Our cruise through Deception Pass on the way home from the San Juan Islands was placid enough that I enjoyed the views of the Deception Pass Bridge.
This is one of those lovely, classic bridges, completed in 1935. It was complemented by one of the few brief periods of blue skies that we enjoyed on the trip.
Before it was built travelers used an inter-island ferry to move between the islands that are now connected by this bridge.
We headed home from our trip through the San Juan Islands moving east then south, passing Guemes Island, Anacortes, and La Conner before cruising through Deception Pass, a body of water locally famous for tides that rip perilously through the narrow passageway. Though I’d crossed over the area on the bridge shown here I never expected to cruise through on the water below.
We went through on a slack tide, as placid a period as can be expected. Still, the water was obviously pouring westward. We moved through the pass with the engine killed, pulled along by the force of the water. It was gentle movement but I could well imagine a totally different experience on a moving tide.
Slack tide or not there were whirlpools of water. Tidal action can magnify these whirlpools such that they can completely spin a boat, motoring or not, and worse. Here is a description of the currents from Wikipedia:
“Deception Pass is a dramatic seascape where the tidal flow and whirlpools beneath the twin bridges connecting Fidalgo Island to Whidbey Island move quickly. During ebb and flood tide current speed reaches about 8 knots (9.2 mph), flowing in opposite directions between ebb and flood. This swift current can lead to standing waves, large whirlpools, and roiling eddies…Boats can be seen waiting on either side of the pass for the current to stop or change direction before going through. Thrill-seeking kayakers go there during large tide changes to surf the standing waves and brave the class 2 and 3 rapid conditions.”
I suppose if you’re going to the effort and expense of building a house in the San Juan Islands why settle for a humble cabin? We saw some fine dwellings on our Puget Sound Express trip. Some would be nice on any sort of site.
Others took advantage of the rugged landscape
If you’re going to go so far I suppose you may as well have room for a crowd.
No quick stroll to a grocery store or theater from these spots but I expect there are plenty of other diversions if you can pull off a house like this.
Lest you think the San Juan Islands are uninhabited, I’ll share images of some of the beachfront housing we saw on our trip with Puget Sound Express.
Beachfront property? Beautiful, remote island setting? Spectacular water view?
What’s not to like?
The settings are incomparable.
Here are the last of my wildlife shots from our San Juan Islands excursion with Puget Sound Express. We came upon a Stellar, or Northern, sea lion enjoying some lunch. It was another of many exciting moments.
Lunch was probably a salmon. Now…how did we find this one sea mammal in a very large body of water?
The poor guy was being mercilessly harassed by a flock of seagulls that dive bombed him, pecking at the fish in his jaws.
Think about that today if you’re among those who have a feast planned for Easter and dread dinner table conversations. It could be much worse.
There were other sea lions not far away that seemed content with their lot.
One of the many highlights of our trip through the San Juan Islands with Puget Sound Express was a visit to Sucia Island, a Washington State marine park. The island is a gem. Parts of the landscape have the mood and beauty of a large, perfectly composed Japanese garden.
There are beaches and picnic tables. Walking trails circle much of the island.
There were brief light rains while we were on the island and we had the island entirely to ourselves after the only other boat departed. Weather in April is unpredictable but it means that many popular spots are uncrowded.
Though I sadly missed shots of many smaller birds on my San Juan Islands excursion with Puget Sound Express last week, I didn’t miss them all. Cormorants posed on piers, driftwood, and rocks as we passed.
Occasionally they took flight.
I spied great blue herons now and then.
We saw lots and lots of rhinoceros auklets and even though these are small I have to post a tiny sample since these are such pretty specimens. Auklets are alcids, common residents here during spring and summer. They’re the chubby black birds with white markings in the center of the shot. There are shorebirds on either side of them, along with a duck. Auklets generally hang out in deep salt water and dive for fish.
Late note: I’ve incorrectly identified the rhinoceros auklets. These are in fact male harlequin ducks. My mistake. I’m certain they were correctly identified on our journey. My memory is at fault. For more details click on today’s comment section and see the comment from Paul from Powell River, a superb blogger and knowledgeable birder.