As the Wilderness Adventurer of Un-Cruise Adventures approached Friday Harbor on San Juan Island we saw more activity on the little walkway that goes past the window to our room than we had all cruise long – all crew people. They tied two big bumpers to the railing there so we knew the dock would be on our side of the boat.
Docking on the outer edge of a marina where they have space for bigger boats really makes a small cruise ship look big in comparison to the rest of the boats. It’s pretty interesting just to walk around the docks and look at some of the other boats tied up there. The dock we tied to even had a sea plane on one end.
One old wooden boat had a sign out in front of it with its history. Built in the 1920’s, it started as a small-ship cruise boat around Alaska, and they listed many famous people who had cruised on it way back when. It spent some time as a private vessel, did military work through world war 2, moved to California as a cruise ship for awhile, and now is back to cruising in Alaska.
Another boat there had a sign out saying it is a B&B. The marina is very close to the ferry dock, so people could walk on the ferry and then walk over to the marina to spend the night there. A lot of boats said they were from places like Alaska or California, but some did claim Friday Harbor as their home base.
We walked up a tall stairway into town, though had we turned toward the ferry dock we could have walked alongside the water and got into the main part of town without the stairs. Local restaurants and small shops line the main street of the town, along with little art galleries. From the area the stairs lead to, the sidewalk toward town passes by several viewpoints to see the bay, marina, and ferry dock. Also the ferry when one comes in. We saw a small one which is probably for inter-island traffic and a big one that likely goes to Anacortes and possibly Sidney B.C. (Canada).
Friday Harbor sits on San Juan Island, the second largest island in the San Juan island chain. It is one of the few islands where the state ferry stops on a run from Anacortes on the mainland which also includes Lopez, Orcas, and Shaw islands and a one time daily trip to Canada stopping at Sidney BC on Vancouver Island. Technically Anacortes is on Fidalgo Island, but it is separated from the mainland only by a channel easily crossed on a bridge.
San Juan Island is most famous for the Pig War. In the mid 1800’s ownership of the San Juan Islands was in dispute between the USA and England. When an American living on the island shot and killed a pig owned by a British citizen it escalated tensions between the two sides, with both ramping up troops. Eventually the issue was resolved peacefully with the pig remaining the only casualty. It took 12 more years to determine ownership of the San Juans to the USA. San Juan Island still has English Camp and American Camp, both now national parks. There’s even a Pig War beer named after the confrontation, but it is made by an Oregon brewery.