Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sucia Island Adventure

My childhood memories are filled with memories of jagged, rock strewn beaches filled with shells, seaweed, barnacles, and muck. As kids we used our imagination to turn the coastline at our family cabin on the Hood Canal into a tropical paradise. Sporting bathing suits and aqua socks in 65 degree weather, we floated on inner tubes in the freezing salt water amid sea grass and jellyfish until we began to turn blue and then attempted to sunbathe while avoiding sand fleas and scuttle crabs. We fished from the dock and took turns in the rowboat, and walked the beach for miles filling buckets of sea glass and driftwood.

But the best part of these summers was boating with Grandpa. Waiting at the dock for your turn to go out on the small fishing boat was simply agony! We would gear up in puffy orange life jackets, metal clips securely fastened, and lay with eyes pressed to holes in the dock looking for jellyfish to pass the time. Eventually we would hear the boat’s motor in the distance, heading in to trade siblings and cousins for the next trip out. And when I was finally hefted aboard and the boat pulled away, with the salty wind in my hair and a smile plastered on my face, I remember feeling happy, lucky and free.

The anticipation of dropping and pulling crab and shrimp pots never lost its appeal for me. The canal was an abundance of wildlife and entertainment, and every day was a new adventure. Back at our cabin, the deck was always covered with buckets full of clams, oysters, shrimp, crab and fish. The adults would sit around the table eating pounds of fresh seafood, while at the time I refused to taste it… I simply enjoyed the thrill of the catch! Gosh, what was I thinking?! I still can’t believe that I passed up all that amazing food.

When Stewart’s friend Chad invited us for a weekend of camping, boating and fishing at Sucia Island in the San Juans, I was incredibly excited. As soon as we pulled away from the dock in Stew's home town of Ferndale and I smelled the sea air, my head was flooded with memories of childhood summers.

Sucia Island is less than one square mile and it is only accessible by boat. Stewart, Chad, Cory and I pulled up to shore and unloaded our camping gear in a chilly drizzle. But because of my summers on the beaches of Hood Canal in similar conditions, what the heck did I care? Adventure! We camped in a gorgeous shallow cove right on the beach, and had to gather driftwood for the fire we hoped the weather would allow us to have later. The rain did finally stop later in the evening and we were able to build a camp fire before bed. Eight hours later we awoke… to a torrential downpour. When it hadn’t let up a few hours later, we decided to brave the elements and headed out in the boat to drop crab pots and let the boys fish.

Stewart claims that he is a very unlucky fisherman, and unfortunately this trip he seemed to be correct... after several hours we only managed to hook a single dogfish. But I still had a fantastic time just being out on the water enjoying the gorgeous views and even just a few peeks of sunshine in the afternoon. Setting and pulling crab pots was also just as fun as I remember it being as a kid. Our first couple pots only had some small female crabs but by the end of the weekend we had snagged several worthy enough to take home. And the boys laughed at me for thinking that an absolutely giant starfish was the most exciting catch of the day. (It was seriously HUGE!) 
The waters surrounding the islands are so gorgeous, even on a dull day. Living and working in the city, I often forget how lucky we are to live in the Pacific Northwest. We saw tons of wildlife including dolphins, seals, otters, and bald eagles, and of course CRABS! Despite all our experience watching Deadliest Catch, we didn’t have a huge haul, but did head home with delicious crabs that we enjoyed Sunday night with our friends Matt and Alissa. It was by far the most delicious seafood I have ever tasted. I’m still kicking myself for all those years at our cabin I spent being a bratty, picky eater.

The trip was really fun and it’s one that Stewart has been doing almost every summer since college. I’m so glad I was finally able to join him! And although I’m a fan of tropical paradise as much as the next person, the weekend really reminded me how much I love the Puget Sound and the adventures (and cuisine!) it has to offer.


  1. Glad you were able to have fun even though it was rainy! I've never been to that island, it looks really pretty.

  2. All of the islands up there are so gorgeous, I always forget about them... We should plan a trip for next summer.


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