10.0 Dock Quakes
When the Matia Island dock gets blindsided by the wake from a passing 70 foot motor yacht you are in for one hell of a wild ride as you try to keep your boat from smashing against the pier and pilings. You may want to double up your lines and use a criss-cross line strategy to handle the extreme stresses.
Tip : If you're tying up at the dock you should try to be on the south side of the dock (Left side in photo). You'll better be able to handle the occasional larger wakes and waves that come into the cove from the north inlet-- the waves will push you away from the dock rather than into it.
Just a short time ashore on Matia Island you are encounter some friendly residents. Not Deer---Banana Slugs. If you take the 1.5 mile trail loop you are no doubt going to walk around, step over and possibly squoosh a number of these little guys slimming their way around the island. If you are tent camping be sure to keep your tent door zipped closed or you may wake up with unwanted Banana Slug guests in your sleeping bag, your hair, and before you slip your shoes you will want to check in there too.
Buoys & Docks
Matia is one of the most special island destinations in all of Puget Sound. The Island was once home to smugglers, criminals, & hermits, Matia is now part wildlife sanctuary and part island marine park and well worth the effort to tie up if you can find an opening. Finding an available Buoy or vacant Dock Space is akin to finding a good parking space at the Mall on Christmas Eve.
To get a buoy you need to approach them like a game of musical chairs, making several passes at the entrance of Rolfe cove along with other boats doing the same thing and then when you see an opening you need to strike like lightening and grab it. The best chance of getting a buoy each day after the breakfast hour which of course can be anytime between dawn and noon, depending on how much the person you're waiting to leave drank the night before.
The fishing is often excellent near the entrance to Rolfe Cove and you'll likely see bald eagles and a several seals swimming in the area.
Boats On Parade
Once you settle in to Rolfe Cove, If you're lucky enough to get in, on a busy weekend you'll witness a parade of yachts and sailboats trolling through the cove hoping for buoy or dock space. As each boat full of eager visitors slowly passes by you'll see lots of sad faces and as they turn to leave and you'll know where they're going.... where every boater ends up sooner or later--- Echo Bay. If you don't want to deal with the disappointment of not getting a buoy on Matia you could just head straight for Echo Bay in the first place and be content that you're still in one of the most beautiful places in the San Juan's. After you have dropped anchor you could always motor your dinghy across to visit Matia only 1.5 miles away.
Don't Feed The Deer
If you're thinking of bringing along some apples to feed the deer on Matia, don't bother because there aren't any-- That's Jones Island and the deer feeding experience is over-rated anyway.
Anchoring In Rolfe Cove
It really isn't a good idea to attempt to anchor in Rolfe Cove due to the strong currents, rocky bottom, and eel grass, although some people seem to manage it close to shore by dropping one or more anchors at one end and running a second line ashore to a tree or log to keep from swinging around into other boats--- Tides can be up to 14 feet so don't anchor too close to shore while the tide is in or you may find yourself grounded.
Santa Matia Tides
The water in Rolfe Cove is very clear and when you look down at the bottom from the dock it seems extremely shallow however the depth sounder showed it was 7 feet and several hours later it registered 15 feet. You are likely to see starfish, crabs, and an occasional fish going about their business below, and while you can fish from the dock I didn't notice anyone catching anything worthwhile but the kids were having a great time.
All of the 6 campsites were well manicured and most offered great views of Rolfe Cove.There is one campsite deeper in the woods but it also had a nice setting.
If you're going to camp out you're going to have to deal with raccoons, so make sure your food is well protected by either locking it up in a cooler or suspend it in a tree. Raccoons will probably still wreck your camp but they'll be wasting their time. Photo Tour Of Matia Island's Loop Trail