Zittell’s Marina to Penrose Point

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We left Shelton about 8 am and arrived at Zittel’s Marina on Johnson Point about 9 am. We were rigged by 10 am and launched about 10:15 am. The launch fee was $10 and parking was $5 a night.

Under a blue sky devoid of wind, we slowly motored out of Zittel’s into the Nisqually Reach. Turning southeast, we cruised in the ebb current around the south end of Anderson Island, hitting over five knots at half throttle.


Saturday, August 6…

We left Shelton about 8 am and arrived at Zittel’s Marina on Johnson Point about 9 am. We were rigged by 10 am and launched about 10:15 am. The launch fee was $10 and parking was $5 a night.

Under a blue sky devoid of wind, we slowly motored out of Zittel’s into the Nisqually Reach. Turning southeast, we cruised in the ebb current around the south end of Anderson Island, hitting over five knots at half throttle.

A map of our route is available here, although I need to correct it to show our path through Cormorant Passage.

Cormorant Passage…

To get a closer look at Steilacoom, we entered Cormorant Passage to the east of Ketron Island. The current was flowing a little stronger here, and we hit more than six knots.

Despite frequent visits with relatives in Steilacoom, I had never really visualized the layout of the town as it appeared from the water.

After viewing Steilacoom we turned to the northwest, passing the northeast corner of McNeil Island as we entered Carr Inlet.

Into Mayo Cove…

We gave the twin shoals extended far off Penrose Point a wide berth, staying toward the middle of Carr Inlet until turning toward Mayo Cove. We lined up by waiting until we could clearly see Lakebay Marina before making our turn toward the cove. (Why were we a little concerned? See this account of a keelboat grounding off Penrose for more.)

We arrived at about 2 pm, finding the dock at Penrose Point State Park full, so we tied up at Lakebay Marina for $10 a night.

What a big fish!

What my daughters remember most from that trip was something that happened as we began to see Penrose Point come into view. Whisper was just gliding along in the sunshine…the scene was idyllic, all of us basking in the hot summer sun when right beside the boat a very large salmon rocketed out of the water several feet skyward, three times in a row. We never saw the seal that must’ve been pursuing the salmon, but after that we all kept exclaiming “That was a big fish!” They also found wading the beach at Penrose among thousands of small crabs kind of scary-tickly.

August 7: Sunday

We slept in on Sunday and took our time with a late breakfast. While Jan and the girls worked on straightening the interior of the boat, I pored over my chart book for Pitt Passage. My research suggested we needed to be particularly careful of Wyckoff Shoal and the shoal water around Pitt Island.

Planning…

I wanted to transit through Pitt Passage at slack, around 1 pm. We actually hit the passage just after noon.

One of the things I remember most was my nervousness about Pitt Passage. I spent at least 90 minutes poring over the chart, reading the guides I had brought along, and visualizing the route I wanted to take.

Grounded…

As we were leaving Mayo Cove, I heard a call for assistance on VHF channel 16 from a boat that had apparently gone aground on Wyckoff Shoal. We heard Vessel Assist respond, and as we came abreast of South Head, we could see a large motor yacht canted to starboard near McNeil Island. There were small dark objects in the water near the boat, and through the binoculars I could see these objects were actually people standing calf-deep in the water around the boat. It appeared the skipper tried to take a shortcut across the deeper part of the shoal but missed.

Earlier, I had been the subject of some good-natured razzing from my family for worrying about this leg of the trip, but this example of the consequences of poor planning stopped the ribbing I had been getting.

Racoons galore…

Our trip through Pitt Passage went perfectly, although it was a bit creepy to see the bottom as we idled through the passage. It is hard to really picture how close to the shore you are as you pass between McNeil and Pitt islands. We saw many racoons along the McNeil Island shoreline on our way to our lunch stop.

Longbranch for lunch…

So we motored out of the passage, into the confluence of Pitt Passage from the north, Balch Passage from the east, and Drayton Passage from the south, turning immediately to the west to enter Filucy Bay.

After eating lunch at the Longbranch Marina dock, we attempted to sail out of Filucy Bay into Drayton Passage. Unfortunately, the incoming tide was more powerful than the mere breath of wind ruffling our hair. We motored out of the bay and into the passage. Jan and I spent much of that leg trying to see where old Camp Wakoma had been because Jan had been a counselor there as a teenager.

We left Longbranch around 3 pm and arrived back at Zittel’s about 5 pm, finding the ramp pretty crowded and the boaters a little short-tempered.

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12 thoughts on “Zittell’s Marina to Penrose Point

  1. Donna M

    I was a camper at Camp Wakoma in the 1960s.
    What years was Jan a counselor there and what was her counselor name?

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    1. Tom

      We're trying to remember! It was either the summer of '75 or '76, so she missed you by a few years. We've heard from a few other folks who remember Camp Wakoma. Drop me a note if you would like to correspond with Jan!

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  2. Kerry C (Kasey)

    Hi, I was a couselor at Camp Wakoma the summer of '76. There two couselors/counselors-in-training that year named Jan - Janet Birdsall (Oreo) & Janis Olwell (Jell-O). Are either of these your Jan?

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    1. Tom

      Hi Kasey. You found Jell-O! Do you remember the mouse living in her drawer? I believe Jan was in the junior high camp (with the teepees).

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  3. Janice

    I've always wondered where Camp Wakoma was located. Any luck finding it? I went there several years 1963-1965. I always loved that place!

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    1. Jackie Johnson

      I attended Camp Wakoma from the time I was 7 until I was in the Tee Pees and Stilt houses. I was going to be a CIT (counselor in training) but other activities prevented me from participating. I remember after my third year I had the AOA on my forehead (not suppose to talk about it, it's a secret) and I even remember the song. So many good memories.

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  4. Donna Martin

    I was able to tour the old Camp Wakoma when I visited Washington this summer!
    it is in Long Branch and now owned by a church. It is now called Sound View Camp. What precious memories it was to be able to walk around camp, the longhouse, mess hall, nurses A frame and even one of the old cabins from the Tigua group was still there. Best part was walking down zigzag hill to the waterfront!!

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  5. Jodi

    How cool! I was a camper at Camp Wakoma from 1976 - 1985. Some of the best memories of my childhood. I would have done the same thing your wife did! I was so sad when Campfire decided to sell it, but I am relieved that it is still being utilized as a camp. How awesome that you got to take a tour, Donna! Counselor "Kasey," I think I may remember you!

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  6. Victoria Hill

    I also was a camper at Camp Wakoma from 2nd grade to 7th or 8th grade I started at Beachcombers and ended up in the tee pees! I loved it so much, a couple of years I went for two weeks in a row back to back! I remember favorite counselors name was sneakers I believe I went from 1977-1982, 83. I would love to tour the place now. I was also AOA and FOF both secret societies! Does anyone remember sending the fairies off on boats of bark decorated with candles moss and flowers? This usually happened the last night of camp with a beautiful song that accompanied the ceremony which I can;t remember!!

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