Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Destination: Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, San Juan Islands

If you arrived here by searching for a chart, please see this page.
Sometimes when you are in the San Juan islands, you feel the need for a little civilization. Maybe you have run out of sugar, or maybe you'd like... Electricity! Cell phone reception! Internet!

Friday Harbor is your first choice. It is the county seat of San Juan County (Not to be confused with Washington's other island-based county: Island County, which contains Whidbey and Camano Islands). It has all of the trappings of a county seat, most notably, Friday Harbor's own brewery, the Front Street Ale House, almost directly above the marina. I'm not going to tell you how to find it... you won't be able to miss it (we never do).

The chart shows that you can enter the harbor at either end of Browns Island, but for some reason, we always go in at the West end. You have three choices here:
  • You can tie up at the dock (call ahead on VHF 66), or just go to the "North" breakwater - the farthest one to the right on entering the harbor (farthest left on the chart), and tie up if you can - it is first come, first served.
  • Anchor in front of the University of Washington Friday Harbor Labs. This is pretty deep water here - like 50-60 feet. Yes, that is Eolian, anchored out there in front of Friday Harbor Labs, with Adventuress (102' schooner) in the background. And that is me rowing back out to the boat because I forgot my shoes.
  • Anchor between Browns Island and the town. Be careful here of the cable areas... It is not much shallower, but it is more protected. Even from ferry wakes - when the ferries are in the harbor, they are moving slow. This is our favorite.
In recent years Friday Harbor has become a tourist attraction - perhaps because it is an island destination, easily accessible by ferry (out of Anacortes). If you should choose to go to Friday Harbor via the ferry, leave your car in Anacortes. If you really feel the need for wheeled transportation, there are scooter and bicycle rental places within very short walking distance of the ferry terminal.

The town is charming, and is filled with artsy places and galleries... and real estate offices (the days of buying cheap property on San Juan Island are gone). There is an easily accessible grocery store at the top of the hill (follow the main drag) - the other one burned down a couple of years ago, and was rebuilt as a Windemere office. Huh. There are a couple of car parts dealers, should you need, for example, a new alternator, like the guy tied up behind us a couple of weeks ago. There are even a couple of live web cams!

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