Sandy Point Marina Entrance – CAREFUL!

The Sandy Point Marina has served many boaters as a quick gateway to the Puget Sound and San Juan Islands.  Unfortunately, it has gotten more dangerous as the years have gone on.

To quickly sum it up;  If you want to lose your lower unit, come in on step at a low tide.

The winters have not been kind to our beloved entrance, washing all sorts of sand, rock and gravel into the mouth.  Many years ago we had an option to dredge it along with the Army Corp of Eng., but that was passed on and we must now deal with the wrath of mother nature and take extra caution in passing through this area on any tide less than 5.0.

I have a perfect vantage point to watch the many unfortunate boaters try to risk a low tide, only to have their keel, motor, or boat’s hull hit the submerged bar of rocks.  It is not getting any better.  You need to know exactly where the water is deepest and just how much water your boat takes up in order to pass at a low tide.  There are a handful of boaters that know the small channel that gives you 1 extra foot of water going through the opening, but that is a rare handful.  Ultimately, you need to SLOW DOWN!  Boats are going through the marina with a wake, which only washes up onto the beach and brings the rocks down into the water.

What can you do?

  • Don’t ‘risk’ it.  If you don’t know the water like the back of your hand… hold off until a later tide.
  • Go slow!  It is VERY shallow.  Let me say that again; VERY SHALLOW!! The tide pushes hard through there and the rocks are waiting for you.
  • Know your boat and keep your prop out of harm’s way.  If you spin your prop, the tide is going to have its way with you on the barnacles.
  • If the idea of dredging ever comes up again, get behind it!  Our Marina is a wonderful amenity and it would be nice to not make it a lake.

Here is an image of the opening, compliments of Google.  I have shaded the dangerous areas in red, that I’m aware of.  Don’t take my word for it, as this is only a quick guide to give you an idea.  Use your own judgement and play it safe.  If it is a minus tide, know that you can walk from one side to the other without getting your knees wet.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to let me know if you have any questions.



18 responses to “Sandy Point Marina Entrance – CAREFUL!

  1. Wonderful! I have been searching for days trying to find out some information about the marina water depths etc. This is the first I have found! As a practical matter would you say the marina can only be entered at high or near high tide? What would be the hours one could enter. I know varies by tide but would you figure 10-12 hours during 24 or nore? Thanks for any information you could give!

    • Hi Randy,

      You are doing the right thing instead of risking your lower unit like so many others have. In response to when you can enter the canal, it is much easier on the incoming tide than the outgoing… and the same when trying to exit the canal. (outgoing tide for leaving)

      The problem is that once the tide hits about 0.5, the water from the canal just runs over the rocks and gives the impression it is still OK to exit/enter. Depending on if you have an outboard or not, you may be safe once the tide hits about the 1.5 or higher tide. I’d say if you are at a 3.0 tide or higher, shouldn’t be a problem. Just make 100% certain you have clearance before risking it. I hope this helps and I’m more than happy to help you with any other questions.

      • Really appreciate your insights! Have looked at houses out there as well as some on Haxton Way on the other side of Lummi Bay. I know one gentleman who brings his 21 ft Trophy in behind his house at high tide and can do so for about 4 hours. Obviously on the mud at low I know trespass issues. Do you have any insight into beach launching there or fishing in the bay itself? Thanks!

      • Beach launching in the bay is pretty much non-existent. 1st; no available spots to launch. 2nd; It is pretty frowned upon unless you have property owner permission and the neighbors love you.

        The mud at low really isn’t trespass. It is argued, but isn’t enforced much anymore b/c the land is held in trust for the tribe, but is not their property. It is a sticky issue that is currently being argued over.

        This carries over to fishing, as it closes Sept 4th until October 15th because the DFW has given the water (wrongfully) to the tribe and calling harvesting activities as trespass. This is only Lummi Bay, even though no Indian can fish the bay b/c of seaweed and difficult waters for netting. They closed it to keep recreational fisherman from catching 60-100 of the 20,000 fish that hit the sea ponds hatchery.

        I recently purchased out at Sandy Point to build next to my family, but this is the unfortunate greedy garbage I need to face to enjoy a wonderful area.

      • Looked at Sandy too for over a year and missed some good deals on houses with docks. If I buy will be the owner of the property so no issues there. Gentleman that comes up on the beach ocassionally is named Critchlow. Has a slip at sandy. You are right he says in 17 years he has been beaching the boat no one has said anything! Where did you purchase if you don’t mind me asking and did they close for 2012 also? Oh nice fish.

      • I purchased on the east side, Salt Spring, more towards the end of the point. Running into a ton of issues in getting my home built, including push back from the tribe, county, and even SPIC. Not fun, and very frustrating. Speaking of, the closure includes this year as well. You can see the specifics on my other post that discusses saving our water rights. Sad times around here.

      • Thanks for the information! New house (short sale) just went up on the East Side of Sucia. Looks nice but a bit up there in price. $530K I think but already built. FYI I too looked at a lot on the West Side of Salt Springs and builder vis realator gave me a $430 rough price. Dock already in and on the large basin in the canal. Could not get wife interested. Too “Boaty” for her I think. Looks like I am going to buy off Haxton on Lummi Bay (low bank) which was why my interest. Believe I can beach launch some thing small maybe up to 17-19 ft or so. Maybe enough to get me around the inner islands. Many small boats (12 ft or so) on the beach there. Worse case I guess I run over to Sandy or Gooseberry for a launch. Fyi sent an email to the State asking about the Lummi closure and whether even being on the water was trespass. No respons!!! If you don’t mind me asking what kind of boat do you have? Thaks for all you insights. Very helpful!

    • Email: Tell him that they are wrong for closing the area, as it is held in Trust and are discriminating against non-tribal. Feel free to toss the direct in place, too; They are pushing their ways and it isn’t going to be pretty. I’m at the point of requesting the tribe be removed from the Sea Ponds Hatchery. Greed is not a pretty thing.

      The tribe pushback is they are greedy and want non-tribal out of the waters. They want every salmon that hits our government funded hatchery, bottom line. For 30+ years we fished that area with no issue, then they started seeing others catching fish and didn’t like it. I just want to fish with my family for food and fun, not financial gain. Sad it is coming to this.

  2. It has been some time since I last visited this website (thanks for creating and maintaining it). One item that should be updated is your marina hazard entrance map. I visit the entrance every low tide opportunity I get and the inner gravel vane should be observed and noted. It has really grown in length. Anyone hugging the North face, or even attempting a straight up exit run will experience displeasure of nasty “prop portions”. You need to keep well South of center when making your approach to the start of the narrow canal mouth on exit. Anyone planning on using the canal and marina should see it at low tide, take a few pictures to study, note reference features that you can use to create a sense of scale and position when the water level is higher and the hazards are hidden below the surface. At the rate the inner vane is building I given the marina less than 10 years (5 years for passage of a boat over 20ft at anything but a +8ft tide).
    At a – 0.6ft tide I was able to walk across the channel and not get my shorts wet. The inner vane was high and dry (14ft long, 6ft wide).

    • Thanks for the input! It is only getting worse, especially since the time that I posted this article for others to watch out. If the tide is anywhere less than a 2.0, you better be very cautious.

      • Hello have commented before and just moved in on Sucia last week. Their seems to be a persistent rumor about the opening being dredged some even say the Marina has the approved permits in hand which would be a major coup I suspect given what I know about it. Any insight on that? Thanks. Randy.

      • We have a 24′ boat, so I can imagine it is a couple feed in draft. Granted, I should say that you are going with the flow of the tide, but don’t quote me on that. We always stick to the south side of the opening unless the tide is well above anything to worry about.

      • Indeed, as being able to get in and out of the marina at all hours would fill up all dock slips. Plus, it is a safe harbor, so it should be available to access at all hours. There is a plan in place, this board just needs to focus on actually doing something that matters.

      • The owner of the canal (bottom) has the go, and needed the funding help of the board/SPIC… but they denied. (This is what I heard) The board needs to do everything in their power to get this going, as we have a surplus in funds, which are to be used in an event like this. As I mentioned earlier, quite a few may not be back after September’s meeting, so their interest may be gone… or they will ‘entertain’ the idea until gone. No matter, it is time to get it done, and nothing else should be moved forward until this is exhausted. With the exception of Water connections, which they have screwed up as well.

  3. I think it would make a Great Coast Guard Docking Site it would give the Guard at least 40 min of time closer than that of witch Bellingham could Provide Boater Safety should be the Upmost Concern for the Users of San Juan Waters Currents out there can be pretty strong and Sandy Point is the Closest Get Out of Danger but Should have the Channel Dredged At Least to provide Safe Harbor for Boaters What do we have to do to ask for the Dredging of Sandy Point Channel I own a 30′ Sailboat with a 6′ Draft I can go in and out But I have studied the Channel and have Charted a Line that I can use Safely but it keeps Changing I will not even attempt entering or exiting if I don’t have a Level of at least a Tide Sounding of 6’feet of Tide I have recorded at that water level I show 9.8 to 16 feet depending on where you are in the channel My Transducer is Located at the bottom of the Keel with a Protective Cover keeping it from Damage it I hit bottom witch I have only once but that was due to wind pushing me south into the Pond as I call it at the east Turn I try to stay close to the rocks on south side entering then coming at mid channel heading northeast at mid channel trying to stay close to the north end as I turn into the Channel heading to the Pond there I have recorded depths up to 18 feet at a 5-6 foot tide level once into sheltered waters I have never encountered any low water it has always been at least 14 feet or better on my way to my Dock each year as I start my Boating Season I have the Fear of hitting Bottom and Becoming Stuck in the Channel entrance I study it at Low low tide before I ever go out every Year I just wish that they would Make a wall and Make it a Channel that is Passable at any tide and it wont Change the Benefit of This would increase Boaters entering for fuel and for safety as they travel the San Juan’s If I can Help in any way I will I am Retired an Engineer and a Physicists By Trade and Have worked on Many of Projects through out my Life But Mainly Roadways and Bridges Mostly Steel Stresses so this would be interesting to me to help out what I can I don’t want to have the fear of coming home every time I take the Boat out to Hard on the Blood Pressure E-Mail is please feel free to write I would love to see my Home Channel as a Safe place to Travel every time I and we Go out plus the Coast Guard could have a Docking Station for quicker Response Time to Rescue distress Boater’s
    Thank You Jack Challender

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