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?
Deck hands taking a break
Beautiful day for kids to look for sea life
Reading books at bedtime
Gramps J having fun
Love these two!
Catching the wind, trimming the sails
Watching for whales
Girls getting too much wind
Life is good
Crabbing with Grampa J
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.
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.
Uncle 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!!
Back 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.
Sunday 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.
The forecast was calling for record high temperatures (a whopping 75 degrees here) so Jay and I packed the boat and headed out onto the water. Our destination was Stuart Island, west of Orcas near the Canadian border.
On this trip, I could mix business with pleasure as clients of mine own a large parcel on Stuart Island and had hired Permit Resources to permit a dock and a residence. It’s not often that I get to see the finished project — this looked like a good opportunity to do just that.
We located the dock built by our Permit Resources client.
Stuart has two harbors, Reid Harbor on the south side and Prevost Harbor on the north side. Both harbors provide easy anchorage, state mooring buoys, mooring cables and floats. There is a County dock located in Prevost Harbor. Stuart Island State Park lies between these two harbors and the park is easily accessible via public docks.
We hiked up the road amid lush vegetation.
The 85-acre marine state park allows for camping and provides miles of trails and county roadway for exploring. Keep in mind, there are vehicles parked at the county road end in Reid Harbor, but the road is nothing more than a wide gravel trail.
A hidden cove in Reid Harbor.
The environment is lush with a variety of native fir, maple, madrona, moss-covered rock outcroppings and hidden coves. A short hike will take you to the schoolhouse and museum where you will find the walls covered with history. There is an honor system for souvenirs where you can purchase T-shirts, cards and books.
As I viewed the photos of school children from the early days, I wondered about the kind of cast iron constitution it must have taken to stand strong to the challenges of living in a remote island in the northwest.
We sailed around Turn Point Lighthouse and Lover’s Leap.
If you are a hardy hiker and make it to the north end, you will discover Turn Point Lighthouse where the shipping lanes of Boundary Pass and Haro Strait meet. We skipped the hike and circumnavigated Stuart on the sailboat, where we had a great view of the lighthouse.
A welcoming view of Prevost Harbor.
There is plenty to do on Stuart Island. We tried our luck at crabbing, clam digging and beach combing. All we can think about is: when can we return?
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As the cooler weather creeps in, I like to assemble my favorite memories of the summer to keep me warm throughout fall and winter. Topping the list this year was my birthday weekend in late August.
I can feel the warmth all over again when I look back at this blissful picture! My first gift was perfect weather.
It started with my husband and I sailing to Deer Harbor Marina where four of my closest friends had prepared a dockside dinner. They treated us with fresh crab, marinated local prawns, melt-in-your-mouth corn on the cob, chocolate cake from Roses Bakery and lotsa good wine. The weather was ideal for a night on the dock, and visiting boaters were friendly all around us.
Yellow Island on fire... on purpose
Saturday morning Jay and I headed out to sail San Juan Channel between Orcas and San Juan Island. While cruising past Yellow Island we spotted smoke and called 911. We were relieved to find out this was an annual controlled burn by the Nature Conservancy to keep the undergrowth from encroaching on the grasslands – a practice first used by Native Americans to protect camas bulbs and other food crops.
We continued out into the channel pushed by favorable warm wind. We were on the same path as the historic Adventuress and mirrored her course while feeling the pirate in our souls-arrrgh…. Only to be left behind with a few practiced tacks by the large crew aboard her deck.
Approaching beach at 35-acre Turn Island State Park
Midday we headed south to hook one of the buoys located on the north side of Turn Island. The entire island is a state park with nice easy trails, camp sites, and several sandy beaches on the west side- yes I said sand! I had just settled in with refreshment in hand, taking in the warm sea air and thinking ‘this is a great birthday’ when all of a sudden… (To Be Continued in Part Two!)
Looking to enjoy the simple life on beautiful Orcas Island?
Contact T Williams Realty – we’ll help you find your way home.