Puget Sound

Cruising report from Puget Sound.

Staysail shooner, Friday Harbor

Puget Sound is one of the boat-watching meccas of the cruising universe. You will see a variety of interesting sailing and motor yachts, and lots of commercial traffic. One of our favorite boats of this visit is this staysail schooner, seen here beating back to her berth in Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands.

Boat on rocks Shilshole Marina

Here is an opposite situation. Getting into trouble at Shilshole Marina in Seattle. At least the breakwater is steep to so the crew can fend off the bow! A nearby power boat took these guys in tow.


We spent ten days at Shilshole. Although marinas are not our usual fair we’ve been in the midst of our 2000-hour check up. Shilshole is in the midst of a long-needed upgrade, and we were at the head of one of their very nice new docks. And being fans of aluminum construction we were taken by these gangways.


The breakwater even comes with a sculpture garden. This is a friendly-looking sea monster.

sculpture Shilshole Martina

We’re not sure what this is supposed to be, but the seagull seems to like it.


The state of Washington seems to have a lot of rules. We’ve heard you are breaking the law if you wash your boat with soap. We assume this applies to taking a shower or washing your hands. They also have major garbage separation rules (and as you can see, the residents know how to party). However, they have not yet matched the recycling pickup with production.

We’ve got a lot of good friends in the marine business in this area, but as of now, we will not be coming back, for there is one Washington State law which we cannot abide. The Washington State Pilot Board has a regulation requiring all foreign flagged vessels carry a pilot (as in ship pilot) or get an exemption. The exemption requires a fee of $300 for three months, or $500 for a year and is applied to all foreign cruising yachts except for Canadians. We’ve made inquiries and it seems to us that the Ship Pilot board is using their political power to extort funds from foreign cruisers.

We are sorry to see this situation, as it will hurt the local marine industry. But the Canadian marine service businesses, of which there are many, will appreciate the competitive gift. Once this pilot extortion tax becomes more widely known, we suspect most of the cruisers who hail from other countries will choose to avoid the American side of Puget Sound.

Posted by Steve Dashew  (May 16, 2007)

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