September 21, 2017: Deer, deer!

Surprisingly tame deer,

Jones Island deer close-up
Deer near the north cove dock on Jones Island

colorful caves carved into the shore-side granite by the waves,

Jones Island shore cave
Cave on the eastern shore of the north cove

tiny tree-draped pocket beaches, wide, well-maintained trails through a forest of windfall timber blanketed with deep green plush moss,

Jones Island mossy stump
Moss-covered stump and logs along the north-south trail on Jones Island. The fungus formations on the stump looked like birds flying away from its hollow center.

campsites with composting toilets and shelters of various sizes, an old fruit orchard in which new trees are growing,

Jones Island deer near south cove
Deer snacking among the fruit trees, new and old,  near Jones Island’s south cove

and two enchanting anchorages

Jones Island north cove snag
A snag on the north cove’s shore, through you can catch a glimpse of Braesail at anchor

in which one can see 15 or 20 feet down through the clear water–

Jones Island south cove
Shore pines around Jones Island’s south cove

Jones Island in the San Juans, though small, has so much to offer! We arrived in the island’s north cove from Fossil Bay on Sucia Island just after noon after an hour of easy motoring beneath mostly-blue skies, with a light wind behind us and 4.5 kts. of current increasing our speed-over-ground to 10.7 kts. for a brief time (our usual speed-over-ground is 6-7 kts.)!

After a pleasantly cozy night, glittering arrows of sunlight pierced the port-lights and warmed the cockpit and cabins as we breakfasted on pancakes and bacon. Walt needed to continue work on a website while we still had sufficient connectivity, and he was able to make progress before untying  Braesail from the mooring ball shortly before 11 am. I took the helm as we traveled the short distance to Jones Island, with, to our starboard, Saturna Island’s steep slopes, rendered quite striking by their wide golden swaths of grass bordered by and sometimes dotted with dark evergreens. Upon our arrival in Jones Island’s north cove, Walt took Braesail very close to one of the two unoccupied anchoring balls and it slipped beneath the hull and disappeared! He managed to maneuver the boat so that it popped up into view again, and I caught its ring with our boat hook, this time having the port bow line arranged properly on Braesail’s starboard side for threading through the ring. I could have done better, but this attempt was quite an improvement over yesterday’s in Fossil Bay.

While Walt rowed Coracle to shore to register using our Washing State Marine Park pass number, I assembled a lunch of sandwiches and pears, and Walt and I then talked about extending our “summer at sea” by one more week, now that the heater seems to be functioning as it should (Walt spent some time checking the wiring, found some crimping that he needed to tighten, and will continue this task at another time). He has a meeting to attend in Seattle on September 27, but I don’t HAVE to be back in Everett until October 7, and so we are now planning to explore the anchorages in the Hood Canal after renting a car in Anacortes on the 27th and traveling to Everett to do laundry, collect mail, and pick up, from our garage, a spare water pump for the refrigerator/freezer (the one currently on board has begun to leak, and to contribute to the frequent flushing of the bilge by the automatic bilge pump). Walt would drive to and from his meeting and we’d return to Anacortes, re-provision Braesail, and head for Port Townsend on the 28th.

By about 3 pm, Walt was ready to nap, and I rowed Coracle across the cove and along its western shore at low tide. I tied up at the dinghy dock below the ramp to the shore

Jones Island north cove dock
The ramp down to the dock in the north cove

and read the signage describing the terrible damage done on the island by a 1990 windstorm that felled most of the taller trees, and the efforts of various groups to aid in the regeneration of the forest, which is progressing well 27 years after the disaster. Then I read signs warning that the island.s water system is currently unusable due to vandalism. Tears sprang to my eyes! Why does this sort of thing happen?? I went down to the gravel beach, climbing over drift logs as I did so,

Jones Island north cove beach and Braesail
Drift logs on the north cove’s gravel beach–Braesail floats in the center of the picture

and found the water to be about the same temperature as the air (about 57 degrees F.)–NOT suitable for swimming on a cool day when clouds were beginning to color the skies in varying shades of ivory and gray! Giving thanks for the beauty of the island, I took the 10-minute walk to its south cove, where there were no boats, but where there WERE old apple, cherry, and other fruit trees in a meadow near the campsites and wonderful views out over the water to be savored.

Jones Island south cove driftwood
View over the water in the south cove; a snag points the way south

As I turned to go back to the north cove, I saw a doe snacking on grass near the new fruit trees in their wire enclosures. Many deer inhabit Jones Island, and visitors are requested not to feed them, but this rule is not always followed, and thus the deer are not skittish but instead come looking for treats. I stood quietly and watched the graceful animal for some minutes (see the photo near the beginning of this entry) before resuming my walk through the “new” forest that contains thick stands of salal, some older maples, firs, and cedars, many younger trees, and vast quantities of logs and uprooted trunks now heavily carpeted by moss and serving as nurseries for emerging vegetation.


Jones Island nurse log
A maple sapling, ferns, berries, and other plants are nursed by this mossy fir log and root ball

Back near the dock in the north cove, four young deer were grazing near the picnic tables, and I was able to get a few pictures of them

Jones Island four deer
Deer graze near the north cove’s dock–can you spot all four?

before I climbed back into Coracle and finished my row around the cove, past wide gravel beaches, intriguing cave-like indentations in the granite,

Jones Island shore cave close-up
Closer view of a shallow cave along the north cove’s eastern shore

and inviting pocket beaches that were almost invisible at high tide. I was back aboard Braesail by 5 pm, just in time for “happy hour” and for doing some research on Hood Canal anchorages before enjoying the Hungarian beef stew dinner that Walt had prepared. Clean-up activities and time to work on this blog post and to read e-mail were followed by bedtime cookies and cocoa as the sky was first filled with pink cotton candy cloud-puffs, and then Night draped her indigo satin curtains around the cove and the autumnal equinox prepared to take the stage.

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