Whenever we pass Quartermaster Harbor as we go to Tacoma, Gig Harbor, or venture to the South Sound, I say that I would like to visit it sometime to check it out. Now is that time.
Vashon Island sits in Puget Sound between Seattle and Tacoma and is the largest Washington island south of Whidbey Island, the largest in the state. Vashon Island is sometimes called Vashon-Maury Island as Maury Island used to be a separate island until the narrow passage between them was filled in by local landowners in 1916, linking them together as one. The body of water between the two islands is Quartermaster Harbor, accessed at the southern end of Vashon.
This is the first trip away from the dock and the first overnight trip for Moby. He doesn’t seem to have any problems being on the boat, either at the dock or under way. Our dock neighbor friends snapped the photo of us leaving the dock as Moby and Cathleen waived from the back deck.
Seattle is such a beautiful city from the water; I never tire of seeing it from this vantage point. The weather was spectacular for enjoying a trip on Fiddler. As we headed south from Elliott Bay, we passed the West Seattle lighthouse and entered East Passage being careful to avoid the commercial traffic lanes to and from the Port of Tacoma. Mt. Rainier stood proud in the distance. We didn’t see any big cargo ships, only the ferries that run between West Seattle and the north end of Vashon Island and a distant tug boat going to Tacoma.
About two thirds of the way down Vashon-Maury Island, East Passage narrows between Point Robinson and the town of Des Moines on the mainland. Point Robinson is marked by a large radar tower and a lighthouse, but hardly anyone was enjoying the sandy beach.
From Point Robinson we headed southeast toward the entrance to Quartermaster Harbor between Piner Point and Neill Point, and proceeded north a few miles to the head of the harbor. Like so many other places in Puget Sound, Vashon Island was named by British Captain George Vancouver in 1792. But the harbor was named after the quartermasters of the Wilkes Expedition in 1841. Wilkes named (William) Maury Island, (Thomas) Piner Point, (Thomas) Sandford Point, Point (Henry) Heyer, (William) Neill Point, and Point (John) Robinson among them. Quartermasters were the ship’s navigators at the helm that was located on the quarterdeck, thus they were masters of the quarterdeck, or quartermasters.
The harbor offers many anchoring locations varying in depths from 10-40 feet over a muddy seabed and is fairly protected from most winds. We anchored north of the Burton Peninsula that juts into the northern part of the harbor and in sight of Quartermaster Marina. There were only two other boats anchored nearby.
This anchorage offered us a calm evening on the deck and a scenic sunset to enjoy. Moby enjoyed exploring all around the boat, inside and out.
On the way to our anchorage, across from the tip of Burton Peninsula, we noticed Dockton Park on the Maury Island shore with a dock and several mooring buoys. That seemed like a good dinghy ride and a chance to take Moby and ourselves to shore for a walk the next day. Arriving at the dock, we saw the signs saying it is closed for renovation, with only a few places to tie up for day use. We found one and went ashore. Some of the docks looked like they could sink at any time. We walked around a bit then dinghied back to Fiddler.
There is another big park on the Burton Peninsula with trails, but no dock for shore access. There is a ramp to land a kayak at the park and there is a dinghy dock at nearby Quartermaster Marina within reasonable walking distance to the park. We will save this adventure for our next visit.
We returned to Seattle via Colvos Passage on the western side of Vashon-Maury Island, where the current almost always flows north, completing Moby’s first boating excursion from the dock. And it was apparently exhausting!