Monday, June 22, 2009

Sucia Island storm and Rosario

One little haiku.

American nerd
can't fix japanese camera.
All tossed into trash.


After reluctantly leaving the luxury and fun of Bellingham, we entered the San Juan Islands proper at Sucia Island.

Purchased and given to Washington State Parks by a couple of wealthy yachtsmen, the island is a deeply indented thing of intricately eroded sandstone and fossiliferous formations. We enjoyed the arid climate and new plant species on the trails that crisscross the island. Our anchorage in Fox Cove was a bit tidal and open to westerlies, but a great spot for sunsets.

On the second night at anchor, a gale blew in the evening and stayed all night. The waves beyond the cove entrance built to 4-5 feet and we began to rock and roll. Prudence (our guiding fairy) told Mo to put out a little more chain and we locked up anything not tied down.

We watched in wonder as several boats tried unsuccessfully to leave the cove and head out straight into it to the south-blasted white-caps. I'm not sure what was going on in their minds, but whatever it was, I don't want any of it. Three tried, and three came right back in. One, a large Bayliner that looked familiar, motored around at high speed looking for a spot to anchor. As it wildly veered towards us and headed right at us, we realized it was our old nemesis "The Big Fart" from Inati Bay. Missing our bow by a few feet, we got a chance to curse him again. Somebody take the wheel from this guy check for a brain...

We had a rolly restless night of anchor watch checking for drag with a fitful nap here and there for the crew. The mighty CQR anchor held fast through the night in the bucking seas and we saw in the morning we had moved not an inch.

Grateful for sunup, we pulled anchor and motored to the bigger islands of the San Juans.


It took a bit with frazzled nerves to find a place in Massacre Bay, and decided against Skull Island, but we finally succeeded and tucked behind Victim Island. What a great place to do one of those "mystery cruises", huh?

Mo had a bit of a meltdown because Blain was being mean, but we retired to separate corners, thankful for doors. A restorative visit to a 1920s mansion converted to a resort might just do the trick...

The Moran Mansion was built by Seattle ship-building millionaire Robert Moran in the 1920s as a final retirement spot. In poor health, he was given 6 months to a year to live, and decided to create an estate on Orcas Island called Rosario.

Employing shipwrights from his docks, he created a masterpiece of nautical engineering on shore, complete with DC hydroelectric from dammed lakes above, indoor pool, bowling alley, and, of course, a pipe organ. But really, what house is complete without one?

We marvelled at the ship hardware used gracefully as door hinges, light fixtures, and built in furniture. Said to be anchored 16 feet into the bedrock, Mr. Moran built a lighthouse disguised as a mansion. The inch-thick porthole glass in the bedrooms was one of the more delicate touches.

One of the final tributes to Robert Moran's legacy (he lived another 25 or so years, by the way) was his admiration of Theodore Roosevelt. Inspired by his vision, Moran donated his upper 4000 acres to Washington as a state park. Moran State Park is a wonderful place. We hiked Mr. Moran's trails, swam in his reservoir, and admired his waterfalls.

Blain spotted his first ever rough-skinned newt (Taricha granulosa) at a stream and freaked. Herpephiles take notice, Moran State park has snakes, frogs and newts. He was in heaven here holding one of the most poisonous creatures on earth for a photo. Nice.

In the resort marina, we are next to three guys on a sailboat with pink painted roses called "First Kiss". A bit different in the Northwest than Whittier.

For our Omaha family, Moran shipyards built the USS Nebraska.

I want a slide drawer labeled "The President".

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