25-Nov-2005: We’ve been exploring our new neighborhood, a section of the Central Puget Sound called the East Passage. It links Seattle to Tacoma and is used by huge commercial and much smaller recreational vessels alike. It’s even divided up into northbound and southbound lanes for the tugs and container ships and on the nautical charts, it looks just like protected airspace for commercial jets. The pleasure craft can use whatever is left along the margins which is more than enough and are required to cross it perpendicularly which is wise since the massive container ships cruise down these lanes at 20 knots and will never realize they ran over you in your toy boat. Compared to the protected narrow inlets and islands around Olympia where we first moored the boat, it’s a huge expanse of water and the weather has much more room to whip up waves. Just off shore of the Des Moines marina, the depth quickly drops off to over 500 feet. All of this adds up to a whole new set of challenges to safe, fun boating.
Our marina in Des Moines is located at the narrowest section of the East Passage. It’s a mile and a half across to the Point Robinson lighthouse on Maury Island. A mere loop trip around the East Passage, either North or South, results in a 20 mile ride. We’ve gone South to check out Commencement Bay, the industrial harbor at Tacoma. On another day, we went West over to Vashon Island and explored Quartermaster Harbor where one can dock at the Dockton Park.
Today, we’ve gone North to Elliott Bay, Seattle’s big harbor. Careful to stay out of the giant ferry boat lanes, we motor past the Akli Lighthouse and along Alki Beach that we’ve walked countless times since we moved to Seattle in 1987. We spot a harbor seal and give a couple of fishermen wide berth. A Seattle Police boat joins us along the shore and we follow it around Duwamish Head. Straight ahead is the Space Needle which was built for the 1962 World’s Fair and we snap a picture of our Power Squadron burgee which has the Space Needle embroidered on it.
Now we are directly opposite the Seattle skyline and next to Harbor Island where all the container ships unload with assistance from fleets of tug boats. As this is a busy working port, we keep a sharp lookout to make sure we’re not in anyone’s way. We snap a few photos and then spin around to head for home. We make sure the ferries are docked for the moment before revving up our diesel engine and taking off. The sun will be down in an hour so no more dawdling allowed. What a glorious outing! — Scott Bruce Duncan */:-)