Walk-on passengers get ready to board a state ferry in Friday Harbor. Between islands, walk-ons need no ticket, we’ve learned.
THIS WEEK WE DISCOVERED a good trick to know if you live on a remote island: how to play tourist without it costing more than a trifling bit of gas money (to get there, anyway).
We visited Friday Harbor, the San Juan Islands’ most popular tourist town, had lunch with a friend, did a little shopping, and got back home in time for dinner, letting someone else do most of the piloting.
Here’s how it works:
We take our boat, the WeLike, from Center Island to the Hunter Bay public dock on Lopez Island, just a couple miles across the water, and tie up for the day. From there we take our stored pickup truck, known as Ranger Rick (yes, it’s a Ford Ranger), to the Lopez Island ferry dock and park it in the free day-parking lot. Then we walk aboard the Friday Harbor-bound state ferry for the hour-long ride, with stops at pretty Shaw and Orcas islands.
A nice view of Orcas Island’s Turtleback Mountain (with the turtle head on the left), as seen from the state ferry.
What we didn’t realize before: Washington State Ferries doesn’t charge walk-on passengers traveling from one island to another in the San Juans. It’s not worth their trouble, I guess. So “ha, ha,” say we! Now’s our chance to get back all the ferry fares we paid over the years, like when we lived in Bremerton and worked in Seattle.
And because Friday Harbor is quite walkable, you don’t need a car. Or if you wish to see more of the island, you can hop on one of two island shuttles, and have lunch in Roche Harbor. Or go crazy and rent a moped (maybe next time).
It beats taking our own boat that far and having to find (and pay for) dock space. We’re retired folk, you know. Squeezing pennies until Abe screams is becoming a finely honed new talent.
It’s still the islands’ quiet season, as this view from the ferry’s stern testifies, with nary another vessel in sight.