Sailing with the Schooner Zodiac and their Spring Lighthouse Tour

Burrows Island Lighthouse Schooner Zodiac

I have a strong fascination for lighthouses and the people that cared for them, with their unique and romantic, sometimes tragic, lifestyle and history. In fact, not only did my husband and I get married at a lighthouse, but we recently completed my Bucket List item of touring all the lighthouses in the State of Washington that you can visit. However, it wasn’t until just recently, that I had the opportunity to see some of these scenic lighthouses from the point of view of the sea, and from the perspective of the sailors who had relied upon, and continue to do so, these important structures for navigation and landmarks. From aboard the impressive 160-foot sailing vessel with four majestic sails, the Schooner Zodiac, on their four-day Spring Lighthouse Tour, I gained an even bigger appreciation for the powerful lights beaming from the legendary lighthouses, and for the sounds of the mighty fog horn. Even with the modern technology of radar, GPS, radio communication, and even apps on cell phones, lighthouses are still essential at night, in the fog, or in inclement weather.

Burrows Island Lighthouse Schooner ZodiacIt wasn’t just the lighthouses though that made my excursion on the Schooner Zodiac memorable around the San Juan Islands in Washington State. It was the historic Schooner Zodiac itself. It was her people, her educational aspect, her history, and her grandeur that were evident from the time I boarded, to the couple of times we hoisted the 127-foot tall, 7,000 square feet of sails, to the restful nights being lulled to sleep by the gentle rocking of the ship. (Although one of the nights it was a bit rockier due to some windier conditions.)

New Dungeness Lighthouse Schooner Zodiac

New Dungeness Lighthouse Schooner Zodiac

New Dungeness Lighthouse Schooner Zodiac

In our four days on the seas, the Schooner Zodiac took me, my husband, other passengers, guests, and the crew to see eight lighthouses and light stations, three of which we were also able to visit on land via their Zodiac Tender, a small motorboat, where we donned lifejackets to make it to shore. We sailed from picturesque island to picturesque island by day, and anchored at peaceful secluded coves by night, including Hughes Bay at Lopez Island, Port Townsend, and Prevost Harbor at Stuart Island. When the weather was clear and warm, and the skies and water were both a rich blue, we had glimpses of Mount Baker and the Olympics Mountains. Even when we were greeted by the fog in the mornings, and the wind was stronger and the air was colder, all the realities of sailing made my four days on the Schooner Zodiac an exciting adventure. We also had a few chances to kayak, we stretched our legs for an hour at Roche Harbor, we saw a pod of porpoises, a convocation of eagles and seagulls feeding on fish, and enjoyed the ability to see abundant stars at night. (We unfortunately did not see any whales this trip, but that is a certainly a possibility in these waters.)

Point Wilson Lighthouse Schooner Zodiac

Point Wilson Lighthouse Schooner Zodiac

It was also the people, all of us in fact, crew and passengers alike, that added to the ambiance of the journey. From the helpful and hospitable captain, to the talented cook, to the knowledgeable volunteer crew. There were even a couple of people aboard the ship who work closely with lighthouses as volunteers and were able to provide us with deeper information about the lighthouses. The passengers were fun group, too. With the age ranges of both the crew and passengers from their 20’s to their 80’s, we got samples from fun and laughter, to hearing sailing stories of the wise and experienced.

Lime Kiln Lighthouse Schooner Zodiac

Lime Kiln Lighthouse Schooner Zodiac

Lime Kiln Lighthouse Schooner Zodiac

We passengers had the opportunity to learn about sailing and to participate in what it takes to make the Schooner Zodiac sail. In four half-hour shifts, each passenger had a “watch rotation.” One rotation was a lesson in navigation through charts, radar, compass, and other means. We each got a turn at steering the helm, sometimes using a landmark when the weather was clear to steer by, other times by using a compass in the fog. Doing a bow watch from the front of the ship looking for debris, kayaks, other boats, whales, or anything that might be in the way, was our third rotation. And being a quarterdeck messenger between the bow and the person steering and navigating at the helm was the fourth.

Smith and Minor Islands Schooner Zodiac

Smith and Minor Islands Schooner Zodiac

Each passenger also had a “sailing station” when it came time to “prepare to make sail.” When they called “all hands on deck,” we made our way to participate in something that, from someone who had never done this before in her life, I thought was amazing, and gave me a rush of excitement. My sailing station was the “staysail,” where with one crew member, he instructed me on when to pull the line to raise the sail, and how to belay and do a locking hitch of the line to complete the process. All passengers participated in raising the “mainsail,” by teaming up together on one of two sides, pulling a thick line, heaving the heavy sail as it rose in the wind. This took my breath away, both literally from the hard work it was to pull that heavy line, and figuratively from seeing the white sails breathing as they rose in the wind against the blue sky.

Turn Point Lighthouse Schooner Zodiac

Turn Point Lighthouse Schooner Zodiac

And when they called “all hands stand down,” I asked my instructional crew member, well, I have always either stood up or sat down, but I had never stood down before. So what did that mean? It meant that I could go back to doing whatever I was doing before the call was made for “all hands on deck.” So I usually returned to taking lots of photographs.

One morning all passengers were able to contribute to the preparations of cleaning the deck, polishing the brass, and getting the Schooner Zodiac ready for the day. I must say that in four days’ time, I learned more about sailing and navigation and boats and weather than I personally ever have in my life. Even all of the words and terminology I just described, I have never written before. Very educational.

East Point Lighthouse Saturna Island Canada

East Point Lighthouse Saturna Island Canada

The Schooner Zodiac itself was originally launched in 1924 in Maine as a private luxury yacht for the heirs of Johnson & Johnson. The Zodiac’s history also includes coming in fourth place in the 1928 Transatlantic Race for the Kings Cup, and sailing off the Golden Gate in San Francisco for 40 years as a pilot schooner. She was retired in 1972, but has been lovingly restored to its majesty of the 1920’s, with its intricate mahogany, oak, and teak wood detail both inside and out, along with modern conveniences, including showers, and delicious food prepared by the previously-mentioned talented cook. Sailing out of Bellingham, Washington, the Schooner Zodiac was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Patos Island Lighthouse Schooner Zodiac

Patos Island Lighthouse Schooner Zodiac

Patos Island Lighthouse Schooner Zodiac

My fascination for lighthouses continues. And thanks to my sailing with the Schooner Zodiac’s Spring Lighthouse Tour, it has now grown with appreciation to include not only seeing the lighthouses from the sailor’s point of view, but also from gaining some skills and knowledge of what it takes to be a sailor on a ship out on the waters that also seem to have its own unique and romantic, sometimes tragic, lifestyle and history.

Sweet Travels!

I was provided this excursion courtesy of Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism and the Schooner Zodiac, but all opinions are my own. For more information about sailing with the Schooner Zodiac, please visit their website, www.schoonerzodiac.com, which includes a list of all upcoming cruises from now through October, from their day sails, to their three day trips, to trips of longer durations, from the San Juan Islands to the Canadian Gulf Islands. The ship carries up to 26 passengers on overnight cruises in berths or private rooms, and up to 49 passengers on day sails.

List of lighthouses in the order of my pictures above, with the number of pictures of each lighthouse:

Burrows Island Lighthouse (2)
New Dungeness Lighthouse (3)
Point Wilson Lighthouse (2)
Lime Kiln Lighthouse (3)
Smith and Minor Islands (2)
Turn Point Lighthouse (2)
East Point Saturna Island Canada (2)
Patos Island Lighthouse (3)

Point Wilson Lighthouse and Marrowstone Point Lighthouse near Port Townsend

Point Wilson Lighthouse

I love the mini-staycations that my husband and I have been taking a couple times a year in our home state of Washington. From beach walking trips to backpacking to visiting lighthouses. On a 3-day staycation we took last September, we went to the Port Townsend area and not only visited Point Wilson Lighthouse and Marrowstone Point Lighthouse, but we also did some walks, hikes, tours of forts, had great food, and slept at a restful Bed and Breakfast.

Point Wilson Lighthouse

Point Wilson Lighthouse

On our first day, we drove around the Tacoma way heading north towards Port Townsend, and spontaneously stopped at the Chimacum Corner Farmstand, a local grocery store, for some delicious lunch and snacks. After deciding we wanted to come back here, we drove on to Fort Worden State Park, the location of the Point Wilson Lighthouse. We walked along one corner of the beach to reach the lighthouse, which was open for tours, went up the tower, spent some time around the lighthouse, and walked back along the other corner of the beach.

Point Wilson Lighthouse

Point Wilson Lighthouse marks the “western side of the entrance to Admiralty Inlet from the Strait of Juan de Fuca and is an important landmark for vessels traveling to and from Puget Sound.” Interestingly, historically, “this critical turn was first marked by a church bell.” In 1865 a ship’s bell was donated to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Port Townsend “with the condition that the bell be rung on foggy days.”

Point Wilson Lighthouse

Point Wilson Lighthouse

When the lighthouse was built originally, it was located on top of the lightkeeper’s house at a height of 46 feet. This light first beamed on December 15, 1879. Completed in 1914, the current lighthouse is a 49-foot octagonal shaped tower. “The light still shines from the fourth-order Fresnel lens, sending forth alternate red and white flashes every five seconds.” It was automated in 1976. The Point Wilson Lighthouse is open for tours every Saturday from 1-4 from mid-May through mid-September.

Point Wilson Lighthouse

After our time at the lighthouse, we walked around Fort Worden (something my husband enjoyed) and the State Park area. We happened upon a military car show so we also looked at some classic old cars, also something my husband enjoyed.

Point Wilson Lighthouse

The second day of our mini-staycation began with a good breakfast at our Bed and…Breakfast. We drove from Port Townsend onto Marrowstone Island, the location of Fort Flagler State Park and Marrowstone Point Lighthouse. As we entered the State Park, we went into the Visitor’s Center building to find out more information, and found out about a couple of guided tours of the fort that interested my husband. The first one was scheduled soon after we got there, so we took a 2 hour tour of the fort.

Point Wilson Lighthouse

At the end of the tour, we walked along the fort and down to the beach to look at Marrowstone Point Lighthouse located at the eastern entrance to Port Townsend Bay. Marrowstone Point was “first marked by a lens lantern on a pole on October 1, 1888.” “Contractors finished a one-and-a-half-story, six-room keeper’s dwelling with an attached fog-bell tower in March 1896, and the fog bell was placed into operation on April 7, 1896.

Marrowstone Point Lighthouse

Marrowstone Point Lighthouse

In 1914, Marrowstone Point received a new fog signal and light, and again in 1917. Both the 1914 and 1917 structures still stand, with a flashing white light exhibited from the top of the 1917 structure, but the fog signal is no longer in use. The shoreline around the Lighthouse is open, quite popular for fishing, but the buildings and dwelling are closed to the public.

Marrowstone Point Lighthouse

We took a second tour at Fort Flagler of an old 1905 hospital. I found this kind of spooky, but my husband thought it was interesting.

After all this activity we wanted to walk more, so we drove to nearby Anderson Lake State Park and took a 4 mile walk around the lake.

Anderson Lake

And then we were quite hungry, so we headed back to the Chimacum Corner Farmstand.

Chimacum Corner Farmstand

On the third day of our mini-staycation, we not only had another good breakfast at our B&B, but we stopped in Chimacum yet again, as we were heading on our way home and needed food for the road. We also decided to stop for a five mile hike at Green Mountain.

Green Mountain Hike

Green Mountain Hike

We took the Southworth to Fauntleroy ferry home.

And yes, as you can see by the pictures, the weather did change that much in a matter of three days. Our first day had blue skies and sunshine and warmth, the next day was cloudy and rainy and cold, and our third day was back to the blue skies and sunshine and warmth.

Sweet Travels!

Quotes and information from:
Lighthouse Friends – Point Wilson
Lighthouse Friends – Marrowstone Point

Point Robinson Lighthouse near Vashon Island

Point Robinson Lighthouse Vashon Maury

For many years now, it has been a fun family tradition that along with my husband, my dad, and my mom, we take an annual “ferry excursion” somewhere in the Puget Sound area of Washington State that the ferry system will take us. It is just a day-trip, where we meet at a ferry dock, and either consolidate into one car, or walk on as passengers, and then enjoy the day. We usually plan around good weather, some fun activity or destination, and food.

Point Robinson Lighthouse Vashon Maury

Last summer’s trip was taking the ferry from Point Defiance in Tacoma in order to visit the Point Robinson Lighthouse near Vashon Island. The lighthouse is actually on Maury Island which is connected to Vashon Island by a paved road over a narrow strip of land. So in this case, we drove a car onto the ferry so that we could drive to the lighthouse. It was a beautiful clear warm day, and the scenery surrounding the lighthouse was very stunning. It was so clear out that day that Mount Rainier can be seen in the background of one of my pictures.

Point Robinson Lighthouse Vashon Maury

Historically, originally a fog signal began its operation in 1885. Then, “a light, in the form of a lens lantern that shined fixed red and was attached to a twenty-five-foot post,” began operation in 1887. Progressively, in 1894, “the height of the light was increased five and a half feet.” Around 1907, another wooden tower was built. And “the current lighthouse, featuring an octagonal thirty-eight-foot tower, was completed in 1915.” The light was automated in 1978.

Point Robinson Lighthouse Vashon Maury

Point Robinson Lighthouse is a twin of the one built at Alki Point in West Seattle, which my husband and I also visited last summer, and I recently went on a nice walk to see again.

Point Robinson Lighthouse Vashon Maury

Located halfway between Seattle and Tacoma, and “with its picturesque setting and closeness to civilization, Point Robinson Lighthouse was a preferred station among keepers and their families.” Today, the two keepers’ dwellings are available for weekly rentals. Tours of the lighthouse are offered every Sunday in the summer, starting on Mother’s Day and going to mid-September. The grounds surrounding the lighthouse can be accessed during daylight hours.

Point Robinson Lighthouse Vashon Maury

On this particular day, my husband, my dad, my mom, and I had a picnic lunch on a park bench while glancing at the Point Robinson Lighthouse, and its very picturesque setting.

Point Robinson Lighthouse Vashon Maury

Some of the other places my family and I have gone to via ferry include some quaint towns, such Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, Eastsound on Orcas Island, and Coupeville on Whidbey Island. On Whidbey Island we also visited Admiralty Head and Bush Point Lighthouses together. Occasionally we don’t take a ferry, but instead one time we chartered a boat to visit Patos Island Lighthouse, and Turn Point Lighthouse on Stuart Island. And we have even done a few day-trips without a ferry or boat, such as the Tulip Festival in Skagit Valley, and Snohomish for antiquing. No matter where we go, it is always great fun to get together over places like these!

Point Robinson Lighthouse Vashon Maury

Sweet Travels!

Quotes and much information in this blog from Lighthouse Friends.

Alki Point Lighthouse in West Seattle

Alki Point Lighthouse Seattle

We get some really nice days weather-wise during pre-spring in the Seattle area of the Pacific Northwest. I took advantage of one of these days a few weekends ago, and went to Alki Beach in West Seattle for a leisurely 7 mile walk up and down Alki Beach, along Alki Avenue SW, Beach Drive SW, and Harbor Avenue SW. Aside from views of Puget Sound, the nearby islands, downtown Seattle, the Olympic Mountains, the Cascade Mountains, and the possibility of seeing Mount Rainier, there is also the Alki Point Lighthouse.

Alki Point Lighthouse Seattle

On this particular day, the lighthouse was closed, so I just peaked over the fence to get the picture above with the blue skies and sunshine with my cell phone. But one cloudy day last summer, my husband and I took advantage of the schedule when the lighthouse is open for tours (Saturdays and Sundays from Memorial Day weekend to August from 1pm to 4pm), and we were able to go inside, walk around, and tour Alki Point Lighthouse. The rest of my photos were taken during this tour.

Alki Point Lighthouse Seattle

Historically, the 37-foot octagonal tower of Alki Point Lighthouse was completed in April 1913 and activated on June 1, 1913, with a fourth-order Fresnel lens. Prior to this, in 1868, Hans Martin Hanson and his brother-in-law Knud Olson, who owned the land, would light a lamp to help those out at sea. In 1887 a lens-lantern on top of a wooden post was used. And in 1900 Edmund Hanson, Hans Hanson’s son, inherited the property and became the light keeper.

Alki Point Lighthouse Seattle

In October 1984, Alki Point Lighthouse wad fully automated. In fact, “Alki Point Lighthouse and nearby West Point Lighthouse were the last two staffed lighthouses on the West Coast.” The original Fresnel lens from the Alki Point Lighthouse is on display at the Coast Guard Museum in Seattle, and a replica is shown at the lighthouse.

Alki Point Lighthouse Fresnel Lens

Alki Point Lighthouse Plans

When you take a tour today you are greeted warmly by US Coast Guard Auxiliarists and US Coast Guard Active Duty personnel, in uniform, who provide the tours. And did you now that the unofficial Washington State motto is “Alki,” which is a Chinook Nation word meaning “bye and bye.”

Alki Point Lighthouse Plans

Alki Point Lighthouse Plans

Sweet Travels!

Much information and quotes in this blog obtained from:
Lighthouse Friends
United States Coast Guard Auxiliary

Three Lighthouses around the Olympic Peninsula Coast: Cape Flattery, Slip Point, and Destruction Island

Ruby Beach Olympic Coast

I consider myself a pharologist – one who has an interest in lighthouses. In fact, during many travels, I incorporate visiting lighthouses into some itineraries. When my husband and I spent three beautiful days on the Olympic Peninsula Coast of Washington State, it was no different, as on our third day we went to go see three lighthouses around the Olympic Peninsula Coast. Although in this case, one of the lighthouses no longer exists, except for the Keeper’s Quarters. And the other two lighthouses need to be observed from afar. But that didn’t matter because the forest and beach walks made seeing these three lighthouses worthwhile.

Ruby Beach Olympic Coast

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At the farthest northwesternmost corner of the continental United States, my husband and I enjoyed a one-and-a-half mile walk (round trip), mostly on a boardwalk, through the forest of Cape Flattery, where we reached an observation deck which looks out at views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Tatoosh Island. On this 20-acre island is the Cape Flattery Lighthouse.

Cape Flattery Lighthouse Neah Bay

The tower of the Cape Flattery Lighthouse is 66 feet tall, and is surrounded by the keeper’s dwelling. Originally holding a first-order Fresnel lens which was illuminated in 1857, today the automated lighthouse, the island, Cape Flattery, and Neah Bay (the town in this area) are all owned by the Makah Tribe. If you visit this area, please note that a Makah Recreation Pass is required to park at the trailhead of the Cape Flattery Trail.

Cape Flattery Lighthouse Olympic Coast

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A one mile walk (round trip) on the beach of Clallum Bay Spit County Park, also along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, brought me and my husband to the location where Slip Point Lighthouse used to exist. Today, only the Keeper’s Quarters still stands. The original lighthouse was actually a lens-lantern that was first lit in 1905, but was replaced with a light tower in 1916 with a fourth-order Fresnel lens. This was dismantled in 1951, replaced with a beacon and fog signal on a 50-foot white tower, and then fully automated in 1977.

Slip Point Lighthouse Clallum Bay

Today the Keeper’s Quarters is shared by the Clallam Bay County Sheriff’s Department and Coast Guard personnel, and my guess is it was built by the same builders as the Burrows Island Lighthouse Keeper’s Quarters, a place that my husband and I helped out on its restoration for a few weekends a couple of summers ago. As you will notice, the two Keeper’s Quarters look almost identical.

Slip Point Lighthouse Keepers Quarters

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A late evening and a sunset brought my husband and me to Ruby Beach, where we could see in the far off distance views of Destruction Island and its lighthouse. This 33-acre tabletop island has a 92-foot brick lighthouse tower which was built in 1891, with a first-order Fresnel lens, placed in operation on January 1, 1892. Four keepers and their families typically lived on the island, which thus created a small community that “held its own school for the younger children, and raised chickens, cows, and vegetables to supplement the lighthouse rations delivered to the island.”

Destruction Island Lighthouse Ruby Beach

Automated in 1968, the original Fresnel lens of the Destruction Island Lighthouse is on display at the Westport Maritime Museum. My husband and I saw this museum and the lens when we visited Grays Harbor Lighthouse on a different trip along another part of the coast of Washington State. The lens is displayed in a large room, and can be turned on so that it rotates around and lights up the room. In fact, “a skylight above the lens lets natural sunlight dance on the prisms, while the lens slowly rotates, casting its twenty-four spotlights around the room.” A picture I took of this is in the Grays Harbor blog I linked to above.

Destruction Island Lighthouse Ruby Beach

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Aside from our day in search of the three lighthouses around the Olympic Peninsula Coast, our other two beautiful days were spent renewing my love of walking near the ocean by strolling on Rialto Beach to “Hole in the Wall,” and Second Beach, and wandering on Shi Shi Beach to “Point of the Arches” so that my husband could check that off his bucket list.

Ruby Beach Olympic Coast

Sweet Travels!

Some information on Cape Flattery Lighthouse obtained from:
Makah Tribe – Cape Flattery Trail
Lighthouse Friends – Cape Flattery

Some information on Slip Point Lighthouse obtained from:
Lighthouse Friends – Slip Point

Some information, including the quotes, on Destruction Island Lighthouse obtained from:
Lighthouse Friends – Destruction Island

For more of my blogs on lighthouses, please visit my Lighthouse Category.

Some other information obtained from the book, Day Hiking Olympic Peninsula by Craig Romano.