Stephen Orsini's Comments On Proposed Anchorages

To:  USCG-whom it may concern:

I grew up on the North Beach of Guemes Island which faces Jack Island.  I still reside at:

4971 Guemes Island Road

With growing alarm, I have witnessed the increasing anchorage of large tankers, well in excess of 200 feet, and large oil barges in the vicinity of Vendovi, Jack, Guemes Islands and the Samish Peninsula.  It is not now uncommon to see 4 large tankers and two large oil barges in these anchorages at the same time.  Some of the tankers, all of foreign registry, anchor for weeks at a time.

Especially the following anchorages put the vessels very close,  within 1/4 to 1/2 mile from the North Beach area (faces east) of Guemes Island. 

(i) Vendovi South General Anchorage. All waters shoreward of a line beginning at latitude 48°36′40″ N., longitude 122°36′51″ W.; thence to latitude 48°35′34″ N., longitude 122°36′51″ W.; thence to latitude 48°35′34″ N., longitude 122°35′53.62″ W.; thence to latitude 48°36′31.38″ N., longitude 122°35′53.62″ W.

(ii) Vendovi East General Anchorage. All waters in an area beginning at latitude 48°37′43″ N., longitude 122°34′45.5″ W.; thence to latitude 48°37′43″ N., longitude 122°31′44″ W.; thence to latitude 48°35′43″ N., longitude 122°31′44″ W.; thence to latitude 48°35′43″ N., longitude 122°34′45.5″ W.; thence to point of origin.

(iii) Jack Island North Tug and Barge Holding Area. All waters within a circular area centered at latitude 48°35′22″ N., longitude 122°37′20″ W., with a radius of six hundred yards.

(iv) Jack Island South Tug and Barge Holding Area. All waters within a circular area centered at latitude 48°34′24″ N., longitude 122°36′13.5″ W., with a radius of six hundred yards.


This Guemes Island beach area is heavily populated on the land side with permanent as well as seasonal residences.  The above anchorages are also in prime commercial and recreational Dungeness crab fisheries.

I am one of the permanent residents of North Beach and have a marine background.  The problem we have on North Beach is that we are subject to episodes of very high, cold northeast winds in the fall and winter as a result of Frasier River outflow from Canada.  I am enclosing two photos I shot from my boat house of the storm of November 29, 2014 which are instructive in regards to the force of these winds and the fact that Guemes Island’s North Beach is a very proximate lee shore to the anchorages listed above.  One of the photos captures a tug and barge just near the west end of Vendovi Island working to hold her barge steady in the storm.  Had she not been able to hold her position, in less than 30 minutes, she and her barge would have been swept onto North Beach with devastating and dangerous consequences.  Of greater concern are some of the foreign flag vessels which utilize these anchorages.  If their anchor or chain fail (when were these items last inspected), they will be swept onto the shores of the nearby islands or Samish Peninsula.  While the barges are usually accompanied by a tug, the tankers are not.  The maximum wind gust recorded on North Beach that I know of was during the winter (December 31) storm of 1999-2000.  That gust was 116 mph. 

In summary, the permanent designation of these East San Juan anchorages mandates an Environmental Impact Study and complicity with 49 U.S.C. 303 (c) (1) and (2) POLICY ON LANDS, WILDLIFE AND WATERFOWL REFUGES, AND HISTORIC SITES.  We are lucky we have not had a major incident with the growing utilization of this area as a large oil vessel roadstead.

Thank you,

Stephen Orsini
4971 Guemes Island Road
Anacortes, WA 98221