Double Island – Exploring the Central San Juan Islands (Part 1)

Word of mouth is a good thing, right? A fellow sailor told us of a pretty anchorage between Double Island and Orcas Island, so we planned our first visit. The nautical chart aboard our sailboat shows two adjacent islands connecting at low tide. Locals refer to them as Big Double Island and Little Double Island (aka Alegria Island). Sailing north into West Sound at the eastern end of Wasp Passage, we skirted the west shore and dropped anchor south of the shallow pass between the Double Island group and Orcas Island. Pretty anchorage, yes, but scant protection if a strong south wind should blow and shove us onto a lee shore. Soon wakes from ferry and boat traffic transiting Wasp Passage rolled us from side to side, confirming our suspicions why we had the anchorage almost to ourselves.


S/V Kelpie – Double Island (left) and Orcas Island (right)

Later, we learned that most boaters and a few charter vessels, like the S/V Adventuress, favor anchoring north of the shallow pass and south of Victim Island in a fairly well-protected cove. From experience, we recommend this anchorage in the summer, but only on a temporary basis during light wind and good weather in the winter. Holding ground is suitable, but we could hear the anchor chain dragging over rocks as our boat drifted in the slight current created by the rise and fall of the tide. On rare occasion, our anchor or chain have snagged on a rock and we’ve freed them by pulling the boat in different directions using the engine.

But don’t let that stop you from anchoring in this pleasant cove. We’ve met new sailing friends and we’ve been entertained. Once kids from Four Winds Camp north of Victim Island boarded the camp’s sailboat dressed as pirates and serenaded us with sea shanties. And we still joke about the time the S/V Adventuress hosted a girl scout troop aboard, dreaming they were below decks baking cookies for all of us yachties. Right!


S/V Adventuress

One of the benefits of anchoring at Double Island is we can leave the larger boat and go exploring in the dinghy. In our case, we own a small 10-ft. inflatable with a 15-hp. outboard engine. In good weather—meaning flat water rather than lack of rain—we can reach Orcas Landing to rendezvous with guests arriving by ferry, shop for groceries at the market, and drop a scenic San Juan Islands postcard at the post office.

If we’re hungry for island cuisine, there is the historic Orcas Hotel‘s dining room or cafe and a few other eateries. Tourists browse the handful of souvenir shops while they wait for a ferry or board the Orcas Express to take a whale watching cruise. Operated by Orcas Island Eclipse Charters, the tour boat is moored at the public county dock next to the ferry where we tie our dinghy. Residents and visitors alike shop for groceries and picnic items at the Orcas Village Store. Very handy, when you are anchored at Double Island.


Orcas Landing – Orcas Hotel (upper left), Orcas Express (dock), and Orcas Village Store (center)

A few minutes’ ride across Harney Channel, the unique, old-fashioned Shaw General Store (aka Little Portion Store) with its vintage post office is worth a visit. Local residents congregate here to shop and pick up their mail, exchanging warm greetings and islander news. I was surprised to learn the mail is retrieved by boat from Orcas Landing, where a Washington State Ferry has delivered it from the mainland.


Shaw Island Ferry Dock

The Shaw Island mail boat is tied behind the larger boat by the ramp in the below photo. Both boats are moored with bows facing the channel to prevent propeller wash from incoming ferries and wakes from passing boats to sweep over the transoms. Visitors with kayaks and dinghies can land at a small pebble beach on the Blind Bay side of the ferry landing. Otherwise, customers are allowed to tie up at the store’s small private marina. Formerly operated by Franciscan nuns, the store still offers a wide variety of organic foods and local handcrafted gifts.


Shaw General Store and Marina

“Seek the Lord while He may be found. Call upon Him while He is near.” (Isaiah 55:6 – NKJV)

In Part 2, I’ll share about other destinations, including Deer Harbor and West Sound. Thank you for reading!




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Doe Island – A Gem for Sea Kayakers

My father introduced my husband and I to sea kayaking while we were living aboard our sailboat in Everett Marina. We met at nearby Silver Lake to try out his Easy Rider kayak, bringing our sailing dinghy along for fun. A few years earlier, I’d taken a two-week canoe trip through the Bowron Lakes in British Columbia for college PE (physical education) credit. What a spectacular summer! My younger brother worked for a few years at Eddyline kayaks about the same time, so two members of my family owned these unique boats. Soon after our first paddle in a kayak, I began taking classes at a local university for my master’s degree in teaching. There I met a gal who led kayak tours with her husband in the San Juan Islands. It turned out they were leading the very group my father invited us to join that summer—a circumnavigation around Lopez Island.

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English Soft-boiled Eggs – An Easy Recipe

My English husband’s favorite breakfast consists of two soft-boiled eggs with slices of buttered toast on a warm plate. Adding crispy slices of bacon or sausages round out this savory British breakfast. Egg cups and egg cozies to keep the cooked eggs warm come in a variety of themes and sizes to suit every décor and taste. We happen to own a pair of chicken egg cups given to us as a gift and a set of hand-knitted lamb egg cozies. Follow the instructions below to whip up this simple morning fare.

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Satellite Island – Camp Orkila’s Outpost

Stuart Island is a favorite destination of ours with its marine state park, one room schoolhouse, and Turn Point Light Station where visitors often see pods of Orca whales. Two sheltered harbors give boaters safe anchorage, but we prefer Reid Harbor because we like to zip across Spieden Channel to Roche Harbor in our 10-ft. inflatable when the weather and current are favorable. Other boaters prefer picturesque Prevost Harbor, home to fun-filled Satellite Island.

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Mt. Baker and Satellite Island

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GRW’s 2016 Unpublished Maggie Award for Excellence in Inspirational Romance Finalist

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I’m excited to be a finalist in the Georgia Romance Writers’ 2016 Maggie Award for Excellence contest for unpublished manuscripts in the Inspirational Romance category. Thank you to my special friends and critique partners, Mary Hamilton and Peggy Wirgau, for sifting through my words and mining for the gems — one more time. And to my friends in ACFW and My Book Therapy, thanks for your advice, encouragement, and support. I’m grateful for each and every one of you!


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Sentinel Island – The Last Island Homestead

We motored our sailboat northwest toward the narrow channel between Sentinel and Spieden islands, hoping to spot a few of the exotic animals grazing on the golden grass of the latter island before sunset. Suddenly, we realized we were losing power and our forward momentum dropped to nil. Drifting backward like a cork in the current toward Green Point’s strong riptides off the southeastern tip of Spieden Island, we scrambled to launch the inflatable dinghy with its 15-hp. outboard engine from the stern davits.


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Kouign Amann – A French Pastry

Pinch me! Am I in the middle of Paris? One taste of a delicious, buttery, flaky Kouign Amann at the Breadfarm Bakery in Bow Valley, Washington, convinced me I needed to find a recipe for this French pastry. The origin of this taste sensation started in the 1800s in Brittany, France. The Breton name means “cake-butter,” referring to the layers of butter and sugar folded into a yeast dough. Fresh fruit, chocolate, cinnamon, and coconut often fill many Kouign Amann pastries.


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Turn Island – A Washington State Marine Park

Boat camping in the San Juan Islands is a lot of fun! Toss a tent, sleeping bag, and cooking gear ashore and sleep under the stars beside the sea. Sound idyllic? It is—especially after sailing, paddling, or kayaking to your destination with family and friends. One summer, good sailing friends took pity on us when we had to leave our sailboat in a dusty boatyard to have its hull resealed. They invited us to sail to the islands aboard their twenty-foot Flicka. Without room for all four of us to sleep aboard, my husband and I pitched our backpacking tent on the beach. We experienced the best of both worlds and so can you!

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Sailing by Washington State’s Cactus Islands

Moisture sweeps in from the Pacific Ocean, tumbling down as rain or snow on the western slopes of the Olympic Mountains on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Heavy clouds spill 12 to 14 feet of rain each year in the Hoh Rain Forest as they drift northeast before wringing another 18 to 20 inches over the San Juan Islands. Combining this weather pattern with the unique topography of the archipelago and a perfect climate exists for the Brittle Prickly Pear cactus to inhabit San Juan Island, Yellow Island, and the Cactus Islands.


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A Tea Trivia Quiz

One of my favorite restaurants to sip tea with family and friends is the Abbey Garden Tea Room in the Fairhaven area in Bellingham, Washington. Established in 1998, it is a contemporary, British-styled tea room with interior décor similar to The British Pantry in Seattle and the James Bay Tea Room in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Over 40 kinds of loose leaf teas are served alone or with savory and sweet menu items, so everyone may discover the tea they like best.

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