Wednesday, September 4, 2013

September 2, 2013 - Port Townsend

We took advantage of the 3 day weekend and actually turned it into a 3.75 day weekend :-)

It's a bit of a trek to Port Townsend when you are only travelling 7 knots.  It took about 5 hours to get there.  We anchored in Kilisut Harbor, just across from Port Townsend.  Much to our amazement we were the only boat anchored in the 4 mile long bay until Sunday night when a Fleming 65 (nice boat!) came in and anchored about 1/2 mile from us.

We dinghied over to Fort Flagler state park, which is the site of some WWI batteries.  They were very interesting to explore.  It's amazing to see structures built nearly 100 years ago out of concrete and they are still in really good condition.  We explored underground rooms, and tunnels, and more.  Some things there were a mystery to us, and I was amazed at the intricacy of the concrete work.

Link to wikipedia page for Fort Flaggler

One of several batteries.  The round structure is where big guns once fired
huge shells at enemy ships sneaking into Puget Sound.

Cindy finds a great hiding place ready to ambush Kevin.

When ya gotta go......  not really.

Heading for an underground tunnel leading to another
Snack time at old gun station.

Kids playing on the sand beach in the park.

Late night swim.  The water was a little chili:  55 degrees.

On Sunday morning we dinghied over to Port Townsend.  It was a nice day and we saw a few boats from Shelter Bay in the Point Hudson Marina, where were tied up the dinghy while we walked around town.

Cindy drives us over to Port Townsend.

Seal sculpture at the new wooden boat center.

"Downtown" Port Townsend.

Since we anchored in Kilisut Harbor, which is surrounded by Marrowstone Island to the east and Indian Island to the west, we had to chose which island to anchor near.  The prevailing winds were forecast to be from the NW so we chose to anchor very close to Indian Island so we would have some shelter from the winds.  Well, Indian Island is all owned by the US Navy and contains a Navy base.  There are signs all along the shore basically stating that you cannot come ashore on Indian Island.  We knew that and were totally fine with that.

Some interesting, and unusual, events occurred over the next several days due our close proximity to Indian Island.  Saturday morning around 8:00AM as Kathy and I were just getting up and moving around the salon/galley when we noticed a man dressed in black walking along the beach heading towards our boat.  We were only a hundred yards offshore and he was headed right towards us.  I could see a gun on his belt and at one point he turned around to look back at something and in huge white letters on his back it said "POLICE".  As he neared our boat I stepped out into the cockpit to acknowledge his presence.  He said good morning, as did I.  He then asked if we knew where we were.  I told him I did and asked it it was OK for us to be anchored here.  He said "yes, as long as you don't come ashore".  He asked a few simple questions like "where are you from?"  "have you been here before".  He said goodbye and then walked back along the beach and disappeared into the woods and we never saw him again.

That afternoon we decided to move closer to Fort Flagler as we were about 4 miles away.  With a light NW breeze blowing we again decided to anchor close to Indian Island.  That night we did some kneeboarding and the kids went swimming just after sunset (very obvious family boating activities).  Sunday morning just before breakfast we noticed a white Police Suburban parked a ways up the beach where there was some sort of an access road.  A man was standing nearby on the beach.  We grabbed our binoculars only to find this other man (presumably a Navy security officer) was scanning the beach and our boat with binoculars.  Cindy went out on the bow and began waving to him.  He saw her and waved back.  We then sat down for breakfast in the salon and Kevin started ,looking at him with our binoculars.  The man was looking back.  After a minute of this I instructed Kevin to put down the binoculars as it may seem suspicious to the police that we are "spying" on them from inside our boat with binoculars.  After 5 or so more minutes the man put down his binoculars and walked away and got in the Suburban.  But he stayed there in the Suburban for another 10+ minutes observing us.

Fast forward to Monday morning when we had to leave to come home.  As we navigated the winding entrance to Kilusut Harbor, which takes you withing a few hundred yards of the Navy base docks and cranes I noticed a white Police Suburban racing down a road towards us.  It stopped directly across from us, hood poking out through some shrubbery, headlights on.  He was obviously watching us.  He stayed there until we were well past him.  I looked back and he was gone.  As we neared the Navy pier the same white suburban was driving rapidly down the pier (which is quite long) and stopped at the corner nearest us, parked so he was angled right towards us.  Again he sat there as we past, with his headlights on.  He did not leave until we were at least a mile away, heading out into Admiralty Inlet.

It was all very strange.  Here we are, a family of 4, with a cat, boating in public waters to visit Port Townsend and access one of our great state parks, Fort flagler.  Yet, we were obviously be monitored by the US Navy during our visit.  It made me feel like I was some sort of criminal with my every move being scrutinized.  I can only assume that on some computer screen there on the Navy base all sorts of information about us (our boat registration, our names and ages, our driver's licenses, our passport photos, our Nexus Pass information, and who knows what else) was being analyzed by a "threat analysis team".

It was a great weekend until the very last hours when an uneasy feeling swept over me.  As I mulled over the strange events at Indian Island I was coming to the realization that perhaps we don't always have the privacy and freedom we think we do. I wouldn't have felt this way if it were not for the actions of that Police officer racing out to the beach, and then the pier, to give us some sort of final goodbye message.  The message I received was "you are not really welcome to come here, even though these are public waters."  I'm not sure we will return......

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