Square Cove – Guemes Island

Square Cove opening

Square Cove, looking out

We did a short day trip today. We thought we might spend the night out and had prepared for such, but with 3 grand-children and neither of us feeling all that healthy, left the options open. We weren’t sure where we were going when we left the dock. It was Vendovi, Saddlebag Island, or someplace in-between.

We departed our slip at Cape Sante Marina with supplies for lunch, dinner, s-mores, and more. As we were transiting Guemes Island en-route to Vendovi Island, we looked at each other and jointly decided that a stop at Square Cove, along the east side of Guemes, would be a good stopping place. Square Cove is relatively small, offering anchorage for 1 or 2 boats at the most. It is a public beach but has little upland access, very little beach at high tide, and no appreciable clamming or oystering. Tidal currents can flow fairly strong and it is exposed to SE winds.

Square Cove, Guemes Island

We pulled in, dropped the anchor, rigged the grandkids up with some fishing gear, and sat back to relax for a few minutes. After an hour or so of non-productive fishing (we weren’t trying very hard),

Kids Fishing

I took the two boys (Daneil 7 & Darrin 5) and our dog, JJ, onto the beach and up into the woods exploring.

For you foragers, there are a few attractive features. There is a spring fed creek that winders down thru the forest and across the beach. I have not tested it’s potability but it is fresh and could provide a valuable resource in an area where fresh water is sometimes very scarce. Our mid-April exploration also disclosed an abundance of edible nettles, fiddle-head ferns,

Fiddle-head ferns, dinner

Foraging for fiddle heads

cat-tails and skunk cabbage. Skunk cabbage is reportedly edible in early spring, after steaming or roasting, but is mostly useable as a lining or wrapping for other edibles in steaming pits or as basket liners.

We did not find mushrooms on this trip though I have no doubt that there are many edible varieties in the woods here, given the right season and conditions. I saw several other plants that I believe to be edible but as I did not have my field guide with me and do not want to speculate on things I am not sure of, will leave specific identification to later exploration or to others. Camas is a real possibility.

After our hike, we returned to the boat and to the marina. Total trip time was about 6 hours, with our decision to return motivated by none of us feeling all that healthy. Square Cove is a great anchorage in anything but S.E. winds. We have spent several very cozy and comfortable nights there.

Related posts:

Foraging for Wild Food: Fennel Fronds
Sailing the Gulf Islands, Part 3
Sailing the Gulf Islands, Part 6
2 Responses to “Square Cove – Guemes Island”
  1. Chris says:

    Hey Ken,

    I believe you have a copy of Plants of the Pacific Northwest Cost. In it, there is a really good description of how to tell the difference between Lady Fern and Bracken Fern. Lady fern is the best to eat. Bracken fern has been proven to secrete a mild carcinogen, so it’s not advisable as a staple food.

    So far, Annie and I have only been able to find Bracken fern around here. I know Lady fern grows here though, but I think it’s in the darker, moister forests… kind of like the kind that grows at Box Harbor.

    • Ken says:

      Have re-checked our harvest and am quite confident that the fiddleheads we picked were from the Lady fern and not the Bracken fern. They are really quite distinctive. Even though these are not of the Ostrich fern genus that are so highly sought and show in markets, they are very tasty and, at least to date, have had no adverse effects.

      Sherrie made a wonderful dish of boiled & then sautéed fiddleheads with red & yellow peppers, mushrooms, a bit of basalmic vinegar, served with pasta. We used grape seed oil for it’s mild and delicate flavor. The fiddleheads added a nice texture, colorful and flavorful addition to an already great side dish.

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