Exploring Hood Canal

Hood Canal is a body of water that forms part of Puget Sound and the Salish Sea. It is about 50 miles long and a couple of miles wide in places. It separates the Kitsap Peninsula and the Olympic Peninsula. During the very short shrimping season, Hood Canal is swarming with small fishing boats. The rest of the year it is pretty quiet.

From Seattle, we stopped for the night roughly every 25 miles, first in Port Ludlow, then Pleasant Harbor, and at our southern-most destination at Union. Port Ludlow sits at the mouth of Hood Canal. We docked at the MBYC outstation and had happy hour on the dock.

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Happy hour on the MBYC outstation dock in Port Ludlow.

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The next morning was very foggy. They call this time of the year Fogust. It burned off by mid day. We kayaked along the shoreline and saw a river otter and seals. There was also a sailboat anchored nearby flying the MBYC burgee so we paddled over to say hi. They recently joined the club and preferred to anchor rather than tie to the outstation dock. We had not previously met them. I noted their names when we got back to the boat in case we see them at an MBYC happy hour or dinner later. Then we untied from the dock and headed south into Hood Canal.

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Foggy in Port Ludlow

In a few miles we came to the Hood Canal floating bridge.  It is the third longest floating bridge in the world. It spans nearly 1.25 miles with a drawbridge in the middle for very tall boats and fixed openings on each end, one at 55 feet above the water and the other 35 feet. We went under the 55 feet fixed opening.

 

After passing under the bridge, we encounter armed military boats patrolling the water outside of Naval Base Kitsap, a nuclear submarine base with the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the US. The cruising guidebooks warn not to get too close to the base, lest you will be greeted by the armed military boat. We stayed on the opposite side of the water, and did not take any pictures. I saw this sign through the binoculars:

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You have been warned

Whew!  We made it past without an armed pursuit or use of force. We stopped for the night at about the halfway point down Hood Canal in Pleasant Harbor. Here there are two marinas, a state marine park dock, and an ample and well-protected anchorage. I mean well-protected from any winds, but I suppose it is well-protected by nuclear submarines as well. We anchored in 25 feet of water, the first time we got to use the new Rocna anchor.


SIDEBAR

This next generation Rocna anchor is heavier and is supposed to hold better in a wider range of seabeds than my old Delta anchor, that would occasionally drag. While changing out the anchor, I pulled all of the chain out of the locker and repainted it every 50 feet so that I know how much chain is out. Orange-Yellow-Green-Orange-Yellow.

 

 

 


Back to Pleasant Harbor

This is a very calm bay and all the other boaters were very considerate about their wakes. We kayaked around the harbor, stopping at the state park dock for a walk. The Pleasant Harbor Marina was recently remodeled and has an outdoor music area, a restaurant, pool, and grocery store. We could hear the band playing from the boat last night.

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Heading south in Hood Canal toward Pleasant Harbor
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Entering Pleasant Harbor
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The entrance to Pleasant Harbor
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Beautiful sunrise at Pleasant Harbor
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Beautiful kayaker at Pleasant Harbor

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Shore access at the state park dock

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Fiddler at anchor in Pleasant Harbor

Day three took us to the “bottom” of Hood Canal to the town of Union where Alderbrook Resort is located. This is a very nice resort/restaurant/spa/conference center/marina. The marina consists of a T-dock with water and power. Full access to the resort amenities is included with marina moorage. Since the only amenity we plan to use is the restaurant, we decided to anchor instead of paying the relatively expensive fee to tie to their dock. One of the cruising guides said this is the best place to anchor in Hood Canal, so we felt comfortable dropping the hook. As always, we explored the area by kayak.  We went ashore, walked the resort grounds, and had a mimosa while sitting in the chairs overlooking the water. Pretty cushy place. Rumor has it that Bill Gates and several of the Nordstrom’s have homes on each side of the Alderbrook Resort.  We were told that former Navy Seals patrol the Gates’ property, but we didn’t see them or any famous people. But we did have dinner with a friend and former co-worker that has a house further up the shore.

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Heading toward Alderbrook, piloting from the flybridge in the hot weather
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Happy hour at Alderbrook anchorage
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Fiddler at the Alderbrook anchorage
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Beautiful sunset at the Alderbrook anchorage
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Cathleen decided to go for a swim in the 80 degree water
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Exploring the area by dinghy

Since we needed to return home for a couple of days, we decided on a 50 mile cruise to Port Ludlow. The tide was with us for most of the trip, slightly boosting our speed and reducing our cruise time at least a half an hour. On the way we saw the smoke from a small forest fire on the Olympic Peninsula. It was also interesting to see the tribal gill net fisherman at work.

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A forest fire on the west side of Hood Canal
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Tribal gill netters

After spending the night at the MBYC dock, we left with the incoming tide and made it back to Seattle in very good time. We are home for only three days, then back out for a trip to the San Juan Islands.

 

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