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Sailing the San Juans


Straits of Juan de Fuca


My Vashon Island neighbors


Autumn, Vashon Island


Bainbridge Blues soccer


Ferry, Puget Sound


San Juan Islands


I always get queasy driving off a ferry, having once been at the helm of an old Ford “roadie” van full of amps and equipment, part of my boyfriend’s band, and the sorry vehicle didn’t have enough gumption to get up the steep low tide ramp. I’ve blanked on how I got out of that predicament. I don’t want to think about it.

The thing is, if you want to take your vehicle, you have to take a ferry. Sure, you can take your own boat or even fly. I’ve done both and love sailing or cruising Puget Sound and gimme a float plane anytime. But I love those ferries too. The leisure of it, especially the trip from Anacortes to Vancouver Island. All that green water and perfect wooded islands. Orcas, birds, salt spray…

There are 172 islands — three major ones, Orcas, Lopez and San Juan—officially called the San Juans. But I’m also including Puget Sound’s Fidalgo, Whidbey, Bainbridge and Vashon Islands. Still, it’s a ferry ride, except for two: a bridge to Fidalgo and a connecting bridge from Fidalgo to Whidbey.

Fair Warning: Islands to be updated.

Whidbey Island
www.visitwhidbey.com A short trip across Puget Sound on the Mukilteo-Clinton Ferry delivers you from mainland Washington State to Whidbey Island. You can rent kayaks, take boat tours, explore Fort Ebey, the World War II fortress overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca, fish, birdwatch, scuba dive, hike, bike and visit one of the most beautiful state parks in the country, the 4,134-acre Deception Pass marine park with 30 miles of hiking trails accessing old-growth forests, inland lakes and 19 miles of saltwater shoreline. From cliffside heights (or the bridge) you can watch riptides crash through the narrow channel cut into the rock face. Many find the tidal spectacle exhilarating, while some (such as me) get thrilling vertigo.

[ARCHIVES: And I Could Have Been in Baja]

www.visitlangley.com Paths lined with public art meander between streets and you may be so enchanted by this charming village and its many cafes, art galleries, boutiques, antique shops and four, count ‘em, four bookstores (for a population of about 1,000), that you may not realize it sits on a bluff with an accessible waterfront. Fish from the public pier, walk the beach, kayak, sail, bicycle, scuba dive or simply take in the dramatic views of the Saratoga Passage, Camano Island and the North Cascade Mountains.

eat EAT

Inn At Langley restaurant www.innatlangley.com 360.221.3033, six-course exquisite NW fresh cuisine and wine. Fair Warning: limited hours off season weekends only; call for info & reservations.

Langley Village Bakery 211 2nd St, 360.221.3525.

stay STAY

Boatyard Inn www.boatyardinn.com 360.221.5120, spacious, airy, contemporary studio and loft suites on the waterfront with views from $175.

Inn at Langley www.innatlangley.com 360.221.3033, Craftsman-style/Asian-inspired architecture and elegant Zen-like interiors, stunning panoramic vistas from guest rooms, suites and cottages from $275.

play PLAY

Washington State Ferries www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries info & schedules.

Fly from Seattle www.sanjuanairlines.com and www.kenmoreair.com 45 min. flights.

Whidbey Island, Langley www.visitwhidbey.com and www.visitlangley.com
Bicycle, golf, hike, kayak, scuba dive the artificial Langley Tire Reef in Langley Small Boat Harbor.

Boat tours: wildlife viewing from the water, Deception Pass Tours, Inc. www.deceptionpasstours.com 888.904.8687; harbor tours, whale watching Mystic Sea Charters www.mysticseacharters.com 800.308.9387.

Paradise Found Fiber Farm www.paradisefoundfiber.com 360.579.1906, alpacas, llamas, fiber and fiber products, produce and fresh eggs. Fair Warning: limited hours Saturdays June-October. Call first.

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