Tag Archives: Yellow Island

Part One: My Perfect Birthday Weekend – Boating in the San Juan Islands

Posted by Teri

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.

Birthday Boating in the San Juan Islands

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.

Controlled burn on Yellow Island in the San Juan Islands, WA

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.

Beach at Turn Island State Park, San Juan Islands WA

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.


Filed under Adventure, Boating, Nature

Wild About Yellow Island

Posted by Sandi

Approaching Yellow Island - an 11-acre preserve owned by the Nature Conservancy. What a gorgeous day for a paddle!

Yesterday I finally did one of the San Juan Islands’ must-dos: a tour of  Yellow Island during the  peak wildflower season.  We hooked up with Jeff Zbornik, owner of Shearwater Kayaks, for an easy paddle from Deer Harbor. Wow! Now I know what everyone’s been raving about.

The island’s caretaker, Phil, who has lived there in a driftwood cottage for 13 years, said this is the most spectacular spring he’s seen. The extra rain and cooler temps have extended the camas flowers by a month, synching blooms with Harsh Paintbrush and Buttercup. The result: a dizzying combo of purple-blue, red and yellow. I hope to be posting a video soon; in the meantime you can see more photos at my husband’s website. 

Harsh Paintbrush, Great Camas and Buttercup. Some of the Camas were waist-high!


McConnell Rock connected by spit to McConnell Island; background is Deer Harbor and Turtleback Mountain

Things to know before you go:

  • No food or drink allowed on the island.
  • No restrooms.
  • No pets.
  • Stay on the trails.
  • A group of six or more requires permission. Call 206-360-4344
  • All of the surrounding islands are either private or off limits. But tiny McConnell Rock, just north of Yellow Island, is open to the public. Go at low tide so you can land on the spit that connects McConnell Rock and McConnell Island.
  • To go ashore Yellow Island, use the south beach only. 

There is some interesting history to this area. I will save it for another post. Meanwhile, this adventure reminds me why I love living in the San Juan Islands — so beautiful and so many cool things to do within easy reach (or paddle!)

Looking to enjoy the simple life on beautiful Orcas Island?
Contact T Williams Realty  – we’ll help you find your way home.


Filed under Adventure, Nature