Dockton to Deer Harbor

April 11, 2010
dear things
Things dear to me, from right to left:
Necklace- I made from my brother’s bead collection the last time I saw him.
Penguino- A gift who whispers “vamos” with his stare- from my dear Chilean friend Gonzalo.
Illustration- Created by Sarah Musi, gifted by Karisa

A few months back I began contemplating the notion that I might spend the summer in the San Juan Islands: looking for work and preparing for a passage south to California.

A week ago, at Island Meadow Farm on Vashon Island, in a house where farming, art, food, and music mingle like humble voices in a passionate choir, I was given a gift. The lovely illustration of a deer- rooting, leafing, and flowering- is entwined with life.

Four days ago, on a ferry back to Vashon Island, feeling the pain of change after a difficult goodbye, I became deeply unsettled. I began to plot my reasons for a departure from Dockton. I thought of additional points that I’d like to make while I’m in the San Juans for the Summer: live cheap, work-trade for farm-fresh food, ride my bike, look for interesting outdoorsy work, and photograph and explore new areas.

That night, back on the boat, it dawned on me that Orcas Island was the place. The west-side is rolling, pastoral, and sprinkled with farms, the east side sports Mount Constitution and Moran State Park, and the whole island is central to the San Juan Island Group. So, I picked up my Waggoner Crusing Guide and opened it up to the San Juan Island section prepared to sort through a variety of options.

Kairos and Avalon

"Kairos" in Deer Harbor in 2006. The canoe-sterned sailboat beyond is named "Avalon"- another meaningful term for me.

Immediately, I knew. In the general description of Orcas Island, the first mention of a destination is Deer Harbor. “…excellent anchorage throughout the bay”, “Deer Harbor Marina”, and “…village of Deer Harbor” all jumped off the page at once. I had been there once before, during my week-long cruise-and-learn in May of 2006. I remembered it was a nice place with hot showers and a beautiful small wooden sailboat named “Kairos“.

In the next moment, the gift I had been given came to mind and all at once I recognized an overwhelming feeling that I can only describe as “good”. I had a “good” feeling about it. I am learning to trust these feelings.

I shut the cruising guide 30 seconds after I had opened it, having read no more than one paragraph. The next day I made some phone calls and discovered a private marina in Deer Harbor with a 41′ slip available for affordable month-to-month rates. Eric, the harbor master, told me that it was required that I be “a nice guy” because everyone else there was local, low-key, and very nice. I told him we had a deal.

I plan dropping anchor in Deer Harbor for the first time on April 25th.

chart of the san juans



  1. What a great birthday present to yourself! You will drop anchor on April 25th – so Happy Birthday!
    Some things just fall into place like they are meant to do. Good luck and keep the stories coming. I love them!!!! Love you, too.

    • Awesome. Jealous.

      • Dude. You’re going to Hawaii from Mexico, right?
        When do you leave?

      • Fancy this Stan: I ran into Geoff at Fisheries Supply today -yes, we’re friends- he asked if I might want to sail from Hawaii to Seattle with him. I said, “Funny, I know this guy Stan who…”
        Small world… Big ocean….same boat.
        I’m seriously considering it…

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