Photo. The anchorage off the north side of Mitlenacht Island.
Georgia Strait stretched out ahead of us in a flat calm that went on for miles. Only a small island broke the monotony - Mitlenacht Island.
"It's a nature preserve, isn't it?" I asked Steve. "Maybe we can go ashore."
We consulted the Waggoner Cruising Guide and determined that we could.
The Waggoner suggested an anchorage on the east side, but that looked too tight to us. We anchored instead off a small pebble beach on the north side, perfect protection for the light southerly that had just come up. Another sailboat was already there, and a third dropped anchor between us. Steve and I debated as to whether to row or put the outboard on the dinghy. Looking at the miles of open water behind us, Steve said, "Let's take the outboard, in case we have to leave quickly."
Rocky hills rose up around the small beach, almost barren except for a few shrubs and grass. Despite the barrenness the island was beautiful. The deafening shrieks and squawks of birds reminded us this was a nature preserve.
Two women park volunteers met us on the beach. They were each spending a week out here, they explained, living in a small beach cabin. They led us across an isthmus to their cabin, pointing out the trails we could use. The island had been a grazing area for cattle and sheep before it became a park. We were allowed only on the middle portion of the island and had to stay on the trails, away from the nesting areas. Most of the birds present at this time of year were glaucous gulls.
One of the women pointed to a small cove in front of the cabin. "Usually we have two or three boats in there." I recognized it as the anchorage suggested by the Waggoner. It still looked too small for Osprey
From the cabin we took a trail through the brush to a ridge where a gull blind looked out to the sea over a roosting area. From the blind we could sit on a bench and watch the gulls. A sign told us how to tell the immature gulls from the adults. Most were adults around the blind. We stayed in the blind for half an hour, watching the gulls preening themselves, flying back and forth, and screeching. Then we returned to our boat. Mitlenacht had been a good break.
Photo: An adult glaucous gull on Mitlenacht Island