Tag Archives: Salish Sea

5 Favorites: Cruising Towns

This is the sixth in our ongoing series called “5 Favorites” in which we’ll explore a range of topics including memorable anchorages, marina showers, cruise-in breweries, parks of the Gulf Islands, the joys of winter cruising, fun things to do, meals to make aboard and much more. The aim is not to make a list of “bests” or to rank things, but rather to provide an entertaining and insightful look at what we’ve enjoyed while cruising the Pacific Northwest. And since every boater has their favorites, we invite you to share yours in the comments below. 

Fuel, water, provisions, a trip to the chandlery, showers and laundry, and the proposition of a hot meal cooked by someone else are some of the many things that boaters look for when stopping during a cruise. Most experienced Pacific Northwest mariners have their favorite marinas and ports of call along the way, and whether they’re utilitarian, charming or both, one of the great things that makes cruising the Salish Sea so special is the immense amount of quality stops we can make. Just like all my 5 Favorites articles, my top five cruising towns were difficult to narrow down. But here goes…

FRIDAY HARBOR 

In a way, San Juan Island’s Friday Harbor has turned into a home base for us while cruising the San Juans over the past three winters. For cruisers who are paying a quicker visit, though, there is U.S. Customs & Immigration, ferry and floatplane service to drop and pickup guests, ample room to anchor, a welcoming marina operated by the port, two grocery stores for provisions, boating services, a fuel dock, a small chandlery, a hardware store and more. Friday Harbor also houses several great restaurants and bars on or near Spring Street, a welcoming library, numerous specialty shops and is home to The Whale Museum, which promotes “stewardship of whales and the Salish Sea ecosystem through education & research.”

Beyond all of that, we’ve found the town to be particularly welcoming to our family and have met residents during the offseason that befriended us like we are one of their own. For the boys, the Family Resource Center, library story times, A Place to Play and the pool at San Juan Island Fitness are all great entertainment, especially during the wetter and darker days of winter. And joining in the town’s Halloween festivities and Turkey Trot for Thanksgiving have been highlights of our time there.

Our Pumpkins ready for trick-or-treating in Friday Harbor.

Yahtzee’s restaurant of choice: Haley’s Sports Bar & Grill Continue reading 5 Favorites: Cruising Towns

Achieving cruising balance on the Salish Sea

Heading north to the San Juan Islands
Heading north to the San Juan Islands

The sun shined through Yahtzee’s windows, illuminating the cabin and gleaming off our brass oil lamp swaying near the mast. The boat bobbed on a mooring ball next to Turn Island Marine State Park and thin, fog-like clouds whizzed by on a southerly breeze.

A day later and in a different anchorage, a storm raged outside and the wind howled — gusting in upwards of 30-knots. It started at about 3 a.m.; it always seems to start at 3 a.m. Rain showers occasionally strafed the decks and Yahtzee tugged persistently at the mooring. Soon, blue sky emerged and the sun made a grand appearance.

Such is life on a boat in the San Juan Islands in the fall and winter. It feels like home. Continue reading Achieving cruising balance on the Salish Sea