On July 8th, we waved goodbye to Canada knowing we may not be back for a few years. It was a sad farewell to a country that we hold very dear to us. A country we are so proud to be citizens of… a country where much of our family and friends live. It was time for Bloom to blossom and move on to new territory and explore Puget Sound before making the ‘big left turn’. We wanted to get as much sailing practice in as we could before heading South. Here is an overview of our route, adventures and discoveries along the way. This is Bloom from Point Roberts to Neah Bay, Washington!
We pulled into Point Roberts at around 5:30pm and cleared customs without a hitch. We planned to stay for a couple of nights but ended up staying for four as we had a lot of family visits while we were there! Jason’s family (Mom, Sister-in-Law, Brother, Sister and two nephews) stopped by as did Lisa’s Grandmas (both 88!) for a nice long visit and a little bit of sunshine. We really enjoyed Point Roberts! The WiFi was by far the best we have ever experienced (we were even able to stream video) and there were some neat restaurants to walk to (Brewster’s on Gulf Road was by far our favourite) and groceries were very close by as well. Not having a car was no problem!
We first planned to stay in Skyline Marina, which is on the West side of Fidalgo Island as we have reciprocal privileges there. After several hours out on the water with no wind to be had, Murphy took over when we went to dock and piped up 15 knots of wind with a very strong current flowing into the marina and pushing us in when we were trying to dock at Skyline. Turns out the coordinator told us the wrong channel to go down, so we found ourselves quickly reaching a dead end with no slip to go into. It was not a fun experience! We backed Bloom out, turned her around and headed straight for the fuel dock as it seemed the safest place to dock given the conditions we were in. We tied up there for the night and left at 5am the next morning for Cap Sante Marina to try things again. We were so glad that we did! Cap Sante Marina was lovely! Great service, easy to get in and out and lots going on nearby. There were lots of fun shops and restaurants to see in downtown Anacortes, a Timothy’s restaurant overlooking the marina and a really cool cabana restaurant next door with bocce ball courts. The WiFi was great here, showers and laundry were decent as well. Definitely recommend this stop!
You have to be mindful of the Juan de Fuca Strait as well as Point No Point and Admiralty Inlet. Waggoner’s Cruising Guide warned us of Westerly winds coupled with ebbing waves, so we planned this entry carefully. It turned out to be another calm, flat day with no wind (sigh) but it was a beautiful day on the water, nonetheless. We had heard from another cruiser that Point Hudson Marina was the one to go to in Port Townsend as it was closest to downtown with all of the shops and restaurants. We were not disappointed. A tricky place to dock as the wind seems to always be blowing through there (starboard tie advised). Port Townsend was definitely our favourite stop in Puget Sound. We loved the old boats, the vintage charm of the downtown area and the quaint, community feel that it radiated. We spent a lot of time walking through the town, reading about the history of the ‘Tree of Heaven’ and exploring the shops. Definitely recommend the little hot dog stand on the main drag- it has veggie hot dogs to die for (thanks Heidi Hackler for the recommendation!) Waterfront Pizza was also fantastic, although often lined up out the door! The WiFi here was non-existent and they offer a ‘pay’ service that we tried out and found it to be absolutely terrible as the repeater points out to the RV park, which is completely on the other side of the property. Cell reception here is fine, so we used our iPhones and our cellular antenna with USB modem to give us internet access while we visited. (Read more about our internet set up here) The showers and laundry here were both great. Very clean and spacious, although the laundry room gets very busy on weekends.
We have friends on sv Inspiraire who live in Seattle on their boat, so wanted to stop over and visit them as well as explore Seattle. We mis-calculated the distance from Port Townsend to Bell Harbor Marina, so we ended up getting in later than we anticipated, but still in daylight hours. It was tricky to find the Bell Harbor Marina entrance, so we relied heavily on our charts to find the opening. A very small and quaint marina, you will want to have a reservation well in advance before coming in. The marina itself is located right in the heart of it all! Lots to walk to- including Pike Place Market, lots of shops and the famous ‘Great Wheel’ ferris wheel, which was really fun. We went for a lovely dinner with our friends at Anthony’s Restaurant which is overlooking the marina. Their patio is very dog friendly as well, so we were able to have a nice meal and let the dogs chill out on the patio with us! Decent WiFi at Bell Harbor and also free showers- flip flops recommended!
Lots of ferries going in and out of the channel to enter Winslow Wharf Marina on a regular basis, so expect to move out of their way when you are going in or out! Bainbridge Island was delightful- we absolutely loved it! We had reciprocal privileges that entitled us to a free night here, so it was such a treat! The showers here were the best we have ever experienced- like a spa! WiFi was decent and the area was absolutely wonderful. Lots of neat shops and the Town and Country Market has lots of healthy groceries (although a bit pricey).
Back over to Seattle we went- this time directly to the marina that our friends were staying in, Shilshole Bay Marina. This is an absolutely massive marina, housing 1500 boats! We found it took 20-30 minutes just to walk from one end of it to the other! We had a wonderful stay here. So great to spend more time with our friends Arvid and Annika and their Great Dane, Pluto. West Marine is 5 minutes away and it is about a 20 minute walk along the water to a lovely beach. If you venture further, you’ll find an awesome fenced-in dog park as well. A free shuttle from the marina will take you into town (Ballard) if you want to go to Trader Joes or explore the area further. No WiFi at Shilshole, but we used our cellular system and it worked great!
We tucked into Port Ludlow for one night on our way back up to Port Townsend, to get to Port Angeles. Although a very pretty area, Port Ludlow didn’t have much to offer as far as shops of any kind. We later learned that it is a retirement community, which explained the quietness of it. There are lots of hiking trails to explore throughout the area and a really neat waterfall that you can walk to as well, called Ludlow Falls. Definitely worth the trek!
We loved Port Townsend so much and wanted to break up our trip to Port Angeles, so we popped back in to Point Hudson Marina for another three nights…En route to returning, we were treated to a private whale show! A pod of Orcas showed there stuff for about 20 minutes as we slowly motored past.
With reciprocal moorage at John Wayne Marina in Sequim (pronounced SQUIM) we decided it would be nice to tuck in here for a night to further break up the journey to Port Angeles and to see a new place as well. We were so glad that we did! It was an absolutely gorgeous spot. A sheltered bay is home to John Wayne Marina, which is located on land that was donated by John in 1975 after he felt it was the perfect location to house a marina. Be sure to check your charts before entering. It is a very tricky entrance here and the depths are very shallow. We had 4 feet under our keel coming in. Be mindful of the channel markers and go slowly. Once in, you will be blown away by the beauty of this area. So gorgeous! Great WiFi here, but showers- not so much. The water pressure almost rips your skin off. After Bainbridge’s spa-like showers, we felt that the showers got progressively worse heading West. Perhaps shower on your boat instead here if you can!
We pulled into Port Angeles Boat Haven on July 27th. It was blowing pretty hard when we got in, so we got a hand onto the dock by Terry the harbour master- a very nice guy! Port Angeles wasn’t what we expected when we first arrived. We had expected it to be close to chandleries and marine and fishing supplies, but it wasn’t. It was a bit of a walk to get to the grocery store as well, but well worth the walk. Country Aire Natural Grocery has a lot of wonderful, healthy and organic choices and was a frequent stop for us during our five-night stay. We did the Port Angeles Underground History Walking Tour, which was pretty cool. A bit long, but really neat history of this area and we learned a lot. We also rented a car with our friends on sv Muskoka and checked out the famous ‘Hurricane Ridge’ hiking trails- featuring breathtaking views of these famous mountains- this trek is a must when visiting Port Townsend. The WiFi here was fantastic as we were right beside a repeater. Showers- not so much. Shower on your boat if you can or bring flip flops with you up to the showers. They are totally open, no shower curtains and not that clean. Here, we also met a gentleman named Pete who has sailed down the coast to San Franciso 75 times and all the way to Mexico 65 times. AMAZING. What a wealth of knowledge! We added Pete’s info into our Delorme InReach with the intention of keeping in touch with him on our journeys further South.
It was a 50 nautical mile trek to Neah Bay from Port Angeles, so we left when it was still dark, at 5am and followed sv Muskoka out. We were immediately hit with very large, swelly and confused seas which were not very comfortable for quite some time. Pete’s advice to us was to go closer to shore when in Juan de Fuca Strait if the conditions are unfavourable. As soon as we did this, things calmed way down and the ride was much more pleasant. Unfortunately, we had no wind or wind directly on our nose this whole leg, so we could not sail (although we attempted a couple of times!). It took us a very long time to get to Neah- 12.5 hours without any wind and current pushing us for the last half of the journey. Neah Bay is stunningly beautiful- surrounded by lush forests and mountains with Bald Eagles soaring overhead everywhere. It is a fishing village, so we were one of very few sailboats in the harbour- (sometimes the only one!) for our entire stay here. We parted ways with Muskoka who decided to leave before we were ready and we changed our plans and decided to bring a forth crew member on board as well and do a ‘straight shot’ to San Francisco instead of harbor hopping like our original plan. With this new plan, also brought about the decision to leave our dog with Gramma for the duration of the travels. We didn’t think it would be fair to her to take her out in the open ocean with no stops and not having any hands to hang on. It is also very hard to get her to go potty on the boat if it is experiencing a lot of motion. Gramma drove 5 hours from Blaine, Washington all the way to Neah to pick Ruby up- we were SO thankful! Our fourth crew member came aboard on Aug 8th, after almost a week in Neah Bay. The WiFi is decent here so we were able to get lots done online and even downloaded a few movies for Carson to watch on the journey South. The showers here were by far the worst we’ve experienced- so avoid them if you can! The laundry facility is across the street, but has a really huge commercial washer and dryer which work really well.
There are three restaurants in Neah Bay: Linda’s Wood Fired Kitchen, Pat’s Place and the Warm House. We went to all three more than once since our stay was so long as we didn’t want to dip into our provisions to much. All three were great. The pizzas at Linda’s Kitchen were awesome, fry bread at Pat’s Place as well as their ‘Indian Tacos’ and pie were both amazing. Julio is Pat’s husband and he came out after closing one night and chatted with us for a while- such a nice, laid back feel to the area, with the most amazingly friendly people. By the time a week had passed, we were more than ready to leave Neah Bay and head South. With our fourth crew member on board, Warren, we planned to leave the next morning for San Francisco.