San Juan Sojourn

I got a late start on the boat this summer.  Usually, I head for Canada July 5 and stay along the Inside Passage until late September.  Most of the time I spend alone, reading, kayaking, exploring.  A few days each month are reserved for family and friends who fly up to join me.  I love being alone; I love the company–I love summers on the boat.

But this season I didn’t make Canada until this week, and I won’t make it as far north as usual.  Too much going on at the home front.  Now the islands are dotted with foliage turning to red and gold, the nights are cool and the mornings, crisp, and the anchorages are far less crowded, even in the busy San Juan Islands.

Normally, I bypass the San Juans all together.  I’ve grown too accustomed to the solitude offered further north.  I boat to leave civilization, not to raft up to a flotilla of happy sailors.

Alas, this year I have no choice, so I follow a path taken thirty-some years ago on my maiden voyage afloat.

First stop, Sucia Island at the northern-most region of the San Juan group.  It offers multiple coves and crannies for anchorage and a wind-swept, rocky perimeter to explore by kayak.

One side of the island offers Mt. Baker in view:

The other, gorgeous sunsets:

Next stop, Roche Harbor.  I have an affection for Roche, even though it has grown from it’s once charming, tranquil self into somewhat of a boating frenzy: myriad mooring buoys and a marina that nearly puts Newport Beach to shame.  But, the ancient Hotel de Haro still stands and the small chapel where I was once married marks the spot of that first crime.

Spencer Spit is another one of my favorites, and Jones Island, too.

Even though fall is in the air, the islands are awash with boaters determined to get one more weekend of sunshine into the ships log before the autumn drizzle begins.

And I resolve to venture north much earlier next year, back to the Desolation of those northern waters I love.