Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Seattle - Shilshole Marina

We completed our mission in Port Townsend - Ka'sala is now back in excellent sailing order thanks to the excellent ministrations of the PT Rigging crew and Doug's hard work.  We cannot overstate that we highly recommend this company for anyone wishing to re-rig their boat.  The crew at PTR: Lisa and Dan, (owners), Shannon, Justin and Josh were professional, friendly, knowledgeable, patient and understanding.  They went above and beyond to ensure the whole operation was a success

New "boots" for the end of the spreaders hand crafted by Doug
Dan operates the crane

Victory shot - the mast is ready to go back on
Doug helps Josh by holding the mast 
We left Port Townsend at 6am on August 20, the clock tower chiming the hour as we slipped through the breakwater.  It was a grey world with just a touch of sepia on the horizon, the seas pewter flat.  We motored with a two knot tide around Marrowstone Island and through Admiralty Inlet as the sun rose.  We kept to the western side of the shipping lane, expecting to see the big beomouths heading out to see, but only passed three.  About three hours in, the wind piped up, but unfortunately right on our nose – tacking back and forth across the shipping lane was just not a practical option.

We arrived at the Shilshole Marina, just north of Seattle and near Ballard, at lunchtime.  This marina is gigantic – 1500 slips, a virtual forest of masts.  We learned that only 300 slips are assigned to live-a-boards and there is a waiting list.

Shilshole Marina at sunset - a field of masts
It is a well maintained, clean facility, with gardens and pathways.

The coast railway runs behind, so periodically we see and hear working trains and the Amtrak.  There is a beach and a park at the north end that is crammed with families and people having a good time.  The marina rents electric bicycles.  On Friday evening they featured an outdoor movie “Pirates of the Caribbean” that was attended by hundreds of people – families, young people, kids and couples - in lawn chairs and blankets.  The whole place is oriented to the west so there are fantastic sunsets.  The marina is “guarded” by a giant statue of Leif Eriksson – in recognition of the many Scandinavian people who have settled in this area.  The weather has been warm and rain free, though we are encountering a “smoke front” from forest fires inland.

Leif Eriksson overlooks the marina

Soon as we were berthed, we broke out the bikes and headed into town to get internet/cell packages for our smartphones.  We ended up buying “Go Phone” packages from AT & T which allows us to use one phone as a “hotspot” to access the internet through all our devices.  It is not cheap, but at least it keeps us connected – something we realized was very important to us when we were without the two weeks we were in Port Townsend. 

Once the phone question was solved we were free to explore.  We quickly found the “Burke-Gilman Trail” which runs along the canal system.  The Shilshole Marina is a kilometre away from the Chittenden Locks and canal structure, built by the US Army Engineers in the early 20th century to connect Puget Sound to Lake Union and Lake Washington.  This is a well used and busy waterway, open 24/7 and free to any transienting boat.  It isn’t completely straightforward, however, as 7 bridges run along the canal, only 2 high enough to allow a boat with Ka’sala’s height to pass under.
(We are 54 feet).
One of the bridges by Lake Union - look at all the activity on the water!
 From the number of boats inside the canal system and on the lakes one can see it is a very popular place and very busy.  We watched several boats navigate through the locks and strolled the beautiful gardens.  We found it worthwhile to watch the information video in the visitor centre before exploring.
Chittenden Locks - you can just see the mast of a sailboat to the left

Doug watches the doors of the small lock

Sailboat released from the locks

The Burke-Gilman Trail seems to run forever.  Over the course of our time here we got as far as Lake Washington – about 12 miles - though the trail continued for miles and miles more, intersecting with other bikeways along the way.  Ironically there is one stretch of about a mile which the locals call the “Lost Link” as bicycles are forced to navigate very busy downtown streets before they can pick up the bikeway again at the Chittenden Locks.  Nevertheless, we have used this artery a dozen times in the last two days as we have explored the area.

The Burke-Gilman trail to the left, looking to busy Lake Union to the right

While we were biking on our first day, Doug started noticing a creak in his bike.  Unfortunately, it turned out that the bearing in his front wheel broke down.  Luckily, there is a Dahon dealer here near Ballard at Electric & Folding Bikes Northwest (www.electricvehiclesnw.com) and they have been bending backward to try to help us.  (Thank you David and DJ!) Apparently it is very unusual for a bearing to go on one of these and they did not have any in stock.  To make a long story short, they have lent us a wheel, while they get what they need to fix ours.  The bikes are under warranty, and Dahon will honour it.

Ballard is a working man’s town – a great deal of industry all around – but right in the core is a lovely tree lined avenue full of cafes, bistros and small hotels.  We passed people sitting out on patios, enjoying the good weather and watching the world go by – it seemed very European.

We also noticed an abundance of craft breweries – we sampled the Hale brewery and imbibed their Mongoose IPA and Red Menace Amber Ale.

Doug at Hale's
We left the Shilshole marina on Sunday in a smokey haze, sailing out to Bainbridge Island in light winds, then back into Elliot Bay and the Bell Harbour marina - right downtown Seattle.  We will be here until Wednesday when we begin our treck out Juan de Fuca.

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