Entering Ewing Cove
It is advisable that you enter Ewing Cove only from the east but be certain to consult your charts and pay attention to the rocks and currents. The other openings can be used by dinghy at high tide.
There is an artificial reef and submerged rocks near the opening. Its not uncommon to see people obviously with no charts, cruising through with reckless abandon but sooner or later their luck is going to run out. Seeing the same location at low tide is a sobering experience when you see what lies just beneath the water at high tide.
NEWS! UNDERWATER HAZARD IDENTIFIED At Sucia Island
(March 2015) *This Dangerous Rock Feature Has Been Independently Confirmed And There May Be A "Danger Paton" installed by the State Park System to warn off boaters
Unsafe For Navigation At 188.8.131.52N/122.52.55W
At the Eastern entrance to Ewing Cove you should take extra care to avoid submerged rocks/shoals that have reportedly caused serious damage to prop shafts and rudders to a number of area boaters in recent years. At low tides the sandstone rocks can take on a sandy shoal appearance but during the lowest tides the rocks are clearly visible along with a number of visible gouges and marks from unfortunate boaters who found the rocks the hard way.
In this day and age many of us tend to rely on GPS and USGS charts to keep us out of harms way but even the most up to date charts may not include every hazard even if the hazard is well known to locals and the USGS itself. Once a hazardous rock or shoal is identified--what next? Do you simply include the rocks on area charts or do you attach a warning buoy, or perhaps attach a permanent stationary marker?
We would like to give special thanks to Erik Larson (Seattle) for his considerable efforts to bring this navigational hazard to the attention of local boaters. Erik has also lead the charge to have this hidden hazard properly marked and included on future USGS charts since his run in with the rock in while visiting Sucia Island in his cruiser in July, 2009. The impact caused serious damage to the shaft, prop, strut, and rudder. Fortunately his boat was able to limp to a Bellingham shipyard for assistance.
Sucia Island is one of the most popular boating destinations in the San Juan Islands with over 100,000 visitors each year. On weekends and holidays when the bays and coves around Sucia are teaming with traffic, it might be tempting for experienced and inexperienced boaters to cross through what looks like safe/deep waters. Having a stationary marker or permanent buoy on these rocks would go a long way in ensuring visitors to Sucia Island have a safe and enjoyable experience.
Depending on the wind direction and the weather the wave action at night might in Ewing Cove may be beyond your comfort level, either bouncy to downright toss you out of your bunk rough. You can also experience some wave action throughout the day from passing yacht cruising between the cove and Matia Island.
Approaching the beach by dingy you pass the small opening into the Sound looking north where you can see the towers of Vancouver on a clear day. This opening can be a bit tricky if you are trying to row a dinghy to shore due to the strong currents flowing in or out of the opening depending on the tide. Sucia is like a stepping stone in the middle of an ever flowing stream. This can be an amusing feature because the water swirls and churns as it passes around the island and over the uneven rocky formations below the surface. You may see an occasional whirlpool or hear an unexpected splash here and there as the currents meet random waves near your boat.
Camping At Ewing Cove
Campsites at Ewing cove are restricted to 4 people and immediate family only. NO GROUP CAMPING IS ALLOWED. The reason no group camping is allowed is this area's proximity to several Eagle nests. Park officials don't want rowdy campers disturbing the birds. The campsite onshore gets some fairly good use. This is a good place for Sea Kayakers to set up camp over night and also good place to escape the bugs due to its relative wind speed that tends to blow them all away.
Protect Your Pets From Hungry Raptors
There are a number of Bald Eagles nesting around Ewing cove. They spend their day squawking, soaring, and swooping down for fish and other potential food targets. Eagles are well known for their sensitivity around humans and choosing to live far from humans but the eagles on Sucia Island don't seem at all bothered by the boats and people visiting their realm. It seems the main source of irritation for the Eagles of Sucia are the black birds who spend their days hassling the Eagles in their nests and chasing them as they fly. You can't help but wonder why such a skilled predator would put up with such nonsense and misery.
If you aren't used to seeing bald eagles in person you might be surprised by just how big they are, and how giant their wing spans are. American Bald Eagles can weigh up to 13 pounds which is heavy for a flying bird and they have a wing span of up to 8 feet. Bald Eagles have a lifespan of about 20 years and eat mainly fish but they also eat rabbits, raccoons, beavers, ducks, gulls, and geese. Eagles fly and soar at about 35-40 mph and when diving for prey they can reach speeds up to 99 mph!
If you brought along any small pets you don't want to leave them unattended on deck because an eagle could easily swoop them up and carry them off to their treetop for dinner. The same thing goes for newborn babies and toddlers, something native Americans know very well.
Hiking Trails Of Sucia
Once ashore you can hike the trails that link up all the major coves and anchorages on Sucia Island or you can stake out a picnic table and enjoy the surroundings. You might want to bring along some bug spray if you plan to do any hiking or stay ashore any extended period of time.
Sucia Island is a lush and natural paradise with dense foliage so it has its share of mosquitoes (in marshy areas of the island), flying insects and things that just sit there and buzz, although most people aren't bothered while hanging out on their boats.
Seals, Seals, And More Seals
If you're a Sealaphobe stay away from Ewing Cove, however If you enjoy seal watching this is the place to be, and you can also venture out of the cove to the north where there's a reef that appears at low tide. Twice a day this rocky outcropping is covered with dozens of seals barking, socializing, and just hanging out. The Lummi Indians used to come here to kill seals but nowadays, visitors to Sucia Island gravitate to the reef to observe. As the tide comes in and covers the reef, the seals disburse throughout the area islands, with many coming into Ewing cove to fish and people watch. It goes without saying that these are wild animals so you don't want to corner them, disturb them or do something really stupid, like try to pet one.
IMPORTANT: Always consult your charts before attempting to navigate anywhere near Sucia Island or anywhere in Puget Sound for that matter. There is no rhyme or reason to why or where reefs, rocks or shallow waters are located. In the middle of 500 ft deep water you can suddenly come upon some rocks that are visible only at low tide. Captain Vancouver discovered many of the hidden rocks and reefs when he and his crew ran aground several times on Sucia.