One of our favorite places in Puget Sound is Gig Harbor. This little harbor got its name when Peter Puget sent the Captain's gig into it for exploration.
It is really easy to miss. We sailed past it on a number of occasions earlier in our time here in the Sound, knowing it was over there on the shore, somewhere, but never being able to pick it out on the shoreline - even with binoculars.
Going into Gig Harbor is a bit of an act of faith the first time. It is over there on the west shore, just South of Colvos Passage and North of the Tacoma Narrows, right where the line of houses along the road descends to the shoreline. Really, it is there. Even from relatively close up like in this picture, the entrance is not obvious. As the chart segment above shows (not very well), it is necessary to close with the shore some distance South of the entrance and then head North hugging the 2 fathom line. If you take a more direct path in, you are at risk of running over the shoal extending South from the sandbar where the light is. Then, as if that isn't enough, you will need to veer to starboard immediately after clearing the entrance to avoid another sandbar extending northward from the South shore. Finally, there will be a lot of small boats coming and going thru the entrance, some of which do not appear to understand the consequences of a deep draft keel. There is plenty of water, if you stay in the channel.
Once inside, you will find that this is a hurricane hole! Other than the twisty narrow entrance, this is a land-locked saltwater lake. And it is lovely!
As the harbor widens out, look to port and you will see the Tides Tavern. You will definitely want to stop there for a burger and a beer at some point in your Gig Harbor experience - everyone does. They have a great dinghy dock.
Although you can anchor anywhere in Gig Harbor, we like to go toward the back in the shallower water. Once settled, you will find that there is always something to watch. Although this is a closed in feeling harbor, it is large enough where there is usually someone sailing around amongst the anchored boats, or a high school kayak team working out - you might become a turn point for them!
Seems like every time Jane and I visit Gig Harbor, something in one of the many, many galleries calls out to us, and we leave with a work of art that captures another aspect of our Puget Sound experience. This watercolor is a lovely depiction of Gig Harbor; it hangs on the bulkhead in the saloon, and is a daily reminder of a lovely place.
Go there, and I promise you, you will come away charmed as well.