Blind Bay comes into view
When we plan to rendezvous with friends in the San Juan Islands, our first choice as a convenient meeting place is almost always Blind Bay, carved deeply into the north shore of Shaw Island.
Is is virtually certain that here you will find lots of room to anchor with good protection in the wide, shallow bay. Many other boaters have the same idea, and it’s not unusual to see one boat anchor, then by and by be rafted to by another boat, then another and another.
And rafted boats will usually not waste any time putting a crab trap over the side in the hope of catching dinner. The bay is closed to commercial crabbing and sometimes the results with a properly set crab trap can be crazy good.
Protecting the entrance to the bay is Blind Island, a three-acre state marine park popular with kayakers. The rocky island has four primitive campsites that are part of the Cascadia Marine Trail, restricted to overnight use by those arriving by human- or wind-powered vessels. There is one toilet, but no potable water.
There are also four mooring buoys, available on a first-come basis, off the southwest shore of Blind Island. Payment required year-round. Pay box ashore.
Much of the bay is surrounded by private land, but along the western shore is a stretch of public foreshore next to Smugglers Cove Road where boaters can go ashore to explore or walk pets.
Visiting boaters can also go ashore at Shaw Landing, where the ferries to Anacortes, Friday Harbor and Orcas Island dock. Here is a well-stocked general store which also operates a a small marina next to the ferry terminal. The marina is used mostly by resident boats, but there is room for dinghies to tie.
Boaters can stretch their legs walking south from Shaw Landing along Blind Bay Road. A little over a mile along is the turn off to Squaw Bay Road which leads another half mile south to Shaw Island County Park where there is a gorgeous beach on Indian Cove for swimming or picnics. The park is also easily accessible from the public tidelands on the west side of Blind Bay.
In settled weather, if you have lots of energy or a motorized dinghy or don’t mind weighing anchor, Orcas Village is on Orcas Island about a mile north across Harney Channel.
Dinghies can tie up at the Orcas Village public dock immediately west of the terminal for ferries to Anacortes, Friday Harbor and Shaw Landing. Larger vessels can tie up here if there is room or take short-term anchorage in the waters east of the ferry terminal.
Here are good opportunities to dine, have ice cream, provision in a large grocery store and explore the community.
Back at your boat, after the long row, without too much luck you will have dinner waiting in your crab trap.
(Blind Bay, Orcas Village and Indian Cove are covered in Salish Sea Pilot’s Cruising Guide to the San Juan Islands.)