Here’s our latest installment from Three Sheets Northwest guest columnist Jim Burgoyne of

Port Angeles, with Mount Angeles and the Olympic Mountains rising behind. (Photo by Wester Van)

If the San Juan Island ports of Friday Harbor and Roche Harbor are Armani sunglasses and Cabernet, Port Angeles is denim and beer.

People work in PA, sweat on their brows, grease on their knuckles. For many of us, it makes for a warmer ambiance.

If that is you, too, Port Angeles offers a pleasant alternative for cruisers entering the US from southern Vancouver Island. It’s a 17NM jaunt across the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Victoria to welcoming Ediz Hook which wraps a long protective arm around the PA’s often busy harbor.

Along the southwest shore of the harbor is a breakwater protecting the Port Angeles Boat Haven, a marina that is home to a US Customs dock. Near the marina office is a phone where boaters report their arrival and a Customs officer soon arrives to complete clearance formalities.

If moorage is required, marina staff say it is extremely rare, perhaps unheard of, for a vessel not in the “superyacht” category to be turned away from the marina. Slips up to 50 feet and side ties for vessels up to 100 feet are available. Call ahead at 360-457-4505 to confirm, or email

The marina also hosts the Port Angeles Yacht Club, which has reciprocal arrangements with many area clubs.

Here we also met cruisers who had sailed down from Alaska. Others were preparing to set off for Hawaii or recovering from a pounding up from Mexico.

The marina is outside the downtown area and provisioning requires a bit of a hike. For moorage closer to town, the docks at the City Pier are a good option in typical summer weather if power and water are not required. But when westerly winds pipe up to 30 knots and beyond, the City Pier floats offer little protection and can rock uncomfortably.

For provisions, there is a Safeway supermarket at S Lincoln and E 3rd streets, a 15-20-minute stroll from the Boat Haven. The Country Aire Natural Foods is not far away, at E 1st and S Oak streets. There are many other shops and restaurants. A Walmart and Costco are a bus ride away from the downtown transit center.

The car ferry to Victoria offers a great opportunity to meet up with family and friends from the island, coming or going. You could maybe coax a friend to bring over their car, providing the gang with transport into the mountains for a couple days.

The visitor center on the waterfront between the ferry terminal and the City Pier has information about hiking excursions up into Olympic National Park, in the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge or along the Olympic Discovery Trail. PA, and the nearby community of Sequim, have many other attractions and things to do.

The wild shores of the Dungeness Wildlife Refuge east of Post Angeles. (Photo by Yao Melode)

If no one offers to bring their wheels, rent some for a couple days, or take advantage of the excellent Clallam County bus system. Catch a bus to Forks, a base camp city for mountain adventures that is 90 minutes away.

Port Angeles is the sort of place that you pull into, hardly seems worth the bother, but grows on you if you take the time to let it.

(Salish Sea Pilot guides currently don’t cover Port Angeles, but that will change in coming editions.)