Scott and Connie pursue a new course. Go now, go cheap. So we shed our belongings, simplified our lives, saved up a little money, and started learning Spanish. After four years cruising Mexico we decided to bring Traveler to the Pacific Northwest. We crossed the mighty Pacific to Hawaii first. Then after cruising Hawaii we crossed over to Alaska, then south to the Salish sea.
Saturday October 6th, a flotilla of four departed
Budd Inlet bound for Oakland Bay and the Shelton Yacht Club.Our route took us north to Hope Island then through
the dreaded Hammersley Inlet, a transit fraught with danger: shoals, grey whales, fast currents, and twists
and turns of the topography.Scott and
Connie on Traveler (Passport 42) were chased out of Budd Inlet by Rick and Ada with
Amanda as crew on Clara June (Freeport 41) and we arrived together at Hope
Island at 13:45, halfway through the rising tide, timed so that if we ran
aground in the narrow channel we’d soon float off.
Grey Whale in Hammersley Inlet
Rick had a new chart plotter at the helm so he led our two
boats towards the way- north entrance to Hammersley Inlet, avoiding the
notorious Arcadia grounding.30 foot off
the Hungerford Point #2 red channel marker, we edged into Hammersley Inlet feeling
our way with the depth sounder.
We transited around the north shoreline, hugging land closely.As Clara June rounded Cape Horn the VHF squawked
with Rick’s voice, “Watch for the grey whale mid channel!”I pulled back the throttle and put her in
neutral as I edged to the side of the channel in time to see a beautiful gray
whale arcing out of the water on our starboard bow.It surfaced soon after off our port side then
disappeared with a flip of the tail.We
continued on… amazed.
Hammersley is like a river, with the channel first on one
side then the other, following the contours of the land.The current was running with us and soon we
caught up with two other SSSS boats making their way west.Katie Braun,
skippering WindWalker, had Dave Chance (Island Sailing Club instructor) aboard
along with crew Doug Powell.Alongside
was Neil Mink, sporting a very nice beard and
single handling his Morgan 27 Nasty Jack.All together we were whisked westward at 8 knots, running with the
We encountered a minimum depth of
8 feet under our 6.5 foot keel at half tide as we headed toward Libby Point
then Skookum Point to arrive at the final reach with good depth all the way
into Oakland Bay and the Oakland Marina.I hailed the Shelton Yacht club on channel 68 and got instructions to continue
into the marina.Traveler led the way
into the tight marina and found a starboard tie right at the gangway, just
barely squeezing into our designated slot.We took Clara June to raft on our port side.
Traveler and Clara June
Soon afterward, Windwalker and
Nasty Jack arrived and found space at the south dock.Already present was Barry and Gloria on Soul
Catcher (Maple Leaf 42) and Richard Bigley on his C&C Plus, Jolly Rumbalow.Now we had six SSSS boats present for the
late afternoon appetizer pot luck in the spacious Shelton Yacht Club
clubhouse.Thank you to whomever it was
who brought the wonderful crab dip!The
Shelton folks made us very welcome.Nice
Sunday we went to Oysterfest in a
light drizzle and had a great time, eating way too many oysters, watching the
shucking competitions, and listening to local music. Sunday night we had a
little get together on Traveler and played music into the night.
Soul Catcher and Jolly Rumbalow
Monday, up at 8, Traveler followed Clara June
back down Hammersley, running with the current on a falling tide to get dumped
into Pickering Passage with eddies, swirls, and upswellings pushing us on our
way.We ate eggs and toast once we
reached the relative safety of Squaxin Passage and Budd Inlet.Our transit time from Shelton to Oly Town was
a mere 3 hours.
Would we do it again? Next year, youbetcha! The secret is to hang out at the oyster
shucking competition tent 30 minutes after the event to be there when the
judges emerge with twelve heaping platters of oysters on the half shell looking
for volunteers to consume them. Me! Me!