Sinclair Island – A World Apart

Not everyone desires to live on an isolated island, but it may surprise you that islanders have their limits. In 2012, a fierce January storm swept away a major portion of Sinclair Island’s public county dock, leaving its U.S. Post Office perched close to the edge of the remaining timbers. It took a prolonged push by residents for more than three years to convince Skagit County officials to take a first-hand look at the damage and decide how to restore the islanders’ easiest access to their homes and property. This is especially important for mail delivery and meeting emergencies. It appears San Juan County, which installed a dock on Obstruction Pass, might be the perfect partner with a solution. Stay tuned.

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My husband and I are amateur radio operators. We’ve made many friends across the airwaves, some close to home and others around the world. One of these friends lived on Sinclair Island and invited us for a visit. We anchored in front of his property and met on the beach. He gave us a tour of his small cabin where he lived full-time, keeping himself busy doing high tech work. I remember how surprised I was at the juxtaposition of seeing him operate several computers powered by a generator while living a primitive island lifestyle. Of course, telecommuting is now commonplace.


Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Sinclair Island, like Cypress Island, is administered by Skagit County. Located a 30-minute speedboat ride north of Anacortes, the private island has approximately 40 homes and a grassy airstrip. However, visitors can access the public county dock, a few dirt county roads, and the small village of Urban on the southwest end. If you own a boat, fishing is reported to be excellent on Sinclair’s northern side.


Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

The island is named for Arthur Sinclair, captain of the General Pike during a naval battle of the War of 1812. On the southeast corner of the island exists 35 acres of land donated by Mary Leach and owned by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. An overgrown path from the beach leads uphill to her old homestead where a disintegrating cabin, orchards, a field, and her grave stone remain. She wrote Cottonwood Collection, a book about the history of Sinclair Island. Another former resident was notorious smuggler, Larry Kelly, who bought a large portion of the island in his wife’s name to avoid detection by authorities. He smuggled many things, but in particular, he transported Chinese workers and opium from Canada to the United States. His northwest shore property allowed him to keep an eye on customs vessels.


Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

“For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:10)

Let’s say a prayer for the residents of Sinclair Island that their dock would be replaced soon, shall we?

Thank you for reading!




Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
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4 Responses to Sinclair Island – A World Apart

  1. Linda Matthys says:

    Has the dock been replaced?

    • Deb Garland says:

      Not to my knowledge. At this time, Skagit County’s Department of Public Works website states they are still “attempting to secure additional design and construction funds.” Perhaps you can contact them for more information?

  2. Mike Hoff says:

    Do you know if there are any services on Sinclair Island like a gas station or store?

    • Deb Garland says:

      There are no facilities on Sinclair Island. Besides Anacortes, the closest access to a store or gasoline is Blakely Island’s marina and general store located west of Peavine Pass. Hours for both may vary according to the season. I hope this information is helpful.

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