Lighthouse Series - Stage 6

Commencement Bay

Browns Point Light

Photos needed. Come swim!

Photos needed. Come swim!

← 6.3 m / 10.1 km →


Gig Harbor Light

Photos needed. Come swim!

Photos needed. Come swim!


The swim includes a close-up look at the Tacoma Waterfront, including a crossing of Commencement Bay, a length of Ruston Way, Owen Beach, and a crossing of the top of the Narrows.

The crossing intersects with the entrance to a major port, as well as one ferry route and other busy cargo corridors. Additionally, very strong tide rips can from in Dalco Pass and the Narrows. For this reason, additional qualification requirements apply.


Applicants must have completed one other Lighthouse Series swim to qualify for this swim.

From NOAA Coast Pilots

Commencement Bay entrance lies 18 miles south of Alki Point and 56 miles south of Point Wilson. The bay is about 2.5 miles in length, easy of access, and free of dangers. Log storage grounds are off the northeast shore of the bay.

Tacoma the second city in size and importance on the sound, occupies the south and southwest shores of Commencement Bay, and its residential area has grown north into Seattle’s south suburbs, and to Steilacoom on the southwest.

The Port of Tacoma is a rapidly expanding major port, second only to Seattle in maritime importance on Puget Sound. Its exports include lumber and other wood products, grain, refined metals, machinery, general and containerized cargo; imports include alumina, and refined steel, automobiles, electronic equipment, rubber, and meat. Much of the Alaska trade originates here.

On entering Commencement Bay, either from the north via East Passage or Colvos Passage or from the south via The Narrows and Dalco Passage, Dash Point, Browns Point, and Point Defiance are prominent.Browns Point Light (47°18'21"N., 122°26'39"W.), 38 feet above the water, is shown from a 35-foot white concrete house on Browns Point. Once inside the bay, numerous stacks, tanks, and towers are visible.

Gig Harbor is an inlet about 1 mile long on the west side of the south entrance to Colvos Passage abreast Point Defiance. A private light is on the south end of the sandspit, at the east side of the entrance, which makes out for 220 yards and constricts the entrance to less than 100 yards wide. A narrow 10-foot channel in the middle has currents of considerable velocity. Inside the entrance the basin has from 3 to 5 fathoms. An obstruction with a least depth of 8 feet was reported in the harbor in about 47°20'14"N., 122°35'06"W. The surrounding land, partially cleared of timber, slopes gently toward the shores and is thickly settled.

The town of Gig Harbor extends along the west shore and the head of the harbor. It is the home port of many pleasure craft and fishing boats. The town has a boatyard with three marine railways and one crane. The larger of the three railways can handle craft to 150 tons for hull and engine repairs. There are many private piers and wharves, including one gasoline float. There are many marinas here. Berths, gasoline, diesel fuel, water, ice, launching ramps and marine supplies are available in the harbor. Most of the pleasure craft moor at one of the marinas at the head of the harbor.

On entering Gig Harbor, hold midway between the spit on the east side and the west shore until just inside the entrance. Then swing right toward the east shore until past the short spit extending from the west shore, and steer a course just south of midchannel into the harbor.