Cutts Island memories
Puget Sound’s waters, especially south of the Tacoma Narrows, sometimes remind us of the lake country a thousand miles away where we spent our youth.
Those memories are brought home by warm summer weekends at such places as tiny Cutts Island in Kopachuck State Park when young women in bikinis mingle on the soft white sand which encircles the island and bare-chested young men roar by on their fine-tuned jet skis. Everyone is deeply tanned, the water flat, a tiny sailboat in the inlet ghosts along driven by heaven knows what.
And sometimes the islet, also known to locals as Dead Mans Island, off Carr Inlet will remind us of islands we have found in the tropics, sand and more sand, with a long, soft spit that emerges and submerges with the tide. At higher tides the adventurous can wade far out along the spit which extends 1,000 feet and more northeast from the island.
Activity on Cutts Island is rarely raucous, especially during the week. In the evening, when the sun is setting, it is idyllic. Though much of the nearby shoreline is lined with summer homes, the islet can be like a deserted island, offering much to explore for a family of castaways.
Cutts Island, with mooring buoys or anchorage for overnighters, is the main attraction for cruisers visiting Kopachuck State Park, but nearby bays also provide lovely spots to stop for a day or two, and better shelter at short notice if the weather becomes unsettled.
The mainland portion of the park also offers mooring buoys off a beach with dinghy access. Ashore there are campsites, sheltered and unsheltered picnic areas, toilets and showers.
Provisions are close by, at a small store with ice cream, beer and basic groceries in the protected bay southeast of Raft Island. Dinghy access is through the shallow, drying channel south of Raft Island, under a bridge with a vertical clearance of about 17 feet.
Other vessels can enter the inner bay through the channel east of Raft Island. Larger vessels will find anchorage with excellent protection in the inner bay off the resident vessels on private mooring buoys.
Access to the grocery store’s small float is very shallow, suitable only for dinghies and paddle craft, but even dinghies will have difficulty reaching the float at lowest tides.
In unsettled weather, another anchorage with excellent protection is is south of the park in Horsehead Bay, north of resident mooring buoys.
(Cutts Island and Kopachuck State Park are covered in Salish Sea Pilot’s Cruising Guide to Puget Sound.)