Rockin’ & Rollin’ in Port Townsend…or We’re gonna need a bigger dingy!

We’ve been cruising for three weeks. From Seattle to Blake Island, to Bainbridge Island, up the Kitsap Peninsula (Illahee State Park, Poulsbo, Kingston, Port Ludlow) and now at anchor in Port Townsend.
We sailed from Port Ludlow to Port Townsend on a brisk, somewhat sunny day…only to have the realization that Port Townsend is quite an unprotected anchorage. On the edge of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, with steep banks that make anchoring a challenge, and freighter traffic from Puget Sound tossing huge rolling wakes our way, we were rockin’ and rollin’ the first night. We saw all of this on the charts, and anticipated most of it. But we didn’t really put it all together with the upcoming weather forecast.
That night and the next morning, the winds came up and the waves began to really roll. With F4-F5 conditions (, it was a relentless day aboard with nothing to do but wait it out. No way we (or I should really say “Gene”, as I am still trying to find time to practice) would row the dink in weather like that.
We’ve decided to name the dinghy “Ciao”, which amuses us greatly (especially when Rowan, our 20mo old, says it every time we head for land) — but, regardless of how amusing its name is, it isn’t (or rather WE aren’t) up for rowing/riding the waves under those bumpy conditions.
So, we stayed aboard for an entire day. We’ve done this before. We have lots to do and lots of food aboard. IMG_8112But it was the rocking and rolling, and swaying, and never-ending movement (without actually going anywhere!) that made me crazy. I don’t mind the rolling and plunging when we’re sailing. But, just sitting there at anchor, I experienced my first twinge of sea-sickness.
I was especially glad to say “Ciao!” to Brio the next morning, in quieter waters, and walk into the Victorian adorableness that is Port Townsend. It was still dreary and cloudy, but OH! to be on solid ground again! And, by afternoon, the sun arrived and people emerged in droves to make the place feel really lived in.
The kids and I spent some time exploring tide pools, while Gene did some research with another coffee (or perhaps 3) aboard. IMG_8105The kids delighted in asking me to turn over rocks, squealing as rock after rock revealed dozens of colorful, tiny crabs that scurried for their tiny lives.
Byron and Rowan would happily throw rocks into the shallows and dig in the sand for all eternity, so we are never short of fun nearby…as long as there are enough dry clothes and shoes to go around.
We packed everyone into Ciao in the pre-dinner fussiness that is life with toddlers — assuring them that food was coming soon, plying them with granola bars — and headed for Brio. The wind and waves had come up just a bit and I saw a woman waiting nearby for the ferry watching us take to the open water with our two tiny life-vested souls. She looked (understandably) nervous. There was some wind to overcome, and a couple swells that we had to ride out before continuing, but the kids were amazing and we made it mostly unsplashed and completely unscathed. I’m sure I heard her sigh of relief all the way from shore, as we climbed aboard.
But, this experience has led us to consider moving our “we-need-a-bigger-dingy” project up a couple of notches in priority. To save Gene’s back, loosen my white knuckles, and for the comfort of all concerned (not least of all the grandparents back home), Gene is now researching the possibility of building a nesting dinghy (a two-piece, more sea-worthy craft) that would fit into the storage space of our current, smaller Ciao on the cabin roof. Something he’s been dreaming about.
If you’re gonna build a boat, even a little one, Port Townsend is a great place to do it!

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