After our little dash out and back under Deception Pass Bridge we went to La Conner for one night to restock, do laundry and such before heading up the narrow Swinomish Channel, past the historic railroad swing bridge and into Padilla Bay where we put up our sail. The wind didn’t last too long so we were under motor by the time we arrived at our first San Juan Island destination… Eagle Bay on Cypress Island. We were fortunate to snag the last of the mooring buoys there. Once settled John took Zephyr to deeper water to drop our brand new crab trap with the high hopes of Dungies for dinner! Then we went hiking! Then.. we had crab quesadillas and crab salad for dinner! (Red Rock, not Dungeness.)
After two days at Eagle Bay we set out for James Island. We had enough wind to sail most of the way, which we eventually discovered would come less frequently than we hoped. There was just enough dock space for us, but the current was so strong it took us a couple attempts and and the help of a few strong and able young men on the dock to make it. Once tied off we learned that others had tried and failed before us, gave up and motored away… leaving that space empty for us dare devils! 🙂 This was another pretty island with a good hiking trail that goes around part of it, while the rest is set aside as a wildlife sanctuary.
From there we hopped over to Watmaugh Bay on Lopez Island. Again, very pretty. We took a long walk to get a few provisions at the nearest grocery store hoping to grab a meal at their little café before making the long walk back. The café was closed and the provisions were sparse, but we did enjoy a nice walk through the countryside of Lopez… always one of my favorites reachable by the Washington State Ferries.
After Lopez we went south, through Deception Pass again, and back to the south end of Swinomish Channel in route to La Conner… again. On our way we saw a big trawler sitting high and dry on the mud flats along the west side of the channel. Oops! Someone wasn’t paying enough attention to their GPS and the channel markers! We stopped in La Conner for the night before cruising back up Swinomish Channel to Anacortes.
We left Summer Breeze docked there while we hitched a ride with my nephew and niece to catch a bus headed for Seattle, where we caught a train to Olympia, where we picked up my car to drive to Longview for my 40-year high school reunion! Awesome fun! My class is so tight we have some sort of reunion almost every year! John and I also fit in a little family time in celebration of my brother Topher’s birthday before heading back north.
After that whirlwind weekend (and crazy reverse trip to Anacortes) we set out for Orcas Island, my favorite amongst the San Juans (of those accessible by ferry). We scored an empty buoy from Karl Kruger… that guy who did the same crazy 766 mile Race to Alaska that John did, but on a stand-up paddle board!!! Meet Karl here!
Karl and our friend Don Rowe, who happens to be working for Karl now, came out and grilled with us on Summer Breeze that evening. They were heading out the next morning with a charter group so Don left us the keys to his truck, allowing John and I the freedom to drive across the island to Moran State Park, where we went straight to the top of Mt. Constitution. This is the highest point in the San Juans at 2409’, and boasts an incredible view for miles in every direction, including the North Cascades and Mt Baker to the east, the Olympic Range to the west and all of the San Juans as well as the Gulf Islands of Canada (on a clear day). We just happened to be there on one of those very clear days! After that we dropped back down the mountain and hiked the four-mile loop around Mountain Lake.
We departed Deer Harbor the following morning and headed to Jones Island where all the mooring buoys and dock were taken. While contemplating our options for anchoring one of the boats left dock. What luck! Anchoring is fine, and we did quite a lot of it on our trip, but there is the complication of getting Sadie ashore, especially at night before retiring. John is incredibly good about getting her there, but from a dock it’s so much simpler to come and go.
While there I set out in my kayak and peddled my way around the entire island. When I returned I discovered that John set out right after me to do the same in Zephyr. There was a pretty good current running, so we both got some great exercise!
We took advantage of their hiking trails too, as we always do. Sadie loves to hike with us, but we’ve discovered she can no longer hike the long and/or strenuous hikes like she once did. At 12 years of age, arthritis has set in so we take her along on the shorter hikes and beach excursions, and leave her happily resting on Summer Breeze while we take in the longer ones.
The following morning we woke to a bit of chaos. Not ours thankfully! Three sail boats that were rafted together not too far off shore the night before were all on their sides… on the rocky shore! Everyone was safe thankfully, but oh what a mess. There was little anyone could do but wait it out to see what the rising tide would bring. It was a long wait for them no doubt! We weren’t there when the tide came back in but a few weeks later we bumped into a couple we’d met at Jones Island and they told us the boats righted themselves well and, to the best of their knowledge, suffered relatively little damage. Lesson learned… they had put out only one anchor and one shore line between the three of them. Just not enough to hold them when a moderate breeze picked up. I’m pretty sure it’ll never happen to any of them again!
From Jones Island we cruised to Friday Harbor where we were able to tie up long enough to restock groceries, take showers and do laundry. What used to be a quaint little harbor town has just become too touristy for my taste. From there we did a short hop to Turn Island and moored on a buoy. It’s a small island… only 1.5 miles to hike it’s entirety… but very pretty.
Next stop… Sucia! This beautiful island was recommended by so many people we met along the way, and for good reason! It’s unique, and quite incredible. It’s shaped a bit like a hand, with several bays and peninsulas. It’s also quite popular amongst the cruisers. With numerous buoys as well as dock space in several of the bays there were none available when we arrived. It was already nearing sunset by the time we dropped anchor in Shallow Bay, so while John rowed Zephyr out to drop the crab trap I grabbed my camera!
Almost the entire shoreline was weather-worn sandstone, and the remainder of the island was dense with trees, the most unusual of which is the Pacific Madrone with it’s unique twisting trunks and multi-colored bark. (See below!)
The unique twists and turns and multi-layered colorful bark of the Pacific Madrone…
Matia Island was next, and unfortunately only a two-hour pit stop. We had the bay, dock and entire island all to ourselves. It’s a pretty island, with some of the same sandstone shoreline as Sucia, but much smaller. Very peaceful. We may well come back to this one!
After our quick hop around Matia Island we made our way to Stuart Island where we dropped anchor in Prevost Bay. There were numerous mooring buoys… all of them occupied… and several boats at anchor in this long and somewhat narrow bay. We did a bit of rowing, peddling and paddling once we got settled, and then John went to work with some rubbing compound making the blue stripe on Summer Breeze sparkle, the whole time tempted by the light wind that found it’s way into the bay. By the time he finished his chore and got Zephyr ready to sail there was barely enough breeze to move his little dinghy across the water.
John and I hiked to Turn Point Lighthouse as well… roughly 4 miles round trip. While there we also ran into Don Rowe and Karl Kruger (mentioned above) on two of Karl’s charter boats from Kruger Escapes!
The next day, just after cruising by Turn Point Lighthouse, we were on our way into Canadian waters and the Gulf Islands! That’ll be the next post!!