Monthly Archives: April 2015

Farmer’s Markets

Photo courtesy of sjifarmersmarket.com

Photo courtesy of sjifarmersmarket.com

Summer in the San Juan Islands is a time when the locals celebrate the rich bounty this region has to offer. Provisioning for your charter gives you a chance to indulge in flavorful, locally grown produce and other foods, and to immerse yourself in the rural culture of the islands. Each island has its own unique market where you can purchase locally grown foods and unique gifts.

If you depart from Bellingham on Saturday morning before your charter, or stay in town Friday evening after your charter, the Bellingham farmers market is conveniently located in downtown Bellingham, about a 5 minute drive from the San Juan Sailing Office, and is open from 10 a.m to 3 p.m on Saturdays from April through November. The market in Bellingham has been called one of the best in the state. Here you can buy fresh produce, flowers, gifts made by local artisans, and ready-to-eat seasonal snacks. There are several restaurants within walking distance where you can get a more substantial lunch.

Photo of Bellingham Farmer's Market courtesy of bbjtoday.com

Photo of Bellingham Farmer’s Market courtesy of bbjtoday.com

Closest to Bellingham is Lummi Island. Its market is open Saturdays 10 a.m to 1 p.m May through September, and is located just a couple blocks south of the Lummi Island ferry dock. While small, the market has an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers, honey, and locally crafted gifts.

Photo of Lummi Farmer's Market courtesy of whatcomlocavore.com

Photo of Lummi Farmer’s Market courtesy of whatcomlocavore.com

The Lopez Island farmers market is open from May through September on Saturdays between 10 a.m and 2 p.m. In addition to the usual produce and market

Lopez Farmer's Market photo courtesy of lopezislandkitchengardens.com

Lopez Farmer’s Market photo courtesy of lopezislandkitchengardens.com

crafts options, Lopez has a large selection of meats and seafood. Any trip to the San Juans wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the friendliest isle, and the market is a perfect place to experience the hospitality in person.

The Orcas Island Farmer’s Market is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday, and runs from the first weekend in May to the last weekend of September in Eastsound. This market is unique in that some of the island’s service organizations, such as the historical museum and the master gardener’s society, also set up booths here.

Orcas Island Farmer's Market photo courtesy of visitsanjuans.com

Orcas Island Farmer’s Market photo courtesy of visitsanjuans.com

The Friday Harbor Farmer’s Market is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays during the spring, summer, and fall, but they also have markets twice a month in November and December, as well is the first Saturday in January, February, and March. Even visitors during the off season can stop by this market to enjoy some of the region’s bounty!

San Juan Island Farmer's Market photo courtesy of  sjifarmersmarket.com

San Juan Island Farmer’s Market photo courtesy of sjifarmersmarket.com

The Victorian Port Townsend, WA

Image Courtesy of sanjuanclassicdaysailing.com

Image Courtesy of sanjuanclassicdaysailing.com

If you’d like to experience the beautiful Olympic Peninsula and admire some late 19th century Victorian architecture during your charter, be sure to schedule a day in Port Townsend. Guest moorage is available through the Port of Port Townsend, either at the Boat Haven Marina or the Port Hudson Marina. Both are located close to shopping, restaurants, and historical sites of interest. Port Townsend became an official city in 1851, though it had been recognized as a safe harbor by Captain George Vancouver, who visited the area back in 1792.

 

By the late 19th century it was a well-known and active seaport, and early speculation was that the city would become the largest harbor on the west coast, a dream that quickly faded when railroads were built but failed to make it north to Port Townsend. Afterwards, many of the town’s residents and investors moved on to Tacoma and Seattle, and the boom was over before the year 1900. In the following decades the town has maintained its economic stability in a variety of ways; most notably, the artillery fortifications at Fort Worden.

 

Fort Worden

Fort Worden

Today, Port Townsend is home to many restaurants, shops, and marine services. Visitors should plan a stop in the Jefferson County Historical Museum in downtown Port Townsend to enjoy exhibits and take in a walking tour showcasing some of the more prominent historical buildings and sites in the town. Alternatively, you could pay a visit to the Marine Science Center where you can learn about the creatures native to the Salish Sea. Next, stop in at one of downtown’s restaurants for a fresh, local meal. Sunset Magazine calls Port Townsend the “Paris of the West” due in large part to its exciting culinary scene. Lastly, visit the city’s event calendar to find a festival or event to end your evening.

Photo Courtesy of roadtrippers.com

Photo Courtesy of roadtrippers.com

Forts Casey, Flagler, and Worden

Fort Casey

Fort Casey

During the late 19th century, military officials were concerned that hostile fleets may gain access to the Puget Sound, which housed the Bremerton Naval Yard and large cities such including Seattle, Tacoma, and Everett. It was believed that the most likely entrance from the sea into the Puget Sound would be Admirality Inlet. In order to protect the vulnerable inlet, three forts were constructed: Fort Worden, near Port Townsend, Fort Casey, at the southern end of Whidbey Island, and Fort Flagler, on Marrowstone Island. Construction on the three forts began in 1897, and continued until the 1950’s when the forts were closed. The properties were opened as state parks in 1955. Though the parks are similar, each offers a unique experience to visitors.

Fort Worden has plenty of day use sites where visitors can enjoy a nice picnic or small fire while overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Mt. Baker, and the Port Wilson lighthouse. The Coast Artillery Museum contains collections including a 3D scale model of the structure of the fort along with the emplacements for the two 12-inch disappearing guns that were kept in readiness from 1910-1943. The Commanding Officer’s Quarters can be accessed by visitors, and has been restored and furnished in late Victorian fashion, providing a glimpse into the life of an officer and his family during the early 20th century.

Fort Worden

Fort Worden

In addition to the beautiful views,beachcombing, hiking and biking trails, and picnic sites available at all the parks, Fort Casey features the Admirality Head Lighthouse. Intepretive panels inside the lighthouse tell the history of the area surrounding Fort Casey, starting with a brief cultural history of the Native Americans from the area, through the first pioneers, and finally construction of the fort. Visitors may also take guided tours of the gun batteries at Fort Casey with a volunteer battalion leader.

Fort Flagler offers 256 feet of dock as well as 7 mooring buoys for visitors arriving by boat. The on-site military museum features displays about area history. If you take the gun emplacement guided tours, you’ll get a chance to learn about fort operations and see projectile lifts and sliding targets in action! The 1905 military hospital is also open for tours.

Fort Flagler

Fort Flagler

Deception Pass State Park

Photo Courtesy of stateparks.com

Photo Courtesy of stateparks.com

Deception Pass is probably the most scenic pass in all of the San Juans, and it draws thousands of tourists every year. Seeing it from the water, however, isn’t something that many people get the chance to do, but you certainly can during your charter! During ebb and flood tides, currents through the narrow strait can reach up to 8 knots and may result in whirlpools, standing waves, and roiling eddies. If you would like to pass below the bridge, make sure to wait for a slack tide or for the tide direction to be in your favor before passing through.

The most popular way to see Deception Pass is from the bridge above. The bridge is a section of State Route 20, and is two lanes that connects Whidbey Island and Fidalgo Island. It was completed in July of 1935, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The bridge sits 180 feet above the water, providing spectacular views of the surrounding islands. While you’re in the area, make time to stop at Deception Pass State Park. The park features both freshwater and saltwater shorelines as well as hiking along rugged cliffs with the sea on one side and old-growth forests on the other. The whole park offers great opportunities to view wildlife. You can expect to see dozens of species of birds, harbor seals, and abundant wildlife in the tide pools that you’ll find at Rosario Beach during low tide.

Photo Courtesy of deceptionpassfoundation.org

Photo Courtesy of deceptionpassfoundation.org

 

The area has been home to Coast Salish Tribes for centuries, and you’ll find a large totem pole at Rosario Beach that tells the story of the Maiden of Deception Pass.

Photo Courtesy of miraimages.photoshelter.com

Photo Courtesy of miraimages.photoshelter.com

Before you leave, make sure to make time to explore the Cranberry Lake Trail. The easy, 1/2 mile trail will take you through a sand dune environment, which is uncommon in this region of the state. As you loop closer to the shore, keep your eyes out for the 800+ year old Douglas Fir growing close to the forest’s edge. It is one of the oldest trees in the area.

Anacortes

Photo Courtesy of anacortes.org

Photo Courtesy of anacortes.org

Visitors to the San Juan Islands may be familiar with Anacortes because it is the city from which all of the San Juan Island Ferries depart, but there is a lot to enjoy in and around the city that can be easily missed by the ferry passengers. Although you can easily drive to Anacortes from the mainland, it is actually located on an island in Skagit County called Fidalgo, and the phenomenon of “island time” certainly exists in the quaint seaside town. Visitors come from all around to relax, enjoy views of the San Juan Islands, and shop in the historic downtown district. Outdoor types would appreciate a stop in Washington Park, Mt. Erie Park, or Cap Sante Park.

 

 

Photo of Washington Park Courtesy of anacortes.org

Photo of Washington Park Courtesy of anacortes.org

Washington Park is on a peninsula and features a paved road with trails paralleling it, so visitors can either drive, hike, or bike around the 2.2 mile loop. There are plenty of access points to the beaches where lucky explorers can find tidepools, harbor seals, or even orcas plying the waters just off the park.

Photo from the Summit of Mt. Erie Courtesy of tripadvisor.com

Photo from the Summit of Mt. Erie Courtesy of tripadvisor.com

Mt. Erie Park juts 1300 feet above the city, and is the highest vantage point on Fidalgo Island, so the 360o views are unmatched. The park also offers cliff faces that are popular with the rock climbing crowd. Cap Sante Park is a quick drive to the top of the bluff above the Anacortes Marina, again offering stunning views. If you’d rather spend some time in the city, Commercial Avenue in downtown Anacortes is where you should plan to spend the day. The street is lined with antiques stores filled with unique finds, as well as excellent restaurants and beautiful historic buildings. Don’t pass up a stop at the visitors center (located at 819 Commercial Ave.); the staff is extremely helpful for planning your visit, and will make sure you see the best attractions based on your personal interests. Throughout the year Anacortes hosts exciting festivals that guarantee a fun visit. Take a look at the city’s events calendar to find out what’s going on while you’re in town.