New Ferry Arrives May 20th for San Juan Islands

mv samish

Travelers to Friday Harbor’s Tucker House Inn and Harrison House Suites will have an opportunity to ride on a brand new ferry this summer: The MV Samish.

MV Samish

MV Samish under construction

On May 20th of this year, the Washington State Department of Transportation will launch the second of three new ferries of the Olympic Class. The MV Samish will depart Anacortes that day, beginning its new regular route to the San Juan Islands. The Samish Tribe will be singing, drumming, and sharing their tribal histor y at the Anacortes Ferry Boarding Area. The name Samish is tribal for “giving people”.

If you have ever contemplated purchasing your own ferry in order to avoid lines and reservations, prepare to spend about $126 million. MV Samish has the ability to carry 1,500 passengers and 144 cars; life expectancy for these vessels exceeds fifty years, so the Samish will be a part of our future, and well into the future for the children of San Juan Island.

Decor aboard the Samish will include art work from the Samish Tribe, and a combination of eighteen photorgraphs from locals artists. Nine have been chosen from Anacortes, and the other nine are from the San Juan Islands.

The Washington State Ferry System is the largest one in the USA, and ranked 4th largest in the world.  The System launched operations on June 1, 1951, and it is estimated that 90% of all Washington State citizens ride a ferry.

Construction on MV Samish began in December of 2012, and the vessel is currently undergoing sea trials.

mv samish

Bald Eagles on San Juan Island

baby bald eagle chicks
Bald Eagle catching a fish

Fish is the primary source of food for the Bald Eagle

With over 125 nesting pairs of Bald Eagles in the San Juans, the possibility is strong you will see at least one during your stay at Tucker House Inn. Often one or two of them are seen flying over Friday Harbor, and occasionally there have been nests very close to town. Bald Eagles are seen around San Juan Island so much, you would think the residents would become jaded, but these magnificent creatures are awe-inspiring even to those who have been born and raised here. It has been said that the San Juan Islands have more Bald Eagles around than any other area in the contiguous 48 states.

baby bald eagle chicks

Before the chicks are born, both Mom and Dad keep the eggs warm

You probably know that the Bald Eagle is not actually bald, but has white feathers on its head. In fact, the Bald Eagle has 7,000 feathers on its entire body! Its latin name is Haliaeetus leucocephalus, which translates to See Eagle with White Head.

The mature eagles mate for life, and their life span is from 20-50 years. Nesting pairs continue to use the same nest year after year, adding bits to the nest each year (renovation?). This results in large nests: one in Florida weighs over 2.7 tons, and another nest in the midwest has been visited by the same bald eagle couple for 35 years now.

The Bald Eagle is the national bird of the United States, and appears on the presidential seal, the presidential flag, and the seals of many governmental agencies. Here are some more interesting facts:

  • A Bald Eagle’s eyesight is four times as sharp as a human’s eyesight.
  • Males and females have the same coloration of feathers.
  • The Bald Eagle became the National Emblem and Mascot of the USA in 1782.
  • Ben Franklin preferred the Wild Turkey as the National Mascot.
  • Bald Eagles are only found in North America.
  • A Bald Eagle’s wingspread is about seven feet, but they only weigh 7-14 lbs.
  • Bald Eagles cannot swim; but they can sit on top of the water and “row” with their wings!
  • Possession of a single Bald Eagle feather can result in your being fined $5,000 and spending one year in prison.
  • Bald Eagles can reach an altitude of 10,000 feet
Bald Eagles on a perch

Bald Eagles mate for life

So be sure to pack those binoculars when you are headed out for a hike or a drive while you are exploring the island during your stay at Tucker House Inn – and may your day be filled with awesome sightings of Bald Eagles!

Surprise at Sunken Park near Tucker House

Sunken Park Friday Harbor

Sunken Park is a lovely little town park, located conveniently across the street from Tucker House Inn, and was built in the 1930’s for Friday Harbor by the WPA (Works Progress Administration). In 1995, it was refurbished by the Washington State Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation. However, in all these years, no one had worked on the foundation of the gazebo located on street level until the town of Friday Harbor, in their 2015 renovation of Sunken Park.  And what they found was amazing.

As workers begin the dismantle the concrete steps of the gazebo, they discovered something you don’t usually see in concrete steps:  horseshoes.

A little research into the town of Friday Harbor history here on San Juan Island showed that during the Depression, many building materials were scarce, including rebar. Rebar has been around for centuries, and is used to reinforce the strength of poured concrete; but what can you use instead? Apparently, the Friday Harbor townspeople, famous for their ability to create workarounds for almost anything, decided to use horseshoes instead.  Our best guess is they were requisitioned from the Livery Stable that was on First Street during that era.

The 2015 version of Sunken Park and its gazebo should be completed this week, with the addition of new playground equipment.  A brighter, cleaner park for the community and visitors is waiting for you now…but you will need to bring your own horseshoes!

Sunken Park Friday Harbor

Surprising historical find during the renovation of Sunken Park, across the street from Tucker House Inn, Friday Harbor, WA




Tucker House offers tips on finding a petsitter

Cats like to stay home
Cats like to stay home

You’re going on vacation? I think I’ll pass.

Make your dream vacation a dream for your pet, as you prepare to head for Tucker House Inn at Friday Harbor.

Some pets love to travel; we have all heard stories about the motorcyclist whose terrier likes to sit in his lap as they motor down the highway, and animal rights activist Cleveland Amory, who took his pet cat Polar Bear, on worldwide travels. Here at the  Tucker House, on San Juan Island, we love animals, love to pamper them as much as we do our human guests, but we recognize that some pets do NOT have travelling on their bucket list.

We offer these tips to you in case your pet would rather stay at home with their familiar surroundings. Hiring a house/pet sitter is an important process in creating a stress-free atmosphere for your beloved pet while you are away on vacation.

When to Start Looking?  As soon as you have your travel dates! The best house sitters are booked months in advance, and you will want the best.

What are you looking for?  Is your sitter going to stay the night or just stop in to feed and water the animals? Clear expectations are critical, and it will help you to consider making a list of your needs.

Where do you look?  First, ask your friends, fellow frequent travelers, and your veterinarian. If there are no results, check out classified ads at a local pet store.

What do they charge?  House sitters set their own rates, and those rates are based on how many animals, walking times, overnight stays, etc.  Because you have already taken the time to outline your expectations and have your dates, you should be able to get a price quote in the first phone call.

What next?  The sitter should provide you with three references, and you should call those references. If that all goes well, set up a meeting with the sitter, yourself, and your animals at your house. Trust your instincts and those of your pets when interacting with the potential sitter. Set up a second visit a week before your departure, to go over everything in detail. Lastly, call your sitter the day before you leave, just to ensure all is in place.

How do I prepare?  An experienced sitter will probably have their own checklist, but here are some of the subjects you need to cover before you catch that plane: Plenty of pet food on hand? Where do you want the sitter to sleep if it is a stay over? When does the trash get picked up at your house? Does the sitter need to water plants, get the mail or newspaper, start the family car, put out bird feed? Who can the sitter call if there is an emergency at the house? Can the sitter use the family computer while you are gone? More information is better than not enough.

Once you find a responsible and caring pet sitter, offer to serve as a reference. Stay in touch, by email or a call every couple of months – and tell your friends about this sitter. A busy house sitter will stay in the business and therefore be there for your next trip away! If you decide to bring Fido and need a pet sitter for an afternoon outing, let us know, there are some great resources in Friday Harbor.



New Faces Around the Inns

Breakfast at the Tucker House Inn Friday Harbor
Breakfast at the Tucker House Inn Friday Harbor

Michelle in the Morning

Michelle in the Morning

Meet Octavio!

As the season begins to gear up, you will be find new faces here a the Inn, busily working towards providing the most comfortable and friendly environment for our guests.

Here is Michelle at her new position with the Inns – Breakfast Chef. After 4 years working at Coho Restaurant, Michelle’s working world is expanding. She is quite talented and versatile and can work the front and the back of the house with ease. Look for her at Coho during the weekends and at the Inns behind the grill in the mornings. After breakfast, Michelle turns to making the yummy cookies and tasty granola you enjoy. When not working, Michelle loves to hang out with her family and especially her son Sean, who is in kindergarten. As Sean grows up, she will transition to days to spend more time with him.

Fourteen year old Octavio is a jack of all trades here at the Inn, doing power washing, gardening and other odd jobs, and all with a smile on his face. Octavio has plans to finish school and begin studying as a veterinarian, as he enjoys working with animals.

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275 C Street Friday Harbor WA 98250 | 360.378.2783 or 800.965.0123 © Tucker House Inn | Photography: Michael Bertrand Photographer & Others