Cornet Bay, Deception Pass

Deception Pass Bridge

Approaching Deception Pass, I took this selfie with the Deception Pass Bridge in the background.

Today was one of those rare days where not one single second of it sucked. The entire day was a conveyor belt of fun and engagement.

I started off this Saturday morning by waking without an alarm clock. A friend and I were going to head inside Deception Pass, but I wasn’t sure which island I wanted to end up on. I laid in bed and considered my anchorage options for that evening. Hope Island was a favorite, but the off-season is a great time to hit up the more popular spots that get crowded in summer.

Deception Pass is about 1 ½ hours away. According to the current atlas, slack in Rosario Strait occurred around 9:30AM that day. I felt my timing would be good as I slipped the dock lines at the crack of dawn, at 7:30 AM. I dodged sport fisherman boats who were on the same schedule as us. We jockeyed ourselves into single file to exit the marina. This time of year, I wasn’t surprised to see only fishing boats. Not many pleasure cruisers overnight this area in winter, despite the calm conditions and protected anchorages.

Solace at Rosario Head

Solace docked up at Rosario Head in Bowman Bay.

Besides dodging the occasional log, motoring to Deception Pass was uneventful. The sun steadily tried to illuminate the dark, low hanging clouds in the still morning air. The clouds were menacing, constantly threatening to either open a deluge or descend into thick fog.

We passed Deception Island as the Bridge came into view. A tiny, baby porpoise fin surfaced near the boat. I started to look around more carefully and noticed dozens of harbor porpoise diving around the boat. A feeding frenzy was going on where the currents of Deception Pass met Rosario Strait and I was right in the middle of it. Seagulls hovered in the air, diving for disturbed fish and fish parts the porpoises let float to the surface. Mergansers and other migratory water fowl waited for the schools of fish to approach the surface before making a dive for an easy meal.

Washington State Marine Park Pass

My Washington State Marine Park pass. Seven more trips till it pays for itself!

The water looked calm and placid until I was only a couple hundred feet from the mouth of the Pass. As we got intimately close, I could see that we were riding a back-eddy. The main current was surging swiftly against us. I cranked up the outboard to full throttle and charged into the main current. All forward progress came to a complete halt. The outboard was matching the current and the walls of the pass weren’t getting any closer. Clearly, I had misjudged slack tide.

I slowly throttled back and let the current sweep me back out. I spun the boat around and retreated to the mouth of nearby Bowman Bay. A quick check on the smartphone revealed that I had erroneously assumed that Deception Pass would ebb and flow in time to Rosario Strait. In fact, it was opposite today, reaching its peak when Rosario was slack.

This was an excellent opportunity to explore Rosario Head Park. We pulled up to the dock and hiked around after a quick breakfast. The views from Rosario Head are spectacular. The giant wooden carving and story plaques at the base of Rosario Head make for an entertaining story and thought provoking native history lesson.

At 1:00, we tried Deception Pass again and had no issue getting through. We tried to spot eagles as we made the short journey to Cornett Bay, generally one of the most crowded marine parks in the area. We were the only ones there, despite four docks and three boat ramps. After docking, we explored the park area around Hoypus Point, part of Deception Pass State Park.

Full Time Cruisers

This full time cruiser had a very nice setup. Notice the generator on top.

I just purchased an annual moorage pass for Washington State Marine Parks. Eight uses and it will pay for itself, and it’s good for the whole year. So I’m going to be taking it easy till I leave for Canada by hitting all the marine parks while it’s still the off season and crowds are not an issue.

Cornett Bay did not disappoint. We were the only ones at the immense docks in this super-protected bay. Eventually another cruiser showed up. A sweet wooden trawler; clearly a full-time cruiser. That night he ran his generators and engine for a couple hours to make hot water and charge batteries. I sure admire the self-sufficiency, even if the generator isn’t the most soothing of sounds. I never got a chance to speak with the captain, but by all appearances they appeared to live very comfortable lives.

After tacos and wine, I walked the dock. The bioluminescence was putting on quite the show. With the cloud-filled, overcast skies, the water was pitch black. Phosphorescent phytoplankton winked on and off in little flashes of light. The placid water resembled lightning bugs in a dark sky, or shooting stars rocketing past in the gentle current.

Places Mentioned In This Post

Related posts:

Hope Island Marine State Park
Anchor Watch
Desolation Sound Marine Park
One Response to “Cornet Bay, Deception Pass”
  1. dave says:

    have a found place in my heart for Cornett Bay. spent three summers as a camp counselor at the summer camp located at the head of the bay. wonderful memories.

    Cornett Bay itself wasn’t much used back then, early 80s, by cruising boats … except for a few that would anchor for a few hours waiting for slack in Deception Pass.

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