Sunday, December 27, 2009

Destination: Blind Bay, Shaw Island, San Juan Islands

If you arrived here by searching for a chart, please see this page.

When we're in the San Juan Islands, we almost always spend a night (or sometimes several!) at anchor in Blind Bay.  Blind Bay is on the North shore of Shaw Island, nearly directly across Harney Channel from the ferry terminal on Orcas Island.  

The entrance to Blind Bay is guarded by a collection of rocks and small islands.  The clear entrance is to the East of the largest of these, named logically enough, Blind Island.  The end of the shoal extending from the Eastern arm surrounding Blind Bay is punctuated with a rock which is submerged at high tide; there is a privately maintained black and white marker on the rock.  Make your passage between the marker and Blind Island.

The bay itself is a wonderful anchorage with no surprises.  It is big enough to be uncrowded, even on the busiest weekend of the summer, yet small enough to be protected.  The bottom is mud (which our Bruce anchor loves), and slopes very gently from 30 feet at the entrance (depths in these chart segments are in fathoms).

The shoreline is low bank, pastoral and uncrowded, and is all private.  This is a view taken from the Southern end of the bay, looking to the Southeast, in about 18 feet of water.

Although the shoreline is private, Blind Island is a Marine Park, and is available for hiking and exploring - kids will love it.  Camping is allowed on the island, but only for those arriving on a human-powered craft - that is, by kayak or canoe.

There are 4 State Park buoys on the south side of Blind Island, but we think the water is a little shallow for us there and prefer to anchor in the back of the bay.  This picture is taken from Blind Island, looking back into Blind Bay.

Shaw Island is one of the San Juan Islands which is served by the Washington State Ferry system.  The ferry terminal for the island is on the tip of the Eastern arm surrounding Blind Bay.  An order of Nuns used to run the terminal and the small general store on shore above it.  It was a pleasantly jarring anachronism to see a nun, in full flowing black and white habit, with an orange life preserver over all of it, operating the vehicle ramp and directing traffic onto the ferry.

The store is a delightful little general store, selling stamps, bait, clothes, handmade island crafts, groceries.  And ice cream.   It is the perfect dinghy destination for an ice cream cone on a warm summer day.

And when the fog comes in, lending a very nautical and kind of mysterious quality to things, Blind Bay is even more a comforting, cozy anchorage.

It's a good place to settle in.

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