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learn something about the history of
A good attitude at
stalking and spearing of a star-crossed
the place – and so should waterborne herring. We wound up on a mud flat
gypsies. That’s all part of the right anchor has something to where I noticed its beard and the long
Waters and shorelines have
do with losing a sense
nubile neck mentioned in one of my
histories and finding out what
of exactly where we are
It takes another half-hour or so
happened before we got there makes the telling my crew about the heron. We
place more interesting - less tiresome. or what time it is, and have a cup of tea and decide to row
Here in Puget Sound I like knowing
that Lieutenant Peter Puget served on
not caring much.
over to the marina. Making our way
up and down every line of slips, we
Vancouver’s Discovery as they looked consider transoms and bows, taking
for the Northwest Passage a few years routine that lets me see things that pictures and talking about which ones
before Thomas Jefferson became third might otherwise go unnoticed - like appeal and which don’t. We like looking
President of the United States. We sail a stray cotter pin or loose bung in a at boats anywhere, anytime – at the
in the wake of Puget’s longboat and piece of teak trim. By the time the sweep of a sheer, rigging arrangements,
anchor near his landing places. I wake ensign is in place and the cushions are paint schemes and screwy names. On
up and see Mount Rainier hovering in dry, the aroma of morning coffee mixes the way back to the boat, I spend a
the mists just as he did a couple of with fresh air tinged with the smell of long time admiring the lines of a San
centuries ago. When that happens, I seaweed and stove smoke drifting over Francisco Bird, photographing it and
like to spend a couple of days on the the port bow. At times like this, it’s easy wondering how she sails – wondering
hook, just thinking about then and to stay put. why she looks so fine.
now and how it’s changed and how it The ship’s tender gets a good Relaxing in the cockpit later in
hasn’t. workout. It can take a second day to the day, we look up from our books
Anchored in a bay on an island remember the softness of step and to the sight and sound of ten year old
that Captain Vancouver missed, I balance necessary to embark and row Optimist pram skippers breezing past
watch herring gulls and cormorants quietly and well but the joy that little our quarter, dodging and weaving in
swoop low, landing in the same waters boat’s got locked up in all its risky and out, laughing nervously at close
that Charles and Anne Lindbergh did. awkwardness is unlimited. Last week calls. Urging them on until they’re out
This somehow adds to the experience. I rowed close to harbor seals hauled of sight, we have a couple of beers and
Local history books are as much a part out on a log boom off the Poulsbo make ready for a cockpit supper as
of our ship’s library as the Field Guide Marina and watched a Great Blue the harbor lights go on. Before long,
to North American Birds and the Tide Heron beginning its long, squawking, it’s time to take in the ensign and
Guide. pterodactyl-like glide path. I’m not a settle down in the saloon. We nod off
I spend weekends and more bird watcher yet but I spent the better listening to the radio before flicking on
returning to a harbor a few hours sail part of an hour tracking that heron (or the anchor light and crawling into the
from my home port. I know it well maybe he was tracking me). I saw its fo’c’s’le. The nighttime screeches of the
and escape there frequently. Lumber tip-toeing, head bobbing, slow motion heron are the last sounds we hear.
schooners left this port a hundred years 48° N
ago carrying cargo to China. They
helped rebuild San Francisco after the
big fire and rounded Cape Horn on
their way to Boston and Edinburgh.
Blakely Harbor, just across the Sound
from Seattle, was bigger than that city
at one time and home to shipbuilding
and the largest sawmill in the world.
Rowing the dinghy between tide
sculptured mounds of rusted filings
from long disused machine shops,
I’ve found Victorian whiskey bottles,
pottery shards and brick ballast. Ghosts
of Japanese families and Scandinavian
bachelor millworkers haunt these
waters and I feel close to them all on
frosty fall mornings.
I like to get up, slide the hatch back
Harbor seals hauled out
and look at heavy dew on fiberglass
on a log boom off the
that tells me we’ve got a fine day in
Poulsbo Marina.
the offing. I take the chamois and wipe
it all down - an immensely satisfying
48° No r t h , Ma r c h 2009 Pa g e 39
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