When we woke up in Gig Harbor, the skies appeared to be clearing. As I sipped my coffee in my PJs and slippers in the salon, an apparition appeared as I gazed out towards the harbor entrance: seeming to float above the clouds to the east, in the distance, a hazy but massive rugged snow-covered mountain peak loomed. I learned later that this was Mt. Rainier, and that it is a special sight. Indeed. A good start to the day, a good omen.
Our immediate task for the morning was to find fuel. We were surprised to learn that none was available in Gig Harbor. The nearest point along our tentative route was the Narrows Marina, rumored to be difficult with strong currents, so we ultimately settled on what appeared to be our only other option, Zittel’s Marina. Fortunately, it was right on our way to McMicken Island State Park, which DHays had recommended to us the evening before.
After our normal morning routine and walk with the dogs, we headed off. It was still overcast, but the day looked promising. Calm, with increasing sunshine. Gig Harbor was still sleepy as we headed out the narrow channel, a little more confident than during our arrival the day before, as we had slightly more water under our keel.
The day’s excitement would be passing through the Tacoma Narrows and beneath the twin Narrows Bridges. After a bit of head-scratching we realized that the original Narrows Bridge was the infamous bridge which had collapsed shortly after completion due to a dramatic engineering failure.
When it was built in 1938-1940, the original Narrows Bridge was the third-longest suspension bridge in the world, after the Golden Gate and George Washington bridges. During construction, the bridge deck moved vertically in windy conditions. Workers called it “Galloping Gertie.” In spite of efforts to fix the engineering, the bridge collapsed just four months after it opened. The following video by The Weather Channel is the gripping story of the day the bridge failed.
Even though we didn’t have to fear Galloping Gertie (a replacement bridge opened in 1950, and a second twin bridge was built in 2007 to handle the increase in traffic), our passage through The Narrows was impressive, as it presented us with the strongest currents of our cruise. For almost an hour we pushed against the six-knot ebb. Once again, 480 HP was a welcome asset.
After getting beyond the pull of the Narrows, we looped to the north around Anderson Island. The clear skies, bright white fair-weather clouds, lovely remote scenery, and glassy calm sea surface were gorgeous.
Zittel’s Marina proved to be a funky little stop for us, where we successfully took on enough fuel to complete our cruise. We then proceeded just a few miles north to McMicken Island State park where we enjoyed a lovely sunny afternoon anchored north of the crook of the island, with views up and down the sound. A sand bar connects the island to the mainland at all but high tide. There are several State Park moorings, but we elected to give our windlass and anchor the job for the night.
We did have some company nearby, where seven boats rafted to enjoy the weekend and celebrate some birthdays, but everyone was very friendly and we had fun. We launched the dinghy and cruised around, playing, took the dogs ashore, and sent the drone up for some pics and video.
Very pleasant and relaxing: yet another Flybridge Afternoon. It was nice to be at anchor for a change, and it gave us an opportunity to observe and tinker with power draw and life with the generator.