Early summer is one of the best times to enjoy all the gifts the San Juan Islands have to offer. Fourth of July is still a week off, and the islands have not hit high tourist season yet. Marinas have plenty of space, the weather is sunny yet cool and the Ocean Spray and other perennials are in bloom.
Our trip began in Bellingham on Friday where we met our Mother Goose compatriots over wine and cheese at the Bellingham Yacht Club where the crew introduced themselves and our planned itinerary.
Saturday morning we headed out towards Lopez Island and a windy anchorage in Whatmough Bay. It was clear and breezy all night, but our anchors held well. The next day, Sunday was a lovely day in Roche Harbor, where we had the pick of the best slips in the marina.
We all took a short stroll around town talking about how these lovely islands became a part of the United States; it almost was not so. During the early to mid- 1800s, the dividing line between Her Majesty’s Dominion of Canada and the young United States was not so apparent as it is today. British and American citizens occupied San Juan Island in the 1850s. One fateful day in 1859, a boar belonging to an Englishman wandered into a potato patch owned by Lyman Cutler, an American Farmer. Cutler shot the pig, the Englishman wanted compensation, and the next thing anyone knew, it was darn close to war between the United States and Great Britain… again. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and war was avoided. A comprehensive survey was at last completed, and it was decided that San Juan Islands would belong to the United States.
We got to see all of this history as we walked in town and out in Garrison Bay. Part of the US Park Service, Garrison Bay is the site of the former Royal Marines camp during the bloodless “Pig War”. Some reconstructed buildings stand in their original locations, and some gardens that the park has planted. An osprey nest towers above the park with young chicks inside.
In all, it was a perfect visit to San Juan Island!