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San Juan Archipelago, Washington State, United States
A society formed in 2009 for the purpose of collecting, preserving, celebrating, and disseminating the maritime history of the San Juan Islands and northern Puget Sound area. Check this log for tales from out-of-print publications as well as from members and friends. There are circa 650, often long entries, on a broad range of maritime topics; there are search aids at the bottom of the log. Please ask for permission to use any photo posted on this site. Thank you.

12 June 2017

❖ THE ART OF WINDING DOWN ❖ by John Dustrude

Friday Harbor, WA. on the
day of the San Juan Rendezvous.

The scene of the annual giant salmon barbecues for 
many summers beginning in 1948, hosted by the Chamber 
of Commerce. Supportive local canneries and fishermen
donated the fish. In 1953, an estimated 3,000

people were served 2,500 pounds of free salmon, salad,
rolls, and hot coffee. An unusually large number 
of yachts were present, including Bob Schoen and his 
loaded ferry Nordland, a big hit upon arrival from Orcas.
The Tacoma Outboard Association came up 18 strong
in small boats with Anacortes Outboard group
organizing scheduled races. Jack Fairweather led a
very successful dance with live music by the
"Harmony Boys" to wind down a perfect day.

Photo by Bob and Ira Spring of Seattle, WA.
from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
"Yes, well, there you are, eight full days of vacation ahead of you. Should you spend it in the Cascades or on the beaches in the San Juans?
      Figure it takes the other guy about two days to wind down from the pressures of the fast lane. So give yourself two hours on the ferry, from Anacortes to Friday Harbor [1984.] You'll be there in plenty of time to grab some groceries and find your little sailboat.
      Stoke your boilers at any of the local eateries, and head out. Early afternoon ought to find you bucking the flood from Turn Island––so go with it instead and drift to Jones Island. Either of these marine parks is all you need for a couple of days' cruising (close by), good hiking and scenery, rocky bluffs and gravelly beaches, birds galore, and good fishing around the kelp and rock piles. Deer, too––some calico––native and exotic crosses from those that used to be on Safari (Spieden) Island only a two-hour swim away.
Sucia Island Group, 1940s.
Photograph by Clyde Banks Studio
Click to enlarge.

Original photo from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
      Well, that about does it as far as where to spend the first couple of nights. Now, if your sailboat had a motor you could stretch your range as tight as a drumhead; see more but enjoy less, having to be more organized with your time. Forget it. Stay on one island for a couple of days and get to know the place, and save the rest for another trip.      
      While you're lying in the moss you're wondering where those other boats out there are going. Well, unlike you, they're late, making up for lost time, maybe headed for Sucia for the night and then over to Sidney or Bedwell Harbour, and then to Nanaimo or Telegraph Harbour. Tighter than a drumhead. Hurry, hurry.
      Meantime, you begin wondering what kind of moss you're lying in. Kind of spongy and aromatic; close up it looks like a tiny jungle. The more you gaze into it the more you see––about a dozen different kinds in this one little spot. And mushrooms, lichens, and algae, the place is alive with stuff you never noticed before. There must be books about this that you can read to find out more. You resolve then and there to learn more about this natural world around you.
      The sun goes behind the clouds. A breeze makes the firs sigh, and it gets cooler. It makes you hungry, so go check the boat, gather some firewood, and cook up some soup.
      The boat's okay, high enough up on the beach to be there when you want it tomorrow. The high tide will just wet the transom, judging from the last high tide's line of drift. Not that you're in a hurry to leave. You might just figure on staying put for a few days. Besides, there's more to see and do right here underfoot than you really ever imagined. Amazing, what you miss when you're not in tune with where you are.
      You begin to wonder if with a little help from books and experience you could learn to live out here in the open. Off the land, so to speak. Maybe try it for a few weeks in the summer, just for openers.
Cruising in the San Juan Islands, WA.
Click image to enlarge.
Undated original from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
      Maybe get a boat of your own. How big? Someone once said, "well, you either want one big enough to ride out our storms or small enough to beach it." Hmm, possibilities. Low cost, low maintenance, low stress. Protected water, quiet coves, mossy outcrops, grassy flats, kelp beds and bottom fish, fair currents, clear water, clean air, and freedom.
       If the wind dies how far could you go with the tide? Now you're getting into it. Maybe to Turn Island, six miles away; six hours with a knot of current, even sooner with a little tail wind.
      How about that? Turn Island in time for sunset!" 
 Dustrude, John, happy mariner of the San Juan Island Archipelago, with home port of Friday Harbor.
 The Art of Winding Down. San Juan Islands Almanac. Vol. 11, 1984.

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