Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Port Townsend, Fort Flagler and Mystery Bay

We left Garrison Bay at 6am the next morning for Port Townsend.  The forecasted weather on the Canadian side was calling for 15 to 20 knots in the morning increasing to gales in the late afternoon and evening.  The US forecast called for 10 – 15 in the morning and up to 25 knots late afternoon/evening.  In addition to potential high winds, we also had to consider tides and currents.  We wanted to make sure we approached Port Townsend with the flow, as we remembered how rough it could be when the wind and tide were against each other.  Doug carefully planned it all out and we hoped for an invigorating sail.  As it turned out, we encountered no wind at all and, part way across, picked up a 3+ knot current against us in flat seas until the tide changed just off Point Wilson.  After slogging for the previous few hours, we flew into Port Townsend at 8 knots.  By 2:30 we were tied in to our assigned slip at the Port Townsend Boat Haven ($1.00 a foot – internet $10 bucks a day).
Port Townsend waterfront

Our intention was only to spend one night and use the time to provision, check in with Lisa at Port Townsend Rigging, shower, and clean Ka’sala.  We were able to accomplish all this, plus spend an hour in the Port Townsend Brewing Company’s excellent beer garden, listening to live music and sipping on their craft brew. 

Our appointment to re-rig was confirmed to begin on Monday, August 10, with the crane reserved to pull the mast on the Tuesday.  We decided to try to find a quiet anchorage for a few days to rest up as we would be busy next week.  We poured through the Yeadon-Jones Puget Sound: A Boater’s Guide, the newest in their Dreamspeaker series, to find someplace nearby and settled on Kilisut Harbour, between Indian and Marrowstone Island, an interior bay which housed two likely anchorages – one at Fort Flagler Park and the other at Mystery Bay State Park.  The weather promised to remain settled, though not as warm as the Canadian side of Juan de Fuca.

The entrance to the Kilisut Harbour is behind a spit and beside a navy dock that was servicing a nuclear submarine as we passed by.  There is a well defined channel, but it is shallow and narrow and we were entering at slack tide.  We meandered around, again in a strong current, then picked up a park mooring buoy at Fort Flagler rather than trying to anchor.  By this time the wind was also picking up, so it was a bit of an acrobatic exercise.  The buoys cost $15.00 per night and fees were payable each day by going ashore, though a park representative did drop by in the evening to be sure we had checked in.
On the mooring buoy at Fort Flagler State Park

We launched the dinghy and left it at the park dock.  We found a map at the concession and after some debate, were able to pick up the trail that ran around the boundary of the park.  Although the map was great for reference, it was by no means acute and we found ourselves turned around on a number of occasions, though never lost.  

Up until the day we arrived we did not know this fort existed, but logically it is a very strategic spot to defend Admiralty Inlet and the entrance to Puget Sound.  Huge castle-like battlements line the bluff facing out to sea and farther along is the garrison itself.  These fortifications were built at the beginning of the 19th century, but were never put to use.  Now they lie as monuments to the past and the garrison is now used for youth camps and holiday homes, while other parts are set aside RV parks.  The whole area is connected by service roads and hiking trails.

Gun battlement at Fort Flagler looking across Admirilty Inlet to Whidby Island and out to Juan de Fuca Strait

Looking out to Point Wilson and Juan de Fuca Strait - Fort Flagler, Fort Worden (by Port Townsend) and Fort Casey (on Whidby Island all have battlements that formed a triangle range covering the entrance to Admirilty Inlet

Back on the mooring buoy, Ka’sala danced in the changing current and the afternoon westerly winds.  By nightfall it all quieted down and we had a restful night.  The next morning we decided to explore further in the harbour and arrived at Mystery Bay State Park by the tiny village of Norland in the early afternoon.  Although there are park mooring buoys and a dock as well, we decided to anchor to save a bit of money.  The chart indicates the bay is lined with shellfish farms though there is no visible evidence of them other than a processing plant which looked closed.  In the bay there are buoys marked “voluntary” anchoring. These ambiguous buoys seem to be asking boaters to consider not anchoring in the bay.  However, the park transient area seemed to encourage it.  In the end, we sunk the hook in front of the park dock in 7 meters of muck where we would stay for the next three nights.
Tide is out in Mystery Bay - park dock in the background (photo:

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