Gig Harbor Gig

Jupiter, with two lazy laggards aboard, is not keeping pace with Captain George Vancouver.

During May and June of 1792, Vancouver and his speed surveyors accomplished the coastal reckoning of the entirety of what is now Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands. Lieutenant Peter Puget completed mapping the inner reaches of the sound in just eight days, and Captain Vancouver rewarded his industry by bestowing Puget’s name upon the waterways.

Jupiter has arrived at Gig Harbor, an attractive salty suburb of Tacoma at Kitsap, the Great Peninsula across the Tacoma Narrows bridge. The moniker derives from a ship’s gig; a light, narrow boat, that could cross the bar into the protected harbor.

Moorage for transient vessels is currently unavailable at Gig Harbor marinas due to Covid concerns, but Jupiter finds an ideal position, swinging lazily on anchor in the center of the harbor at the confluence of marine traffic and aestival activity.

From morning until dark a lively variety of small water-craft plies this concourse: Hobie cats, row boats, skulls, sailing dinghies, canoes, out-rigger canoes, canoe sprints, kayaks, pedal-boards and paddle boards in a chaotic convergence with every manner of powered vessel. At times the panorama of so many people, and their dogs, sitting and standing on the velvety waters suggests a sunny Sunday at the town park.

Seals, unfazed by all, graze throughout the bay. A squadron of geese strafes the harbor repeatedly, and gulls wheel and cry.

Docks and boathouses filled with fleets of inert white yachts, often used as seasonal float-homes, and attractive homes with private floats, ring the protected bay. Yacht clubs from Seattle, Tacoma and elsewhere retain harbor outstation moorage for their members’ boats.

Days of intense sunshine, warm temperatures, and light airs have enticed throngs to this aqueous commons. Tides during this lunar cycle range fifteen feet, but the only harbor effect is the appearance of a larger or smaller shore-line.

Harbor Tomatoes on Salted Yogurt

This preparation of blistered tomatoes melting into cold yogurt evokes the disparate sunburnt watercraft atop the cool and briny sea of Gig Harbor; a metaphor for a savoury impossibility tasted alone.

Preheat the oven to its highest setting. Put flavorful and colorful cherry tomatoes into a skillet just large enough to hold them in a single layer. Peel rind off half a lemon in large strips then slice into thin slivers. Thinly slice two or three garlic cloves. Toss garlic and zest into tomatoes, along with less than a teaspoon of brown sugar. Bathe all in a generous puddle of quality olive oil and season lavishly with hot pepper flakes. Roast until beginning to char.

While tomatoes cook, flavor whole yogurt with smoked salt and finely grated lemon rind. Return to fridge while flavors meld.

Ladle hot tomatoes and olive oil over cold yogurt. Provide a spoon, or fresh bread to mop up sauces.

Most residents of the Puget Sound country will readily agree that Vancouver himself was a prophet as well as a eulogist when he wrote:

To describe the beauties of the region, will on some future occasion, be a very grateful task to the pen of a skillful panegyrist. The serenity of the climate, the innumerable pleasing landscapes, and the abundant fertility that unassisted nature puts forth, require only to be enriched by the industry of man with villages, mansions, cottages, and other buildings, to render it the most lovely country that can be imagined; whilst the labour of the inhabitants would be amply rewarded, in the bounties which nature seems ready to bestow on cultivation.

Bern Anderson – The Life and Voyages of Captain George Vancouver. 1960
Sunset on anchor in Gig Harbor


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