Vendovi Island – A Model Nature Preserve

My husband and I met John Fluke, Sr., the owner of Vendovi Island, in the early 1980s while employed at his high tech engineering firm, John Fluke Mfg. Co., Inc., in Everett, Washington. I helped the new in-house patent attorney apply for engineering patents with the U.S. Patent Office. One of my fondest memories was a surprise birthday celebration. The late John Fluke, Sr. had an office close to my department and my colleagues invited him to sing happy birthday to me. My husband enjoyed a similar experience when this big-hearted man entered his cubicle a few days after he was hired and asked him how things were going. Befriending his employees was Mr. Fluke’s management style, and it was a pleasure to work for him.


Photo credit Ferdi Businger – San Juan Preservation Trust

At some point, we learned that he owned Vendovi Island, a 217-acre island located seven miles north of Anacortes and sandwiched between Guemes, Lummi, and Samish Islands near the entrance to Bellingham Bay. He used his private boat, the Lyla M (named after his wife), to reach the family retreat. One summer, we sailed to Desolation Sound in British Columbia, Canada, for our vacation and anchored in the same cove with the Fluke family enjoying their vacation. Quite the surprise, since it took us five days to reach this remote wilderness.

Fluke_9511-1024The Fluke family purchased Vendovi Island in 1965 and sold it on December 15, 2010 to the San Juan Preservation Trust for $6.4 million. It was the third largest island under single private ownership, so it is significant that the land trust acquired the property, protecting it for future generations for the purposes of education, scientific research, and low-impact public access.


Photo credit San Juan Preservation Trust

Day use is permitted May 1st through September 30th from 10 am to 6 pm.  Visitors are required to use the 80-foot dock behind the rock breakwater or land on the beach in the northern cove of the island to protect the underwater eel grass habitat. The two caretakers are often willing to give tours of the island’s two developed acres. These include the Fluke family home, cemetery, and several outbuildings, one of which houses an old steam engine that used to run a sawmill. Groups of 10 or more are requested to contact the caretakers in advance of a visit.


  Photo credit

Relatively unknown, this new island destination offers pebble beaches, old growth forests, wildflower meadows, and wetlands. Three miles of easy trails allow a hiker to walk through Douglas firs, big leaf maples, and western red cedars. Sword ferns, salal, salmonberries and thimbleberries fringe the paths. It’s a great place to take the family.


Photo credit N. Knoll – San Juan Preservation Trust

In the spring and summer months, the southern grasslands bloom with flowering camas, paintbrush, and fawn lilies. No deer are living on the island to eat them.


Photo credit Ferdi Businger – San Juan Preservation Trust

Many sea birds, eagles, raptors including Peregrine falcons and long-eared owls, and a colony of nesting pigeon guillemots (photo below) visit or live here.


Photo credit Ferdi Businger – San Juan Preservation Trust

Native Americans used the island as a seasonal camp due to its proximity to the Fraser River Sockeye salmon. Shell middens, piles of seashells, dating back to the 19th century indicate they gathered shellfish. Berries and roots supplemented their diet.


Photo credit Will Fisher – San Juan Preservation Trust

In 1841, Captain Charles Wilkes arrived from the South Pacific with a captured Fijian chief named Vendovi who he’d apprehended for the deaths of the crew of a U.S. whaling ship, Charles Daggett, and was transporting to New York for trial. The island is named for this man.


Photo credit Ferdi Businger – San Juan Preservation Trust

“The LORD reigns; let the earth rejoice; Let the multitude of isles be glad.”
(Psalm 97:1 – NKJV)

I hope you’ve enjoyed exploring Vendovi Island. It’s there for the visiting.

Thank you for reading!




Photo credit San Juan Preservation Trust

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2 Responses to Vendovi Island – A Model Nature Preserve

  1. Minorkle says:

    Mr. Fluke was a great hearted man. Kind to all.

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