Libation Liberation

Published on August 3rd, 2017

In this story in Northwest Yachting Magazine about boats and beer, Greg Van Belle is making us want to relocate to the Puget Sound.


It had been a long day. Our maiden trip on our new boat was a delivery from Olympia to Everett, and if all had gone to plan we would have been riding a nice ebb current north through the narrows, getting us all the way home in one long push.

But all hadn’t gone according to plan. Some issues over getting the keys from the previous owner, some last-minute questions about the boat’s systems, a little extra time getting the boat provisioned, some electronics confusion, and a last-minute run to the store all conspired to delay our departure by a couple of hours. Our timing was off, so we slogged through unfamiliar South Sound waters apparently hitting every contrary current to be found.

At least the weather seemed to be cooperating. The spring sun broke through the high clouds around midday. What little wind we picked up was behind us. As we cleared the Narrows, however, we could only watch as dark clouds filled in around Point Defiance. A confused wind set in from the southwest, then turned and blew from the east. This was no dangerous storm, but none of us felt like pushing through the squall and the others we knew would be blowing through all night.

Our late start and slow progress called for a quick change of plans. Rather than steaming on into the darkness, we made the decision to duck into Gig Harbor for the night. If there is a finer harbor in Puget Sound, I have yet to find it.

Once inside the incredibly narrow entrance, there was no hint of the blustery wind on the outside. On this particular spring evening, the bay was almost mirror-calm and only a handful of boats were sitting at anchor. We made a quick pass, found our spot, and dropped anchor on our new boat for the first time.

Once settled at anchor, Ron, my close friend and the co-owner of the boat, called out of the cabin with bad news. We forgot the beer. Of course we did. In addition to the punch list of things needing attention on the new boat, this matter needed to be remedied. There is no tradition as satisfying as what we call the “landfall beer.” Once our day’s cruising is done and we’re safely moored for the night, that first beer is its own reward.

Of course, we could have made a quick trip to the grocery to grab a six-pack or two, but this is the Pacific Northwest, and fresh, locally brewed beer is never far away. We dropped the dinghy off the davits, motored into docks and began exploring our options.

Over those beers, we hatched a plan. Once this delivery was done, our next trip was going to be in search of the best brewery on Puget Sound.

Back onboard we pulled out the charts and poured another round from the glass growler we had bought and filled back at the brewery. Our plan was made. We would seek out the breweries that turn their gaze toward the water. – Full story

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