Harstine Island

Gone to Sea

Meg Robson Mahoney
4 min readOct 28, 2020

It’s been a blessing, this idea of going to sea. It came to us from Ireland, not COVID. A year ago, when international travel was still a thing, we came home from watching sunsets over foreign seas to explore waters to the west. As 2020 opened, with its unexpected horrors, we were talking boats.

A good thing, given where we are today — with Americans barred from foreign shores and the thought of breathing next to strangers unappealing.

By the first of March, we chose a boat to suit our older selves and our disparate experiences, from mine (next to none) to Jake’s (immense) — a Carver 40’ named Dragonfly. We scheduled the survey for mid-March, following an intended trip to Texas.

You know the dates — when normalcy dissolved. The market fell, we canceled Texas, we put the boat on hold. We began a cautious life. By June, we were going for groceries on our own again; sourdough bread-baking helped us differentiate the days; our social lives had moved outside or online. We resurrected our plan. By July, we renegotiated Dragonfly and moved her to Poulsbo — a cabin, a ferry ride away. Another place to be.

Hood Canal — Pleasant Harbor & Potlatch State Park

On a clear day, when we’re visiting our little patch of water, we have a view of Mt. Rainier. Herons perch on covered arches at dusk. By day, they walk the docks above surfacing schools of silver fish. Clumps of seals laze on the log jam and nap on empty finger piers.

Poulsbo, Washington

The sun sets over the mountains to the west, and the moon rises over Rainier as day fades into night. On a quiet morning, when the water mirrors both up and down, the world seems clean and clear again.

In Poulsbo & Olympia

Of course, challenges abound. For Jake: Fixing leaks on an elderly boat, trouble-shooting the anchor winch, the radio, the crisscross of wires underneath the floorboards, changing out the lines. For me: learning how to tie a knot, tie lines to cleats, and step aboard without falling in.

We’ve cruised south and west to places I’d only met by car — the southernmost points of Hood Canal, Olympia and Harstine Island, Tacoma’s Foss Waterway, Port Townsend. The edge of land is different from the water side.

Olympia, Washington
From Percival Landing, Olympia
The Museum of Glass is steps from Foss Waterway in Tacoma
Landside: closed

And thus we joined the masses who are taking themselves on the road, at sea and by RV. We’re still buffeted each day by the tides of time and the current of events. But as we watch and cringe and hope, we escape the city from time to time to go where the water stretches out, with clouds on the horizon and blue above. Moored or cruising, going to sea has been a distraction, an adventure, a gift of new horizons.

Liberty Bay, Poulsbo