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Old 05-17-2020, 04:23 PM   #1
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Looking for wilderness in Puget Sound

I plan to charter a trawler (a Helmsman 38) out of Bellingham for a couple of weeks this July. My family enjoys cruising in the PNW for the rustic, untouched, natural beauty, and as such we prefer to end up in less crowded anchorages and marinas that afford beautiful vistas and good hiking, ideally in old-growth forest. We would normally head up to Canada immediately, spending only a day or two in the San Juans and Gulf Islands before heading farther north. But that will likely be impossible this July; the Canadian border may still be closed, and marinas in the San Juans may remain closed as well. So we figured we would head south and explore the Puget Sound region, which we have never done before. So my question, for the experienced PNW cruisers on this forum, is where to go in Puget Sound (islands, anchorages, marinas) if want to minimize crowds and maximize natural wilderness. (We are not terribly concerned about amenities, restaurants, etc., but we will need to stop for provisions now and then.)

Of course, I realize avoiding crowds may be impossible this July, since many local boaters who normally head up to Canada will be stuck in the same boat, so to speak. But I figured I’d give it a try.
Bob
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Old 05-17-2020, 05:19 PM   #2
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TT
I'm not sure if too many marinas are going to have welcome signs out. It may well be different in two months. With nowhere to go vacant slips may not be readily available. Suggest you have your charter company provide some guidance in these confusing times.

Under normal conditions Waggoners is the guide to get you started.
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Old 05-17-2020, 05:29 PM   #3
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There ain't much wilderness left in Puget Sound.... Best bet would be around Dabob Bay in Hood Canal....
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Old 05-17-2020, 05:32 PM   #4
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Yes, I sort of suspected that, but I thought someone might have some secrets to share.
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Old 05-17-2020, 05:58 PM   #5
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There are some state parks that will give you a bit of the feel you're looking for.
You can anchor comfortably at virtually all of them. Hopefully by July we will even be able to overnight on state park docks and buoys.

Hood Canal is a good choice for getting away from the crowds. There are two state parks, with decent anchoring at Potlatch down at the Big Bend. There's Pleasant Harbor SP, which is a nice, well protected spot. But no place to anchor, as the dock is the only viable alternative.

"Down Sound" there is Eagle Island, Hope Island, and Cutts Island. These are the least visited and essentially unimproved parks (though Hope is really neat in that they have preserved a turn of the century farm and house on the island). You will typically find some boat traffic around those spots during the summer, but none of them are accessible by car which helps a lot!

At the north end of Puget Sound Fort Flagler, Mystery Bay and Sequim Bay. While all are accessible by car, these are a places you will tend to find less traffic. Sequim Bay is largely undiscovered by boaters, and Flagler is underrated as many like to advance further to Mystery Bay, which can also be a nice, quiet spot.

And up there on the mainland side you can visit Bowman Bay just around the corner form Deception Pass, which is a really nice spot. Swells can make it a bit rolly if there's a NW wind, though.
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Old 05-17-2020, 06:14 PM   #6
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Greetings,
Mr. TT. Welcome aboard. I've never been there but I always understood ALL of the PNW was untamed wilderness inhabited by savages and ferocious beasts.


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Old 05-17-2020, 06:29 PM   #7
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Greetings,
Mr. TT. Welcome aboard. I've never been there but I always understood ALL of the PNW was untamed wilderness inhabited by savages and ferocious beasts.
[/IMG]
Hey now, some of our roads are paved! Where'd you find that cute kid?
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Old 05-17-2020, 06:45 PM   #8
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We went to the South Sound a year or two ago.
Here we are in Olympia.
Well there’s trees.
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Old 05-17-2020, 08:31 PM   #9
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Minimize crowds and maximize wilderness??? I only hope that will be our reality in Puget Sound this summer! Like you, we usually head north to find those things, but also like you, we will all be hanging out together in local waters. Maybe we should all install turn signals!

If you don't have a Waggoner's Guide, the Salish Sea Pilot book series does a good job with Puget Sound waters as a download file. https://salishseapilot.com

See ya soon!
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Old 05-18-2020, 12:29 AM   #10
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The Waggoner web site is keeping an up to date listing of marinas, parks, etc. just cruise on over
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Old 05-18-2020, 01:18 PM   #11
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We are also looking into exploring the South sound a bit more.
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Old 05-19-2020, 01:04 PM   #12
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We moor in Tacoma. The wilderness is occupied! Some of our favorite anchorages and places to hike in the Sound include Flagler -Mystery Bay by Port Townsend, Blake Island for hiking, Penrose State Park- Mayo Cove, and Jarrell Cove on Harstine Island.
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Old 05-19-2020, 05:10 PM   #13
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Seems to me like you would be spending way too much time getting to and from Bellingham, eating up at least two or three days of your charter. Why not stick with the San Juans, or are you marina-dependent?
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Old 05-19-2020, 09:10 PM   #14
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Seems to me like you would be spending way too much time getting to and from Bellingham, eating up at least two or three days of your charter. Why not stick with the San Juans, or are you marina-dependent?
That is a reasonable question. There are a few considerations. First, I want to get a sense of the Helmsman 38, as I am considering purchasing one, and for this I want to take her out in a bit of open water, and I thought crossing the Strait of Juan de Fuca would be a good test. Second, I want to take a look at a few marinas around Puget Sound where I might end up berthing a boat should I buy one. Third, I have been around the San Juans before, so I'd like to try something new.

Looking through various cruising guides and looking at distances, I think I'll probably not go too far south, but rather take my time going through the Hood Canal, Admiralty Inlet, etc. (which hopefully will give us a bit of wildlife), and then drop by some of the marinas on the east side of the Sound on the return.
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Old 05-19-2020, 11:43 PM   #15
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Mind your weather and tides when crossing anywhere near Port Townsend. Admiralty Inlet can be a bear on a big ebb with westerly coming thru the Straits. Its more interesting to cut in at Deception Pass and head south that way, closer to shore, much nicer scenery, better chance of seeing any wildlife though slim at that. You will see seals for sure and eagles, perhaps deer on a beach.
But you come out just above Everett and stay inside. Then you can wander over to the other side and look around.
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Old 05-25-2020, 01:10 PM   #16
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One of my favorite places across from Seattle is Blake Island. This area has a small marina that is not so busy mid-week. It is also home to a native american performance theater featuring dance. They also serve traditionally cooked planked salmon for a nice meal. The island itself is old growth evergreens with a trail that circles the island. You can also anchor out of the marina on two sides and dinghy in for hikes, etc.

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Old 05-25-2020, 01:29 PM   #17
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I suggest you ask this question of the charter company. They should be able to give you up to the minute feedback and some personal insight.


Wagooner's guide and web site are good references.
https://waggonerguide.com/covid-19/



Based on a weeks charter, I wouldn't bother with Hood Canal. You'll burn a day getting there, and another getting back. Plus a day in Hood canal, and half your cruise is over. If you want to see Hood canal you might try and drive part of it before or after your boat trip. It's not know for superior anchorages or better scenery.
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Old 05-25-2020, 01:34 PM   #18
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The link for Waggoner listing what is open can be found here: https://www.openforboating.com/.
They are trying to keep it updated.
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Old 05-25-2020, 01:46 PM   #19
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Wilderness or lack thereof.

Weekend before last, I counted 58 boats just in Echo Bay!

Oh Canada...!
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Old 05-25-2020, 02:10 PM   #20
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Wotmough bay south Lopez Island is quiet and secluded, 5 DNR free mooring balls there.



Bowman bay & Hope Island are also nice.
Blake Island near Seattle is just gorgeous, the marina is open for day use only at this point, all mooring balls are open or you can anchor out on the west side.



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