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(Continuation from “Bus Ride to Remember, Mural, and Painting with the Sun”)

After a delightful day at Thetis Island, we headed to Prince Margaret Marine Park off Portland Island. North of Sidney on Vancouver Island, Portland Island was presented to Princess Margaret of the United Kingdom in 1958 to commemorate her visit to British Columbia.

It’s estimated that Coast Salish natives lived on the island 3,000 years ago, as evidenced by several kitchen middens, heaps of crushed clamshells and other artifacts. The beaches resemble what you’d see on a tropical island, stretches of bright white, finely crushed shells. Interlaced with rocky areas, some covered with layers of sharp barnacles, and others stripped bare by the pounding waves.

The middens are classified as archeological sites, and are therefore protected under British Columbia law. It felt a bit strange to travel to the pristine island in Tug Time ─ equipped with a snazzy galley, featuring a propane stove and oven, microwave, double sink, wine coolers, and teak cupboards and drawers ─ and then walk in a “kitchen,” consisting of little more than well-worn rocks and piles of smashed shells.

While hiking along the forested trails of Princess Margaret Island, we spied several raccoons below, foraging along the shore for tasty morsels. One young raccoon nervously looked around, while snatching a small crab, clam, other crustacean.

We spent the night on a mooring ball off Princess Margaret Island, going through our usual food routine of wine with cheese and crackers as the sun started to set, followed by dinner, reading and nibbling on cookies until it was time to retire to the forward berth to watch a movie on the built-in entertainment system.

For this trip, we brought:

  • Two bottles of wine
  • Two boxes of Triscuits with assortment of cheeses
  • Sourdough bread for dipping in olive oil and fresh ground peppers
  • Two boxes of Zatteran Jambalaya mix, augmented with spicy sausage, chopped onions, and green peppers
  • Salmon for barbequing
  • Zucchini and cucumbers from our garden… sliced and eaten raw
  • Dave’s Bread for Rich, and cheese pumpkin seed bread from a Chemanis bakery for me
  • Ham and turkey for sandwiches with sliced tomatoes
  • Burritos (made one evening, and then eaten cold for lunches and dinners) made from pork, green sauce, chilies, jalapeno refried beans, onions, and peppers
  • Fruit and chips (Rich can’t eat a sandwich unless he has chips)
  • Candy, dried fruit and nuts, granola bars, and cookies (from last Christmas)
  • Cereal for breakfast with hard boiled eggs

The only food we bought was coffee from Pot of Gold Roasting Company on Thetis Island (because Rich brought tasteless Folgers coffee), can of refried beans, six ice creams bars from various marinas, and cups steaming coffee.

Perfect Day Once Again in Deer Harbor

Early Wednesday morning, we checked into customs at Roche Harbor. While we waited for the mist to clear before heading back into the Sound, we sipped coffee and watched people coming-and-going… primarily boaters like ourselves and people staying at the many resorts in the area.

Roche Harbor is one of my favorite towns; it’s gorgeous with beautifully restored buildings, cobblestone walkways, gardens, and planter boxes, overflowing with flowers, boutique shops, and quaint restaurants, inns, and houses. It also has a sizable marina with many impressive yachts. It’s the Huntington Beach of the Puget Sound.

After leaving Roche Harbor, we visited Jones Island, which wasn’t overly remarkable. We tied up to the dock and hiked to the top of the island, observing a troupe of porpoises in the waters below.

Our next stop was Deer Island, which is a short distance from Roche Harbor, but diametrically opposite in demeanor. It’s a charming marina with a well-stocked store, nice showers and restrooms (if you boat, you’d understand the allure of nice showers), a couple of low-key inns, and lovely walking paths along the water.

After securing Tug Time in a slip, we enjoyed giant cones of scrumptious local ice cream, while wandering around the docks. There was a silly pseudo junk, painted with saying and pictures, TV at the tiller and spinning sail at the top. The boat resembled a family project. Check out the pictures in the gallery.

The evening couldn’t have been more perfect with a sliver of a moon in a jet black sky, lights from the walkways reflecting on the water, and a restored, older sailboat with a giant light on the top, which shone down on boat and neighboring boats. Earlier in the day, we spoke with the owner of the boat. They live on the boat in a marina near Seattle.

The next day, we reluctantly left Deer Harbor, and spent several hours driving to Anacortes. It was the first time we’d visited Anacortes by water, rather than bike or car.

There’s a Nordic Tug dealer in Anacortes so Rich wanted to go aboard several of their boats. From the outside, Nordic Tugs are sharp-looking boats with pointed fronts, curved windows, impressive smoke stacks, and plenty of room to walk around the deck.

The insides, however, were disappointing. You have to walk up a couple of stairs to get to where you steer the boat (pilot house), and then walk down several steps into the forward berth. Several times, Rich bumped his head. Evidentially, a 34-foot Nordic Tug isn’t as tall inside as a 29-foot Ranger Tug!

Plus, the bed is smaller and v-shaped. Rich barely fit. And if I was in the bed with him, I’d need to sleep in a little ball because there wouldn’t be room for me to stretch out. After we got back to Bellingham, we bumped into a man who’d chartered a Nordic Tug, and without being coaxed, commented the bed would be too small for someone of Rich’s height.

The last night of our charter was spent at Chuckanut Bay, south of Bellingham. We’ve stayed at Chuckanut several times because it’s like being part of a giant diorama with houses nestled in the hills between the turning trees with trains whistling along the water’s edge. Within minutes of our anchoring, a lengthy train started across the trestle, maybe a quarter mile way, clicking-and-clacking and adding to the magic of the moment.

Across the bay, a Coast Guard vessel had anchored, perhaps a training exercise. They spent the night, their lights, like those on a luxury vessel, sprayed across the rippling water, adding to the moonlight. It was a perfect ending to a wonderful trip.

Even better, we immediately put a deposit down on Tug Time, to charter her again next September.

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