Recent winter storms on Lopez Sound tossed and flexed the Hunter Bay public dock until it snapped in the middle, marked by a hastily erected blockade. Our remote island, seen in the middle distance, just got more remote.
WE’VE HAD PLENTY OF GREAT TIMES on our island since moving to the San Juans full-time last spring. But it hasn’t been all beer and skittles. (And who would eat those icky-sweet Skittles with beer, anyway?)
The latest challenge blew in with the northeasterly winds a week or two ago, when one of the big state ferries plying Rosario Strait reported gusts of 90 to 100 mph. Coming from that direction, the wind had miles of open water to churn as it blew southward down Lopez Sound, colliding smack dab with the Hunter Bay county dock. That’s where we tie up when we want to visit our neighboring island for grocery shopping, library visits, garbage disposal and so on.
The waves pitched the dock up and down so hard that it broke in two, like a brittle twig snapping in the middle. Timbers broke and steel rebar twisted like shoelaces.
The outcome: Where four or five 20-foot boats could moor previously, now there’s room for only one boat on the shore side of the broken dock. The rest is closed off by a wooden barricade.
Bad news for us outer islanders who rely on the dock as our lifeline to the “bright lights” of Lopez. The dock was already often full on busy weekends in the islands.
I phoned the frazzled county engineer, whose main message to me was that his crews were desperately overworked after the big storm. Understandable. He took down my name and number and said someone would get back to me.
I followed up with emails to the engineer, the county manager and the county council, just so everybody would know about the dock’s damage. So far, we’ve no idea when repairs might happen. It could be months.
We’ll get by, but life on this remote island just got more remote. And, hey, I have library books that are due in a week.
P.S. Skittles, besides being a fruity American candy, was a popular English pub game akin to bowling, thus the old saying “beer and skittles” referred to leisure time with your drinking buddies.
Barbara stretches her legs, tramping in recent snow along the Center Island air field.