2023 Princess Louisa Flotilla – Day 9 Roche Harbor | NW Explorations


2023 Princess Louisa Flotilla – Day 9 Roche Harbor

This morning started Day 9 of our Princess Louisa Flotilla and sadly, the day we parted ways with our friends from Canada as they return to Sidney, BC. The three remaining boats will continue back to Bellingham, WA. The confident and competent crew of Pilot House made an early departure from Ganges to keep their tight schedule on their return home. Friendly and social, they made for good company on the flotilla.

The crew on Memories took advantage of every moment and opportunity to have fun, discover and make memories! Always interested and enthusiastic, we wish you all bon voyage.

Today we departed Ganges Harbor, heading south of Portland Island into Prevost Passage on our way the Canada/US border. Harbor seals seemed to be hauled out on every rock and small island we passed. Usually solitary in water, these inquisitive but elusive marine mammals haul out in large groups. Harbor seals are found in all coastal areas of BC with the highest concentration in the Strait of Georgia with an average 13 seals per km of shoreline which explains the concentrations we experienced today.

On our way into Roche Harbor, we passed by this beautiful totem pole erected at the point of Henry Island. Although the pole is facing in the opposite direction towards Haro Strait, some of the symbolic animals can be identified as an eagle with its wings open at the top and what resembles an orca dorsal towards the middle of the totem. Both of these animals continue to play prominent roles in indigenous cultures throughout the Northwest coastal tribes and are often included in totems and other household items.

Roche Harbor is located on the northwestern end of San Juan Island, making it a popular stop for boaters traveling between the US and Canada. The grounds are meticulously well kept with flowers, well maintained docks, and crisply painted buildings. Roche started in the 1800’s and later become the largest lime mining company on the west coast. In 1956 it was sold to the Tarte family who transformed it into a maritime based resort town. It was sold again in 1988 and has been transformed into a luxurious year-round community blending the historic buildings of the past with new commercial stores and condominiums.

This is one of the seven historic kilns that line the road to Roche Harbor.

Our Lady of Good Voyage Chapel was originally a Methodist church built for the McMillan family but was later refurbished and dedicated as a Catholic Church by the Tarte family. Inside the stained-glass windows memorialize the history of some Tarte family members. The bell rings out a nostalgic sound across the harbor at noon and 6:00 p.m.

The Reserve Sculpture Park is nestled among a 19-acre field and forest with views of Westcott Bay. It displays a rotating collection of over 100 sculptures created by local artists and artists from around the world. The crew on Zaya hiked throughout the acreage enjoying the variety of art forms on display.

With only three boats left in the fleet, Double O’ Seven graciously invited us all over to share appetizers and beverages. Their lovely boat accommodated as all comfortably and gave us a final opportunity to share comradery one last time. Following the gathering, everyone set off for dinner plans.

In the summer months, Roche Harbor performs a Colors ceremony. As each flag is lowered, the corresponding anthem is played. This beloved tradition started when the resort was owned by the Tartes and continues to be very popular today. At the end of the ceremony, many boats sound their horns in appreciation.

After glow in the sky marks the end of another beautiful day. Tomorrow, we continue on to Sucia Island for a completely different experience before our final journey back to Bellingham.

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