Eric, Jaco, and Juan de Fuca

After storming the Olympics, we took shelter under the peninsula’s rain shadow with Esther’s brother Eric and sister-in-law Jacqueline (Jaco). Our generous hosts, offered us their fully-equipped casita cottage and took us crabbing, fishing, and exploring on the waters and islands of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Eric on the Power Catamaran, John Wayne Marina, Sequim, WA

The Strait of Juan de Fuca is a 96-mile long salt water channel that forms the international boundary between the United States and Canada. To access the Strait, Eric and Jaco moor their power catamaran at the John Wayne Marina on scenic Sequim Bay.

Dungeness Bay and Sand Spit

Just west Sequim Bay is Dungeness Bay and the longest natural sand spit in United States. With no roads, exploring the five-mile long narrow strip usually requires a protracted round-trip walk. Lucky for me, Jaco, Eric and Esther dropped me off in the boat and let me hike back to the mainland and an awaiting car ride home.

It’s a Keeper! Eric and Joe Measuring a Dungeness Crab

Named after the Dungeness Headlands in England by the late 18th century British explorer George Vancouver, Dungeness, Washington also lends its name to the famous species of Pacific Northwest crab. We ensnared several of these prized crustaceans and dined on their delicate and slightly sweet meat, dipped in melted butter.

Eric Fishing for Salmon, Strait of Juan de Fuca

The Strait of Juan de Fuca is also a major migratory passage for several species of wild salmon. Today, anglers compete with a small population of killer whales for these high-protein fish. While fishing with Eric and Jaco, we spotted a distant pod of whales, but failed to hook a salmon.

Former Glines Canyon Dam, Constructed 1927, Demolished 2014

Because salmon is essential to the local ecosystem and economy, the federal government in 2014 restored an important salmon spawning habitat by demolishing the nearby Glines Canyon Dam. To see the result, we hiked to this former dam, the world’s largest ever intentionally breached.  

Sushi Dinner at Home

Since we failed to catch a fish, we relied on Jaco’s shopping and culinary skills, and still enjoyed grilled salmon for dinner. After a second unsuccessful day of fishing, we had to pick-up sashimi at the local sushi shop. For Jaco’s birthday, we took no chances and went to a restaurant in Friday Harbor.

Eric, Jaco and their Power Catamaran, Friday Harbor, San Juan Islands

Friday Harbor is the largest town in the San Juan Islands, an archipelago of over 400 islands and rocks on the north side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. On uncharacteristically placid and glassy waters, we travelled the 30 nautical miles across the Strait, tied up at the busy dock, and had a celebratory lunch overlooking the marina.

Washington State Ferry, Friday Harbor, San Juan Islands

After lunch, we watched the boat traffic and strolled the quaint streets of town. Connected with the mainland by the Washington State Ferry system, Friday Harbor is also a popular destination for tourists without their own vessel for transport.

Joe, Esther, Jaco and Eric in the San Juan Islands

During our time on the Strait, we re-united with family, relaxed in a private cottage, dined on fresh local seafood, and explored scenic and interesting coastal areas and landmarks. After storming the Olympics, Esther and I were truly fortunate to find a safe harbor with Eric, Jaco, and Juan de Fuca.

Esther in her happy place

Feature Photo: Low tide at Slip Point on Clallam Bay, Strait of Juan de Fuca (British Columbia, Canada visible across the Strait)

13 thoughts on “Eric, Jaco, and Juan de Fuca

    • Thanks for the question, Neil. The sand spit hike was a fun but unusual adventure. I was let off the boat in knee deep water at the end of the spit, then dried my feet and put on shoes to walk the five-miles back to the mainland. I saw a lot of interesting things like seals, low-flying planes, and even a coyote. Luckily, I was able to complete the hike back without having to cross any water channels. I might have been marooned otherwise.

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    • We did have a wonderful time and the scenery was gorgeous, Ann. The salmon is such an interesting species. They lay their eggs in fresh water, the small fish swim out to the ocean, and then they return to freshwater as adults to spawn before dying. Native Americans in the area have been catching and eating salmon for thousands of years. We weren’t so skilled or lucky, and had to settle for grocery store salmon, salmon sushi, and smoked salmon. Disappointing but still delicious!

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    • It was a fantastic week, Janis. Our hosts were so generous and welcoming. They even took off time from work to go out and show us around the area. The boat was a wonderful way to travel and see the sights from a different perspective. The fishing and crabbing was fun and added to the excitement. There really is nothing like fresh caught and boiled Dungeness crab dipped in melted butter. OMG!

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  1. Interesting that such an attractive and interesting place should be named after Dungeness – the original of which has got to be one of the most desolate corners of England! Flat lands with isolated houses and a nuclear power station is what you can expect. Sounds like you were given some seriously good family hospitality.

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    • I knew you guys would know Dungeness, England. Thanks for describing it. Vancouver was from Norfolk and wrote in 1792 of the sand spit and bay, “The low sandy point of land, which from its great resemblance to Dungeness in the British Channel, I called New Dungeness”. Like everyone over here in western North America, I always just associated Dungeness with the large meaty crab. I only recently learned that the species was named for Dungeness, Washington, where it was first harvested commercially. It was interesting and fun to see it for myself and even catch some crabs in the area.

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  2. I’ve never heard of any of these places! The Strait of Juan de Fuca sounds really interesting; I’m putting it on my list of places now. How long did that 30 nautical mile cruise take? That sushi dinner looks fantastic! – Marty

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    • Hey Marty! The Strait is about as far from your place in Florida as you can go without leaving the Lower 48. It is an important and scenic waterway with accessible islands and views of Canada. Combining a trip to the Strait with a visit to Victoria B.C., and a tour of the beaches, rainforests and mountains of the Olympic Peninsula would make a great getaway. From John Wayne Marina in Sequim (pronounced “Skwim”) to Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands took us about 90 minutes on smooth glassy seas. On the way back, it took us a bit longer, as we toured some of the islands, followed a pod of orcas, and watched a couple of eagles. Truly, it was an unforgettable day!

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