A popular movie theme in a certain era was “The Girl Next Door”. Think of “Judy” who grew up next to “Chip” (called Chipper, to his embarrassment, by Mom and Dad. “Aw, Mom!”). Judy was pretty, but not glamorous, and a little younger than Chip.

It was obvious to the audience that Judy was a very nice person and nuts about Chip. But to the Chipper, she was just the kid next door. The one who cried when she skinned her knee. The one with those braces. But plucky Judy never gave up and when Chip returned home for the summer after his first year at University…

Well, we all know how this turns out, don’t we?

Which leads me to Watmough Bay on Lopez Island. Have a look at the nautical chart. If you set out from our marina at Flounder Bay, you’d be hard pressed to find a closer place to drop anchor than Watmough Bay. It’s close. Too close to be of interest. Or so we thought.

At Tug speed, Watmough is about an hour from home. When returning from Victoria or Port Townsend or, well, anywhere we thought, “why not just carry on and head for home?” This was a mistake.

We wanted to take advantage of three upcoming days of great weather but didn’t want to spend all of our time traveling. We decided that it was time to have a look at Watmough.

First off, let me say that Lopez Island is not exactly undiscovered. It has regular ferry service courtesy of the Washington State ferry system. It has a sizable year-round population and multitudes of second homes. But beautiful Watmough Bay on the southeastern corner of the Island feels like another place entirely.

Nordic Tugs, collect the set!
That’s a 37 in the foreground, a 42 to its right, and our 32 showing us her stern.

After dropping anchor in the sticky blue mud, we hopped in the dinghy and were off on a 5k hike around Colville Point.

Looking south.
Across the Strait of Juan de Fuca in the far distance are the Olympic mountains.
Mt. Baker peeking through the trees.
Looking down on the beach at the head of Watmough Bay, I’m relieved to see our dinghy still there.

The next morning, we headed out for a somewhat more ambitious 6k walk: the 200 meter climb up Chadwick Hill.

There’s a long gentle trail to the top from the back side. We decided to take the steep 1k route up from the beach.
Starting the climb
This is starting to look like a real New Zealand class hike!
Looking south into Puget Sound. That’s Whidbey Island on the left and the Olympic peninsula on the right.
Mary Anne examines a memorial to a young local boy.
Mary Anne’s great photo of the Olympics from the hilltop
Compare this photo to the chart at the top of this page. The flat top Island is Burrows and the lower one to the right is Allan Island. Our marina is just behind them.
We found a rope swing!

So, there you have Watmough Bay – another world just a short cruise from home. If you find yourself on Lopez Island, you can easily reach Watmough either by car or by bike.

Great photo, eh?
Naturally, it’s Mary Anne’s


  1. I just love your stories and your writing! Barry and I have had the pleasure of exploring Watmough Bay, but from the shore, when we were staying with friends on Lopez. Sadly, we were not able to do the hikes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.