Creative photos and essays from the San Juan Islands


An island off an island in a bay off a bay

An Island Off An Island

At one time I was contemplating buying this beach which included a portion of the island at the left. The bay is Barlow Bay off of Mackaye Harbor at the south end of Lopez Island, a quiet, secluded location where I hoped to set up a mooring buoy for my liveaboard boat.

The problem was, the state, in their infinite wisdom, disallowed such plans, twice over! First, one had to have a dwelling already built on the property before they would entertain the application for a mooring buoy, and second, one cannot use a mooring buoy for a liveaboard boat. So they said “Gotcha” twice, and my plans were scuttled.

As I recall, the price for the waterfront lot was around $32,000, but the lot was mostly a marsh with a county road between it and the water. Oh, then the wetlands people get involved and you can’t build there. No wonder the price was “reasonable!”

Doesn’t help to think about the good ol days. My folks bought a 100ft. lot on the waterfront of Hood Canal with a septic system and a little cabin for $7,500, but that was back in the early ’60s, over 50 years ago. I could probably go back a couple more generations and quote examples of relatives buying an entire section of farm land for much less than that amount. Go back two more generations, and they would get it for free by homesteading it.

I was talking to an islander yesterday who described how their entire family had separate parcels of waterfront land amounting to about a mile of bay front by the golf course. In the “old days” one could pick up that ‘useless’ waterfront land for peanuts.

Thoreau advised us to “enjoy the land, but own it not!” and in the San Juan Islands that’s good advise, for who can afford to own it anyway? Not me and mine, which is ok too. Who wants to pay taxes on waterfront property?


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