Author Archives: Teri Williams

Shake Down Voyage: Summer’s First Night on the Blue Pearl

By Teri Williams

Friday is spent outfitting our sailboat with fresh bedding, rugs, dishes and other items for the new season. I call it a season only due to the lack of time on the boat through fall and winter. No matter rain, sleet or snow, we usually have time each month. This past year we were required to do a vessel survey and the boat was in need of many upgrades and fixes. No problem if your first mate is McGuiver! Just need TIME.

teri williams on the blue pearl

Awaiting guests on the Blue Pearl.

Jay re-wired, re-plumbed and re-worked everything in getting ready for the survey. Our sailboat passed with only a few things put on the to-do list. The survey did more than get us outfitted – it required the boat to have a name. On April 20, as Jay and I were soaking in the hot tub, contemplating life, the boat came up. I am a huge fan of Johnny Depp and the Black Pearl adventures. Hmmm…female pirate…blue hull. Suddenly the name “Blue Pearl” came up and was adopted. This meant a christening was to take place.

A Few Mates


All aboard for the christening!

My plan was to stay on the boat at the dock in Bay Head Marina on Friday night. This gave us a chance to invite a few mates aboard. Beth Baker (Sew Like the Wind) came to admire her work with the installation of my new upholstery – all new pads and covers throughout the boat. Mike Powell (Cruising Concepts) came aboard to review cupboards. Permit Resources and Cruising Concepts have done some horse-trading and the Blue Pearl needed some teak work to accommodate the needs of the galley cook.

You will read my comment “we could be anywhere, and not far from home” many times through out my musings about life on the water. After champagne and discussions about changes to be made on the boat, we headed to Octavia’s Bistro in the Orcas Hotel. Friday night is Pub Night, includes tasty specials, local live music, a fine Makers Mark Manhattan cocktail, and toe tapping Orcas fun! Octavia’s tequila clams are the best in the County.


Ready to walk back to the marina from Octavia’s on a summer eve.

It was a fine early summer evening to walk back to the boat and nestle in for the night. With bags everywhere and plenty of plans for the next day of organizing, we found the coffee pot and propane for the morning and settled down into our new bed. Awwwww the life of a pirate…


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Life on Orcas is Going to the Birds

birds of orcas island

By Teri Williams

Life on Orcas is going to the birds!

Don’t believe me? Come see for yourself on April 10 – April 12.

teri williamsOn Thursday, April 10, Orcas kicks off the first annual Orcas Island Bird & Wildlife Festival with a dinner at Rosario Resort’s Beach House. Featured speaker will be Thor Hanson, conservation biologist and author of the book Feathers. Hanson  lives in the San Juans and will share his knowledge of all things wild on Orcas Island. There will be a Silent Auction to add to the fun, and help secure funding for future festivals.

The perfect place to stay while experiencing the festival is at Otters Pond Bed and Breakfast. Otters Pond, renowned as a prime birding spot, is home to hundreds of bird species and certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a Wildlife Habitat. At the breakfast table, you will enjoy a front row seat to flurry and feathers and as a variety of birds dine in the feeders just outside. Innkeepers, Carl and Sue Silvernail, provide more than a ton of bird seed each year to attract some of the Northwest’s most colorful flying wildlife.

otters pond prime birding spot

Enjoy a front-row seat to flurry and feathers at Otters Pond Bed and Breakfast.

Sue reports that just this week, they are seeing Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Dark-eyed Juncos, House and Purple Finches, Red-Breasted Nuthatches, Spotted Towhees, Crossbills, American Robins, Sharp-shinned Hawks, American Bald Eagles, Anna Hummingbirds and Red-winged Blackbirds. On the pond they are seeing Hooded Mergansers, Ringed Neck Ducks, Pied Billed Grebes and Mallards.  She says they  are watching for Rufus Hummingbirds, White-crowned and Golden Sparrows and Pine Siskins.

Sponsored by the Orcas Island Chamber of Commerce, BirdFest will offer activities sure to please all who enjoy the birds and wildlife of the Pacific Northwest. The still-unfolding line-up of walks, talks, workshops and activities are ideal for all ages and experience levels. Stay tuned for more information and events to be announced! Meanwhile, here are some helpful links to help you plan for BirdFest.

Birds of Orcas Island

Make a reservation at Otters Pond Bed and Breakfast

And if you want to stay forever, find out more about Otters Pond B&B for sale.

Orcas Island Chamber of Commerce

Rosario Resort & Spa

San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau

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Christmas on Orcas: A Full Heart

By Teri Williams

Here’s what this Orcas Island grandma and her grandson did on Christmas vacation:

coffelt farm collage

Coffelt Farm
Enjoy cookies from Sydney Coffelt and a peek at her pie shelf, nuts, and other porch memorabilia. See the two momma sows, and other pigs (all named pork chop). Learn about the balance of feed vs number of pigs. Learn about feeding baby cows with a bottle of momma’s milk. Check out the chicken pen. Learn about the farm stand and the importance of farms for future community (my grandson).

cascade lake

Moran State Park
Have lunch in the covered picnic area. Walk along the trails surrounded by huge cedars and cross the wooden bridge that spans over the creek and runs into Cascade Lake. See how far a cedar bow will float down the creek. Walk out onto the floating fishing dock hunkered below the fog, and spot the sun above it all. Fish with a switch found along the shoreline.

Hit Island Market for ice cream!! Walk to the post office and look at all the gardens in Eastsound.

driftwood ranch

Driftwood Ranch
Cruise the barnyard. Say howdy to Cowboy Bob, watch him tow a broken down tractor with a tractor that runs (Cowboy Bob has 3!!) Feed pancakes to the chickens. Feed green grass to Snowflake, the miniature pony. Find two bulls in the outdoor pen. Watch a round-up with cowboys and cowgirls saddled up and sporting Stetson hats.

cut christmas treeCrow Valley
Get Grandpa to ask Carol Clark for permission to hike in across her property and cut down a Christmas tree. Find her old barn and look for spider webs. Inspect the old growth stumps for bird nests. Wonder about the loggers who carved the spring-board notches along the sides. Learn about standing old growth trees with charred, thick, black bark are signs of a history.

This grandma’s heart is full after sharing my Orcas with grandson and his family.


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Happy Thanksgiving!

By Teri Williams

Teri Williams and signpostI’m off visiting with family this holiday, and just like you, we’re bound to have lots of leftover turkey. Here’s a recipe from my kitchen that’s sure to please:


4 cups chopped turkey
1 4 oz. can diced green chilies
1½ cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
8 oz. package cream cheese
1 16 oz. can green enchilada sauce
10-12 medium sized flour fajita tortillas

Combine all ingredients except tortillas; mix well. Place ½ cup of the mixture along one end of a tortilla; distribute evenly along the length. Roll up into a tube shape. Place in a 8×10 cake pan, seam side down. Repeat with other tortillas. Pour green sauce over the enchiladas; make sure they are all covered. Bake at 325 degrees for 30-35 minutes. You can make enchildadas ahead or freeze prior to baking. Bake up to 60 minutes if frozen.

Top as desired with chopped black olives, grated cheese, chopped green onion and finish with a dollop of sour cream.

Enjoy your turkey time, and thank you, Orcas Island, for your support throughout the year.

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Teri’s Log: Shallow Bay

Whenever I leave the office and Jay is not on call for OPALCO, we welcome the opportunity to go sailing. Every trip offers new discoveries, and gives us a chance to relax and appreciate our beautiful surroundings. In this boating log, I share my adventures with you.

teri williamsBy Teri Williams

Shallow Bay- Sucia Island
48 45.79’N 122 55.47’W

According to the Cruising Guide to the Puget Sound and San Juan Islands, Shallow Bay offers the best sunset views of any anchorage on Sucia Island and has the warmest water for swimming.

Well, I cannot attest to the sunset due to thick heavy fog surrounding us the entire time we spent there. I can, however, state the bay supports swimming. There was a wide Catamaran anchored shoreward of us where we watched and listened to four kids play and romp atop her wide deck all afternoon. When the fog thickened in the early evening we could only hear the kids, who were counting “one, two, three, go,” then splashes and gulps of air rang through the thick air, evidence of jumping into the water. This went on for some time. Very nostalgic, only to hear the sounds of this frolicking!

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During the day, Jay and I rowed ashore and did a two-hour hike over to the beach at Echo Bay and Fossil Bay. The woods were thick, but trails were more populated than Matia Island. The hike back to Shallow Bay from Fossil Bay looked more in keeping with the forest at Matia. The trail along the Echo Bay side was less dense, fewer trees and salal instead of large ferns.

There are red and green markers at the entrance of Shallow Bay which can easily be seen from a distance. The depth changes quite fast when entering this area.

Shallow Bay has seven mooring buoys, with some anchorage room as well, but the basin is smaller than it appears on the chart. Know your tides and allow for plenty of swing room. The guide states southeasterly winds can come across the marsh on the southeast end of the bay, but there’s no problem with swells from boat traffic out in Boundary Bay. We bounced around some during the night with what felt like swells, but never really heard the wind. Next time I believe we will choose to anchor so we are not hammering the buoy all night!

All the shoreline around Shallow Bay is State Park land. The cluster of Sucia Islands was purchased in 1960 by the Puget Sound Interclub Association and then donated to the State for protection as a Washington State Marine Park.

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Teri’s Log: Fossil Bay

Whenever I leave the office and Jay is not on call for OPALCO, we welcome the opportunity to go sailing. Every trip offers new discoveries, and gives us a chance to relax and appreciate our beautiful surroundings. In this boating log, I share my adventures with you.

teri williamsBy Teri Williams

Fossil Bay, Sucia Island
48 44.68’ N, 122 53.65’ W

Fossil Bay gets its name from the fossils found in the surrounding bluffs and could easily be the most popular bay due to the number of individual buoys (15), can-line buoys (2), two floats (100’ in length) and plenty of room to anchor.

Little Herndon Island used to serve as the guest book for Sucia, but the practice of writing your boat’s name on the cliffs is now prohibited. You can still see remnants of names, some believe due to the State coming out to sandblast the writing, which in some places just memorialized it.

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Plenty of beach, campsites, fire pits, BBQ and an enclosed picnic area sit at the head of the bay. All of the shoreline and surrounding land is State Park land. Sucia was purchased by the Puget Sound Interclub Association and placed in trust of the State of Washington 4-29-60 – “For Yachtsman Forever.”

Head directly into Fossil Bay from the southwest, keeping in the middle and away from reefs off of the tip of Wiggins Head. Mud Bay behind Herndon Island dries at low tide.

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Teri’s Log: Matia Island

teri williamsWhenever I leave the office and Jay is not on call for OPALCO, we welcome the opportunity to go sailing. Every trip offers new discoveries, and gives us a chance to relax and appreciate our beautiful surroundings. In this boating log, I share my adventures with you.

By Teri Williams

Matia Island
48 45.03’N, 122 50.99’ W

Matia Island is less than two miles east of Sucia Islands, just north of Orcas Island. Although equally beautiful as Sucia, it attracts fewer people. Matia is jointly administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Washington State Department of Parks and Recreation, and is designated as a refuge for seabirds, eagles and seals. Along with Turn Island (located southeast of Friday Harbor, where I saw my first small pod of whales for my birthday sail adventure), this is the only National Wildlife Refuge in the San Juan Islands that is open to the public.

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On Matia, activity is limited to the five acres of State Park land, where there are a few campsites, picnic tables, a composting toilet facility, and a must-do mile trail where you hear nothing, literally, stand near many old growth who show signs of a fire long ago and notches from spring boards. The ferns are some of the largest I have ever seen.

You will find three beaches, two accessible. Sand, small gravel and large beach logs give welcome to getting your toes along the shoreline and explore. Sorry: no pets allowed on Matia Island.

The remaining 140 acres of Matia are the exclusive preserve of puffins, oystercatchers, seals and otters. We witnessed many blue herons close by, perching in the dead limbs of trees along the top of the sandstone/rock banks lining Rolf Cove.

In Rolf Cove, you will find a public small dock, which allows four tie-ups. We tied to the northwest end and shared the dock with three other 20-35’ boats. Rumor has it that there is an old settler’s ruins “Hermit of Matia,” who rowed weekly to Orcas to socialize. Jay and I did not spot anything that looked like ruins of a settler, just some ivy and fruit trees that suggest past inhabitants.

The current runs strong through Rolf Cove, and the south entrance is the better of its two entrances. Anchorage can be tricky, but we witnessed many come in for a short walk, to fish, or to just enjoy a relaxing float in a very quiet cove for the afternoon. Many of the overnighters left and went touring around the island in their skiffs with motors. Jay and I thought about it, but we row our skiff and did not want to spend the rest of this sunny relaxing day fighting a current that was taking us south. There are signs around the Island reminding you to stay 200 yards away. Puffin Island lies to the East and is surrounded by off-shore reefs and wildlife taking in the heat from the sun.

Getting ashore is limited to the State Park Float. The beach along this shoreline is sandy and gets afternoon sun, which heats up the sand and beach logs for sitting and taking in the scene, unbelievable September weather in the San Juan Islands.

Sunset featured deep colors that silhouetted the Sucia Islands group.

NOTE: My Cruising Guide to the Puget Sound mentions fire pits. We saw some homemade makeshift pits, but fires are not allowed on the island

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It Takes an Island to be a Senior

Teri WilliamsBy Teri Williams

Having the opportunity to be the listing agent and property manager for Lahari home in Deer Harbor was a huge honor for me, chalked up yet another successful sale, and created a relationship that moved me ahead on another adventure.

The Lahari Board wanted to expand its outreach into the community by creating programs that fit the life style of our community members who have had many birthdays behind them and few in front of them, our seniors. They asked me to join the board and I soon found a passion for our Safe Home Program.

LahariThe Safe Home Program supports seniors who wish to remain in their homes by evaluating the health and safety aspects of the home, and following up with recommendations for improvements. Lahari is well-funded and committed to financial support as part of the program. We have a handful of contractors and tradesmen who volunteer their skills for some of these improvements.

In the past, Lahari’s focus was mainly hospice care, however, many of our community seniors (and even not-so-senior) wish to remain in their homes instead of moving to a care facility. Something in the blood when you live on an island! I believe we have a pioneer spirit and cast iron constitutions supporting our independent attitudes.

The Safe Home Program is set up to check for hazardous situations, but I am finding it offers much more by giving and receiving emotional support as well. Many of the seniors are lonesome, scared, and unsure of what comes next. Just knowing someone cares and will listen seems to be one of the many benefits of the program, for both the property owner as well as for the evaluator. I am finding it hard not to adopt each and every senior I meet!

I don’t know about you, but I had plans of kicking and screaming on the trail to elder care outside of my home. Now I know there is light near the end of this ride called life, and a caring heart and patient ear to listen to my tales.

If you know of someone who can benefit from this program, give me a call or contact Lahari directly by going to the website

Cheers to the years ahead!



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A Few Fast Facts About OPALCO’s Broadband Initiative

Teri WilliamsBy Teri Williams

You may have noticed that Orcas Power and Light Company has released its plan to deliver broadband and phone services to 90 percent of San Juan County. This is exciting and I applaud OPALCO for its efforts to bring San Juan County into the 21st Century.

OPALCO is studying how greater access to broadband (high-speed internet) would benefit members. Here are a few fast facts:

OPALCO Broadband Coverage Map

This map is a preliminary snap-shot of potential broadband coverage based on a radio frequency study. Field studies are underway to test and confirm coverage, determine pole locations and actual system design.

#1: OPALCO’s proposal is to build a fiber and wireless infrastructure to bring connectivity for our electrical system, public safety, broadband and the potential of better cell phone coverage.

#2: For a total of $90 per month – about what you’re paying now to CenturyLink – you would get:

  • Reliable fast internet (10M minimum rural, 50M+ in towns) with capability for the future
  • Unlimited use long distance national phone using your current phone number and phone
  • Wifi access in population centers, on the interisland ferries and at ferry landings

#3: The cost to build this infrastructure is $34 million – to be paid for through a low-interest loan with USDA Rural Utility Service. All coop members (each household or business) will be asked to pay $15/month (included in the $90/month total) to support the infrastructure capital expense. The remaining $75/month is a subscriber fee charged to those who want broadband services.

#4: To make the project work financially, at least half of OPALCO’s members must pre-subscribe for broadband services with a $90 refundable deposit. There will be a form on the  OPALCO website for members to indicate their support of (or their opposition to)  the project. OPALCO has  begun a lengthy member engagement effort to explain the plan, hear from members and measure their commitment to the project.

#5: For members who would struggle to pay the additional $15 cooperative infrastructure fee, OPALCO is creating a PAL Program – a Shared Infrastructure fund. In addition, members will be given a chance to opt out of the $15 fee if they respectfully refuse. There will be a true-up policy if those members later want to opt back in.

#6: This infrastructure is a long-term investment in the future health and sustainability of our communities. The system is a solution for key quality of life issues including public safety, education, electric system upgrades, telemedicine and economic development.

To learn more, click here: OPALCO Broadband Initiative.

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Prune Alley Gets a Facelift!

Teri WilliamsBy Teri Williams

It all started when Rachel Dietzman, County Engineer, indicated the Public Works Department will not be paving Prune Alley (which really needs it) until the County can design and install some pedestrian features.

Rachel attended an Eastsound Planning Review Committee (EPRC) meeting to discuss how EPRC could help facilitate working with the community and develop a plan. As an EPRC member, I watched the events unfold.

prune alley

Prune Alley – ready for a facelift!

Fred Klein, EPRC member, desired to take a whack at it and did a fantastic job, using the Streetscape Plan for Eastsound as a base. Fred’s proposed changes and additions encompassed all issues Public Works has with Prune Alley. Public Works wholeheartedly endorsed Fred’s plan and will use it for the Prune Alley Complete Streets design.

Grant Application

Public Works applied for some $600k to construct a “complete street” including share rows (bicycle and auto shared lanes like they have in Seattle). If Public Works is successful obtaining the grant, the County will be required to complete the design in 2013.

However, if Public Works is unsuccessful in obtaining the construction grant, they will still use Fred’s design to install some pedestrian features with a goal to fully implement the entire plan over the course of a few years.

EPRC’s goal was to create a design which will transform the streetscape of Prune Alley from its current state of being an undifferentiated-50-foot-wide-swath-of-chip-seal-and-gravel into the intimate, pedestrian-friendly, varied streetscape with curbs, sidewalks, and landscaping features exemplified by Main Street and North Beach Road.

Cooperative Community Spirit

EPRC met with property owners to determine how their concerns can be met using the optimal elements of the streetscape standards in the Eastsound Village Plan; these include several options for on-street parking (or no parking), a big concern for businesses. A cooperative community spirit resulted in a plan which is 100% supported by the landowners.

Next, EPRC will take the Prune Alley plan to the utility service providers later this month.

Come to one of our meetings – EPRC meets the first Thursday of each month at the Eastsound Fire Hall. Meetings are open to the public.

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