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!

GrandBanks-flybridge_1269-1024

Grand Banks trawler

Continue reading

Posted in Dot Island, Huckleberry Island, Saddlebag Island, San Juan Islands & Vicinity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

1024px-Clark_Island_viewed_from_Mount_Constitution

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Continue reading

Posted in Barnes Island, Clark Island, San Juan Islands & Vicinity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Sinclair_Post_Office-SassyGranny.com-1024

Photo credit: www.sassygranny.com

Continue reading

Posted in San Juan Islands & Vicinity, Sinclair Island | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Jack-and-Vendovi-MtBaker-Ferdi_Businger-SJPT-1024

Photo credit Ferdi Businger – San Juan Preservation Trust

Continue reading

Posted in San Juan Islands & Vicinity, Vendovi Island | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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.

Pelican_fleet-Ducksworth_Magazine

Photo courtesy of DuckWorksMagazine.com

Continue reading

Posted in Cypress Island, San Juan Islands & Vicinity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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!

James_Island-SamBuck-Dept-of-Ecology

Photo courtesy of Washington State Dept. of Ecology

Continue reading

Posted in James Island, San Juan Islands & Vicinity, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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 an 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. Light-House Board architect, Carl W. Leick, and built in 1906, the lighthouse 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

Continue reading

Posted in Burrows Island, San Juan Islands & Vicinity, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Continue reading

Posted in Allan Island, San Juan Islands & Vicinity, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jones Island – A Favorite of Campers

One of the best things about the San Juan Islands are the number of marine state parks that can be visited by marine craft, self-propelled or driven by an inboard/outboard engine. The island is remote enough to keep the less sea-savvy visitors away, but close enough to tempt those with enough skill and sense of adventure to meet the challenge of crossing a semi-protected stretch of saltwater and camp overnight on this treasured island. On a calm day, it’s an easy hour ride in an inflatable to the dock in the north cove. Here you can see picturesque Turtleback Mountain towering over Deer Harbor on Orcas Island, your point of departure for Jones Island.

Photo courtesy of Washington State Dept. of Ecology

Continue reading

Posted in Jones Island, San Juan Islands & Vicinity, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Continue reading

Posted in Center Island, San Juan Islands & Vicinity, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment