A place in the harbor

Published online: Aug 30, 2010 News Jackson Holtz - www.heraldnet.com
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FRIDAY HARBOR - It doesn't take long to learn how to tell "island time."

Living aboard a rented houseboat in the heart of the San Juan Islands for a week, I stopped relying on the height of the sun and instead clocked the luxurious hours of a vacation watching the ferries. 

The days were measured by the blast of a ferry's horn and the gentle rock from its wake.

Every day about a dozen ferries arrive at the landing in Friday Harbor, the largest town in Washington's famous archipelago. The view from my houseboat's deck framed the hulking green-and-white ferry fleet.

Some boats link the islands to one another. Others connect to the mainland. One boat reaches across the border to Vancouver Island. 

Watching the ferries slide in and out of the harbor served as evening entertainment too, enhanced by a fresh cocktail and a scarlet sky. By 10 p.m., when the Hyak pulled away carrying her last load east, the day drew to a close.

A short drive and an hour's ferry ride away, the San Juan Islands are a favorite short vacation spot for many people in Snohomish County and around the region. This year, I decided to spend an extended amount of time on the islands and see what it was really like to slow my city pace to their rhythm.

A friend and I researched dozens of rental homes on the Internet before settling on Otter Magic, a floating cottage docked at a marina just a short walk from the shops, restaurants and the ferry landing in Friday Harbor. 

Unlike many rentals that were big enough for large families and their guests, the little houseboat was fine for two, plus it had the charm of being on the water. Rentals cost less than a hotel per night and typically don't offer daily maid service, but most come fully equipped with kitchens and laundry.

Read more at http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20100828/LIVING/708289963

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