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02-18-2013 04:04 PM
Re: Saratoga Passage questions

The state park buoys that are often west of, but very close to, the pier in Penn Cove are AWOL for now. The public dock, however is never full, even in the summer, and is REALLY never full at this time of year.

Have a good trip!

02-18-2013 01:15 PM
Re: Saratoga Passage questions

Good info from MedSailor.

One anchorage I haven't seen listed yet is Utsalady on the north side of Camano Island. There is a public launch there for land access, the depth is right for anchoring but there are several private moorings in there that take up the prime real estate.

The dock at Coupeville gets shallow on a minus tide as does some of the dock space at Cornet Bay.

While the currents in the Swinomish Channel aren't predicted, we have found that when the water is high, it's flowing north and when it is low, it's going south. The slacks aren't predicted and the level of the Skagit River have an influence. It's just been dredged, so it's supposed to be navigable on minus tides again.

If there is a significant north breeze, you can find yourself in the mud at low tide if you're on the Hope Island buoys. They are set very close to the shallows and rely on the tidal current to hold you off far enough not to get stuck. We've seen several boat run into the mud on buoy #2 from the west while making their approach to that particular buoy. We like #1 from the west, but we pull the buoy ring all the way up to anchor roller and we won't tie up to it if the wind is out of the north. Skagit Island has buoys nearby, but we don't care for them at all. One goes underwater at high tide, the other gets too close to shore for our comfort.

The float just outside Deception at Rosario can be nice, but is also a shallow one. We used to tie up to that one a lot with some of our earlier boats. The park closes down at dusk then you have the whole place to yourself. The floats and buoys at Bowman Bay are in the line of fire from the west swells from the straits. We've had some nice times in there and some bad times. The floats rock around so much that the picnic table legs have worn hollows out of the float decking.

Langley is a neat little spot. We've pulled in to the float on winter trips. There is room outside to anchor, but we've not had to do that.

In Holmes Harbor, there is decent anchoring at the south end at Freeland and a county park for land access. There is also an anchorage on the west side of the bay at Honeymoon Bay ?, but I'm not sure if there is beach access there. I've not anchored there, just seen a lot of boats moored there on private mooring balls.
02-18-2013 12:39 PM
Re: Saratoga Passage questions

Buy the "Waggoner Cruising Guide". Pretty much the bible for cruising the PNW. Also check out the Active Captain site, lots of reviews and local knowledge available on the interactive map.

Home | Waggoner Cruising Guide

Med's comments above are spot on, by the way.
02-18-2013 11:57 AM
Re: Saratoga Passage questions

Thanks again! Great advice.

Interesting... so there are state park buoys even where there is no state park... I'll keep my eyes open for those. And I'll be eagerly anticipating your report from Penn Cove.

You are right, the sticker is a great great resource from what I can tell. I'll happily pay for one even if I only get a few nights out of it.
02-18-2013 12:48 AM
Re: Saratoga Passage questions

The ones in Penn Cover are state park buoys and they're west of the penn cove dock about 50-100yards. I'm going to be there tomorrow so I'll verify that they're actually there right now. Unfortunately the quantity and location of state park buoys changes all the time. They're not all on the maps and the ones that were there last year aren't always there this year.

All the docks I mentioned have overnight pay moorage for affordable rates. The only one I'm not certain about is Deception Pass marina but I'm pretty sure they do.

The state park sticker is better than sliced bread. I've spend probably over 100 nights on WA State park buoys. Not only can you stay at the buoys to your hearts content with that pass but it saves you rowing ashore to pay your fee when you arrive. Awfully convenient and the end of a long day when the wind is up. The sticker also allows you to use the state park docks that are reasonably plentiful in the San Juan Islands.

Bowman Bay, which is just outside of Deception Pass has a state park dock and sometimes there is a buoy or two in that bay. Anchoring in Bowman bay is good as well unless there is a westerly, though the dock offers some protection from said westerly. Stay close-ish to the south side of the bay's entrance to avoid coffin rock when entering or exiting the bay.

The next bay north (rosario bay?) sometimes has a buoy or two in it as well but is much less protected.

02-18-2013 12:35 AM
Re: Saratoga Passage questions

Thanks. I have a 24 foot Kent Ranger. I do plan to get the state park sticker and utilize the buoys as much as possible.

The Washington State Parks websites does not list any buoys in Penn Cove though.... I'd be very hesitant to just grab unoccupied buoys that do not belong to a park. Those are privately owned correct?

I would hope that the "friendly docks" would also allow me to stay at night if the conditions were too bad to venture out to find anchorage.... What has your experience been?
02-18-2013 12:23 AM
Re: Saratoga Passage questions

Originally Posted by matthewwhill View Post
Yes, I've been advised about Deception Pass at slack only...

If I was at Coronet Bay, or anywhere else for that matter with overnight moorage at dock or buoy, that would be my preference. I'm trying to get a sense as to how feasible a quick detour and anchoring for the night would be.... Like many things it doesn't seem to be as easy and simple as one would hope....
There are options, and you're wise to think them through before you need them.

To over-simplify, I'd say that there are many friendly docks available if it's windy, and many spots to anchor if it's not windy. There are also the buoys.

How big is your boat, if I may ask? The buoys, which are somewhat suspect, would be perfectly fine if you boat is under 30ft. My friend that dragged one aground was in a catalina 400 (40 ft) and in 25+kts of wind.

Grabbing a buoy on Hope Island would be my preference if you boat is small. The island is a neat spot to explore and you're right at the doorstep of Deception Pass and ready to untie and go though at slack.

Alternately the buoys or dock at Penn Cove allow you a nice detour in town but you're quite a bit further from the pass. Langley marina is also a short walk from town. Oak Harbor is less scenic and there is not much to walk to at Cornet Bay.

02-18-2013 12:16 AM
Re: Saratoga Passage questions

Yes, I've been advised about Deception Pass at slack only...

If I was at Coronet Bay, or anywhere else for that matter with overnight moorage at dock or buoy, that would be my preference. I'm trying to get a sense as to how feasible a quick detour and anchoring for the night would be.... Like many things it doesn't seem to be as easy and simple as one would hope....
02-17-2013 11:59 PM
Re: Saratoga Passage questions

There aren't too many really good spots to anchor along there. There are options though.

Langley has a very very small marina that I went into once.

Anchored in Elger bay once. It shallows up quickly so I used 2 anchors (if I recall) to keep me in place. No protection at all there from any direction but there was no wind that night, so it was okay.

Penn Cove and Oak Harbor both have anchoring but can be absolute wind tunnels. Good, safe holding, but you'll really wish you wern't there. Penn cove has a guest dock and Coupeville is a nice place to walk around. You can get a drink at Tobys (better atmosphere) or The Front Street Bar & Grill (better food) and look at your boat from there. Careful though at low tide as the dock itself gets a little shallow. Oak harbor marina usually has slips too and isn't expensive. Penn cove also has state park buoys right next to the guest dock but the state park buoys aren't as bombproof as they used to be. I've seen 2 washed ashore, several out of place, and my friend dragged one and went aground.

Laconnor is a beautiful place to sightsee, but the channel is narrow and has tidal currents that can not be predicted. Be careful in there. My only major boat crash (so far) was in there.

Hope island has a couple state park buoys and if you are confident in your anchoring you can anchor just East or West of them. There is current in there from Deception pass, so be confident in your anchoring if you're going to do that.

Closer to Deception pass is Coronet Bay and Deception Pass Marina. A small, laid-back place. They sometimes have room as well.

The trip up is a nice one, though you'll likely be motoring the whole time the scenery changes often which makes the trip worthwhile. Stay in the marked channel after Oak Harbor by putting your binoculars on the buoys. Or use a chart-plotter if you have one of those.

Oh, and I assume you know to go through Deception Pass at slack right?

02-17-2013 11:46 PM
Saratoga Passage questions

More PNW sailing questions... I've been imagining taking my boat on my first cruise in the Puget Sound...

Any recommendations for good anchorages in the Saratoga Passage? Freeland, Penn Cove and Oak Harbor seem to be good options from what I read. But what about Elger Bay, the waters off Lanley, Crescent Harbor?

And for that matter any thoughts about Skagit Bay and Port Susan.

Before I set out for the San Juans I would like to have a bunch of potential places to duck in so I don't get caught out too late or in bad conditions. The previous threads regarding the west side of Whidbey up to Port Townsend were very helpful.

Also, any book recommendations for Puget Sound cruising?

As always, THANKS

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