Grand Piano and Pipe Organ at Rosario Resort
Our trip today from Royal Cove to Roche Harbor on San Juan Island was just 11 nm, so we had time for a good hike ashore.
Are you sure I'll like this?
In a "soft" morning we donned wet gear and hiked the perimeter of the island down to Princess Cove and back. A good hike!
Dropping our stern line was a bit easier that rigging it, and we were off for the US! A short trip and we were tying to the US Customs dock in Roche Harbor on San Juan Island. We were quickly cleared in and moved along the dock to tie up for a few hours to tour ashore.
Roche Harbor is not really a town, but a resort centered on the Hotel De Haro.
The hotel dates back to the early 20th century, and with only a few concessions to modern comfort is today as it was built. We looked through the Presidential Suite and thought it comfortable in summer, but might be a bit drafty in winter.
We found a well equipped grocery store where we replenished our supply of fresh fruit and veggies and wine. After a quick tour, we were back aboard and moved off the dock to anchor in the harbour, sharing the large anchorage with just a half dozen other boats.
In the morning we again went ashore in Roche Harbor where we found an excellent breakfast at a restaurant on the wharf. After breakfast, we took another walk, including a tour of a very curious statue garden.
Back aboard, we weighed anchor and an ran down Mosquito Pass and into Garrison Bay. Garrison Bay was home to the British Garrison during The Pig War. If you are not interested in this curious piece of history, skip down to June 1st.
The Oregon Treaty of June 15, 1846, resolved the Oregon boundary dispute by dividing the Oregon Country/Columbia District between the United States and Britain "along the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude to the middle of the channel which separates the continent from Vancouver Island, and thence southerly through the middle of the said channel, and of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, to the Pacific Ocean". However, there are actually two straits that could be called the middle of the channel: Haro Strait, along the west side of the San Juan Islands; and Rosario Strait, along the east side.
Because of this ambiguity, both the United States and Britain claimed sovereignty over the San Juan Islands.
During this period of disputed sovereignty, Britain's Hudson's Bay Company established operations on San Juan and turned the island into a sheep ranch. Meanwhile, American settlers had begun to arrive.
On June 15, 1859, exactly thirteen years after the adoption of the Oregon Treaty, the ambiguity led to direct conflict. Lyman Cutlar, an American farmer, found a large black pig rooting in his garden eating his potatoes. This was not the first occurrence. Cutlar was so upset that he took aim and shot the pig, killing it. It turned out that the pig was owned by an Irishman, Charles Griffin, who was employed by the Hudson's Bay Company to run the sheep ranch. When British authorities threatened to arrest Cutlar, American settlers called for military protection.
With that, things began to escalate. The US dispatched 66 American soldiers to San Juan Island with orders to prevent the British from landing
Meanwhile, the governor of the Colony of Vancouver Island ordered British Rear Admiral Robert L. Baynes to land marines on San Juan Island and engage the American soldiers. Baynes landed his troops, but refused to engage the Americans, deciding that "two great nations in a war over a squabble about a pig" was foolish. Local commanding officers on both sides had been given essentially the same orders: defend yourselves, but absolutely do not fire the first shot. For several days, the British and U.S. soldiers exchanged insults, each side attempting to goad the other into firing the first shot, but discipline held on both sides, and thus no shots were fired.
When news about the crisis reached Washington and London, officials from both nations were shocked and took action to calm the potentially explosive international incident.
As a result of negotiations, both sides agreed to retain joint military occupation of the island until a final settlement could be reached, reducing their presence to a token force of no more than 100 men. The "English Camp" was established on the north end of San Juan Island. The American Camp was established on the southern end of the island.
During the years of joint military occupation, the small British and American units on San Juan Island had an amicable mutual social life, visiting one another's camps to celebrate their respective national holidays and holding various athletic competitions. Park rangers told us the biggest threat to peace on the island during these years was "the large amounts of alcohol available".
In 1871, both sides agreed to resolve the San Juan dispute by international arbitration, with Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany chosen to act as arbitrator. Wilhelm referred the issue to a three-man arbitration commission which met in Geneva for nearly a year. On October 21, 1872, the commission decided in favor of the United States. The arbitrator chose the American-preferred marine boundary via Haro Strait, to the west of the islands, over the British preference for Rosario Strait which lay to their east.
On November 25, 1872, the British withdrew their Royal Marines from the British Camp. The Americans followed by July 1874. The Pig War was over after 13 years. The only casualty was the pig.
After anchoring in Garrison Bay and a quick lunch, we dinghied ashore for a fascinating afternoon touring the site. While the entire camp has not survived, there are still a number of buildings and structures standing, including a formal garden demanded by the commanding officer's wife.
Photographs on display certainly suggest that the British troops enjoyed a very comfortable posting.
We also climbed up the hill behind the camp to the graveyard containing the graves of the four British soldiers who died during the occupation, neatly tended. All died by either accident or of natural causes.
Friday Harbor/Blind Bay
We woke after another quiet night in Garrison Bay. We are clearly ahead of the season as there were only two other cruising boats here with us. The cruising guides suggest that these anchorages become extremely crowded in the height of the cruising season. But today, finding room to anchor was not a problem.
Weighing anchor, we worked our way back into Roche Harbour then rounded the northern tip of San Juan, and down San Juan Channel to Friday Harbor, San Juan's largest community.
One nice feature that the yacht clubs in the north-west is "reciprocal privileges". It provides, among other features, complimentary dockage in a designated area. Its on a "first come, first served" basis. So we checked out the Friday Harbor Yacht Club visitor's dock, only to find it fully occupied. So we anchored in the harbor and took the dinghy ashore.
First business, lunch at a very nice cafe on the water where we watched the coming and going in the harbor. Then a nice tour around town, including a stop at the ATM for some US cash. Then, as usual, groceries, or as many as we could carry.
Although only mid-afternoon, we headed back to the boat.
Friday Harbor is deep, with no anchorage less than 60', so we had over 200' of chain out. But that was still barely adequate if any wind came up. So we decided to seek out a better anchorage for the night. We will return to Friday Harbor as our quick trip only allowed us to see a small part of it.
Leaving Friday Harbor, we crossed San Juan Channel and sailed up Upright Channel, passing one of the many ferries plying the waters of the San Juan's in the narrows. Sailing into Blind Bay on Shaw Island where we found an excellent anchorage with, again, only three other cruisers like ourselves.
East Sound/Blind Bay
Today we decided to explore East Sound on Orca Island. And with few protected anchorages, we planned it a day trip, returning to Blind Bay for the night.
Sailing up the sound in light airs, we reached the village of Eastsound just at noon... just in time for lunch! Again anchoring was not possible as it was prohibited in the only water under 100' So we picked up a vacant mooring and headed ashore. Another pretty village that, at the beginning of tourist season was quickly becoming busy. After an excellent lunch, a few more groceries, a bottle of local wine (Washington State has some great wines!), and we were off back down the Sound.
The only other anchorage on its 8 mile length was Rosario Resort and Marina.
Rosario Resort features the main "House", hotel rooms, a marina, spa and a few moorings (again, too deep to anchor).
We picked up a mooring and went ashore for a tour of this fascinating property.
The main body of the resort, complete with pipe organ, was built in 1913 by Seattle shipbuilder Robert Moran. Originally from New York City, Moran arrived on the Seattle waterfront in 1875 with a dime in his pocket. Eventually joined in Seattle by his brothers, Moran formed The Moran Bros. Company, a small family ship repair business that grew into a supplier for the Yukon Gold Rush, then a major West Coast shipyard. The Moran Bros. Company quickly became Seattle's largest employer when it won a naval contract to build the battleship U.S.S. Nebraska in 1902.
By 1904, the stress of business had taken a toll on Moran's health and he was given only a few years to live. He purchased 7,000 acres on Orcas Island. He began to build his retirement home with the same integrity as one of his ocean going vessels: massive and solid, yet elegant and gracious. Free from the pressures of his business, Moran recovered and lived until 1943!
In 1938, Moran sold Rosario to Donald Rheem for $50,000. Rheem was the founder of Rheem Manufacturing in the San Francisco Bay area, known today for their water heaters and heat pumps. Rosario was Rheem's vacation home for 20 years, but his wife Alice ended up making it her permanent residence .
Texan Ralph Curtain purchased Rosario from Rheem in 1958, but his dream of turning the estate into a resort quickly ended when his oil wells dried up. He sold Rosario in 1960 for $225,000 (half the original purchase price) to Gil Geiser of Seattle. Geiser sold a bowling alley and hardware store to open Rosario Resort on April 1, 1960.
Today, the Aeolian pipe organ (1,972 pipes), and 1900 Steinway grand piano are still used for concerts throughout the season.
In late afternoon, we dropped the mooring and motored back to Blind Bay where we re-anchored for another quiet night.