This is the best feeling, gliding across a wide expanse of calm water, with no one around for miles. Sometimes I let myself imagine that the water is land, and the feeling is surreal because you really can't get this experience driving a vehicle across land. There may be a few middle-of-nowhere on a motorcycle spots that get close, but it's probably not quite as peaceful as being on the water.
We left Alderbrook this morning around 7:30am. We thought we might head up to Quilcene Bay where I found a couple of public beaches open for oyster harvesting. We stopped in Hoodsport again at the public dock (which was much, MUCH calmer than it was a few days ago) and walked up to the Shell Station next to the Hood River Market to get ourselves some shellfish licenses.
Today was cloudy with some occasional sun and blue sky, and water that was calm as can be for our cruise back up the canal.
I was browsing the good, public, open oyster beaches, and found one just south of Pleasant Harbor that looked easily accessible by dinghy, so we headed to Pleasant Harbor again.
We arrived at about 11:30am, and low tide was at 11:52am, so Kevin quickly deployed the dinghy while I grabbed a couple oyster knives, a couple bowls, and a couple of ziploc bags and a towel and then we headed south around the point toward the Duckabush public tidelands. According to the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, Duckabush was formally a commercial oyster beach, and is a superb place to harvest oysters. We also checked the shellfish safety information and all looked good for our chosen spot.
Heading around the point in the Zodiac:
Hey look! Oyster beds!
The rules for harvesting oysters is that each licensed person can get 18 oysters. The oysters must be shucked on the beach and the shells left at the same tide level where the oyster was found. The low tide was 3 feet, so we mainly just hung in the Zodiac and gathered and shucked from there. Pretty quickly we each had our limit so we headed back to Airship for some recipe research. (We each had one fresh on the half shell right there and it was great!
We figured we might pan fry them with some Panko bread crumbs back at the boat, so we opted to get some of the larger ones. This here's a big'un (so delicate, though):
This one had a little Chiton buddy so we put him back:
Counting travel time to and from Duckabush, we spent about an hour and a half total…36 oysters and a really fun experience! The oysters are EVERYWHERE and it's super easy to find single oysters (rather then clumped together oysters, harder to shuck).
See you (maybe) tomorrow, Duckabush.
Kevin, drivin' the Zodiac:
On our way back into Pleasant Harbor, just around the point, Kevin tapped me on the arm and pointed. There was a large bald eagle flying just in front of us toward the rocks with a fairly big fish hanging from his talons.
We killed the engine and rowed along the shore watching him tear at it. All I had was my Fuji x100s (fixed, wide angle lens), but I managed to get a couple of cool shots, even though the action was pretty far away for that camera. The eagle is just to the left of that stump:
We may have gotten too close for his comfort, because he made a few loud calls and pretty soon two more bald eagles were flying overhead and hanging out in the trees near him. Was he calling for backup so he could enjoy his meal, or advertising he had a fresh kill to share?
It was a great first oyster gathering experience and I think we may head back over at low tide tomorrow, before we head north toward Port Townsend. We'll probably go to Port Hadlock tomorrow, and then on to Port Townsend on Sunday. The marina at Point Hudson (Port Townsend) is full over the weekend due to the 2015 Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby (which starts today and ends Sunday).
From the PT Leader: "The derby includes 500 square miles of fishing, five weigh stations (Freshwater Bay, Ediz Hook in Port Angeles, John Wayne Marina in Sequim, Gardiner and Port Townsend Boat Haven). It boasts a $10,000 first prize, with new prizes coming in daily. The total purse is more than $20,000, including four $500 mystery fish prizes for fish of at least 6 pounds. Most prizes are donated by area businesses and residents; the largest single donation is the $1,000 third prize, donated by 7 Cedars Casino in Blyn."