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Old 12-22-2018, 10:18 AM   #1
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PNW mooring options

OK, I need some opinions from some of the PNW cruisers here.

We are buying a 48' (52' overall) boat in Port Townsend, and will need to find a slip to keep her in. The current marina has a 4-year waiting list so, there you go! We spent the month of September visiting marinas and got on the waiting list at Cap Sante in Anacortes, and at Liberty Bay in Poulsbo, and a couple of others. Right now, Cap Sante is our first choice, but we are #18 on the list, and it is not looking like there is much turn-over in this size slip. So we may be waiting quite a while!

So, expanding our search area a little, there is Semiahmoo Marina and Blaine Harbor up north. The rates are better, and they actually seem to have slips available now. it looks like flying into Vancouver and driving south to Blaine is both cheaper and quicker than flying into SeaTac and driving north. So we are interested in checking this option out.

What are the pros and cons of keeping our boat there vs Anacortes or places south? Blaine is much closer to the San Juans than Poulsbo is, but it's open water and I'm assuming can be a rough passage at times. But then Blaine is also closer to Vancouver and the cruising destinations to the north.

Opinions and recommendations are welcomed!
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Old 12-22-2018, 10:42 AM   #2
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Blaine is a good option but even as a non-resident you'll be subject to WA sales tax. Also check out the marinas on Vancouver Island (Sidney, Canoe Cove etc) which might be a better option tax-wise.

Crossing from Blaine or Bellingham to the San Juans is usually not a problem.
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Old 12-22-2018, 10:47 AM   #3
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What about keeping it on the hard in Anacortes until a slip at Cap Santa opens up? Everett is the largest marina in the west coast. They might have a spot. Good luck!
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Old 12-22-2018, 10:50 AM   #4
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OK, I need some opinions from some of the PNW cruisers here.


So, expanding our search area a little, there is Semiahmoo Marina and Blaine Harbor up north. The rates are better, and they actually seem to have slips available now. it looks like flying into Vancouver and driving south to Blaine is both cheaper and quicker than flying into SeaTac and driving north. So we are interested in checking this option out.

What are the pros and cons of keeping our boat there vs Anacortes or places south? Blaine is much closer to the San Juans than Poulsbo is, but it's open water and I'm assuming can be a rough passage at times. But then Blaine is also closer to Vancouver and the cruising destinations to the north.

Opinions and recommendations are welcomed!

If you choose the Vancouver option Point Roberts is another place to check out.... Also if you don't have one now apply for a NEXUS card. it will help with border crossing
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Old 12-22-2018, 11:33 AM   #5
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Other airports you might consider if you have to fly in are Bellingham and Abbotsford.
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Old 12-22-2018, 11:36 AM   #6
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Anacortes has some really great on the hard options with power.

The only issue with Blaine is its remoteness from Seattle. It’s not very far from Vancouver and it’s probably closer to the Vancouver air port than any marina is to SeaTac. If flying to Vancouver is just as easy as flying to SeaTac this eliminates the issue of long drive to the boat.

There are fewer Services at Blaine. This might be your biggest con. If you bought an older or fixer up boat. Parts and services are going to be much harder to source out of Blaine.

Water conditions. Well here in the NW you are going to fight something, tides and Juan de Fuca out of Seattle or Port Townsend. Anacortes is the easiest shot to the San Juan’s and has a back door to Seattle. Blaine is on the southern end of the Straight of Georgia but tides are much less of an issue.

You can also look at Bremerton, Tacoma and Elliot Bay Marina in Seattle for in the water storage. Just around the corner from anacortes is La Conner and Bellingham.
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Old 12-22-2018, 11:47 AM   #7
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I live in this area and keep my boat in Bellingham. A consideration with Blaine and Semiahmoo is that there's almost no parts and service support there for your boat. Anacortes and Bellingham have a full gamut of parts, supplies and services. Also, leaving Blaine for the San Juans or Canadian Gulf Islands puts you in Georgia Strait, much more open and potentially rougher than leaving from Anacortes or Bellingham.
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Old 12-22-2018, 11:49 AM   #8
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Check the Blaine and Bellingham marinas as well and absolutely fly into Bellingham for Blaine. Blaine has 60ft vacancies but you pay for the full 60 if you’re 52 loa.
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Old 12-22-2018, 12:23 PM   #9
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It's hard to beat Anacortes for convenience, services, and livability. But you will be paying Washington state tax, if you haven't already. There are a couple of dry storage yards there with reasonable launch fees, no waiting.

Consider Sidney, BC. If you are flying in internationally, the Victoria airport is actually in Sidney, a very short taxi ride from the marinas. There is significant boating infrastructure. It has decent weather for the area. There are many in-the-water options, but also the Van Isle dry storage yard which is quite a good deal: as part of the year storage contract they will launch and retrieve your boat 12 times at no additional cost. For an absentee owner, it's an interesting possibility. No waiting list, no worries when you are gone.
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Old 12-22-2018, 12:32 PM   #10
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There is usually a waiting list for Bellingham. However Blaine is part of the Port of Bellingham so the route to go (which I did) is to get a slip in Blaine, then apply for a transfer to Bellingham. The transfer list gets first priority so it is generally a lot faster than being on the waiting list. Bellingham has everything you might want including an airport that is an Uber ride away.
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Old 12-22-2018, 12:47 PM   #11
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Have you considered Portland on the Columbia? Its only a 190 mile run from Astoria to Neah Bay. You also avoid the WA tax.
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Old 12-22-2018, 12:51 PM   #12
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What about keeping it on the hard in Anacortes until a slip at Cap Santa opens up? Everett is the largest marina in the west coast. They might have a spot. Good luck!
We looked at Everett, but didn't like all the traffic and congestion, etc. in the area. We want something a little more peaceful and less hectic!

We may just hop around as transients until something opens up, and like you say, keep her on the hard when we're not there.
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Old 12-22-2018, 01:22 PM   #13
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There are fewer Services at Blaine. This might be your biggest con. If you bought an older or fixer up boat. Parts and services are going to be much harder to source out of Blaine.
You should see the lack of services where we are now! I will feel like I've died and gone to heaven just to be anywhere near a competent service yard!

If I need anything here, I have to order it online and ship it to a freight forwarder in Miami. It then gets shipped to Panama, where I have to have it picked up and taken to a barge to be delivered out to the Pearl Islands. Then of course, I have to install it myself as there is no one here to do it.

If it involves pulling the boat out of the water, it's a 6 hour trip back to the city.

So being in Blaine is not an issue for me. At least it's close to civilization. :-)
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Old 12-22-2018, 02:43 PM   #14
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Having lived in the Blaine area for 20 years, I have no problems with service. A Fisheries Supply order placed in the morning is usually here the next day. Bellingham is a 20 minute drive. All kinds of marine service there. 13 miles from my moorage to Sucia, across the strait though! There is a haulout facility in Blaine, which I have used, but normally run to Bellingham for haulout. Anacortes is probably the best choice, it is busier, but has more to offer, shorter run to get into protected waters of the San Juanís. If I was choosing between Semiahmoo and Blaine, I would take Blaine, it is better protected. Semiahmoo generally has decent fuel prices, no fuel in Blaine anymore.
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Old 12-22-2018, 02:48 PM   #15
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Is Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island an option? We have stayed there many times and they usally have slips open, just a thought.
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Old 12-22-2018, 03:22 PM   #16
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We spent the month of September visiting marinas and got on the waiting list at Cap Sante in Anacortes, and at Liberty Bay in Poulsbo, and a couple of others.
Hi Saboga,

Did you sign up with the Port of Poulsbo city marina? If so, you might also consider Liberty Bay Marina. Super nice well run place - Dream Catcher lives there winters.
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Old 12-22-2018, 03:36 PM   #17
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On the hard for the winter has a lot of merit. I talked to a couple boats last summer that launch in June, use transient slips through the summer and haul out in the fall. Seems like a good solution if you don't do any winter boating. I'm considering this myself.
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Old 12-22-2018, 04:50 PM   #18
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Hi Saboga,

Did you sign up with the Port of Poulsbo city marina? If so, you might also consider Liberty Bay Marina. Super nice well run place - Dream Catcher lives there winters.
Yes, we talked with Kathy there at Liberty Bay Marina, and she says she will have a slip for us when we want one. Some issues are it's a lot farther from the San Juans than Anacortes, Bellingham or even Blaine. And then it's harder to get there than just flying to Vancouver and then driving the 30 miles down to Blaine.

But we really like Liberty Bay, and it's closer to our son in Tacoma. Decisions, decisions!!

What is the general availability of marine services around Liberty Bay?
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Old 12-22-2018, 05:02 PM   #19
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Is Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island an option? We have stayed there many times and they usally have slips open, just a thought.
Yes, we checked with them and were told it's a couple of year's wait for a 50' and up slip. They have some smaller slips available, but very few large ones, and none are available.
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Old 12-22-2018, 05:12 PM   #20
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FYI. Point Roberts, WA. is a good option as well. Just as close to YVR (Vancouver airport) as Blaine and closer than Semiahmoo, has a haulout, fuel, and small chandlery with mechanics. It is still in the US, if that is important, and probably subject to the Wa. state tax others have mentioned. Other than the San Juans (have to cross the Georgia Strait (Salish Sea), it is actually closer to the Canadian Gulf Islands and points north than the other marinas. Crossing the strait is not that bad if you watch the weather. I moored there for 9 years.
I second getting Nexus for border crossing.
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