Reflecting back on our transit through the Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands, I now realize we were in civilized lands. Unlike the empty, silent, grey waters and mountains of the Broughton Archipelago, the San Juan Islands are like a kiddy ride or maybe a Disney excursion. The San Juans are bustling and sunny; chock full of bear-free hiking trails and rapid-free channels; open and easy anchorages; plentiful activities ashore.
In this day tripper’s cruising paradise, one anchorage stands out as my favorite….shhh don’t tell…Wescott Bay, San Juan Island. We have been here multiple times over the last few years and I am convinced that it is the best spot in the islands. Weaving our way down narrow Wasp passage, a little adrenaline is generated navigating the currents and dog leg turns. Entering by rocky White Point, we bypass the inexplicably popular Garrison Bay and settle in the quiet, usually empty Wescott Bay. The bay is pastoral with a few vacation houses on one side of the bay and on the other, the untouched forest of English Camp, San Juan Island National Historical Park. The bay is shallow with a mud bottom, the best combination for worry free anchoring.
Launching the dinghy, we motor over to English Camp and tie up at their lovely dinghy dock; a true luxury because now we don’t have to get our feet wet going ashore nor do we have to worry about the 10′ tidal change that can leave the dinghy perplexingly high and dry.
Wescott Bay Dinghy Ride (click to see the short video).
The park is the site of a British fort established to protect the English claim on the San Juan Islands in the 1860’s. We wander the grounds checking out the tiny, manicured officer’s garden, the 8 sided stockade, the enormous British flag flying over the grounds, and an ancient Native American midden.
Happy to stretch our legs, we set out on a six mile hike up Young Hill to survey the Haro Strait and a distant Vancouver Island. Continuing down and around the Hill, we spy deer, eagles, robins; admire the tall, native Garry oaks; walk thru waist high meadows of grass. During the entire hike, we only see one person out enjoying the trail.
Before retiring back to Laysan, we stop by the Wescott Bay oyster farm to pick a half dozen fresh oysters for our evening BBQ. As the oysters sizzle on the grill, the bay once again delivers a most beautiful sunset. Perfect.