Westport


Westport is located on the Washington coast, on the South Coast and at the entrance to Grays Harbor.  There are many points of interest for the visitor to Washington’s South Coast, including beaches, cranberry bogs, parks, and hiking trails.

Westport map

The main draw for Westport is boating and fishing. As you can see from this aerial view found at the Westport-Grayland Chamber of Commerce’s website, a large marina occupies a sheltered harbor here.  This is home to fishing vessels and commercial charter boats, as well as private boats.  Chinook and Coho salmon fishing is very popular, as various seasons run from May through January.  Albacore tuna migrate into the area July-October.  Other fishing includes rock fish, ling cod, and a limited quota of halibut.  At certain times of year, some of the charters take people out to watch migrating whales.

Westport aerial

With tuna, there can be concerns about mercury content, but that seems to be lower here than in many places.  By canning my own albacore I am assured of the source and quality of the fish.  Plus the flavor is sooooo good.

According to Seafood Connection, where I buy my fish, “The tuna that migrate close to Westport every year are smaller albacore, usually averaging about 16 pounds.  Their higher body fat gives them an excellent flavor and makes them very high in Omega-3s – almost 1400mg per 2 ounce serving!  Their mercury content is lower than supermarket albacore – similar to chunk light tuna.”

It is the availability of fresh line-caught albacore that draws me to Westport every summer.  The reason for my trek is the tuna, but I always make a day of it, to enjoy the scenery and the ocean breeze.  Every year, it seems I find something new to explore.  This year, after I learned about Washaway Beach I had lunch at a little restaurant across the street from Westport Light

Also known as theGrays Harbor Light.  Standing 107 feet tall, it is the tallest lighthouse in Washington, and the third tallest on the West Coast.  In 1898, the lighthouse stood just 400 feet from high tide. Massive amounts of accretion, due in large part to the jetty system at the entrance to Garys Harbor, have since built up, and the lighthouse currently stands approximately 3000 feet from high tide.
Also known as the Grays Harbor Light. Standing 107 feet tall, it is the tallest lighthouse in Washington, and the third tallest on the West Coast. In 1898, the lighthouse stood just 400 feet from high tide. Massive amounts of accretion, due in large part to the jetty system at the entrance to Garys Harbor, have since built up, and the lighthouse currently stands approximately 3000 feet from high tide.

Then it was on to Westport’s waterfront where I discovered Float 20, the Fisherman’s Boardwalk.  What could be more welcoming?

Welcoming sign and sea gull at Westport, WA, Float 20
Welcoming sign and sea gull at Westport, WA, Float 20

While strolling the length of this long pier, seen at the far right in the aerial view above, I saw a brown pelican hanging out with his little buddies.

at Westport, WA, Float 20
at Westport, WA, Float 20

I walked past a fine-looking commercial fishing vessel.

F/V Privateer in Westport, WA, harbor
F/V Privateer in Westport, WA, harbor

and, turning seaward, saw a couple of boats homeward bound.

A charter fishing boat returning to Westport harbor, apparently in a race with the smaller sport fishing boat.
A charter fishing boat returning to Westport harbor, apparently in a race with the smaller sport fishing boat.

Then, the batteries went dead in my camera, so I went back to where I had parked the car.  While putting fresh batteries in the camera, I got curious about a nearby white monument.

at Westport, WA, near Float 20
at Westport, WA, near Float 20

and felt drawn to take a closer look.

Fishermans memorial-tile

As I circled the monument, reading every plaque, I felt a lump form in my throat as I thought of these modern day adventurers and the loved ones they left behind.  Going out to sea is dangerous business.  I couldn’t help thinking of the movie “Perfect Storm” and the song, “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”.

As I approached the monument, a yellow-vested man who was watering the planter boxes smiled at me.  Five minutes later, as I headed back to my car, he made eye contact with me and nodded solemnly as though thanking me for honoring the memory of those mariners lost at sea.  How many times have I seen that white marker in the distance and paid it no heed?  As I drove away, I felt that spending those five minutes was the best thing I would spend all day.

Then I drove around the marina to another parking space near Float 8 where I would find my albacore waiting, filleted and ready to go.  It’s right there, in that floating fish shop with the blue roof.

Westport, WA, harbor.  The little brown shack with a blue roof is Seafood Connection.  The seafood retailer's barge is moored on Float 8 year-round.
Westport, WA, harbor. The little brown shack with a blue roof is Seafood Connection. The seafood retailer’s barge is moored on Float 8 year-round.

It was a fine day, full of so many beautiful and interesting sights.  Thank you for sharing it with me.

 

References:
http://westportgrayland-chamber.org/index.php
http://portofgraysharbor.com/westport/westportFishingInfo.phphttp://www.westportwa.com/seafood/WestportAlbacoreTuna.php
http://www.westportwashington.org/lighthouse

 

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5 thoughts on “Westport

  1. Looks like another fun trip, Briar! The lighthouse doesn’t look that tall, which says a lot about the surrounding trees! I’m guessing the sand from Washaway Beach wound up at the lighthouse?

    I read a Consumer Reports article on mercury in fish, and saw where albacore has one of the highest levels of mercury. Even though the stuff you bought is supposed to be lower in mercury, I’d still recommend a blood test yearly(you probably already do this) to make sure your mercury levels don’t rise.

    I probably would’ve read the plaques, too. In a way, the lost seamen live forever.

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    1. With the amount of albacore we eat, I’m not really worried about the mercury, but they have had the fish analyzed and the mercury content is lower than average. Since the fish are smaller, they are probably also younger and have had less time to ingest mercury than older, bigger fish.

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  2. Love, love, love this post! You caught the essence of this working harbor in both photos and words. Had I had my eyes wide open when I moved to the PNW I would be living in Westport, not Ocean Shores. The difference is the visitors; Westport gets tourists, but it is also a working community of men and women who work the sea. Ocean Shores only has it’s beaches, and some fresh water lakes and canals. But it is a tourist destination first and foremost….people from the I-5 corridor…and I have a real love/hate relationship with that.

    Next trip over…depending on the time of year (now is good), Float 20 (the last float on the east end) is the best place to observe the godwits that tend to collect on the rock groin next to the Coast Guard boat basin. Bar-tailed Godwits can be seen here among the Marbled Godwits.

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    1. I have noticed that difference, too. When I visit Ocean Shores the “feel” is very different. It is hard not to notice the type of houses and also the fact that half of them are obviously unoccupied for much of the time. Over in Westport, the houses are neat and clean, but definitely look like ordinary working people’s homes, not vacation houses and time share condos. Somehow, to me, Westport seems both more welcoming of folks like me who wander over from the I-5 corridor and more interesting in terms of things to see and do.

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  3. […] One of my favorite places to go for a daytrip is the Washington coast and, in particular, the area around Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor.  The town of Raymond, located where the Willapa River enters the bay, is just 70 miles and 1½ hours from home.  I have passed through it many times on my way to explore Washaway Beach or the fishing town of Westport. […]

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