Center Island – Oysters Anyone?

“You have a cabin?” I asked our remedial reading assistant in the school district where I taught grades K-5. She replied, “On Center Island in Lopez Sound.” Being the informed sailor I am, I needed to consult one of our nautical charts aboard our sailboat. Sure enough, I spotted a small island between Decatur Island and Lopez Island. I wished I’d met her earlier to arrange a visit, but their property was for sale and sold a few months after our chat.

Photo courtesy of Washington Dept. of Ecology

My next encounter with this mystery island arrived when my father invited my husband and myself on an overnight kayak trip to circumnavigate Lopez Island with his friends. To my surprise, I discovered that a couple I met at Western Washington University led our group! We paddled through Lopez Sound on the third day of our journey. skimming past low-lying Center Island with its many summer cabins and homes lining the shore among Pacific Madrone trees. Did you know that these unique trees photosynthesize sunlight through their leaves and their bark? Each spring, the green bark turns progressively red and peels like paper throughout the year, revealing new green bark underneath the next spring.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Residents commute to the private island in their own boats or planes. Others charter a water taxi from Skyline Marina or a small plane from the airport at Anacortes, a short distance to the east across Rosario Strait.

One interesting fact is the islanders have agreed to a restriction on privately-owned internal-combustion vehicles. Many of them drive golf carts for transportation, although the roads are accessible to shared community vehicles used for construction and barged-in commercial vehicles delivering construction materials or propane. But enough about work!

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Every year, shellfish are harvested in Lopez Sound and one of my fondest memories is picnicking with my university friend who was renting an A-frame cabin perched high on a Lopez Island bluff overlooking Center Island. The highlight of this warm, sunny day was a feast complete with fresh oysters, Dungeness crab, and rock scallops. Mind you, I like very little seafood, but I can appreciate the effort it takes to find and pry a bevy of the little creatures off rocks underwater to make a meal. One of the guests at our gathering was a physically fit dentist who had the ability to free dive 30 feet to wrestle each one from its hiding place. No small feat in saltwater that hovers around 40-50ºF for more than an hour—even with a wetsuit. If you like seafood, plan a visit to Lopez Sound!

“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Phillippians 4:19 – NKJV)

Thank you for reading!



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