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We Moved to Matia Island

This was the view from our top deck in Echo Bay at Sucia Island last night as the sun set:


And this was our little beggar buddy who hung out by the boat for a while. We didn't give him anything, but I think they must get conditioned that the sound of a generator on a boat means that humans are making food and are often suckers for cute bird antics:



Here are a couple more shots from the top deck last night (that's Mt. Baker):



Last night was calm and lovely in Echo Bay, but at around 2am the wind picked up, as did the waves, and therefore so did the movement of the boat. This morning we decided to head over to Rolfe Cove on Matia Island for a less rocky night (we hope).

Our new view:


Here's our 2.5 nautical mile track from Sucia to Matia:

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Hey! More cute baby geese in Rolfe Cove:



After we got settled, I put together a nice brunch for us: a small tortilla topped with wilted spinach, bacon, an over easy egg, salsa, avocado, a little crumbled Cotija cheese, salsa, and then a drizzle of Deke's wing sauce:


After brunch we took the dinghy to shore to hike the loop around the island. Matia Island is 145 acres, and all but 2 acres are designated as a wildlife refuge. Those other 2 acres are for public use as a marine state park. There are a couple campsites near Rolfe Cove, two mooring buoys, and a small dock. Matia is officially pronounced Ma-TEE-ah, but you'll hear many locals call it May-shah. 


Matia was named in 1792 by the Spanish explorer Francisco de Eliza as Isla de Mata, meaning "no protection."  Matia also has several meanings in Spanish having to do with lush plant growth, but I think it really translates to mean "Island of the Giant Slugs."



Seriously?!?! Those are my BOOTS!

Matia also is known for "the Hermit of Matia Island" — a man named Elvin H. Smith, who for 30 years lived in a cabin on a bay in the island's southeast corner (opposite Rolfe Cove). Smith was born in Wisconsin circa 1835. He fought in the American Civil War during the 1860s, rising from private to brevet captain in the Union Army. Embittered because Army bureaucrats never recognized his battlefield commission and disappointed by an unhappy love affair, he left home for good and headed west. After a stint as a newspaperman, he worked for years as a traveling passenger agent for the Northern Pacific Railroad until he gave up railroad business in 1890 and came to Bellingham, WA.

Once in Bellingham, Smith joined forces with a lawyer to make some money on land speculation. There were rumors that the federal government was going to open Matia Island for homesteading. The lawyer fronted money to buy out a pair who had acquired squatters' rights on Matia. Smith moved to the island in April 1892 to perfect a claim the partners could sell at a profit.

Smith built a snug cabin near the bay at the island's southeast corner. He raised chickens, rabbits, and sheep for himself and for sale and stretched a net across the long narrow bay near his house to catch cod and salmon. Most Saturdays, Smith rowed two-and-a-half miles to the north shore of Orcas Island, then walked another two miles through woods to the village of Eastsound to visit, buy supplies, and collect his mail. 

He was later dubbed "The Hermit of Matia Island", and remained there until his supply-laden rowboat vanished on in a storm on February 23, 1921 en route from nearby Orcas Island.

[From Wikipedia and Historylink.]

This may have been the cove where Elvin fished:


Here's a map of our hike (and the dinghy ride we took after our hike):

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I think the little spur we took at the southeast corner of the island might be Elvin's cove.

The hike brought us back around to Rolfe Cove, and hey! There's our boat!


The island at the entrance of Rolfe Cove (can't find anything that shows if it has its own name or not, but it's pretty, and around the other side, there are a bunch of harbor seals lounging about:


We're back at Airship now just doing some tweaks and making sure there's nothing else we need before heading to Alaska.

When we bought this boat, we had solar panels and a charge controller installed, but we've never been very happy with the output from it. We even talked about not getting solar on the next boat, since it hardly seemed to matter even when you had lots of sun.

Kevin decided to do a couple tests when we got back from our hike (involving covering the panels one at a time with a big towel and watching the current down below) and it turns out one of them wasn't even working! He removed the headliner and wire chase in the pilot house and hey, what do you know? The plug from one of the solar panels wasn't even plugged in! And just like that, we doubled our solar output! Sweet!

Next up: a few hours of work and probably a little quadcopter flying. 

For tonight's dinner I think I'm going to repurpose the leftover "fried" chicken and put it with a marinara sauce over some veggie noodles, with some grilled zucchini. Boom, from chicken and waffles to chicken parmigiana. Sort of. 🙂


  1. Kevin McLaughlin Kevin McLaughlin

    Wow, sunset view unobstructed to the western horizon! Must go there for that! BTW, what is that blocky structure at the north side of the cove mouth?

    • I think that blocky structure is the remains of a boat landing. I believe I read that somewhere at some point, but I can’t find anything about it now as I look to confirm. There used to be several buildings on the island and all but the lighthouse have been razed. (There’s a concrete sidewalk from the shore by that concrete structure all the way out to the lighthouse, too.)

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