EVERETT — Jetty Island opened to the first summer visitors Saturday under overcast skies.
That wasn’t any deterrent to locals who came over with picnics and sand pails. By noon, the ferry was disgorging ever thicker crowds onto Everett’s urban beach along Possession Sound.
Families staked out their piece of sand for the day, volleyball games sprang up and kids splashed and ran through the shallows.
Among them were Jamie and Jack Bazile, ages 8 and 11, of Snohomish, who were busy burying their friend Kaden Stickels, 9, of Marysville, up to his neck in the sand.
“We look forward to coming over here every year,” said Halleh Stickels, Kaden’s mother.
“It’s our place to relax and unwind and get away from crazy life,” she said.
Jetty Island wasn’t always an oasis of calm in the city. It was the result of a failed attempt to create a deep-water port at the mouth of the Snohomish River.
Henry Hewitt and the Rucker brothers dredged a channel along the Everett waterfront in 1890s, dumping the spoils along a breakwater running parallel to the shore.
Nature had other plans, said Barry Martin, the city’s recreation director.
“They couldn’t keep the river from breaking through the breakwater and going out through the north end,” Martin said.
After various plans for industrial development were considered and rejected, the city started recreational programs on the two mile-long island in 1985, and has run Jetty Island Days every year since, at the same time maintaining the island as a natural area.
The city’s daily programs on the island include nature walks and birdwatching, puppet shows for the kids and a variety of art programs.
The annual Pirate’s Treasure Hunt and sand castle contest will be held Saturday, July 12, pushed back a week because of the Independence Day holiday.
Away from the crowds, visitor Lori Wentz from Marysville took the early ferry over and hiked the perimeter of the island.
“It’s a mad stampede out here” when that happens, Wentz said.
On Saturday, Wentz enjoyed her hike and birdwatching, except perhaps when she tried to cross the mud flat in the lagoon, exposed at low tide. She ended up having to extract one of her shoes from the muck.
“I should have known better than to walk through where I thought, ‘Maybe it’s not too deep,’?” she said.
Near the southern tip of the island, with the USS Nimitz and Naval Station Everett emerging into view through the fog, nature’s drama unfolds as a flock of Caspian terns takes wing to chase off an interloping gull, their hoarse alerts drowning out the sound of the surf. A large brown raptor, possibly a marsh hawk, watched from a rock as the terns wheeled overhead.
On the return ferry, Elaine Soriano points out her house on a bluff in north Everett, where she has a clear view of the island.
“The last thing I see each night is the end of the jetty and the sunset,” she said.
Even so, Saturday was the first time Soriano, 81, had been to the island in 50 years. The last time she was there her daughter, Julie Soriano-Brunhaver, of Bellingham, burned her face on a flaming marshmallow.
“I wanted a better memory,” Soriano-Brunhaver said, laughing with her mother on the ferry. “I need to get here more often.”
Chris Winters: 425-374-4165 ; firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to visit
Jetty Island is open daily now through Sept. 1. The ferry leaves from the 10th Street ferry dock starting at 10 a.m. every day, with the final sailing at 5:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The last ferry leaves the island at 6 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday.
Reservations are strongly encouraged: call 425-257-8304 at least 48 hours in advance to reserve. Non-Everett residents need a party of at least 8 to reserve a ferry seat.
Parking is available at the Port of Everett lot next to the ferry dock. Parking is $3 per day, every day.
For more information, go to ci.everett.wa.us/default.aspx?ID=2055.