Overnight Longboat Journey!

Saturday May 14th – The girls pack up and head out

On our day off from school the members of the Girls Boat Project all gave up some extra morning sleep to meet at the Maritime Center at the early time of 9:00 am.  After taping the tide tables for the weekend onto our water bottles (Emilee’s idea) we all repacked our personal items into dry bags gratefully provided by the Maritime Center.

Once all the gear was packed, we loaded up the carts and headed down to the boat.  Emilee gave a briefing on safety and then the boat was promptly loaded.

Being as we are all human, we decided it would be a good idea to eat lunch before we began our journey.  You know, food=energy, and energy is needed to be able to row for several hours.

Soon after lunch we loaded up and cast off the dock.

We turned right out of the harbor so we would not be swept out to sea by the tide, and started the 3 mile row to Fort Flagler.

Because we were on a smaller size boat, we needed to pay special attention to the Ferry Boat and make sure to stay out of its path.

With Ferry Boats it is usually pretty easy to predict where they intend to go. With the first Ferry this was the case, with the second one not so much.

Have you ever seen a Ferry park after it finishes its run?

Neither had we.  But we were sure confused by its maneuvers.  We turned one way to make sure we would stay out of the way.  Then we realized the ferry was no longer moving, and after it had moved away from the dock it sat still in the water for a while before parking back at the dock.  At least we got to see a cool view of the Post Office through an empty Ferry 🙂

Over the next several hours we took turns being Coxswain and rowing in each seat.  As we did this, the sun and rain took turns beating down on us from the sky. 

Entering into Kilisut Harbor we had to work with a strong current that was trying to pin us to land as the tide was flooding. Our goal for that day was to make it all the way down to Mystery Bay to the Nordland Store for ice cream.  From there we would row back up to Fort Flagler where we would cook dinner and spend the night.

We were already running a bit late of our original schedule and everybody was sore and tired.  After rounding a couple pilings on the way into the bay we decided to rethink things a bit.  Almost unanimously we decided to turn around and row the shorter, but much more difficult, way back to the dock at Fort Flagler.

After we successfully docked in the super strong current we unloaded, took a much needed potty break, and then split into two groups.  One group went off to cook burritos for dinner and the other tidied up the boat.

That evening we has some special guests come out to meet us.  Lara and her new baby girl Cypress, and two fascinating ladies who have each rowed to Alaska, one who has sailed on tall ships, and the the other who has been rowing for many years. The ladies joined us for dinner and told many tales of their adventures both on and off the sea.

After dinner was all cleaned up we repacked the boat and moved it over to mooring buoy. Next we got ready for bed and set up shifts for night watch.

Sunday May 15th – The Voyage Home

We woke up to the soft voice of Jenna as she sang us a morning wake up shanty. After we cleaned up our bedroom and repacked all the luggage we rowed over to the dock for a quick breakfast  and potty stop.

Back on the boat we manned our rowing stations and prepared to cast off the dock. Getting off the dock would be quite tricky this morning. The current was moving rapidly and pushing us into the dock.

With the skill of our captain and the powerful strokes of the crew we successfully made it off the dock.

As we came up to Rat Island we looked over on the shore and saw about two dozen seals just lying there.  Once we were sure we would not be pushed aground by the current we fell silent and stared in awe at the seals.





We did our best not to flush the seals, but because of how close we had to get to exit the passage, they all decided to go for a morning swim.

Once the last seals left the beach we began rowing again, very gently and a quietly as we could. As we rowed the seals surrounded us. It was a wonderful start to the morning.

We rowed for a bit to ensure we were a safe distance from land. With sore muscles we were tired of rowing. We noticed a light breeze so we decided to raise the reefed main sail to help give ourselves a break.

Because the breeze was light we power sailed with a combination of the reefed main sail and four rowers until the wind picked up. Then we settled back and let mother nature take us home.

 Once we got closer to Port Townsend we lowered the sail and rowed last stint to the dock.

After we secured the boat to the dock we had a few minutes of reflection and then unloaded the boat.

Our wonderful trip was now over but our labor was not. We all worked together to put away and wash all the equipment we used.

Once we had most of that work done we ate our final meal together.

The trip was a success. Despite the weather we all had a blast out there on the water together. I’m sure the girls would all be willing to do it again anytime.