Monday, July 29, 2013

Stuart Island

We left Tuesday night after work and made our way to James Island for the night.  As we rounded the corner to pick up our mooring buoy, I looked back and caught a glimpse of the super moon behind us.  It was pretty amazing.  Of course, once we were tied up, the island blocked our view of the moon.  Bummer, no pictures. 

We woke up in the morning to a blanket of fog.  We took the dinghy to the beach for a hike and couldn't even see our boat less than 100 yards away.  Did we wait for the fog to clear to continue our journey to Stuart Island?  Of course not!  We thought this would be a great opportunity to test our radar and navigating with a blindfold on skills.  It was quite eerie as we pulled into Thatcher's Pass.  I should say, Jake pulled into Thatcher's Pass.  I was so turned around, I probably would have motored back to Skyline.  We had to dodge fishing boats as we passed through the area.  Then we saw the ferry coming on our AIS.  We waited and waited.  It was coming from behind.  We could hear their fog horn for quite some time before we actually saw the massive ferry bearing down on us.  Luckily, we had plenty of sea room and he passed us without incident.  As we approached the Spencer Spit area on the north side of Lopez Island, the veil of fog magically disappeared.  What a relief.  That would have been a nail biting trip had the fog continued all the way to Stuart Island.

We arrived Stuart around 3 pm and dropped the anchor in the middle of Reid Harbor.  We were impressed by the calm, beauty that surrounded us.  There is nothing like pulling into an anchorage, shutting off the engine and hearing nothing but birds singing.  There were about 20 boats in the bay, but plenty of room for everyone.  Somehow we have always managed to bypass Stuart Island as we traveled through the San Juan and Gulf Islands.  I'm glad we finally stopped.

I had read in a guidebook that there was a trail that took you to the island schoolhouse and continued to Turn Point Lighthouse.  Luckily we set aside an entire day for this 6 MILE journey.  FYI, Sperry water shoes are not appropriate hiking apparel.  I have the blisters to prove it.  The hike was great though.  The school grounds had a small museum, library, and main school building.  They also had soccer fields and a basketball court for the kids to run around on.  Last year they actually had 2 students that attended the school.  One would have to be pretty adventurous to live on the island full time with no grocery store or ferry service.  Next to the school there was a "market" set up with t-shirts, bags, and post cards for purchase on the honor system. 

We continued another mile up and down the county road to the Turn Point Lighthouse.  We stopped for a light picnic.  It was apparent that someone (me) probably should have packed more food.  We had worked up quite the appetite at that point and had another 3 mile journey back to the boat.  What an amazing view from the lighthouse area!  It is a great whale watching spot.  Unfortunately, we did not spot any...

We stayed at Stuart for 2 nights then decided we were ready for civilization again.  On Friday, we headed to Friday Harbor for the night.  We figured this would probably be our last visit to our favorite island and town.  We headed home on Saturday and it was back to work for me on Sunday.  Three more days of work, then FREEDOM! 

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