Saturday, August 13, 2011

Summer Cruise to La Conner

La Conner, Washington, is a fun travel destination. Of course, we've been to La Conner by car. But his week we made the trip by boat. Part of the attraction was to transit the Swinomish Channel that connects Padilla Bay and Skagit Bay.

Swinomish Channel is one of two main routes from Puget Sound to northern waters. It was just highlighted in the most recent Pacific Yachting magazine because of the problems with silt buildup from the Skagit River. Dredging is needed, but funding isn't currently available. We wanted to make the trip "just in case" the silt builds up before the funds start to flow.

We left Bellingham in the afternoon and arrived at the northern end of the Swinomish Channel under partly cloudy skies. The channel passes through the shallow flats of Padilla Bay, so following the navigation aids is important. Going aground would really spoil a nice boating afternoon.

Once we passed under the massive double bridge of Highway 20 the channel narrowed with depths between 20-35 feet on a high tide. We watched our GPS and depth sounder to make sure we had plenty of water under us. The channel is plenty wide for boats to pass in both directions, especially with the posted "No Wake" speed throughout.

By the time we reached La Conner, it was almost high tide, but you would never know it from the current. Wayne made an excellent approach to the fuel dock and the attendant met us to help. We decided to stay overnight at the guest dock. He recommended the inside because it gets less wave action from passing boats.

With the strong current, Wayne had to make a few passes. I can't leap ashore very well, so he got us in position and I manned the throttles just in case our position changed. It didn't and we were safely tied up. We were amazed on an August afternoon how much open space there was available. It was good for us, but a bad sign for boating in general.

The quaint town of La Conner is within easy walking distance. We first stopped at the Boater's Discount Center. It has a lot of things packed inside. Some are new, some used, and many unusual. The La Conner Marina has two sections, north and south. Both have long-term, short-term, and guest moorage. It's a lovely place to stroll and boat watch. After dinner it was back to the boat for a calm night on the water -- Margy


  1. I checked out your route on Goggle Satellite - looks interesting!

  2. Isn't Google Satellite great? If we are going somewhere new (especially in the kayak) I like to check out the route before we leave. Really lowers (or raises) my anxiety. - Margy

  3. I just love La Conner! It's not so fun with little ones, though-- too many galleries with breakable things!

  4. Very nice post and photos, too.


  5. I know what you mean lizziviggi - I'm even afraid to go in some with lots of glassware.

    Thanks Tatjana