First a little factoid: Did you know that Orcas Island didn’t get it’s name from the whale, but actually is a shortened form of the name of the viceroy of Mexico, Juan Vicente de Güemes Padilla Horcasitas y Aguayo, 2nd Count of Revillagigedo, who sent an exploration expedition under Francisco de Eliza to the Pacific Northwest in 1791?
On the north shore of Obstruction Pass lies Lieber Haven, a resort with individual cabins that offers kayak and boat rentals. It’s located next to a public launch ramp and looks like it hasn’t changed since the 1970s. In addition to selling snacks, beer and wine inside the little store they have laminated placemats for sale showing the location of the ten most dangerous reefs in the San Juans, art made from cut up aluminum pop cans and little plastic toy Orcas that squeek.
Lieber Haven is the home of the 72 ft schooner Lieber Schwan. The Schwan is high and dry and undergoing repairs right now, but other than missing a rudder she looks like all she needs is a new coat of paint. According to the innkeeper, Sherry, during the Hanukkah Eve Wind Storm last fall the combination of big waves and high tide tore the rudder of the Lieber Schwan off, totally destroyed their docks, and smashed a few boats to pieces. Only a single line remained to keep their tugboat, Kittie B, from floating away.
Sherry seemed to know just about everything about wooden boats and sail rigging. She and Ricardo ended up carrying on a conversation in "nautical speak" that was way above my head. She also pointed out where the rips would be during the flood current, and directed us to a shallow area across Peavine Pass just off Blakely Island which would give us a great view of bottom creatures from our kayaks. Despite all that, plus having lived and worked on Obstruction Pass for decades, she still couldn’t tell me which direction the current runs when it floods, and still uses the old unreliable method of using the high and low water times to estimate the time and speed of the max current. She obviously hasn’t heard of Capt’n Jacks Tide and Current Almanac!
Later we paddled in close around Obstruction Island and must have seen two dozen racoons on the shore -- no kidding! I was told by a kayak guide once that racoons are nocturnal, so if you see one up and about in broad daylight it's probably sick with rabies. Obviously, that can't be true, unless the whole population in the San Juans is infected. I bet with all their rummaging through garbage and getting into everything they must make living on the island unbearable.
Well I've been posting pretty regularly lately but now I'm off to SSTIKS for the weekend. See you there!