The Water and The Boater Home


Lisa and I live across the street from “the water” and we feel very fortunate to be able to enjoy the view of one of nature’s wonders every day. Water is captivating for us – we’re never very far from the natural pull it seems to have on us. It lures us into its beauty as we drive, walk, or sit by its shores to witness its ever-changing personality. We marvel at the days it is calm and peaceful and sigh and exclaim how we wish we were out cruising. On other days, when we see how rough it is – elephants on the horizon kind of conditions, we’ll state how fortunate we are to be safe and on dry land. The pull of the water is akin to an addiction for us – the good kind, because when we’re near, or on it, we’re at peace and when away from it we’ll find every opportunity to find our way back to its banks.

This is the pigtail adapter we’ll use to connect Kismet to RV Park electricity.

It all started, for me, when I was very young. I recall going to Whitmore Lake, in Michigan, when I was three or four years old – to go to the beach. The sand was so hot I had to run to the water so I wouldn’t burn my feet. My goal was to climb the steps of the tall wooden water slide so I could make the death-defying slide into the lake. I’d play in the water so long my mother would have to call for me to come back to the beach for a time out. From that time on I’ve always wanted to be on or near water, so it’s no wonder I’m getting a little more than excited about our pending trip to Seattle. A little more because for the last 18 months we’ve mostly been looking at “the water” and soon, not soon enough, we’ll be getting onto “the water” when we restart our cruising adventures in the Pacific Northwest.

Poulsbo is also known as Little Norway, because of its Norwegian heritage; it’s a great little harbor town.

As we prepare for our cross-country trip, from our hometown of Traverse City, Michigan to Kent, Washington, to take delivery of our Ranger Tug R-27, I’ve begun to map out the initial cruising itinerary for the Pacific Northwest. As I’ve been considering places we’d like to return to during our trip out west, I’ve enjoyed reminiscing about our visit there, in 2007. It was during that trip we spent five months in the Puget Sound area watching the progress on our Fathom 40’s construction. We stayed at a B&B on Capitol Hill near downtown Seattle, visited old friends in the area, made a few new ones and finally took possession of our new Kismet and cruised the Puget Sound and San Juan Island area. When we departed, for our return journey to Michigan, we talked about how rewarding the experience had been, how we wish we could have stayed longer and we also wondered if we’d ever have another opportunity to return. I guess it was all meant to be; we believe it’s fate that we’ll be returning, however this time we’ll be cruising on our new Ranger Tug R-27. While recently communicating with other Ranger Tug owners, on the company’s forum (, about favorite cruising destinations in the PNW I came across something unique to long distance boat trailering. For boats that are big enough for the crew to sleep on, like our R-27, many owners use RV parks for overnight stays while moving across country to new cruising grounds. When doing so I’ve learned they fondly refer to their boat and trailer as a “boater home.”

LaConner, Washington has boat yards, marinas, provisioning, restaurants, shopping – everything a boater needs.

Maybe a boater home seems a little unconventional at first blush however, the more I thought about it the more it made sense. When you secure a site at an RV Park you’d get to sleep in your own bed, use your galley and it would be a lot less expensive than staying in a hotel. In addition, you have a secure place to leave your boater home if you take your truck to explore the surrounding area. My research indicated I needed to purchase a pigtail adapter and follow some basic motor home etiquette for this to work. First of all boats are not set up to hook up to RV Park’s onsite drains, so all gray water from sinks and showers will need to be avoided – in other words no dumping onto the ground. No problem here as most RV Parks have shower facilities and the dishes can wait. The pigtail adapter is a simple $35 device that connects to the boats 30A power cord that has the proper 30A 125V male plug for accessing the RV park’s electric source.

Now that I’ve been educated about some of the boater home issues, I’ll need to find out how to locate these RV parks. A fellow TugNut (someone who owns a Ranger Tug) suggested I check into Passport America (, an RV park organization with park affiliations all around the country – all accessible from one website. Membership affords the user up to a 50% discount for overnight accommodations. I also learned about a website that lists free campgrounds (, if you really want to save money. In addition to these there is a book titled, Camping with the Corps of Engineers. This book is a guide to the campgrounds owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, all of which are on or near the water.

On the way into town to sightsee, Lisa posed on the pier overlooking Friday Harbor, San Juan Island

Now, back to boating! In reviewing some of our old BoatUS Cruising Logs and our own personal logbook, from the time we spent boating in the Seattle area, I began to wonder if it will be as exciting for us as it was that very first time in 2007. I’m betting it will be even more rewarding because we’ll be experiencing everything from a new perspective. The boat will be new to us and it will be trailerable (new to us). We’ll be doing our cruising in August and September, when the weather is more favorable than our prior winter cruising adventure. However, as we learned during our first trip, it’s not impossible to cruise on Puget Sound and have calm waters and near 70 degree weather in late February. In addition to the new boat and a more favorable season, we’ll be cruising to Gig Harbor and Bremerton, ports that will be new to us, and we’ll also return to the San Juan Islands, one of our cruising favorite areas.

Our tentative schedule, because our feeling is that we should always be flexible when cruising (weather and wind conditions), is to leave Gig Harbor after the MTOA Rendezvous and work our way north. We’ll be traveling through Colvos and Rich Passages as we work our way for an overnight stop in Poulsbo, a return visit for us this time. From the quaint town of Poulsbo we’ll take the Agate Passage out into Puget Sound and continue north into Possession Sound, leaving Whidbey Island to our port as we enter the Swinomish Channel for a stop in LaConner. Once out of Swinomish Channel we may stop in Anacortes on the way to spend a week romping around the San Juan Islands, it all depends on the weather and what the mood of the crew is at the time. Remember we don’t want to commit to a hard and fast schedule we may not be able to keep.

As the crow flies, the distance from Gig Harbor to Anacortes is 71 nautical miles, a little less from Seattle. I mention this for several reasons, the first being that we don’t have to cruise very far to explore new territory in the PNW. We’ll have four weeks for cruising these exceptional waters while visiting new towns and trying out unfamiliar anchorages and not having to travel very far on any given day. The added advantage for us will be the extra time that can be utilized by learning more about the R-27 and getting over the learning curve of something new.

Winter in Friday Harbor, they boat year round in the PNW.

The boat we bought in 2007 was not built with electronics installed by the factory. We took possession of the boat in Anacortes, Washington and had made arrangements for a GPS, radar, VHF, auto pilot and antenna package installed in Seattle’s Lake Union area. As previously mentioned this is about a 70-mile distance, one we had to traverse without any electronics, in waters unfamiliar to us and in a boat we were just getting used to. We left Anacortes and were lucky enough to find a boat heading south. We tailgated that trawler into the unknown to us, Swinomish Channel, past LaConner into Possession Sound where we were eventually left to fend for ourselves for the balance of the trip to Seattle. It all came off with out a hitch but we would have liked to have had our first PNW cruising experience to be a little less tense, so the installed electronics on the Ranger Tug will definitely make our second experience, on a new boat, more enjoyable.

Looking northeast out of Friday Harbor you can see Orcas Island, also part of the beautiful San Juan Islands.

We are having our R-27 built with an electronics package installed by Ranger Tugs. My thinking is that it’s much easier and cost effective to run cable and wire runs for a GPS, VHF radio and radar as the boat is being built than once the boat is complete. In addition, once we take possession of the boat, Lisa and I will be ready for boating, we’ll know where we’re heading, how deep the water is and we can spend the week, that would have been lost to us due to installing the electronics, enjoying the beauty of the PNW by being on – the water.