Good news if you have a boat and like to take the La Conner shortcut from Seattle to the San Juan Islands. (And if you’re not a boater, keep reading, there’s something for you, too.)
When big waves are rolling in to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, I like to take the “back way” north, through Saratoga Passage and scenic Swinomish Channel, past La Conner. Particularly fun is the channel’s south entrance, aptly called “Hole in the Wall,” a narrow S-curve between high rock promontories dotted by eagle-topped firs and a few megamillion-ish homes.
But more than once in recent years, if we tried to get through on a minus tide our sailboat’s keel touched bottom (soft sand and mud, thankfully) just north of Hole in the Wall. The first time, cruising along at high throttle against current, the boat’s abrupt dipsy doodle almost put the whole crew on our noses.
Well, we weren’t the only ones.
Now, a contractor for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has completed an overdue dredging of the whole channel to a 12-foot depth at mean lower low water, and folks in La Conner are crowing about it. Even that spot just above Hole in the Wall? “That’s where they started,” the La Conner Marina guy assured me on the phone. The $1.8 million project took four months, finishing in January.
And whether you go by boat, car or bicycle, La Conner has another new attraction: the first 700-foot phase of a new waterfront boardwalk that will eventually stretch 2,780 feet along the length of downtown, opening up more watery views to pedestrians.
Something to explore at tulip time, if not before. (Daffodils are coming soon.)