We’ve Been Boarded…

Arrr Matey we’ve been boarded…sounds like something out of Pirates of the Caribbean but in our case it was our first of the season visitors to the Beach House. Woo-Hoo…We have been looking forward to having friends onboard Beach House and showing them the beautiful San Juan Islands.

After doing what seems like a million projects on board Beach House, I keep saying to Wally that next season we will just get onboard and go. Wally just rolls his eyes and says uh huh. But truly, I think we are ready now to have some serious fun with friends onboard.

Shawn and his delightful daughter Tatum, were in the area looking at colleges and had some time to hang with us for a few days. Shawn and Wally worked at Intel together for over 20 years so it was fun for Wally to reconnect and catch up on all the scuttlebutt at Intel and just spend some time chillin with Shawn.

Being up for an adventure, they stowed their gear on Beach House and off we went for an overnight somewhere. Our crossing on Rosario Strait was a bit lumpy and windy so Shawn and Tatum get bonus points for getting their sea legs so quickly. We were headed over towards Lopez Island but had hopes of getting on the small dock at James Island.

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The view from the hiking trails looking north…that’s Beach House on the left side of the dock.

James Island lies in Rosario Strait just off the eastern shore of Decatur Island and west of the city of Anacortes. Rosario is a big open body of water that leads in to the Straits of Juan de Fuca which goes on out to the ocean. We call the Strait of Juan de Fuca “Juan de Fu*k You” because the weather and water conditions can really get nasty, so we give that area some serious respect. Since James Island is located just on the edge of Rosario the currents around the island are really fast moving. Combine that with some wind and getting on the dock can be a challenge but the crew on the Beach House got lucky. After one attempt to get on the side of the dock that the wind and current were blowing us away from, the boat on the “easy” side of the dock left so we took advantage of the conditions and let it help move us on to that side of the dock.


James Island is marked on this map by the star so you can see how big that the straits around it are.

The cool thing about James is that it is great for a day trip or overnighter as it is a quick 30 minute cruise from our marina and it is another island in the Washington State Park System that is entirely a park for camping and boating – no private residences. If you are looking for a great camping getaway, you can get to James via a private boat from Anacortes and have your choice of three different camping areas complete with composting toilets but no potable water. The camping areas combine for a total of 13 campsites and are connected by a loop trail. James Island is about 113 acres and has 12,335 feet of saltwater shoreline with some great views of Mt Baker.

The weather was picture perfect plus the wind died down in the evening so we were able to dine alfresco with the sounds of the water rippling out in the channel as our music. Grilled spice rubbed flat iron steak with chimichurri, corn on the cob and a garden salad finished with watermelon. That’s a summer dinner for sure. Nothing tastes better than when its served outdoors with friends at the table… the coup de grace was the wonderful sunset.

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Just another San Juan Sunset!

We spent the next morning doing an easy hike around the island and then had a leisurely lunch at the dock before we made the cruise back to Anacortes. Tatum later wrote in our guest book that she thought the cruise back was good but wasn’t sure as she slept the whole way back! Glad she was feeling so relaxed.


After finding this tree riddled with big holes, I was hoping to see a Pileated Woodpecker but they were elusive. In the background you can see the currents and whirlpools in the water.

After a trip to fuel the boat, the captain made a perfect docking back at the marina. A wash down for the boat and crew was in order, oh and maybe a glass of grog (ok wine) or two for the older pirates! Our marina is located just on the edge of old town Anacortes so it was an easy walk into town and over to Cap Sante Marina where we had a casual outdoor dinner at Anthony’s Cabana. This outdoor eatery sports two bocce ball courts that overlook the picturesque harbor. It was boys against girls and poor Tatum got the short stick with me on her team. I didn’t suck too horribly but was the only one who ended up with a “sports injury”. The boys won handily but us gals quickly forgot our loss with a big ole scoop of ice cream at the Mad Hatter Ice Cream shop on our stroll back to the boat.


Hanging at the Cabana.


That my friends is a single scoop …blow me down!!

Shawn and Tatum packed up the next morning and headed out for two more college tours as we started prepping for the next round of friends….Arrr Mateys it was sure great havin ye on board!


Bentley gave James Island a 4 paws rating…seriously what dog gets to have a whole island to play on.

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