South Sound Cruising

Exploration Expedition

Our boat Murrelet has been located in the South Sound for more than 15 years.

Murrelet approaching Olympia Yacht CLub.

Murrelet approaching Olympia Yacht Club.

During that time we’ve explored many delightful coves, inlets, and anchorages. Here is a list of our 10 favorite places in the South Sound, all of which we plan to revisit and write about in 2016:





  1. Hope Island (South Puget Sound, not to be confused with the Hope Island farther north)
  2. Hammersley Inlet
  3. Jarrell Cove
  4. Vaughn Bay
  5. McMicken Island
  6. Joemma Beach State Park
  7. Oro Bay
  8. Penrose Point
  9. Cutts Island
  10. Boston Harbor

Combining our interests in history and sailing, we will look at how these locations have changed over time. They have been home to native peoples for centuries – and many of the local waterways were described in the journal of the Wilkes Exploration Expedition, which visited this region in the 19th century and named many of the sites (which already had Indian names).  When possible, we will compare Wilkes’ descriptions to what we see in 2016. His exploring expedition was called the “Ex Ex” for short, and we respectfully use the same term to describe our sailing journey in 2016. We also call it “XX” because our boat is a MacGregor 26x.

car and boat

We’ve trailered our boat to Vancouver Island, the San Juan Islands, Port Townsend, and other locations.

Ex Ex 2014

Murrelet at Olympia Yacht Club outstation.

Lake Union

With my family on Lake Union in Seattle.


Towing friends in our dinghy.

15 thoughts on “South Sound Cruising

  1. Lieutenant Wilks: I have mentioned these agricultural establishments as connected with the Hudson Bay Company, and they are in reality so; but as their charter precludes their engaging in these operations, another company has been organized, under the title of the “Puget Sound Company,” the shares of which are held by the officers, agents, and servants or the Hudson Bay Company, and its officers are exclusively chosen among them. Dr. M’Laughlin, for instance, chief officer and governor of Fort Vancouver, on the part of the Hudson Bay Company, is also a director of the Puget Sound Company… This Company have the supplying of all the forts and stations of the Hudson Bay Company on the west side of the American continent, and also furnish the Russian ports with grain, butter, and cheese… For some years previous to our arrival, they had not been able to meet their own wants, and at the same time fulfil their contracts with the Russians. They were therefore obliged to purchase from the settlers in the territory, as well as send to California, to procure the requisite quantity of agricultural products.

  2. The other land party consisted of lieutenant Wilks Messrs. Dayton and Waldron and two servants. From Astoria, Lieutenant Wilks was to have met the Peacock. From Astoria he proposed to to send parties from the Peacock into the interior, and to set on foot the survey of the Columpia river, by means of her boats.

  3. The land party intended to explore the interior, was placed under command of Lieutenant Johnson of the Porpoise. With him were associated Dr. Pickering, Mr. T. W. Waldron of the Porpoise, Mr. Backenridge, Sergeant Sterns, and two men. … to Wallawalla, and returning by the way of the Yakima.

  4. Note: Many sources give Lt. Wilkes the title “Captain.” After leaving the U.S., Wilkes summarily appointed as “Captain” himself and another Lieutenant, a move the Navy never approved. The master of a ship can be called “captain,” but in the Navy at the time, the officer in charge was addressed by his rank. Wilkes had a point. He was in charge of a large and complex expedition, but he held the same rank as most of his officers and the failure to promote him, even temporarily, was not only unfair, but generated one of many unproductive controversies over the next four years. See Nathaniel Philbrick, Sea of Glory: America’s Voyage of Discovery, The U.S. Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842 (New York: Viking, 2003), 67.

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