Poulsbo and back again

Well, I had a delightful little case of food poisoning last Wednesday, and 24 hours and 5 pounds later, we were scheduled for our trip out to Poulsbo via the boat. I was nervous that I wasn’t going to be well in time, but got lucky. That and a half-bottle of Imodium AD kept us to plan. The plan meant leaving at 3 on Friday, and going through the Locks , staying at Shilshole overnight. This was our first family overnight cruise, and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

We left closer to 3:30, but that was fine. I had estimated a two-hour drive out to the locks, and an hour to go through. Shilshole is just outside the locks, so that last leg was not a worry. Lake Washington was a bit windy and choppy going out, not real bad, but annoying. Once we got into Montlake cut, we were sheltered from the wind and things calmed down. We had a nice slow cruise from there to the Lake Union Gas dock across from the Police Station.

This was actually a pretty impressive setup. A huge gas dock, Pumpouts on both ends, water hoses ready at each mooring (enough for 6-8 boats at once) and a nicely stocked mini-mart. We filled up with Gas, used the pumpout, and topped off our water. When we were done, Guenaddi called us from his boat, he was running behind us, but was only a few minutes away at that point. He finally caught us in the Fremont Cut, and we stopped at the Ballard Bridge to swap a few fenders, and get our friend Adam over to our boat. This gave us a balanced crew on each boat, and made going through the locks easier.

From there we went to the waiting pier for the Large Locks (the small ones are under maintenance) and tied up. We were pretty lucky, and only had to wait about 15 minutes before the light went green and it was time for our group to head in. The number of fish that jump in that area are really amazing, both in size and frequency. But with the fish ladder there, it isn’t surprising. The locks were no real trouble, we got placed next to a larger boat, so we didn’t have to manage our ropes against the wall, (which is pretty green and slimy). The boat next to us was a 50 foot, 1968 Chris Craft, beautifully restored. The captain and his wife were experienced, and were very helpful to Yulia and Adam as they worked the lines to tie us up. We chatted with them a bit and with the tide high, it was a short ride down.

Once out of the locks, I was able to hail the harbormaster at Shilshole, and get our spaces on the guest dock. All of Shilshole has gone through a full remodel, and the place is immaculate. H Dock has the guest spaces and the fuel dock as well. Each slip has a post with full power, water, and Cable TV. Normally, the Cable TV would be superfluous, but with the Olympics on, it was appreciated. We were able to grill chicken on the BBQ, break out some Bordeaux, and have a great dinner, watching the sun set over the breakwater, and watching the Chinese finish cheating their way through women’s gymnastics.

I used to have a really nice collapsible bucket. I say “used to” because the crew saw little fishes swimming near the dock and tried to catch some with the bucket. It had a short little rope attached so you could haul it back in, but apparently it needed a float attached to the end, just in case someone threw it too far and the rope slipped from their hand. Lesson Learned.

In the morning, we had a quick breakfast, and left under no wind with clear skies. The water was like glass heading out, and we were going straight across Puget Sound to Agate Pass. We timed the tides to hit as close to slack as possible, since Agate Pass can be really fast when at full tide. We were still against the tide a bit, but aside from a few bumps as we entered, it was no real problem. From there we slowly meandered our way into Liberty Bay, and on to Poulsbo.

Coming into the public marina, we saw that the wooden breakwater was covered in Harbor Seals, and the water was filled with little jellyfish. The Harbormaster gave us two slips on F dock, and we went around the back side to tie up. The wind was starting to pick up, and was blowing us to the side, making mooring difficult. Naturally, there was a huge crowd of people on the dock, drinking and watching us. Advice was freely given. It took me three approaches to get the timing and direction of the wind correct, but I managed to get the boat to slip into the fairly narrow slip without smacking anything, earning me a round of applause from the group watching. They helped us tie down, and we were in.

Poulsbo looks like a kitschy little Norwegian town stuck in a fjord somewhere, and was the home to Norwegian immigrant fisherman (they liked the whole fjord look.) In fact, we were lucky enough to land for the 100 year celebration festival, so there were events, music, lutefisk, the works. Walking around town there was a street fair and dance scheduled for the evening. It was the perfect time to be there.

We took the dinghy out and drove past the seals to get a few pictures. They were bored with us for the most part, since we were not offering any food. The girls got to hold a non-stinging jellyfish, which I thought was a bit gross, but they liked it. It was hot enough in the afternoon that I put the top up just to give us more shade, which helped a bit.

Dinner was BBQ veggies and Lamb, more wine, and more wine. We took a nighttime walk around the city to see the dancing and look at the shops open late. There was a great little Nautical gift shop that had Brass lamps, pirate stuff, cigars and model ships. One of them was the old Mosquito Fleet ship, Virginia V. I thought that one was pretty neat, since I have seen that very ship on Lake Union, and it is one of the few remaining original ferries from the old mosquito fleet. After that, we had some wine. For some reason, falling asleep was easy.

The next day, we headed out after waiting for the quick morning rain to stop. There was a bit more wind, and the water had a few more rolling waves once we were outside Agate Pass. But it was mostly uneventful out to the locks, but this time we had a much longer wait. Over an hour later a huge stream of ships came out of the locks, including a gigantic barge and tugboat, several big sailboats, and to my surprise the Virginia V, the real ship that I saw the model of in the store. That was surprising.

In the locks again, we were tied up to some very new, 90 foot megayacht, crewed by a guy in Hawaiian shorts, and his wife, who knew a lot less than us about how to handle lines. This should have been my clue that this was going to be less than optimal. We were all tied down, and once the doors closed and the lock started to fill, I headed to the bow to watch the lines there. It took a while to notice, but apparently the megayacht “captain” fired his engines back up, so he could use his maneuvering thrusters. This kept him from actually having to manage his lines with actual body strength. Of course, this totally filled the lock with Carbon Monoxide fumes, and all the people in smaller boats were choking, but the lockmasters didn’t notice, and once we got to the top it was too late. We all had monstrous CO headaches once we got out of there.

From there we slowly worked our way out back into the lake, Stopping for a pumpout again, and watching some fool in too large of a sailboat almost smack into the Montlake Bridge with his mast. He was too close, and it didn’t open when he wanted it to, so he had to reverse quickly, but had traffic backed up behind him. So he turned sharply, and almost smacked the side of the cut. He ended up sideways in the cut, blocking all traffic, until the bridge was open. We finally headed for home, and stopped once again to make a little dinner of sausage and cheese. We were hot, and we were tired, but it was a very successful cruise.


photography by Yulia Hancheroff