The seiner Western Flyer was and is famous for John Steinbeck and marine biologist Ed Ricketts voyage to the Sea of Cortez in 1940. She fell into disrepair and is being restored in Port Townsend. On my July 2019 voyage call at Port Townsend on board Kestrel I took some pictures of the Flyer. The boat indeed was a challenge for the very capable Port Townsend Shipwrights Co-op. On my recent 2022 visit, David Griswold, one of the Co-ops 12 owners gave me a tour including the Flyer which is now set to be towed to Seattle next week for a new engine and electronics. Following, she will get underway at sea for Monterey, CA where she will be based. I have included pictures before and after. The workmanship of the shipwrights is amazing and honestly, emotional.
A few comments. The 77 ft Western Flyer was built of old growth fir in Tacoma, WA in 1937 for the famous sardine fishery in Monterey, CA. Hence her hailing port. A crew of six and Steinbeck’s wife were on board for the 4,000 mile expedition. The Western Flyer will have a new life and purpose upon her return to Monterey. I plan to visit her in Monterey.
My sincere thanks and acknowledgement to David Griswold, the Co-Op, and the crew at Port Townsend Sails.
The morning air was misty and the sky was overcast in grey but no need to rush to let go lines as the high tide to carry us north to Admiralty Inlet wasn’t until 1:20 or 1320 Navy time. The commercial dive boats next to our slip had tumbled out with noisy Diesel engines seeking geoduck from the bottom mud and export bound for Asia. The adjacent passenger car ferry was loading up and sailed as we prepared to head out to Apple Cove where we encountered the in bound ferry and had to hold to until she passed and she gave us a horn shot to tell us so. Don’t mess with the ferries. Departure music was the French National anthem “La Marseillaise”remembering sadly the Fall of Paris to Nazi Germany on this same day in 1940.
With a decent tide we passed the dive boats giving them plenty of sea way or they will bark at you on the VHF or pass along verbals not to be repeated.
Heading north west course 330M we paralleled the big ship route. The Yang Ming Truth a Taiwan based carrier passed us heading south to discharge containers.
Navigation with my Garmin chartplotter snd Raymarine instruments tells me much about my environment, course, wind and vessel speeds. I also have a good compass. The auto pilot instrument is easily accessed.
We passed Point no Point, Foul weather Bluff and entrance to Hood Canal where the Navy Trident submarine base is located. Then I decided to take the Port Townsend Canal between Ludlow and our destination. The canal is 75 ft wide and a depth of 13 ft. The as bridge clearance is 59 ft at high water. Next about to enter a big tug from the west entrance showed its bone in the teeth and I made a U turn as no need to test the the width. My rules of the road are to respect and obey the dead weight of the other vessel and Kestrel is only 8,000 pounds.
My mast height is 39ft so plenty of room under the bridge but the lack of depth perception always makes it look like disaster is going to happen.
Safely through the canal we made good our destination Hudson Point marina in Port Townsend where we will join a regatta with other Dana 24 owners to share sea stories and boat stuff.
After 5.5 hours of motoring into the wind and tie up at our slip the Captain takes mandatory time off to recap the day with the log book and a proper libation.
June 21 Summer solstice the longest day of the year we depart Gig for Kingston via Clovos passage on the west side of Vashon Island. With the ebb tide it’s a nice day with only a tug pushing a barge north passing us to starboard. Mt Rainier was poking its peak at us for much of the South Sound.
Navigation today is loaded with electronics, iPhone apps for weather, tides, currents and of course charts. I could navigate with just the iPhone app. I still also utilize paper charts, tide tables, slide rule and dividers. VHF radio can do the weather. The old ways are still good ways and hey how much iPhone or IPad time can one absorb with focus?
Our departure music was Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man reminiscent of my son’s Navy ship’s music sounding upon its departure for the Gulf War from its dock in San Diego. Quite a moving piece at a time of emotional drama for Dad. Our Kestrel motored pass Seattle without fanfare at a whopping 5.5 knots nearly 6 mph. But being retired from the Port of Longview time was not pushing.
30.6 nm averaging 5.3 knots we put into Port of Kingston on the Kitsap Peninsula. WA State ferries run between here and Edmonds. Ann served up steamer clams and a nice Rogue Valley Pinot Blanc from the galley for dinner.
Juneteenth and post pandemic Ann and I along with our dog Ensign Wilson set out from home port Olympia for Gig Harbor. Finally no rain but also no wind so the 21 hp Yanmar took over. With the tide and currents we made good 6 knots per hour on the GPS and waltzed in to Gig 4.5 hours later. The Puget Sound water was flat like for good water skiing. On our own and not much traffic we enjoyed porpoise and seals along the way. Finally we could again get north of the Tacoma Narrows bridge and again will cross the Straits of San Juan de Fuca. Kestrel is a blue water boat and very capable. Our departure music today was the Afro American Symphony by William Grant Still in honor of the end of slavery. Fair winds from SV Kestrel.
Monday August 12 at anchor. We motored from Blakely Island Marina to Hunter Bay a short 10 nm day on calm seas, no wind and sunny skies. Departure music was Theme from Ghost Busters! Writing a blog seems to take more time than there is time or then wrestling with internet, roaming on and off and what does my cell contract say about Canada. From download to upload and did that text get through. But here we are free if the news for a short time enjoying the lap of the water on the shores seemingly in the wild or shall I say less densely populated. Ann and I have been to Sidney on Vancouver Island visiting our good friends Brian and Louise on Brentwood Bay, cleared customs back in Roche Harbor and then to Deer Harbor, Blind Bay on Shaw Island and then Blakely, a privately owned island. Last we left off it was Sucia Island.
Departure music has been Au Canada, which I like the closing sentiment “we stand on guard for thee.” I must admit feeling in a better situation safety wise than in the States. I thought about that when we attended an outdoor concert at the amphitheater at Butschart Gardens, lovely evening of trio music Rose Cousins from Prince Edward Island.
Other departure music Overture from Tannhauser by Wagner. From Shaw it was The Entrance of the Queen of Sheba from Solomon by Handel. The music is always inspiring like music in movies to fill out the emotional spectrum of the senses and emotions.
I have a variety of pictures to share and will hopefully have more time to write about voyage 3. We are blessed to have this time aboard Kestrel for Ann and I to explore, be on an adventure, and meet other sojourner.s. We cross Rosario Strait tomorrow and at slack go through Deception Pass at 0900. Navigation, charts, tides and currents plus weather are every day on the boating check list. I take after my son Michael who was the Navigation Officer aboard a Navy guided missile cruiser.
From DeerHarbor we motored between Orcas and Waldron Islands to Sucia 2.5 miles north of Orcas. Our departure music was Mozart’s Symphony 39, 4th movement. Sucia is part of an archipelago of 10 islands and its Spanish name means dirty or foul. Foul as in reefs, rocks and basically dangerous areas not to navigate as also in foul weather. About 600 acres Sucia has a number of coves suitable for anchoring or tying up to State park mooring balls. We entered Shallow Bay via two narrowly placed channel buoy markers that guided us through the reef on the west end of the iskand. We were ahead of a forecasted storm on a busy boating weekend and tied fast to the last of 8 mooring balls. 😊 Finally we had begged off from the sailing life of secure marine slips with conveniences and were entirely self sufficient for our needs. Going ashore by rowing our dinghy connected us to the land. Amongst the beauty of the small bay surrounded by fir, cedar and arbutus trees we watched eagles and blue herons on their fishing escapades as well the approach of ominous clouds.
The rain, wind and the few waves that managed their way over the protection of the reef rocked us to sleep. Kestrel was in the lee of the south wind. With weather we decided to stay three nights. Each day we hiked the trails that led us to other anchorages and flotillas of other boats, campers and kayakers.
Some campers cane in by small hired taxi type boats with their gear and camped. Kayakers came across the 2.5 mile water with camping gear. Amazing the number of kayakers we encounter in open seas. Over wine and pasta it was easy and empowering for Ann and I to be far from the grim news, internet of the states. For a time we could breathe into the soul and find the richness of earth and the adventure of new surroundings. Like the Eagle we were free to enjoy the island as well its serenity.
Before leaving beautiful Sucia Island, not so dirty, I raised Canada’s maple leaf national flag on the mast ready to set sail for Bedwell Harbor on South Pender Island.
Ensign Wilson enjoyed the dinghy rides ashore, long walks. On board he was responsible for security watch but generally fell asleep. He was a favorite of those folks we encountered on the beaches and trails.
Below an unknown young explorer on his skiff capturing on film a blue heron fishing off the reef in the sunset. It’s comforting to see this vision of the future.
Shalom friends – may you have fair winds.
Gary, Ann and Ensign Wilson aboard SV Kestrel our Dana 24 on voyage 3 in the San Juan Islands.