Cruising to Remote but Beautiful Stuart Island in the San Juans on a Ranger Tug 29
By Peter A. Janssen
One of the best things about cruising is that no matter how long you’ve done it, there’s always someplace new to go – a new island, a new cove, a new destination somewhere. Exploring places, seeing new things, having new experiences is basically what it’s all about.
All this is particularly true for Jim and Lisa Favors, from Traverse City, Michigan, who’ve already done the Great Loop and trailered their Ranger Tugs 27 pocket cruiser across most of the U.S., certainly from Florida to the Pacific Northwest. And just when they thought they’d explored most of the Pacific Northwest, particularly the San Juan Islands, they found a new spot – Stuart Island, a small, fairly remote but beautiful spot just north of San Juan Island itself.
The Favors just cruised there on their new Ranger Tug 29, powered by a single 300-hp Volvo, that they picked up at the factory in Kent, Washington, and they loved it. Stuart Island, with a year-round population of 200 people, has two harbors, Prevost and Reid, and two communities connected by a dirt road. (The road is really a hiking trail since there aren’t many cars on Stuart.) There aren’t any stores either, although there is a box with T-shirts and souvenirs; you take an envelope and mail your payment on an honor system.
The two harbors provide safe anchorages. Prevost has seven mooring buoys and 256 feet of dock space; Reid, where the Favors stayed, has 15 buoys and 572 feet of dock space. Crucial for cruisers, Reid also has a barge for manual pumpouts. The island has a state park with primitive campsites, and it is ringed by several shellfishing beaches that are open year-round for clams and oysters.
The Favors took a hike up a hill to Lover’s Leap for a panoramic view (see the pictures on their blog, below); there’s also a lighthouse, the Turn Point Light Station, for more sightseeing. And then, since it’s the San Juans, there’s always the chance you’ll see harbor seals, otters, bald eagles, blue herons and perhaps an orca or grey whale. I’ve cruised in the San Juans many times, and I regard it as one of the most beautiful spots around. Now that I know about Stuart Island, I have another reason to go back.