Shaw Island County Park and Indian Cove

Andy sawing a log with my collapsible bow saw.

We had quite an adventurous weekend on the Rock ‘n Row. My friend Andy was in town. He and a bunch of friends (including me) went to James Island for a welcome back party.

As this was forecasted to be one of the nicest weekends of the summer, a lot of people were out on the water. I got to James Island at 4:30 PM on a Friday and the dock was full, all the buoys were taken, and several campsites were already full! I squeezed my boat in between the buoys and did a slow crawl along the shoreline on the east side of the island. I had read in my copy of Gunkholing in the San Juan Islands (out of print) that anchoring was possible here in less than 5 fathoms. Sure enough, at 15 feet in the southernmost cove on the east side of island, my depth finder was indicating a nice, soft bottom. I set my hook and kept a tight scope (3:1). It would be a calm night and I was more worried about hitting the boats on the mooring buoys than drifting.

Andy showed up in his boat about the same time I did. He rafted up to the Rock ‘n Row and we set to work making camp. He was totally digging my collapsible bow saw that I picked up at the Lopez Island farmer’s market a few years ago. Within no time, we had a nice fire going. As soon as everyone showed up, a bottle of Canadian Hunter whiskey emerged and we were officially ‘Hunting Canadians’. Every time someone would set the bottle down, someone else would shout ‘Who’s hunting Canadians!?’. Needless to say, we drank way too much.

Looking For Peace In Indian Cove

This was the first time I’d ever stayed on the east side of James Island. It was just as uncomfortable as I had been led to believe. The cove is wide open to the wakes created by commercial, ferry, and recreational traffic in Rosario. Between the wake and our hangovers the next morning, Annie and I decided that we needed to pull anchor and find a peaceful spot to recuperate.

Girls playing with a driftwood log in the shallows of Indian Cove on Shaw Island.

After discussing several possibilities, we settled on Indian Cove on Shaw Island. Indian Cove is also the location of the Shaw Island County Park and is protected from the ferry channel by Canoe Island. The cove gently tapers from 50 feet at the outer edges to shore, with a soft bottom for good anchorage. The crabbing is decent, so is the fishing, but this time of year, people come here for the swimming. Under a heavy sun, the water in the cove warms up to a brisk 60 to 65 degrees.

Shaw Island County Park is also a pleasant oasis. It has toilets, campsites, a boat launch, and running water. The water, good anchorage, and toilets make this spot especially attractive to small boats. However, you wouldn’t know that by the amount of traffic it gets. This weekend was the most crowded I’ve ever seen it with four boats anchored in the cove.

View Larger Map

After spending most of the afternoon napping, Annie and I took the dingy out for a leisurely cruise. We hooked three greenling while we were out and made fish tacos back on the boat. That night was one of the calmest nights at anchor that I’ve ever experienced. Not a breath of wind.

Shaw Island Map – Photo taken from the info booth at the County Park

Related posts:

Gunkholing in the Salish Sea
Adventures in Alaska
Fiberglass Over Teak - Part Deux
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