Orcas Day 2: Deer Harbor, Wasp Islands, West Sound

We launched into the cold rain from Deer Harbor (well, to the right of it at a preserve with a beach and without a launch fee).


I don’t like crossings, even short ones, in the wind, because of how high the waves can get from the wind (especially colliding with the current). But we’re in a tandem and I don’t have control of the rudder, so we crossed to Reef Island then McConnel, then landed on Yellow Island.


The waves didn’t get too high (though they definitely soaked me a few times) but there was a a large speedy boat that came around the corner all of a sudden that we had to paddle hard to get out of the way.
Yellow Island is the only place to land in the Wasp Islands. There’s a caretaker (with a nice looking cabin) we unfortunately didn’t get to meet but we walked along the trail to see the fields and stretch our legs before heading back towards Deer Harbor (of course going around the other sides of the Wasp Islands to check out all the scenery).


I wasn’t able to take many pictures, because of the wind, but we saw some wildlife. Deer (near our launch site), Herons, Osprey, Seals. We also saw bunnies and a large orange cat while unloading our gear. Not whales like yesterday though!


We saw a green glass bottle floating and paddled over to pick the garbage up. Inside was a message saying “HELP”!


Inside there was a small package of something plant-like (smelled like it was there a while) and the message, but no other information. I assume their pen didn’t run out of ink so since there was no other info we decided it was prank. This assumption was backed up by the smell of the bottle. An empty alcohol bottle usually doesn’t lead to great decisions, like faking you need help in a potentially dangerous area.


At the mouth of Deer Harbor the wind finally died down and there was nothing but silence. No wind howling, no motorboats whirring, nothing but our paddles slipping in and out of the water. We weren’t ready to go in yet. 

Knowing the tide was going out, leading to a long carry back to our launching beach we checked the currents and wind via apps (Orcas has spotty cell service but at least it’s not roaming like on San Juan Island) and decided we had enough time to explore a little more.


Pole pass is supposed to have a fairly strong current but thankfully it wasn’t when we went through and into the West sound (one of the two that gives Orcas its interesting shape). There you can see Turtleback mountain (pictured below) .


As we came back we passed between Double Island and Alegria Island which was probably my favorite rocky area.


When we made it back to our beach we did have a bit of a carry but it wasn’t too bad. And thankfully just a little muddy opposed to the silt we’ve experienced before on Diablo Lake

The view from our deck is wonderful. You can see deer Harbor and some of the islands.


There are also some pretty trees. There used to be two in front of our room but soon after we unloaded all of our gear one suddenly fell over! We saw it from our deck but didn’t have time to call timber (though we did call the operator to let her know the road was blocked). I’m just thankful there was no one on the road at the time (including us).


I’ve got to say, I’m enjoying the luxury of staying in a hotel. A hot shower to wash off the salt, a fire that starts itself with a light switch, and plugging in the coffee maker to heat water for tea are pretty nice luxuries.

Next we drove around looking for launch points for a future trip to Sucia Island. After a dead end that involved seeing Sucia for the first time with a sweet rusty car in front. 


We ended up deciding on North Beach because it’s a public beach (however narrow) at the top of the island and has free parking. 

We then hit the town! Lots of cute restaurants. We went to Pizzeria Portofino. Good pizza (not great) and really friendly staff. Our paddle made it so our large pizza didn’t make for any leftovers. 

There weren’t many options since everything closes so early! That doesn’t stop anyone from window shopping to scope out dessert for tomorrow. 

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