Category Archives: Boating

Orcas Island Snow Daze…

mandy-on-brick By Mandy Randolph

The sun rises over Eastsound Village on a snowy February morning.

Visitors to Orcas are always asking me if it ever snows here. The answer is, YES! Orcas snow is FUN snow! It doesn’t usually stick around very long, melting long before it loses it’s beauty.

What I love most about a snowy Orcas Island day is how it brings our small community even closer together. We all share in the wonder, the excitement, the worry, and usually the FUN of a snow day. An undeniable shared experience does wonders to make you feel connected to those around you.

Maybe my opinion is skewed. You see, teaching is my other other career. I’m sure everyone remembers the excitement of the announcement that school is closed for a snow day! I am one of the lucky ones that never has to go to work on a snow day. Maybe that explains why I love them so much.

The snow started early Friday morning. A snow day is fun, but a snow day at school with all of your friends is really fun! Shortly after lunch the snow started falling in flakes that were bigger than a child’s hand. We had to stop our lesson in Farm to Classroom and rush to the window to watch.

snow-at-school

The weekend brought more snow on Sunday night. This time there was enough snow for the Orcas Island Public School to call an official snow day! With more snow falling on Monday night the students received a second snow day on Tuesday. You could hear the cheers across the island.

My youngest son Johnny enjoyed the snow with his friends on Monday. Toddlers and snow make for a fun combination. We have had mild winters with no real memorable snow since these kiddos were born,  this was their first real Orcas snow day experience.

 

The big kids also know how to enjoy the snow. On Tuesday afternoon the sun was shining bright and the steep hills at Buck Park were calling. My son Jordan and his girlfriend Bethany had fun sledding the hills above the play fields where they will begin playing softball and baseball in just about a month!

Enough about my family. You are probably reading this to learn more about living on Orcas Island. Remember how I said the snow brings the community together with the shared experience? I loved seeing the pictures my fellow islanders were posting on social media during the snow days. I’ll share some of my favorites here.

Tom Tillman posted these pictures from his farm in Doe Bay. I think this driver may have been caught in the storm of ’87.

 

whalestooth-farmold-driver

 

Alexis Beckley captured this scene of the snow meeting the sea at West Beach on Monday morning. Her hashtag was #snowatsealevel #magical #pnw #luckytoliveonorcas.

sea-level-snow-wb

Lynn Cunningham shared this beautiful view of Rosario Resort from her living room on Monday morning.

rosario-view

Cindy Ceteras captured this image from her dining room window in Eastsound. Cindy is enjoying her first winter on Orcas.

cindys-window

Mary Ann Sircely uploaded this beautiful evening snow picture along with this hashtag #itneversnowsonorcasisland.

snowfall-at-night-in-the-valley

The snow gives us clues as to what the local wildlife is up too. These bird prints were left outside my sliding glass door. It was fun to follow them and imagine the path of the little birdie that left them.bird-tracks

Deborah Jones posted this picture of the Raccoon tracks with this comment. “Raccoons circling the henhouse busted by the snow.”

raccoon-bandits-busted

Tuesday morning brought this beautiful sunrise on the East side of the island. Teacher Anne Ford McGrath shared this picture along with every teacher’s favorite winter morning announcement, “Snow Day, No School!”

snow-sunrise-facing-se

Islander Camille Fleming was commuting off the island for work on Tuesday. Thankfully the Washington State Ferries still run on snow days. Her husband posted this comment, “Second snow day in a row. School cancelled. Flights cancelled. Roads are questionable. Glad the ocean isn’t frozen.”

snow-ferry

Southern transplant Liz Guerry posted this picture Tuesday morning with this comment, “Sun bathing in the PNW!

sun-bathing-in-the-pnw

Tuesday afternoon, islander and fellow teacher Nancy Walstrom captured this stunning snow scene from her deck at Buoy Bay. That is Mount Baker in the distance.

snow-beach-in-sun

Vicki Bartram, my mother,  posted this interesting shot of the sun rising in Olga, causing the trees to cast shadows over the snow covered yard.

olga-snow-shadows

My partner in real estate, Beth Holmes, shared this photo of the sun setting on the west side of Orcas Tuesday night. These chairs demonstrate nicely the optimism of most islanders, winter is short so why put away the outdoor furniture!

beth-yard-sunset

So there is the answer to the frequently asked question. Yes, Orcas Island gets snow and it is a WONDERFUL experience to have!

 

holleyrandolphmini-10 Mandy is an Associate Broker at T Williams Realty. She enjoys living with her family and friends on Orcas Island, Washington.

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Summer Sailing with Grama T

2 teri-sheet

 

By Teri Williams

The summer of 2016 is flying by!! Squeezing in some family fun is a must and Grama T found some on her SV Blue Pearl. 30′ filled to the rails with kids and grandkids (9 total) for an overnight in Roche Harbor, San Juan Island. When you have this many on a boat meant to sleep two, you head to a dock with amenities and space. Roche is a great place where you will find activity for all ages. But the fun is being on the boat together. Had great wind, plenty of sunshine and enjoyed a crab dinner coming home. Life does not get better than this.

Where do you find your bliss?

Where do you find your bliss?

Deck hands taking a break

Deck hands taking a break

Beautiful day for kids to look for sea life

Beautiful day for kids to look for sea life

Fish on!!!

Fish on!!!

2016-08-05 20.00.17

Dad time

Dad time

Jammie time

Jammie time

Reading books at bedtime

Reading books at bedtime

Gramps J having fun

Gramps J having fun

Brother time

Brother time

Nap time

Nap time

Love these two!

Love these two!

Catching the wind, trimming the sails

Catching the wind, trimming the sails

Watching for whales

Watching for whales

Girls getting too much wind

Girls getting too much wind

Life is good

Life is good

Crabbing with Gramps J

Crabbing with Grampa J

All hands on deck

All hands on deck

Hope to see you out on the water enjoying family and the Salish Sea that surrounds us here on Orcas Island.

Grama T

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Lost On Waldron

teri_cropBy Teri Williams

SV Blue Pearl left Bay Head Marina on Orcas Island at 12:45 p.m., headed to Mail Bay, Waldron Island on the west side of Presidents Channel. Drizzling, no wind (Jay says of course, we are taking our sailboat out!). No current book but the tide has a small change so off we go.

Arrived Mail Bay at 2:45. Rain stopped, flat water. Warm. Overcast.

IMG_7590Uncle Bill met me with a big hug and said, “Let’s go!” Off we went on his four-wheeler with duck tape and a jerry rigged gear shift. He was hell bent on showing me all of his property I was listing. What a ride! I heard the history of Bill Carlson’s Waldron at full throttle flying down old dirt roads. I could just see my cousins Mike and Howie back in the day flying down these roads on horseback to get to school. Bill purchased acreage for logging back in the sixties when he was a young buck (he is 79 today). A proud man, he told me of the wells dug, timber harvested and Mail Bay log dump, pointing out the relics of machinery over grown with berry briars, building the family A-frame cabin and clearing fields for cattle. He no longer logs or runs cattle on Waldron, but the memories are fresh in his mind. We jumped pot holes, swerved at the one tractor we passed and down shifted on the downhill run due to the fact the only good brake on the four-wheeler was on his bad side (body strength lost). I was hangin’ on!!

IMG_7592Back at the cabin, Bill says Jay should take me on a tour in the old rusty dodge 4×4, which says “Harvey go now” on the side panel. True to course, you had to coast-start the truck. Good thing it was parked pointing down hill. One brake works, the clutch had a bungee cord holding it together. Jay turned the key, the dash lit up, he popped the clutch and off we went. When asked if I knew where we were going, I said confidently, “Oh ya!.” After all, I just went road trippin’ with Uncle Bill!

To the untrained eye, all the dirt roads on Waldron look the same. They run like a maze through a dense lush forest with surprise openings of field and gardens. Eclectic homes tucked here and there, long driveways leading to privacy and a simple life. We were headed to find the post office and County dock. Not too far from the A-frame, no worries. Well, we soon found out that you could drive for hours and still not know which direction you were headed. We met two island girls walking down the dirt road, case of beer and a dog in hand. Looked like a “roll with it” way to spend a day on Waldron. I am grateful they did not take offense and “school” these two obvious trespassers too much. They pointed in the opposite direction the truck was pointing and said, “Head that way until you see the big road.” That is the County Road. Take a right and you will run right in to the Post Office. Duh! Of course, look for the big road.

Eventually, we found the dock and post office. It was getting dark and we still had to navigate back to the A-frame, so we spent just enough time there to know that we need to get back to this quiet island and get more history, starting first with the County dock and post office.

IMG_7589Sunday morning found us starting our SV Blue Pearl engine at 10:14 a.m., leaving uncle Bill’s dock. After tea, coffee and watermelon at the A-frame, we headed back to Orcas knowing we would need to return to explore more of Waldron Island.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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An Orcas Dream Comes True

mary ann sircelyBy Mary Ann Sircely

Blue water, blue sky, bright sun and wind in my sails. Anchoring out, rocking to sleep with the gentle motion of the sea. Waking to a gray misty dawn, busy birds, seals swimming past. Is this a dream? Yes – a dream come true.

Several years ago, when I envisioned myself living on Orcas Island, sailing was an integral part of the picture. I longed for my own boat and the opportunity to cruise around and explore the intriguing coves, bays and islands of the San Juans and beyond.

When you combine a rusty sailor, a boat needing work, and countless obstacles, you’ll understand how difficult it’s been for me to actually leave the dock and begin my journey. Then dear friends stepped aboard.

Teri Williams and Jay Fowler were determined to take me sailing. They answered countless questions, made sure I had all my safety equipment on board, and helped me tend to practical issues. After the Labor Day crowds departed, we planned an overnight cruise to Blind Bay. The weather was perfect, and I sailed out of West Sound with the best crew ever.

Winging it toward the channel, we sailed my 22’ Catalina to Bay Head, where we picked up Teri and Jay’s sailboat, the Blue Pearl. Then we motored over to Blind Bay, dropped anchor and rafted together for the night. Jay set two crab traps and we rowed over to explore Blind Island, enjoyed a wonderful dinner and watched the sun go down.

 

The view at dawn from Blind Bay.

I peeked out of the companionway as dawn broke with a soft, filtered light illuminating Harney Channel and Blind Bay. Clouds streaked the early morning sky. The inky water was flat, almost glassy save for tiny ripples stirred up by the light breeze. Two ferries changed places at the Shaw landing, barely visible in the morning mist. This delightful view can only be seen from the water, and I soaked it all in.

Filled with coffee, fruit and Teri’s Coffelt Farm bacon and egg sandwiches, and tending a bucket of crabs, we motored to Bay Head, where Jay docked the Blue Pearl. (I was getting plenty of important docking practice.) Skirting a ferry at the landing, we entered West Sound and had a glorious sail, tacking back and forth across the bay toward the marina, all the while adjusting sail trim and customizing the boat to suit my needs.

This is not my first dream realized on Orcas Island, and it won’t be the last.

What made this trip even more special is our deep friendship and Teri and Jay’s incredible generosity – they knew how much this maiden voyage would mean to me, understood how they could help in so many ways, and in their calm, collected and competent manner, helped me build knowledge, skills and confidence.

With so many places to see, and so much to do, we’re planning our next trip. Let’s go!

 

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An Adventure-Filled Vacation Without Leaving Home

Sandi FrielPosted by Sandi

One of the great aspects of living in an outdoor destination like Orcas Island is that people of all ages love to visit. There are so many fun things to do here that even teens who are normally glued to the virtual world of their smartphones and other gadgets find enough real life adventure to stay entertained.

In mid August my father-in-law and 16-year-old niece trekked out from back east to see us. Bob and I took the opportunity to unplug and enjoy a vacation in our own backyard. We packed a month’s worth of activities into a week, ate fresh-caught seafood almost every night and were reminded all over again why we chose to live in this far out northwest paradise. Our family photo album tells the story – click a photo to start the slideshow:

 

If this type of adventurous lifestyle appeals to you, I’d love to help you make it a reality. I specialize in helping people in all phases of life move to Orcas Island. Contact me and let’s begin!

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There’s No Place Like Home

I have been dreaming all winter long of sailing off into the sunset down south in Bahamian waters. Good friends, clear-warm water and a life style to relax in and warm my soul. However, to my surprise, I found myself feeling empty. I could not put my finger on it until I was on the ferry returning to Orcas and rounded the corner at Shaw Island; the Orcas ferry landing came into sight. I missed my island life!

I’ve always had a “welcome home” feeling when getting back on island from a short trip to the mainland, but this trip took me away for three weeks. Returning, I found myself deep in amazement of life right here on this island. Life gets too busy. I had not taken the time to slow down, look around and be thankful. I had been taking my island life for granted, and in fact, had some angst about life not fulfilling my every desire. It was always right in front of me………. If I had just slowed down to look around and see how my life was filled with treasure. I did not have to sail so far away to find what was in my own back yard. Growing my own fresh food, the land around me filled with nature and family memories, work and friendships that challenge and fulfill my soul. I am so glad to be back home and will never again go looking outside my own backyard searching for my heart’s smile. Enjoy today, Teri

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Christmas Gift Aboard the Blue Pearl

Teri Williams, T WIlliams RealtyBy Teri Williams

Headed to Friday Harbor on Christmas Day.

Heading to Friday Harbor on Christmas Day.

Every other year Jay and I find it’s just the two of us on Christmas morning. We actually look forward to these holidays as much as the full-on grandma-and-pa celebrations with all the trimmings and train set running under the tree. This was our year and the Blue Pearl called for us to pull her away from the dock and breath the fresh salty air. Loaded down with a baked Coffelt ham, fixings for Debbie Woodruff’s garlic potatoes, my garden spaghetti squash, long johns and earmuffs, we pulled away from the dock at 3:00 on Christmas Day. Little did we know it would be a cruise to remember.

one sailboat

We see only one other sailboat on the way, plus four powerboats.

A half-hour under way it dawned on me – we are going to lose daylight! Probably a good time to ask Jay what is on his mind for the night. We usually tie up to a dock this time of the year as it’s warmer, you sleep better and wake up where you left her the night before. Windless, blue sky scattered with white clouds and sun on our face, we arrive at the Port of Friday Harbor at 4:08. Not bad, very calm, saw four powerboats and one sailor.

On the foggy, cold morning after Christmas, the Blue Pearl heads north to Roche Harbor. No wind again (Jay says we really have a power boat). No sign of another adventurous sailor, we cross paths with Washington State Ferry headed to Vancouver and the Pintail barge.

crabs in crab pot

We bring up 16 crabs in our pot, three keepers.

Arriving into Roche Harbor at 2:44, we dropped two crab pots and cruised the harbor (Laurie and Eric say it should only take 30 minutes and fresh chicken). Half an hour later we had 16 crabs in one pot, three keepers. Tie to dock at 4:11. Ready for warmth and a hot toddy.

festive lights in Roche Harbor

Festive lights decorate the dock in Roche Harbor.

Crab on ice, we head to Roche restaurant, all lit with festive lights and music of the season. It really does feel like Christmas!

A lazy morning turns into a “get your butt in gear, we need to go with the currents and get back to Orcas!” It was very windy with dark clouds as we motored through Spieden Channel. Nobody was out except the Coast Guard and a few fisherman. Throughout the trip, I kept saying to Jay, “wouldn’t it be a wonderful gift to see whales?”

Just then, off the north end of Jones we see what looks to be a porpoise, but turns out to be a mother and baby whale swimming. A few air blows of spray in the air and our hearts were racing. I run to get my iPhone and push the video button. No matter how many times or how many of these beautiful mammals you see it is always very exciting and memorable. So much so, you better memorize it in your soul because if you are like me, all you get on the video is sky and your feet with a lot of vocals that sound like “oh wow, oh wow, oh wow!” We must have been one of the first to see the new baby orca, Calf J50. We followed for a bit, but they were headed north and we would have had to buck the current, so turn around we did.

new baby orca

We must have been among the first to see the new orca calf.
(From Yahoo News, photo by Ken Balcomb, Center for Whale Research)

It was a memorable Christmas indeed and a successful sailing on the Blue Pearl…. ahh, I mean motoring. No matter, the saying goes, there is nothing better than messing around on a boat, especially when you do it on Christmas, eating crab, dodging ferries and being one with the whales.

Want to learn more about the new baby whale? Here are two articles you might enjoy:

Orcas Issues: Hey Girl, Who’s Yo Mama?
Yahoo News: Newborn killer whale a good sign for imperiled pod

 

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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

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.

octavias

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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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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