Downtown Poulsbo and port slide into the holiday season | The Scuttlebutt

By Stephen Swann, Commissioner Port of Poulsbo

  • Friday, December 7, 2018 3:25pm
  • Opinion

December is a great time for a visit to Downtown Poulsbo and the port’s marina. Carriage rides are underway on weekends, and “small business” local shopping is always fashionable. A donation to the Salvation Army’s hardy bellringer on Front Street is always an important part of our community giving. Looking for other opportunities to support this generous and incredible community? Remember the Poulsbo Noon Lions Club’s Bellringer Program and North Kitsap Fishline, stars of the West Sound Community.

ANNUAL CITY-PORT MEETING. Poulsbo’s city council graciously hosted on October 24th the joint meeting between port commissioners and the council at City Hall. Several important topics were discussed, including continuing siltation of Liberty Bay and the port’s major capital improvement plan for 2020. Documented siltation over the last twenty or more years significantly impedes vessel and seaplane access to marina docks. At a very low, “minus” tide, the marina’s office-barge and seaplane dock (adjacent to Waterfront Park) are “hard” aground! Solutions being considered include dredging, both costly and cumbersome in regards to the permitting process. The Port is also investigating moving the docks further out into Liberty Bay’s deeper water.

Commissioners explained the Marina improvement plan — including removal of the creosote breakwater finally — is on track. Construction is expected to begin Fall 2020. The plan includes installation of a 1,000 foot floating breakwater near the present location of the existing wall of rotting timbers. Funding has been a paramount concern for the last decade or longer. (One estimate for just the removal of the existing creosote breakwater is over $1 million!) With the assistance of the port’s new grant writer, Susan O’Meara, and a sharp pencil, the commission is optimistic that the necessary funding will surface.


Rumors that the Bay is on the environmental mend are true. Among the several contributing factors is the Pump-Out Guy. In 2017, Terry and Sons initiated a free vessel pump-out service in the Puget Sound region, and importantly in Liberty Bay. The Port supports this popular and successful enterprise, and assesses resident boaters $.75 per month for the Pump-Out Guy’s operations. Visiting boaters also contribute.


A special “kudos” to the PBA is well deserved. This organization of volunteer boaters at the Poulsbo Marina regularly undertakes studies and projects to support the Port’s small staff. A recent example has been its review of requirements of new state-wide regulations implementing stricter rules for boats’ AC electrical current discharges from shore-line connections in the Marina. A very real safety concern is the danger of “electric shock drowning” due to excessive current from vessel shore-ties. Reducing ground-fault protection from 100 milliamps to only 30 milliamps is proposed in the regulations. However with the lower 30mA standard, the practical risk is that docks and boats will suffer total power loss because of overloaded circuitry. The Port’s adoption of proposed standards is being investigated. The PBA has worked diligently to educate the Marina community and Port staff.


Have you seen the two ships which have visited Liberty Bay for six years? The American Spirit and the American Constellation, each over 200 feet, made thirty visits to Poulsbo in 2018. In recent weeks, the cruise line in Connecticut announced its 2019 schedule…. and plans for fifty-two port calls to Poulsbo! Our common goal – City and Port – remains unchanged; i.e., get an overnight visit, before these ships continue on to Seattle for the final day of their weekly cruises. The next scheduled arrival, for the American Constellation, is Wednesday, April 3 (2019). Passengers are tendered into the Marina around 9:00 am, for a half-day visit. If you see “early morning” tourists wondering around Front Street, say “hello” and welcome them to Poulsbo.


The term “bitter end” query last month generated two responses. Jana Brown explains: “The bitt end (or bitter end) refers to the final part of the anchor rope near to where the rope is fixed to the ship’s deck. Usually marked with coloured rags, the bitter end gets its name from the bollards (or bitts) on the deck to which the anchor rope was tied.” John Alder’s confirms: “bitter end is the inboard end (fastened to the vessel) of an anchor cable.” In common language nowadays, it usually relates to the conclusion of a difficult or unpleasant situation.

Thanks to readers Jana and John for their contributions.

Here’s a new one: “heard through the grapevine.” (No, not a Motown term!) Send your best “guess” on this term to the Port’s email address, The first response with the correct answer will be recognized in The Scuttlebutt’s next issue.

Got a naval term to offer? Don’t be shy… you too can contribute to our community’s nautical heritage and The Scuttlebutt.