A Weekend Around Whidbey Island

With Gedney Island abeam, my brother, Aaron, and I quietly doused the main and furled the jib to watch a lone gray whale feed in the shallows. The whale shattered the glassy water when it emerged to clear its blowhole.
Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
0

With Gedney Island abeam, my brother, Aaron, and I quietly doused the main and furled the jib to watch a lone gray whale feed in the shallows. The whale shattered the glassy water when it emerged to clear its blowhole. The accompanying mist, as it sprinkled the surface of the water, lent texture to the otherwise placid leeward shadow of the mostly private island. Eventually, the whale dove a last time, its flukes visible for only a second before it continued on its northward migratory journey.

Goose_Rock_Trail_%28Whidbey_Island%2C_Washington_State%29-by-Ricardo-Martins-for-Wikipedia-CommonsTop
 There are only a few boats on the private docks

There are only a few boats on the private docks

It is not uncommon for marine wildlife to congregate in this industrialized area of Puget Sound, where nutrient-rich water flows in from the Snohomish River Delta. We had seen a bald eagle earlier that day, as well as a handful of porpoises patrolling Possession Sound. This combination of scenery, wildlife and a fresh breeze made for a memorable weekend sail in Washington’s coastal waters.

 The islands of Puget Sound provide a peaceful weekend getaway

The islands of Puget Sound provide a peaceful weekend getaway


Everett, where our journey began, is an industrial town 30 miles north of Seattle and home to the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet. My brother and his wife, Nancy, and I were cruising along Gedney Island and up Saratoga Passage to Penn Cove. Even though the area is generally private land and more developed than better-known locations in the nearby San Juan Islands, the sailing and sightseeing was bracing, with a northwest wind on the nose, great blue herons in the tidal flats and majestic Mount Baker towering to the east. The cruise also included two of our favorite port towns.

Langley came first, where the only entrance to the unique ladle-shaped breakwater is from the south. Low clouds

blanketed the evergreens on shore as we rounded the breakwater and eased into a snug slip behind the creosote-covered palisade. We then walked the short distance into Langley, where we visited Lowry-James Rare Prints & Books—with its fine collection of Audubon prints—and dined at the homey Village Pizzeria. Langley teeters on bluffs overlooking Saratoga Passage, and signs on the main street advise people to be on the lookout for orca, which frequent these inland waters.

The next morning we caught a favorable flood tide, which is never particularly strong in Saratoga, and traveled north up the passage toward Coupeville in Penn Cove, which cuts a distinctive divot out of Whidbey Island. Along the way, the west wind that typically builds through Juan de Fuca Strait and then hurdles over Whidbey, picking up momentum as it blows through the cove, made for an exhilarating beat to Coupeville. North of Coupeville’s wharf, the scattered mussel pens served as advertisements for the rich delicacies in the nearby restaurants. We spent the evening at down-to-earth Toby’s Tavern, which was within easy stumbling distance from the wharf.

map_2


With the continuing north wind, we had following seas for our long run home. These passages carry dozens of boats in peak season, but in the offseason you will often be on your own. Although we’d shared Langley’s harbor with some friendly company, we were the only boat moored at Coupeville’s wharf—making it the perfect place to reflect on the whale we’d met as a light rain swept the deck, and we fired up the heater that evening. Life doesn’t get much better.

Related

GG17-SAONA47-DX0796

Boat Review: Fountaine Pajot Saona 47

Here’s a riddle: What is less than 50ft long, has two hulls, three big cabins and four decks? Answer: The Fountaine Pajot Saona 47. In fact, it may even be five levels if you count the large engine rooms. This boat is a “space craft” in every sense of the word.DESIGN & ...read more

RichardBennettMIDNIGHT-RAMBLER3249x202

Storm Sails: Do you Need Them?

Many sailors embarking on ocean passages will take along the obligatory storm jib and trysail, with the vague idea that they may come in handy. Few sailors, however, have a real understanding of how and when to set them.It doesn’t help matters when we hear from seasoned sailors ...read more

IntheWater(1)

Boaters University Unveils Rescue Course

Boaters University has just announced its latest online course, Safety & Rescue at Sea, taught by Mario Vittone, whose name you might recognize from the pages of our sister publication, Soundings Magazine and his Lifelines blog.Mario Vittone is a retired U.S. Coast Guard rescue ...read more

IMG_20170920_132819

How to: Installing New Electronics

I had been sailing my Tayana 42, Eclipse, for a few years without any installed electronics on board. I’d gone pretty far up and down the New England and Mid-Atlantic coasts with paper charts, the Navionics app on my Android phone, a hand-bearing compass and the ship’s compass. ...read more

02-Douglas-Adkins---Coriolis---Orcas-Island-KevinLightPhoto

A Phoenix-like Concordia

Cutting a fine wake on the cobalt-blue waters of West Sound on Orcas Island, Coriolis sparkles like a diamond. Her lovely silhouette is offset by emerald forests that frame the ocean, within spitting distance of the border with Canada. Seen up close, this Concordia yawl is a ...read more

IMG_1051

The Latest Boat Trends from Dusseldorf

The world’s biggest boat and watersports show, held in Düsseldorf on the banks of Germany’s Rhine River each January, is the place to scope out emerging trends in the boat design and building.What would be the new trends for 2018 and beyond? Hint—sophisticated electronics figure ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comGood ConnectionsI wish I’d had a dollar for every time I’ve cobbled together an electrical fitting with a “that’s good enough” shrug. An old shipwright once taught me that “good enough is not good enough” ...read more

tides2

Gear Test: Tides Marine Sailtrack

Gravity is an important force at work on a sailboat. It keeps the boat upright, it makes the anchor drop to the bottom, and it makes the mainsail slide neatly down the mast to be flaked and put away at the end of the day… until it doesn’t.In the case of dropping the mainsail, the ...read more