Galley Wench Tales

Exploring the world through the people we meet
and the food they eat.

Randy O’Brien, salmon seller, Aleck’s Bay, Lopez Island, San Juans.

“Started fishin’ when I was twelve. Got my first fishing boat when I was sixteen,” Randy told us. 

Hook, line and sinker, I bought his smoked salmon, the last of the season. Randy smoked it for seven days. “It will be two years before I’ll have this again,” he said, when I told him I’d be posting about him (and his sure-to-be-excellent salmon for sale). Still, I have a hunch if you swing by the Aleck Bay parking lot in the season, Randy will have something delectable to sell from the Salish Sea, ready to offer some good advice if asked, and share a laugh.

We chuckled over Randy’s “Smoke salmon, not drugs,” and my “The only thing I smoke is salmon,” We all knew we ripped that off of the brilliantly droll Ketchikan Alaska artist, Roy Troll. Randy spent time in Ketchikan, as he fished in Alaska, too.

Troll’s “Bless me Father for I have seined,” fittingly, is Randy’s favorite Troll masterpiece (it’s the 4th row down, third over, of this page on Troll’s humor page. Click on it for a better view).

Iceberg Point trail, near Aleck’s Bay, Lopez Island, San Juans.

We’d just hiked the windswept Iceberg Point, an easy amble through a neighborhood, a wooded area and a vista ridgepoint. There, we saw this poem, likely written by a local, at a trail info marker. 

One day I could be
The old woman of Iceberg Point
Walking along, and slowly
A dog no longer at my side
Worried that I might fall down
But going anyway
I’ll soon be confused about where I was born
Slow to remember my grandchildren’s names
But when I get out here with
The long summer grass brushing my legs
And the tide sucking and spinning the kelp
I could feel a great contentment
Even a sense of home
–Georgie Muska

The poem reminded me of my Mom. Admittedly, she wasn’t one for sandy feet, but she still loved a drive along the ocean, even after she’d lost her ability to call me by my name. She also loved flowers. Every time I take a picture of a flower, I feel Mom is still with me.

Flowers take root in the rocks along the Iceberg Point hike, Lopez Island.

Iceberg Point was one of several historical markers referencing the confusing treaties between the Britain and the US regarding who owned what in the San Juans. The rub was the treaty referenced a Strait without specifics as the dividing point. There were two Straits and it was unclear which of the two to use.

Iceberg Point 1908 treaty marker.
The Germans were the arbitrators who granted the San Juans to the USA over Great Britain.

The harbor seals were enjoying the sunshine, too. 

Harbor seals lazing off a rock at Iceberg Point, Lopez Island.

After we hiked and chatted with Randy, we hopped on our bikes and ogled the many spots with their “private beach” unwelcome mat. That included, to our chagrin, where we came ashore on our dinghy. That was a rather important detail our cruising info neglected to mention. Wayne added that tidbit to Active Captain, a cruising guide of sorts with community contributions.

It was too cold to explore whether the sign was more of a joke or for real. This was on an off-putting stretch of beach with a multitude of “private beach” along it. Lopez Island, Aleck Bay area.

It was time to go, though my purchase from Randy was a good reminder of our stop on Lopez Island. Our boat exuded a pleasant woodsmoke scent from Randy’s salmon, until the last of my small but intensely flavored $5 salmon cake found its way into the second and final batch of scrambled eggs with neufatchel cheese and capers.

Anchor up. Yet another marine botany experience in the San Juans.

Location Location
This post was about our day on Lopez Island, September 4, 2019. We anchored at Aleck Bay (N48 25.622 W122 51.665). As of today we checked into Bedwell Harbour, Canada and are anchored in Port Browning of North Pender Island, British Columbia (N48 46.123 W123 16.313).