In 1792 Captain George Vancouver embarked on the greatest marine survey of all time; California to Alaska. In May he entered the waters of the Salish Sea and Puget Sound.
Vancouver was a wacko and a loathed disciplinarian, but also a disciplined prospector of coastal geography. His two ships, Discovery and Chatham, were manned by competent officers and sailors, hard driven in the pursuit of accuracy, at a pace that seems impossible.
Jupiter, without prior planning, appears now to be following in George Vancouver’s wake, beginning in Port Townsend at the gateway to Admiralty Inlet.
Geographically convenient at the intersection of land and sea, Port Townsend’s growth was thwarted when expectation for a 19th century rail terminus was side-tracked. The great guns at nearby Fort Worden boomed in defense of Admiralty Inlet during two wars.
Today, well preserved Victorian districts attract tourists and fortify residents, many of whom are migrants escaping urban clatter. This is a peaceful place of human scale homes with evergreen gardens. Wooden boat building ties town to sea in lively and creative ways.
We wandered many miles through the neighborhoods in watery sunshine, and out to Fort Worden, now a state park, its expansive parade grounds encircled with regimental military housing, hidden gun emplacements, and dejected Thomas Point Light.
Whatever past haunted Port Ludlow has been entirely eradicated by planned residential development of bayside condominiums and cul-de-sac homes strung together by rustic trails and discreet roadways. A resort inn and marina define the commercial waterfront, and the bay provides abundant anchorage in a pleasing natural harbor.
A quest for eggs was fulfilled at the gas station market, paradoxically the only vendor of provender for those lacking wheeled conveyance. We spent the Fourth of July at anchor here, within earshot of the arrhythmic popping of haphazard pyrotechnics along the shore, their pricks of pointless light eclipsed by the lucent plenilune rising.
If you wish to view an early 19th century New England coastal village visit Port Gamble. An old company mill town is now a charming company hamlet of attractive cafés and gift shops. Removal of the defunct mill was completed last year and now a magnificent waterfront site lies awake at night in fear of development.
In a warp of circumstance fibre-artisans flock from afar, hooked on the inspirational kneedle-craft and quilting shops that knit this community together. We observed a socially-distant cabal of crones weaving yarns in the loom of the water towers. These were originally installed to blanket the mill with water in case of fire.
Spangled Strawberry Spoon Cake
When fresh strawberries are abundant lightly mash a generous handful together with a little brown sugar and allow to macerate overnight.
At sunrise heat an oven to medium. Melt a stick of butter and whisk in by hand an additional ⅓ cup brown sugar, ½ cup tepid milk, and a teaspoon of salt. Add 1 cup flour combined with 1 teaspoon of baking powder and whisk on until smooth. Transfer batter to a buttered baking dish, filling every corner. Pour the macerated fruit over the batter, and add a few extra quartered berries.
Bake for almost half an hour while making coffee and admiring the calm at first light. Allow to rest before serving with cream, for breakfast.
Ports and Passing Port to Port
U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Rule 14 states that: “Unless otherwise agreed, when two power-driven vessels are meeting on reciprocal or nearly reciprocal courses so as to involve risk of collision, each shall alter her course to starboard so that each shall pass to the port side of the other.”
Maritime explorers, like George Vancouver, routinely called newly discovered inlets and bays “Ports”, and named them to flatter royalty or Admiralty superiors, or to honor crew members, friends, lovers, and sometimes even dogs.