Scouting trip to Lummi Island

One of our close friends has a cabin on Lummi Island, and for her birthday we decided to all go up and spend a few days there. I had never visited Lummi, so I was excited to see the island and learn more about it. Having spent a lot of my childhood and then later my 30s on Vashon Island, I knew that island life in Puget Sound was different than the “mainland”, and Lummi didn’t disappoint.

While there, I was able to fly my quad copter around a bit, as well as explore future anchorage spots for a trip up north hopefully later this year.

Lummi Island Map overview from Google Maps

Lummi Island courtesy of Google Maps

Lummi Island is technically part of the San Juan Islands, located about 2 hours north of Seattle via car. The nearest big town is Bellingham, and you have to drive through the Lummi Indian Reservation to reach the 6 minute ferry crossing.

Lummi Island Ferry Whatcom Chief

Lummi Island Ferry the Whatcom Chief

I tend to get motion sick on longer trips, but this day was windy and blustery with what I saw to be almost 4 foot waves, and the ride across was quite exciting. I got sick.

Cabin Panorama View

Panoramic view from the cabin

The cabin had a wonderful view towards Portage Island and in the distance Bellingham. Because we had so many people, a few of us stayed at a rental beach house down near the ferry dock.

Beach rocks and view towards Lummi Island Ferry

Beach rocks and view towards Lummi Island Ferry

We spent a lot of time driving around the island and visiting various art locations as it was their yearly studio tour. There were lots of diverse artists and things to see.

Lummi Island view towards Orcas Island

Orcas Island in the distance

While on the island, I tried to find a spot on the western side where I had a clear view towards Friday Harbor, Steve Roberts of microship.com, and specifically to test out his automated marine radio check system on VHF channel 28. Unfortunately I was not successful. Whenever I am messing around with radio stuff, I head over to HeyWhatsThat.com and generate a panorama to see what is in my way.

HeyWhatsThat map

HeyWhatsThat map

You can see in the map above that I have little chance of being successful. A panorama and more details are here.

Sucia Island from Lummi Island

Sucia Island in the distance

Josh spent a lot of time growing up on his parents sailboat, and one of the places he talks about fondly is Sucia Island. He hadn’t realized that it was within sight of Lummi, where he had been coming for years beforehand. It was great to show it to him in the distance and know it was an easy sail away if we ever come back on the sailboat.

Amazing sunset from Lummi Island

Amazing sunset from Lummi Island

The sunset was absolutely spectacular that evening and I have far too many pictures of it to post here, but the one above is a favorite which I’ve added to my desktop background rotation.

Our beach house

Our beach house

I finally had the opportunity to spend some time with the quad copter on this trip. Above is our amazing beach house, formerly the island library, and a hotel of sorts in the 60’s. It is one of the best places I’ve rented in the last 10 years, with beautiful views, wonderful original wood floors, and plenty of space.

Mt. Baker and the Three Sisters from the beach house

Mt. Baker and the Three Sisters from the beach house

Beach house from the air

Beach house from the air

I always love the details you can see beneath the water from the quad copter. Above you can see some of the rocks that I was photographing earlier in the trip, along with even more down the beach.

Ferry terminal from the air

Ferry terminal from the air

You can see similar things from the air around the ferry terminal. Of course the sun has to be at the right angle, and the water has to be fairly clear and wind-free.

Clubhouse

Clubhouse

The friends cabin is part of a grouping of houses that has a clubhouse and dock. I checked this out as a possible spot to anchor for a future trip, but it had some challenges.  It’s not very protected except from the west, and the dock is too shallow for a sailboat to get close to. There are a couple of buoys further out, but they don’t look strong enough for a sailboat. Anchoring might be possible, but the protection…

Portage Island and Bay

Portage Island and Bay

Across the channel is Portage Island, which at low tide has a spit that connects it to the mainland. There appears to be a pretty protected bay inside, which might be a potential spot to anchor. However, it would be a couple mile trip across the channel by dinghy to get to the cabin clubhouse, and then a long walk up the hill. I’d still like to visit Portage Island as the spit looks like a fantastic place to explore.

Lummi Island looking south along eastern coastline

Lummi Island looking south along eastern coastline

Along the south eastern point of the island is Inati Bay, which appears to be one of the only good anchorages on the entire island.  The Bellingham Yacht Club has an outstation there, and they indicate that the shoreline is heavily restricted.  In fact, if you look at a road map for Lummi Island, you will not see any roads even near the bay or at that end of the island. Much of it is a preserve, while the rest is privately owned.

Overall the trip to Lummi was super fun – I love the small-island mentality and miss it from living on Vashon Island. I do not think it’s a great destination for sailors because of the lack of good anchorages and limited services. There are still tons of places to explore and experience, and I will definitely be going back again. One of my favorite land-trips in the last few years!

The gang posing for our 80's album cover in front of the Lummi Island Church

The gang posing for our 80’s album cover in front of the Lummi Island Church

About Steve Mitchell

I live in Seattle, WA and love sailing, technology, & playing and composing music. I started playing the piano when I was 3, and ended up figuring out many other instruments along the way. I'm an avid sailor and have a 2000 Beneteau 311 named Grace, and sail it whenever and wherever I can.

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