After visiting upscale Roche Harbor, we headed to Deer Harbor on Orcas Island. This sleepy town is a Stephen King novel waiting to happen. It’s tranquil. Very tranquil. The five or six docks meet at the Dock Store and Deli (pictured below with a green roof), which offers everything from lattes to shower tokens, fresh fruits and motor oil.
The people are uncommonly friendly and helpful; they match the stereotype of the inhabitants you’d expect to find in a small coastal town. We called ahead to get a slip and as we approached the marina, we spotted a teenager in khaki pants and polio shirt standing by the slip, waiting for me to throw him the lines to tie of our boat. This courtesy is uncommon in larger marina.
The teenager, tanned and freckled from a summer spent in the summer tirelessly answered our questions about the area and helped Rich fill a gas can for the outboard motor on our dinghy.
Once settled, we walked to the store. Hung from poles on the dock were pots overflowing with flowers. Outside the store was a deer head, reaffirming we were indeed at "Deer" Harbor. Although, I think the official mascot was this husky who was happy to pose, provided you gave him a pet or two and a kind word.
We bought our shower tokens along with two Hagen Daz bars (essential for sailing) then wandered up to the resort. Our moorage fee entitled us to swim in the resort’s pool.
The Resort at Deer Harbor offers a variety of accommodations from charming cottages for two to rustic cottages that can accommodate several families. We peeked in a window of one of the deluxe cottages. They resemble small houses with a staircase that leads to the front doors. Each cottage has an outdoor hot tub (on a covered deck) along with a fireplace, kitchenette, and a spectacular view of the marina.
Grungy and achy from several days of sailing and hiking, we zipped back to our boat to grab our swimsuits and towels. After a chilly swim, we scrambled to the showers… it’s amazing how a shower change ones perspective and temperament!
It was also nice to be tied up to a dock where we could wander ashore in the evening, instead of having to gingerly get in the dinghy and row ashore.
Even though there are places to eat ashore, we cooked and ate all of our meals on Wave Dancer, the sailboat we chartered. The boat has a full kitchen with a refrigerator/freezer, stove/oven, sink, and plenty of counter and storage space.
Breakfast was freshly brewed coffee — using a French press– along with cereal and fruit. Rich had wisely purchased a Black Forest ham for the trip, which we cut up and combined with colored bell peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, red onions, and a spicy sauce for wraps and sandwiches. For lunch, we also ate carrots, Sun Chips, and red and green grapes.
Dinner ranged from fajitas with pulled pork to barbequed salmon,stuffed bell peppers — that I’d prepared and frozen a week earlier — and macaroni and cheese (final night). We also had two bottles of wine, a large container of assorted cheese, boxes of crackers and Japanese snacks… Jelly Belly’s, granola bars, and dark chocolate M&M’s… bottles of flavored waters, hot chocolate mix with ground up candy canes, packages of tea and miso! We didn’t starve!
The final night, we grabbed a mooring ball at Cypress Island. Camping on shore was a group of kayakers who’d been paddling through the island for the past week. We enjoyed a magnificent sunset that evening and happily crawled into our bed.
Rich and I are both bed snobs. We brought a huge flannel sleeping bag, which we unzipped and laid on top of the foam mattress in the aft berth. I then put a flannel fitted sheet on top of the sleeping bag, followed by another flannel sheet and a feather comforter in a flannel duvet. We also brought feather pillows with flannel pillow cases. Sleeping on the boat was heavenly!
For the most part, we slept soundly with little wind and wave action. On our final night, however, a huge boat must have passed creating a horrific wake.When it hit the boat, I was convinced that another boat had rammed into us. It was around 11 o’clock at night so we’d been sleeping soundly. It must have taken 15 minutes or so until the boat stopped rocking violently back-and-forth. My heart pounded the entire time!
The next morning, we rowed a shore for the final time to take a liesurely walk around the island. The kayakers were just waking up. One man asked if we’d heard the orca whales during the night. Evidentially, at around 2 a.m. he awoke to hear the whales coming to the surface and exhaling through their blowholes. There are four pods of orca whales in the area, but we weren’t lucky enough to see them… maybe next year.