A Community Effort

Port of Brownsville has many amenities but maintains a peaceful, rustic setting.

  The Port of Brownsville’s charm, hospitality and community pride draw Arlene and me back repeatedly. Located on Washington’s Kitsap Peninsula in Burk Bay, Brownsville is accessible to most boaters in Puget Sound via one of two of the Sound’s two most scenic passages, Agate Pass or Rich Passage. Don’t let Brownville’s rustic Norman Rockwell-like appearance fool you. It is one of Puget Sound’s smallest marinas, yet it offers all the amenities of marinas many times its size, with the charm and rustic setting of a small rural community.

When you are arriving from the south, the marina comes into view as you clear University Point. The snow-capped Olympic Mountains stand proud in the background, as if they were guarding the marina and surrounding community.

Founded in 1920, Port of Brownsville is one of the most modern and environmentally friendly ports on Puget Sound. The port has earned both the EnviroStar and Clean Marina rating.

Enter the marina by rounding the southern end of the floating breakwater. First-come, first-served guest moorage is exposed to starboard. On our last visit, we selected one of the 20 available 40-foot guest slips. There is 550 linear feet of dock available to visiting boaters, and reservations by boat clubs can be made for guest moorage on the breakwater, so there is ample room for yacht club rendezvous and individual cruisers.

The entire guest moorage is serviced with 30-amp power, water, garbage drops and picnic tables on the 14-foot-wide cement breakwater, which provides protection from the wakes of passing boats in Port Orchard Passage.

On shore is a two-story building that houses the port office, Brownsville Yacht Club, a deli and restrooms with showers. A laundromat is in a small adjacent building, which also houses a small book exchange. The marina has a fuel dock that offers gas and diesel, and the port has two pumpouts. There is an over-the-water open-sided pavilion with picnic tables, gas heaters and a large gas barbecue. The facility has become a popular place with the boating community and for yacht club functions.

A short walk above the marina is Outlook Park, which offers a shelter, picnic tables, a large fire pit, a horseshoe pitch and a view of the marina.

The hub of the marina and surrounding community is the Brownsville Delicatessen, open seven days a week and justly famous for its sandwiches and generous portions. With indoor seating and an adjacent covered outdoor eating area, the deli is a gathering place for locals and boaters. Most Friday nights the deli features live music, and it’s a favorite gathering place for locals on Taco Tuesdays. We have found it a great place to meet local residents.

No visit to Brownsville is complete without a visit to Sweeney’s Country Style Meats, so we made the five-minute walk from the marina. The business specializes in smoked meats and cheeses of all kinds. Our favorite are the Louisiana smoked hot links, though we have found the German sausage, pepperoni, beef jerky and smoked ribs are also very delicious.

Don’t forget the camera when visiting this picturesque port. Photographers love it because it’s a working marina with a healthy mix of fishing boats, classic yachts and recreational boats. If you enjoy photographing wildlife, then at high tide, row the dinghy or paddle your kayak under the Illahee Bridge and up Burke Bay into another world — a quiet, half-mile-long bayou that is home to herons, bald eagles, river otters and ducks of all kinds.

In the fall, I suggest making the threequarters- of-a-mile walk up the road to visit Steele Creek and see returning salmon. Port of Brownsville completed a culvert replacement project a few years ago, creating a more natural channel for migrating salmon. During the previous autumns, community volunteers would catch and carry the salmon above a pair of culverts that blocked their migration. Now, the rehabilitated stream is a great place to watch migrating and spawning salmon begin and complete the cycle of life.

Once a year, the entire area comes together for Brownsville Appreciation Day. It’s always scheduled for the fourth Sunday in September to celebrate the community. Everyone is welcome to enjoy a day of fun, including live music, boat rides and tours, face painting and hotdogs.