My first impression of Decatur Island, upon spotting a sprawling farmhouse, cherry trees in full bloom with black-faced sheep grazing beneath them in sunny Sylvan Cove, was pastoral. And inviting! Homes, some of them built by award-winning architects, peek at you from among towering Douglas fir trees surrounding the bay. Use your imagination to springtime this photo, taken later in the summer.
Travel to this private island, divided into three homeowner’s associations (Decatur Northwest, Decatur Shores, and Decatur Head Beach Association), is by small plane or water taxi. Several times, the friendly residents have waved to us from the Paraclete when they’ve passed us at anchor on the way to the community dock. The boat is equipped with a ladder in the bow that can be flipped forward and downward so that passengers can disembark on the beach. A tricky maneuver, if there are waves from other boats or strong winds.
One afternoon, an islander joined us for an afternoon of dinghy sailing!
One of the benefits from anchoring is that your cat cannot hop the dock, go exploring, and get lost. Here is Urchin, our orange tabby cat, who grew up on our boat the first five years of his life.
Throughout the summer, a farmer’s market is held on Decatur Island at the one room schoolhouse. One student attends the K-8 school now, but the building is used by the community for social and political events all year. A general store meets the residents’ basic needs.
If you visit in August, you are almost guaranteed an opportunity to watch baby eagles take their first flying lessons from a nest on the western shore of Sylvan Cove. Eagles are a spectacular sight, no matter their age!
Now for the sheep story! Settlers brought a flock to the island in the 1890’s, but turned them loose to fend for themselves. In 1985, a sheep rancher visited Decatur Island and informed the islanders that the 200 sheep were in ill health and needed more grazing room. Two shepherds, with five Border Collies, took a week to coral the unwilling animals in rainy weather. They were sold and a smaller flock of Scottish Blackface sheep, better suited to the island, graze here.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:1-3)
Thank you for reading!