Posey Island – An Easy Sea Kayak Adventure

Venture into the San Juan Islands by sea kayak for a few days and the inevitable question arises about where to camp overnight ashore. One favorite destination is Posey Island, a one-acre marine state park located north of Roche Harbor on San Juan Island. It’s a short one-half mile paddle to the tiny island known for its charm, occasional pod of Orca whales, spectacular sunsets over Vancouver Island, and wildflowers.

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Canoe Island – Parlez-vous Français?

Winter sailing? You betcha! Snowflakes, like feathers from heaven, fell from the sky and blanketed our sailboat anchored on the west side of Canoe Island. Imagine evergreen trees flocked in white and the island’s rocky shoreline fringed with frost. Seabirds call to one another in the quiet bay shared with Shaw Island, where one can row ashore to Shaw Island County Park and amble the beach. Our first visit to the San Juan Islands in the snow remains a fond memory. Breathtaking!

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Saddlebag Island – Camping, Crabbing & Kayaking

An impromptu invitation to go crabbing on the north side at Saddlebag Island by a fellow boater introduced us to his favorite seafood spot. I’m no crab lover, but I enjoyed the experience of traveling the Swinomish Channel past La Conner perched high on a Grand Banks powerboat’s flying bridge. You view the environs from a totally different perspective than from a sailboat at sea level. In the photo below, the flying bridge is stationed above the inside main cabin. Grab a seat behind the short tinted windshield adjacent to the antenna and you can steer the boat from outside. And when not underway, it’s a great spot to enjoy a picnic in the sunshine!


Grand Banks trawler

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Clark & Barnes – Islands at the Edge

Sailing to the outer San Juan Islands can be a delightful experience. Destination islands that are often passed over by those who ride the Washington State ferries or boaters who prefer the amenities of mooring at marinas where there are docks to access restaurants, shopping, and a place to walk the family dog. Not to mention chatting with other boaters about their vessels, adventures at sea, and new harbors they plan to visit. Clark Island and Barnes Island are separated by a narrow channel and are located northeast of Orcas Island. Barnes is the smaller of the two islands in this photo.


Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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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.


Photo credit: www.sassygranny.com

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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

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A Glimpse of Cypress Island

A friend of ours decided to get into sailing in a small way. He purchased a 12-foot wooden lug-rigged Pelican dinghy designed by Bill Short and built by the Smith brothers on nearby Samish Island. From him, we learned a group of owners often sailed to Cypress Island, camping on their favorite east-side beach. When Washington State’s Department of Natural Resources turned the area into a marine park, it was officially named Pelican Beach.


Photo courtesy of DuckWorksMagazine.com

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James Island – Sentinel of the San Juan Islands

Standing guard at the entrance to the San Juan Islands, south of Thatcher Pass, is James Island. For several years, we confused James Island with Jones Island, another marine state park near Deer Harbor on Orcas Island unless we consulted a chart. Then an elementary school idea occurred to me as we sailed west from Anacortes and the mainland, passing James Island before Jones Island. Mentally filing their names in alphabetical order solved our problem!


Photo courtesy of Washington State Dept. of Ecology

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Burrows Island – A Lighthouse-Saving Mission

Threading our way through Deception Pass at slack tide and motoring north past Anacortes, WA, I was surprised to glance up and find a historic light station perched on the southwest corner of Burrows Island. From Skyline Marina, I can look west and see the steep bluffs and heavily forested island, but the oldest intact wooden lighthouse in Washington State is hidden from my view. Designed by U.S. Lighthouse Board architect, Carl W. Leick, it took a little more than three years after the U.S. Congress appropriated funds on February 24, 1903 before the lighthouse began operating on April 1, 1906. The station helps ships navigate Rosario Strait and warns sailors to steer clear of nearby Dennis Shoal and Lawson Reef. Ironically, the lifesaving station where light keepers once rescued ships’ crews in peril, now needs rescue by a crew of skilled and unskilled volunteers!

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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Allan Island – Two Talented Owners

Exiting Deception Pass aboard a 16-foot Safeboat, we skirted Allan Island on a day trip to circumnavigate Fidalgo Island, home of Anacortes. This small town with its several marinas is known as the “gateway” to the San Juan Islands.  Allan Island and Burrows Island sit on its western doorstep within sight of Skyline Marina. This is a photo of Cap Sante Marina with Anacortes in the background.

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