Since we don’t have a car or bikes, people often wonder how we get around and do day-to-day things ashore like taking the boys to doctor’s appointments or simply getting groceries. Our answer is easy: we walk. But the kayak is thrown into the mix as well and the key to making it all work is planning.
In living around the San Juan Islands since September, we’ve been strategic about where we go for certain things and will plan to be in ports where there is a major grocery store that is convenient for big provisioning runs. For instance, Port Townsend and Anacortes have large grocery stores right across from the marinas and West Marine stores nearby. And Friday Harbor has a few stores that are reasonably priced (for islands’ standards) and are not too far away. We then supplement these big hauls with occasional stops at smaller, typically more expensive stores such as in Roche Harbor.
Our stroller folds flat and we stow it on deck covered with a large rainfly meant for a backpacking pack. When it comes time to hit the streets, we put one boy in the stroller (usually Porter) and wear the other. We take a backpack and reusable shopping bags to carry things home and the bottom of the stroller is a great place to put heavier items. Jill often ventures to the store by herself with this setup and it works quite well.
Places such as Bellingham take a bit more effort. If we stop in the marina at Sqaulicum Harbor it is a long walk to the nearest grocery store—about four miles round trip. Instead, we like to anchor off of Bellingham’s Fairhaven neighborhood, take the kayak ashore and then walk to a much closer store.
In some cases we have to get more creative. Our doctor is in Eastsound on Orcas Island, which has no marinas and an anchorage that is only viable in settled weather or northerly breezes. We’ve anchored there before and loved it, but a better option for us has been to stop on the southwest side of the island at Deer Harbor Marina for a night and borrow their big passenger van for the drive across the island. Nicole and staff at the marina are super friendly and accommodating and Porter gets a huge kick out of the scenic ride to the doctor. The van allows us to make other stops while we’re in Eastsound and on our way back we put a few gallons in the tank.
These may not be the conventional ways of running errands, but they work for us, and we usually end up meeting new people along the way or seeing sites that we would have missed otherwise. It is more often about the adventure than anything else, and that’s how we roll.