge waterfront lawn—a short distance south of the marina—including a bathroom, picnic tables and a soft beach. (Most tent campers here will wish to anchor out, due to the long, shallow beach…unless they have small boats that can be easily dragged across the soft beach. Crews from anchored-out boats will be shuttled to the tent-camping site, and back, by volunteers in our fleet.) Many of the bigger boats will seek guest-moorage slips in nearby Kingston Marina, which offers nice bathrooms and showers…with lots of cafes, taverns and markets a short distance from the marina. Finally, Kingston will be the overnight stop where we likely organize a big backyard dinner party ashore, involving all Salish100 crew members, to celebrate near-completion of the first-ever event; to hand out thank-you gifts, maybe some goofy prizes, and give everyone a chance to get better acquainted. (Stay tuned—we’ll have details in the not-too-distant future.)
DAY SIX (Thursday, June 27) - Kingston to Mats Mats Bay (#6 on the map), about 16 nautical miles. This could be our most exciting day on the water—or just another easy passage—since we’ll be cruising north along the mainland shore around Apple Cove Point, then Point No Point and Foulweather Bluff on our way to little Mats Mats Bay…one of our favorite total-protection anchorages. During the first stretch, from Kingston to Point No Point, we’ll ride the ebb current northbound and plan to round Point No Point and Foulweather Bluff in calm conditions…and close to slack current. This area can be nasty if, for instance, you try to round Point No Point with a fast ebb current but against a strong northerly wind…or vice versa (against a strong current but with the wind). But not to worry….we’ll stick close to shore as we round the point, and probably follow the shoreline closely between Point No Point and Foulweather Bluff, to avoid any serious riptide action that’s usually farther offshore. The narrow entrance to Mats Mats Bay can be hard to spot from outside, so a few of our larger support boats will stand by to serve as channel markers. It’s a wonderful, rocky and narrow (but totally safe) entrance, and once inside, Mats Mats Bay opens up and provides a nice, soft bottom for anchoring. We have two friends with waterfront homes along the eastern shore of Mats Mats Bay; both have offered their spacious lawns for our tent campers, along with some (very limited) dock space. Most of us will anchor out on our own hooks, with some small boats rafting alongside motherships. There are no stores or other facilities in Mats Mats Bay, except for a launch ramp with Sanikan in the southeastern corner of the bay, close to where our tent campers will go ashore.
FINAL DAY (Friday, June 28) - Mats Mats Bay to Port Townsend, about 13 nautical miles. Completing the 100-mile cruise, boaters will sail, row, paddle and/or motor north through Oak Bay, run with the northbound current through narrow Port Townsend Canal (bridge height 58 feet), and continue through Port Townsend Bay to the PT waterfront. Small boats that can be beached may want to end their voyages at the Northwest Maritime Center, next to Point Hudson Marina, where boats can be dragged up on the soft gravel beach and tied to beach logs. Larger trailer boats might seek guest moorage at the Boat Haven Marina, site of the town’s largest launch ramp, while volunteers shuttle skippers down to Olympia to retrieve their tow rigs and empty boat trailers. Depending on when Salish100 boats make it to Port Townsend (early afternoon, late afternoon, or early evening), we may have a series of shuttle runs that head south to Olympia. Another option some boaters might wish to pursue, ahead of the SALISH100 start, is to have friends, partners or spouses drive tow rigs and empty trailers north from Olympia to Port Townsend just before the cruise begins…parking them in downtown Port Townsend to await the arrival of skippers. More on this option, along with Olympia parking, a bit later.
So, there’s your basic outline.
At this point, with 100+ boats signed up, we might soon place additional applicants on a waiting list. While the event can accommodate a large number of boaters who are prepared to sleep aboard each night, we may already be tapped out on the number of boaters who need to tent-camp ashore. (Stay tuned—we’re still in the process of learning exactly who can sleep aboard, and who needs on-shore accommodations.) We should know where we stand in the next few weeks…and we’ll distribute another update the minute we know we’ve hit the ceiling…or have room for more.