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Anchoring at Friday Harbor

     If you have been to Friday Harbor, you have probably noticed this medium sized bay immediately north of the boat basin (few hundred feet).  Chances are there was a dozen or so boats anchored.  This bay is reasonably deep from thirty feet in the front to six feet in the back and with good holding.  It is close enough that you can easily paddle, row or motor over to the dinghy dock under the main gangway.  If you happen to be in town for the fourth of July you will have a front row seat for the fireworks display launched from a barge directly in front of you.

     New comers will be glad to know they have a free anchoring option other than paying for a slip.
BTW,  when you arrive at Friday Harbor you may tie up at the breakwater for free for a short time while you run to the store or grab a shower. There is no need to request permission, simply squeeze in where you can. Try to get on the inside, the outside takes a real beating from wakes.  (so will your boat) If you spend the night at the breakwater the harbormaster staff will come and collect payment eventually. There is no discomfort discount so you may as well get  a slip (call on 66) for peace and quiet and water and electricity, none of which you will find out on the breakwater float.

Where to anchor in Friday Harbor, Wa.  Free anchoring very near marina
Where to anchor in Friday Harbor


Seven important actions your Marine Radio performs, but do you need really need one?

     Pleasure boats are not required to have a vhf radio, but if they do have a radio, it is supposed to be turned on and monitoring channel 16

If you have a radio you can:    

  1. Call the harbormaster from the breakwater and proceed straight to your slip.
  2. Call the Coast Guard when you're sinking.
  3. Call other boats and arrange drinks at sundown.
  4. Listen to others and be entertained for hours, days, even weeks on end.
  5. Get weather forecasts in several languages for areas you've never heard of.
  6.  Tell your mate not to worry, help will always be just a radio call away.   
  7. Call vessel assist and have them bring you some very expensive fuel.
Marine radio use in the San Juan's, rules to follow and proper use

          Seriously, in my humble opinion, I think a radio is a good idea. It is cheap insurance that help is on the way. It is your lifeline from a distant shore when you really need help.  If you  want to save boat dollars, buy a handheld model for about a hundred dollars. They will do just fine, plus have the added benefit of fitting in your pocket for off boat excursions. (I would pay a little extra and get one that scans) We have our children take the hand held radio so they can stay in touch when they are off exploring in the dinghy.

Radio etiquette:
     A license is not required but the FCC has some rules you should familiarize yourself with.
     Some people are sticklers and follow all the rules, others just get the job done. For the most part, make sure you are transmitting on low power (1 watt) for most situations;  if you use high power (25 watt) you will talk over, drown out and annoy boaters in the next county.  Start your call on channel 16 (everyone, including the Coast Guard monitors 16), unless you have a prearranged channel like 66 used for some marinas. First listen to make sure no one is talking, then depress the button and say the name you are  calling three times ie. “Bad Boy, Bad Boy, Bad Boy. This is Good Girl” now let go of the button and wait for Bad Boy to answer. They will answer by saying “this is Bad Boy” and you respond by saying lets go to channel 68 or 69, 71 or 72, the channels used for boating chit chat. That’s it, once you hook up, talk all you want, but remember you're supposed to be talking boating operation topics, and all the rest of us are listening.  So just remember, channel 16 is for hailing not for talking. Oh, and don’t yell into the microphone, it will come out distorted.  Some people will say “over” at appropriate times but usually you can tell when its your turn to talk. .  You should avoid swearing (FCC rule), and only chickens will make anonymous comments on 16 about others, unless of course someone's wake swamps your boat or spills your wine; then the proper yet ill advised way to announce to the world that a boater is being inconsiderate is to say their boat name three times nice and clear so everyone can hear, followed by your snarky message, over.

     BTW, I think it would be a really good idea, if you haven't named your boat yet, to consider what a prospective name will sound like broadcast across the water. Unless of course you want to entertain the rest of us.

     Just my opinion. 

What is the best time of year to visit the San Juans

   The answer is simple if you are coming by boat, it is July and August. If by car, RV or bicycle, the same, July and August.

     Okay, by the time August gets really warmed up, the spring flowers are gone so if flowers are your goal, then early July is better and Butchart Gardens should be on your short list. What about natures crop of young birds, orcas, seal pups and spotted fawns, early July again, even June.  

     Lopez Village, Eastsound and Friday Harbor all have farmers and craft markets open from about May through September.  farmers markets

     Coming for great sailing and empty parks, consider June first. July and August are known for little wind, full docks, and crowded ferries. The fourth of July will be standing room only and reservations required, however the Friday Harbor parade and fireworks are worth the effort. Fourth of July celebrations across the San Juan's

     Foggy drippy weather out in the straits and particularly the Strait of Juan De Fuca may be expected anytime but August and later into fall is more of a sure thing. Late summer may be your best bet for crowd free balmy soft breezes one day and crispy rail down double reefed reaches the next.

best weather in the San Juan's at Roche Harbor,  4th of July
4th of July at Roche Harbor