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Saturday, January 21, 2006 

Why Blaine Marina?

Blaine Marina
Originally uploaded by Pixel Letch.
I get asked a lot why I moved my boat north from Seattle to Blaine, WA, on the Canadian border. It seems a long way away from my home in Seattle to most people.

But that's part of it's charm. It actually takes the same amount of time to drive (1:45 hrs) as it does to drive to Anacortes. But I digress, why move away at all?

I had moored my Islander 28, Maggie May at Shilshole Marina for most of the time I owned her, around 12 years. Only 15 minutes from my home, it was very convenient and a great location in the middle of Puget Sound to go north or south. But after 12 years, I'd kind of been there and done that. I needed fresh horizons.

Shilshole Ex Pat
But one of the biggest reasons was the way the Port of Seattle was treating it's tenants at Shilshoe. There were the un-competitive, annual increases that were pushing rates into the nosebleed section. This for a poorly maintained, 40 year-old facility. Amenities included grass growing on the docks, 20 amp electrical service, lack of parking, old broken showers, and union workers who just sat in the office and smoked.

And management decreeing new policies on a regular basis that had no basis with reality. Just plain idiotic policies and snarly service.

Now they're rebuilding it, a project that will be going on for 6-8 years or so. Rates still going up despite the mess. Even less parking. Doing away with many of the smaller 30' slips and making it into the rich man's marina they've always envisioned.

The trouble is that it was built to be the opposite. The Army Corp of Engineers built the breakwater in the 1960's and gave in to the City of Seattle as blue-collar, recreational marina for people who actually used their boats. The city, not knowing any better, gave it to the Port. Who promptly drained over $2 mil a year from it for 30 years and then decreed that the tenants would have to pay to have it fixed up.

Many, many boats have voted with their keels and left. Many are up here in Blaine.

Why Blaine?

The Blaine Marina is new, about 4-5 years old. New docks, electrical. Free dinghy and kayak racks. All the amenities, including a lot of small things like a computer in the office to check email on for instance. Beautiful shower suites. Lots of parking, without any hassles about permits. Blaine Marine Park with pretty trails and fantastic views across the street. Semiahmoo Resort across the bay. Good places to bike, the Peace Arch and Birch Bay State Parks nearby. With a welcoming marina management, people who really care and enjoy their jobs.

Blaine is a friendly little border town, with most of what you need, a West Marine store within walking distance, Bellingham, Ferndale and Vancouver close by. In fact, about half the tenants are Canadians, who enjoy the easy access to the islands. There is also clearance through customs close by at White Rock into Canada, or in my own slip for US entry!

I love to go up there and just hang out. I feel like I'm at a resort.

All for a $100 a month less. And 17 miles away from Sucia Island or 20 miles to the Gulf Islands, to some of the best cruising and diving in the world! See more photos at Blaine Marina and: Sucia Island.

Blaine: View slideshow

Sucia Island: View slideshow

Looks like you made the only decision to me. I my had my Cape Dory 30 in Oriental NC for a few years, then moved her to Phoebus VA (Hampton Roads) to sail the Chesapeake.

I miss the sailing community, and but the number of ICW transients means you never get to know your slip mates.

I'll return her to Oriental spring/summer 06.

I envy the waters on which you sail. The links are awesome.

Do you have a link to sailboats for sail in Blaine area?

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About Jack

  • Adventurer, diver, sailor, photographer, writer and sometimes graphic designer. Proprietor of Optical Ocean Sales, LLC. Enjoy the blog, check back and please leave comments!
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