Friday Harbor Moorage Issues

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Doug_Snider

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2021
Messages
281
Location
La Conner, WA
Vessel Name
Alba Bella
Vessel Make
Helmsman 38E
We made reservations for two nights in the Friday Harbor Marina. We requested bow in - starboard tie. When we called in on VHF, we were assigned slip G-8. That’s a forty foot slip, bow in - port tie, next to a twenty foot slip. Behind the slip, there’s an angled dock that narrows the fairway dramatically, especially when boats are moored on it. There was no dock help. After we got docked, I walked to the marina office and told the attendant the slip was not satisfactory. Our only way out would be to back down a very long fairway. The attendant said I had to call on VHF for a new slip assignment. After I was directed to a new slip, the same attendant was on the finger pier with a handheld VHF radio. Since we arrived yesterday, they have directed three other boats longer than ours to the same slip. They all had to back down to an available slip with adequate fairway. This is not a new marina and the fact that the slip from hell will not work for a boat over forty feet should not be a new discovery. In the attached photo there is a float attached to the angled dock. When we arrived there was a boat at that location. The slip is marked with a red boat shape in the photo. I don’t know why they want to put boats in a slip that doesn’t fit. The lesson learned is to get as much information about the assigned slip before entering the marina and to refuse a slip that doesn’t fit. We love Friday Harbor but the marina has been a big disappointment.
 

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I always request easy in and easy out, and let the marinas know I don’t mind being toward the end of the dock. I also emphasize that we are single screw with no thrusters and new boaters. I have also parked on the fuel dock and walked to my slip assignment to check it out. I’m just talking generally, we have never been to the west coast boating yet.
 
I've only visited two marinas that had any type of docking help. Roche Harbor was one, and Lund small boat harbor was another both in high season. Everywhere else you are pretty much left to your own. There are a number of places where you end up having to squeeze your boat into some very tight spots.

South Whidbey Harbor at Langley is another place you may where you have shoehorn your boat into some very small spots. They work hard to accommodate everyone they can.
 
Most of the marinas around here have dock helpers. They are usually college students so they may not be the best help but they are better than nothing. I try to give them some pointers as delicately as possible to help them grow into the job. Usually by the end of the summer they are pretty good.
 
My guess is they were fully booked. What I do not understand is did you agree to go bow in port tie after asking for bow in starboard. Once you tied up and went to marina office, why move to another spot.
I guess I would have discussed it all before entering the fairway.
 
Most of the marinas around here have dock helpers. They are usually college students so they may not be the best help but they are better than nothing. I try to give them some pointers as delicately as possible to help them grow into the job. Usually by the end of the summer they are pretty good.
I first ran into this when we went into Campbell River many moons ago. I was making a beautiful landing in our transient slip when the eager college student grabbed my bow line, pull it tight then tied it off. Wackiness ensued...
 
In my experience dock hands are rare to non-existant in the PNW. I can't speak to the other issues.
 
Van Isle in Sidney will provide all the dock help necessary upon VHF request. As always tell the dock help what line to attach where and when. Ditto Dent Island, Blind Channel, Roche Harbor, North Island and Cow Bay.

As TT says You are likely on your own in most PNW places especially once North of Cape Caution and into AK. Friday Harbor has proven a no man's docking land for us for nearly half a century of boating there, thus a nice learning experience if you're wired that way..
 
We always plan for no dock hands anywhere we go. If there are people available to help, we either decline or hand them a single line and tell them exactly which cleat to put it on, then whether we accept any further help or if we do it all ourselves depends on the situation.

When we end up in a slip somewhere, I tend not to commit to either bow or stern in unless the dock layout basically forces one vs the other, or we expect to need the dinghy and won't have room to get it out from behind us. Given the choice, I'll do whichever gives a port side tie (preferred for our boat).
 
There is a private marina at Rouche Harbor with dock hands, very friendly but they charge a lot more than Friday Harbor does.
 
I've only visited two marinas that had any type of docking help. Roche Harbor was one, and Lund small boat harbor was another both in high season. Everywhere else you are pretty much left to your own.
Cap Sante, Anacortes?
 
Van Isle in Sidney will provide all the dock help necessary upon VHF request. As always tell the dock help what line to attach where and when. Ditto Dent Island, Blind Channel, Roche Harbor, North Island and Cow Bay.

As TT says You are likely on your own in most PNW places especially once North of Cape Caution and into AK. Friday Harbor has proven a no man's docking land for us for nearly half a century of boating there, thus a nice learning experience if you're wired that way..
Van Isle is one of the nicest marinas I’ve ever been to. Dock help, nice helpful people, and they even let us use a car to go to the store. We did feel a little low-rent in our old 1970’s Tollycraft surrounded by beautiful new boats, though.
 
The only assistance I've received at CS was from neighboring boat owners/crew.
Certainly was the case "on request" at arriving callup. Haven't been there in <sigh> four years.
 
We made reservations for two nights in the Friday Harbor Marina. We requested bow in - starboard tie. When we called in on VHF, we were assigned slip G-8. That’s a forty foot slip, bow in - port tie, next to a twenty foot slip. Behind the slip, there’s an angled dock that narrows the fairway dramatically, especially when boats are moored on it. There was no dock help. After we got docked, I walked to the marina office and told the attendant the slip was not satisfactory. Our only way out would be to back down a very long fairway. The attendant said I had to call on VHF for a new slip assignment. After I was directed to a new slip, the same attendant was on the finger pier with a handheld VHF radio. Since we arrived yesterday, they have directed three other boats longer than ours to the same slip. They all had to back down to an available slip with adequate fairway. This is not a new marina and the fact that the slip from hell will not work for a boat over forty feet should not be a new discovery. In the attached photo there is a float attached to the angled dock. When we arrived there was a boat at that location. The slip is marked with a red boat shape in the photo. I don’t know why they want to put boats in a slip that doesn’t fit. The lesson learned is to get as much information about the assigned slip before entering the marina and to refuse a slip that doesn’t fit. We love Friday Harbor but the marina has been a big disappointment.
By the time we left Friday Harbor, they had tried to put 6 more boats in that slip. Each one immediately asked for a different slip. The last one, just before we left this morning was a beautiful red sailboat who touched bottom trying to get back out and go to another slip because it was so shallow. There were so many empty slips on that dock that another person who came in this morning said he’d never seen it so empty. We saw many very near misses because the manuevering was so difficult in that one slip. None of the 6 boat owners we saw try to get in that slip were at all happy about it at all. Pushing that one slip caused unnecessary congestion in the fairway and extra work for the dock assistants. Friday Harbor does have dock assistants and when we got our slip assignment, they had said she would be there to help. Most of the marinas we have been to around here to have dock assistants.
 
Sorry to hear about the experience with FHR. They are usually good but are extremely busy in the summer.

One thing I always try to do is to check out the slip assignment in advance, while station keeping outside the marina. Find a map of the slips in Waggoner's, or online, or in a binder where I keep and accumulate them. Then call back on VHF if I don't like it or have questions.

As for dock help, it varies but there is much more at local marinas in the summer. As noted if you call and ask, many others will send someone out (eventually!) Roche does have the most and best, though.
 
All you have to do is request help at CS and they provide it.
True, and I should have mentioned that, in all fairness to the marina staff. If they have someone available, they'll definitely send someone to give you a hand if you request it.

That seems to be the norm, whereas Roche seems to be one of the few marinas that maintain a dedicated pier staff.
 
True, and I should have mentioned that, in all fairness to the marina staff. If they have someone available, they'll definitely send someone to give you a hand if you request it.

That seems to be the norm, whereas Roche seems to be one of the few marinas that maintain a dedicated pier staff.
In my experience, staff to help with docking is much more an east coast thing.
 
One thing I always try to do is to check out the slip assignment in advance, while station keeping outside the marina. Find a map of the slips in Waggoner's, or online, or in a binder where I keep and accumulate them. Then call back on VHF if I don't like it or have questions.

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This is a helpful paperback, and available on Amazon. Lists most PNW marinas also, showing enough detail that you can locate your assigned slip before arriving. For marinas I visit frequently, I will request a certain, convenient slip I've been assigned before, usually at the far end of a finger, or end tie. We don't mind the walk, and when leaving early, I don't have to maneuver down a fairway.
 
For marinas I visit frequently, I will request a certain, convenient slip I've been assigned before, usually at the far end of a finger, or end tie. We don't mind the walk, and when leaving early, I don't have to maneuver down a fairway.
+100 and end slips (maybe, depending on the details) help avoid foot traffic passing by. Also I sometimes draw charts in my pilot log with annotations like "this side in Summer so dock [chair] is shaded [by boat]" LOL.
 
The problem with Friday Harbor is that their marina map does not show slip numbers. We assumed, incorrectly, the Slip G-8 would not be at the head of the dock. We learned our lesson, but whoever was assigning slips did not learn that the slip five other boats refused was not a good choice when there plenty of available slips on the same dock.
 
Re Dockhands in the PNW. We were at Telegraph Harbour on Thetis Island this weekend. Dockhands are efficient, courteous, and lots of fun!!
Thank you Gordo :)
 
I didn't actually know you could get a transient slip at Friday Harbor. I assumed they were all monthly moorage. I've always been put on one of the breakwater piers (B, C, or D). No complaints about FH generally though. We've always had good experiences there, though I wish they would upgrade/clean the bathrooms more regularly. If a dockhand is out there when we come in, they catch our lines. Happened just last week.
 
I assume that satellite picture is misleading since a barge is moored on the angled dock - so none of the end was capable of being used? And did you actually have a boat there? If not, it doesn't seem especially tight depending on the wind? Coal Harbour has a similar situation, with 18" to 24" to your neighboring boat, and a cautious backing out with the angled dock behind. Definitely not my preference.
 
The barge was not there but a boat was. We were bow in - port tied to the first 40' slip. There was no way out except to back down the fairway. The boats that were assigned that slip after we moved all backed down to another available slip.
 
Doug, that makes sense. I have twins so I can split the throttles and turn in place, but I can see how it would be tougher with a single.
 
I didn't actually know you could get a transient slip at Friday Harbor. I assumed they were all monthly moorage. I've always been put on one of the breakwater piers (B, C, or D). No complaints about FH generally though. We've always had good experiences there, though I wish they would upgrade/clean the bathrooms more regularly. If a dockhand is out there when we come in, they catch our lines. Happened just last week.

Depends on the vessel size.

Besides the breakwater, there are a couple of dozen dedicated guest slips (about 1.5 complete piers, G dock and part of H, plus some other bits here and there like the pump out dock).

But they only go up to some size around 40' or less (not sure the exact cutoff). Above that you might get a vacant monthly slips, but more likely a breakwater spot.

I agree the slip in question in this thread is crazy. We're locals and laugh every time we walk by it. Besides the angle, it also starts to get somewhat shallow in that area AND floating logs etc tend to gather there.
 

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