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Summer 2020: First stop, Port Blakely Harbor

On late afternoon of Tuesday, June 23, with a lingering list of boat projects, crap still piled up on the settee looking for a permanent home, we shoved out of our home marina in Elliot Bay and pointed for Bainbridge Island’s Port Blakely Harbor.

Seattle was warm and blustery, a rarity on a Seattle summer day. After I took us out of our slip and motored us out of the marina, C and our 12-year-old daughter, A, raised the mainsail. With the wind coming out of the north, we enjoyed a lovely beam- to broad-reach sail with A at the helm for most of the time.

It feels so good to be out of the marina, if only for a few days. We need to head back soon to pick up some much needed supplies to fix our undependable windlass before we head back out, most likely to the San Juans.

But for now, C is OK with hauling the anchor by hand and we are so happy to be surrounded on all sides by water again.

With winds from the north gusting up to 17 kts, we easily made it across Seattle to Port Blakely in about an hour.

Port Blakely’s history

Located on the southeast side of the island, Port Blakely was a thriving shipyard and home to a sawmill in the late 1800s. You can still see the pilings at the shallow end of the anchorage. A structure is covered with colorful graffiti and a poke inside shows evidence that young people (or youthful people, anyway) likely come here to pass their free time away.

Much to our son’s joy, there are a few shipwrecks in or near the anchorage, but we haven’t seen them while kayaking or riding our dinghy around the anchorage.

Old pilings and an abandoned building are at the shallow end of the anchorage. Also pictured is the Sail Like a Girl race boat, which apparently is being moored in Port Blakely Harbor right now. Cool!

An easy anchorage to access from Seattle

Just 5 nautical miles from Seattle, Port Blakely is popular with Seattle boaters. We come here often, too, just to get out of the marina or as a stopping point on our way north or south.

Most of our guides say the holding here is good and we’ve never experienced anything different, even during a rare rolly overnight. We usually anchor in 30 to 40 feet at a 3:1 scope in settled weather.

It’s lovely to kayak around here once anchored. In the fall, we saw tons of anemones and crabs in the shallows, and beautiful seaweed.

Because it is so close to Seattle, it can get quite crowded in the summer. We stayed here last Fourth of July and were surrounded by large groups of rafted up boats that were a bit too close for comfort. Luckily, the weather in the summer here is typically very mild (usually so mild, we end up motoring a lot), so there was little threat of anyone dragging anchor.

Beautiful homes surround the anchorage on two sides and last year the residents gave us quite a show with amazing fireworks for the Fourth. It seemed like the residents were competing with their neighbors across the anchorage, seeing who could launch the biggest, baddest and most beautiful pyrotechnics.

There isn’t much to access from the anchorage, however. We once took the dinghy to shore and grabbed an Uber from a nearby road to get to Winslow, a town nearby with groceries and shops. Getting back to the anchorage was not easy, however. We called for a taxi and ended up waiting for well over an hour for the driver to arrive.

It would be good to know if other boaters have tips for getting to a grocery store. But honestly, with Port Blakely so close to Seattle, having access to things like grocery stores or tourist shops isn’t a priority for us.

Getting on the hook and away from it all is.

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