South Sound Solo

When Labor Day is over and done, so is recreational boating for most people around here. Yet some of the nicest weather is in September and October, and so is some of the best boating. The crowds are gone and that means you have no trouble finding space at a marina, an empty mooring buoy or dock space at a state marine park, or lots of room in your favorite anchorage. I decided to head south for a few days. Once you pass under the Tacoma Narrows Bridge about 20 miles south of Seattle, you are in South Puget Sound.

My destination for the night was a mooring buoy at Penrose Point State Marine Park, another 10 miles past the bridge. I have never been here before. Nor have I tied to a mooring buoy without help before. Fortunately, the winds were calm and it turned out to be quite easy to tie up on my own.

Tied to a buoy at Penrose Point State Marine Park

However, as I finished tying up I noticed that the port engine had died. And there was no power to the engine display on the dash. The key had no effect. It was totally dead and I didn’t know why. It had never acted that way before. Clearly there was no electrical power to the display and the starting key. I checked all connections and the battery was fully charged. Everything seemed normal. I decided to call a mechanic and talked to the John Deere service guy. After describing the symptoms, he led me to the engine’s wiring harness where two fuses were located and had me check them. One was clearly intact but I wasn’t sure about the other one. I checked it with my multimeter and it confirmed it was blown. But to be doubly sure, I turned the ignition key on and fashioned a piece of wire in the shape of the fuse and inserted it to see if it made the connection, which it did! So then I was sure the blown fuse was the problem.

I looked for a spare of the right size but did not have one. I called the mechanic back and told him it was the fuse, but that I didn’t have a spare. He said he lives south of Seattle and will stop by the marine park in the morning and bring me a fuse! He truly saved the trip for me. I would have had to go back to Tacoma or Gig Harbor on one engine to get a fuse. So the next morning I met him at the dock, got the fuse, replaced it and was good as new before noon.

The dock at Penrose Point State Marine Park where I met the mechanic

I headed to Jarrel Cove for the next two nights, one of the nicest marine parks in the South Sound and only 23 miles away. On the way I passed by McNeil Island which is the site of a former federal penitentiary that was closed a long time ago. Charles Manson was once in prison here. It is now serves as a detention center for violent sexual offenders.

Earlier this year we visited Tacoma and the Washington State History Museum which had a display all about the history of McNeil Island. It was very interesting and I posted a little about it here.

The current was flowing through Jarrel Cove and it took me three approaches to finally get tied to the buoy. As expected, there were not many other boaters around, but there were deer, herons, otters, and seals. I walked around the park and kayaked the cove. The state marine park system is such a valuable asset for boaters. I enjoy volunteering at Blake Island State Marine Park as a way of showing my appreciation and giving back in a small way.

After two nights I moved on, returning north and stopping over in Gig Harbor before going back to my home slip at Elliott Bay Marina.

Gig Harbor at night
Back to Seattle

After returning to my slip, I performed a routine check of the engine room and something had been sucked into the sea water strainer. I had to clean it out before leaving the boat. I think it was either a seastar or a jellyfish; hard to tell after it had been sucked through the hose and caught in the strainer. See what I mean:

Something in the sea strainer
This is what it normally looks like

Except for blowing the fuse and sucking up a sea creature, it was a fun trip! Here is a chart showing my course.Image 9-28-19 at 3.40 PM

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