Situated just to the southwest of Anacortes, Bowan Bay is a beautiful tranquil little bit of water popular with campers and kayakers alike. But like most things in life just around a point it has an ‘opposite’; an even smaller and anything but tranquil bit of water – Deception Pass. The two play off each other beautifully.
Until the late 1800s, this calm-watered cove was the site of a large Samish village, one of several that existed near Deception Pass. Evidence of their presence in the area remains in the form of thick groves of Nootka rose that grow atop iron-rich shell middens. On a small sandspit you can find a wooden carving depicting the tragic princess that is part of their lore.
Before receiving its modern name, Bowman Bay was known as “Reservation Bay” due to the period in which it was a military reservation. In the early 1900s, Bowman Bay was one of several modern-day park areas set aside for military use. The area was eventually renamed in honor of Amos Bowman, who was one of the first white settlers on Fidalgo Island. Nearby Anacortes is amalgamation of “Anna Curtis,” Bowman’s wife. At the turn of the century, Bowman had a wooden dock built at the bay in hopes that it would become a major port, but Bowman’s dream was never realized.
To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float. – Alan Watts
At least once a year, you’ll find the bay full of racers among every kind of paddle craft you could imagine. They’ve all came to test their paddling prowless against one of the most unique paddle races I’ve ever heard off. It starts and ends in the bay but the course is straight through Deception Pass. The start is always time to the tide race and whirl pools that set up in the pass. If you’re a strong paddler and on top of your game you’ll circle Strawberry Island and make it back with little issues, just a hard paddle. Miss the timing and you’re in a world of pain!
Search through the blog and you’ll see some footage I’ve taken of the race, but nope, I’ve never competed. Well above my pay grade! 🙂