San Juan County
San Juan Island
204 Front Street N
Fairweather, the marina park whose name sounds so appropriately like a mariner’s blessing or prayer is actually named for Jack Fairweather, the Port’s Administrator from 1972 to 1982. Set in a somewhat quieter location between busy Front Street and the often bustling marina activity; this park can offer a peaceful respite from the temptations of so many things to see and do nearby. Shady on hot summer days, dry covered picnic tables when raining, open views on cool wintry afternoons, Fairweather Park tries hard to satisfy every visitor’s needs. Despite the opportunity for a little quiet time, when you’re ready, you’ll be surprised at the amount of experience located in this little wayside.
Frequently overlooked by ferry bound visitors focused on more popular and commercial attractions, you’ll be delighted by carvings, sculptures, landscaping, and interpretive panels representing the environment and cultural history of the islands. Wandering the path you can enjoy beautiful views of the marina, attractively framed by shady trees with strategically placed but unobtrusive interpretive signs. Though urban in setting, the park has been the location of several rare bird sightings on San Juan Island; so don’t dismiss its natural elements too quickly.
Most striking is the traditional Northwest Coast Indian house-post sculpture created by the internationally recognized Musqueam carver, Susan Point. House-posts which superficially resemble what are called totem poles are actually structural components of the traditional long-house. Used to support roof beams, these posts were decorated with beautiful carvings telling the family histories of the people who raised them. The carvings and traditional use of giant red cedar trees reflect the artist’s desire to portray the interactions of land-sea, and human-animal as well as honoring and reestablishing the "footprint" of the native Coast Salish peoples that once made this their home. Spend time exploring the details of this intricate structure and learn about some of the symbolism used in traditional native carvings.
Fairweather Park is also the site of a summer tradition of outdoor concerts. Close to the ferry landing, some visitors make this an evening excursion even from the mainland. Musicians and performers from the island and surrounding areas are frequently featured. Less often but even more dramatic, the shore below Fairweather Park becomes the focus of a wonderful occasion. The arrival of native canoes with traditional requests and permissions for landing is a reflection of a formerly extensive society and illustrates an activity that was once a common occurrence.
Another sculpture, playful and wonderfully accessible is of "Popeye" a beloved long time resident of Friday Harbor. For more than 15 years visitors and residents would delight in the presence of the familiar large female seal nicknamed Popeye, due to her blindness in one eye. Commonly found resting on the seafood dock, Popeye often entertained passersby with waves of her flippers. Eventually she was made the official "Seal" of The Port of Friday Harbor. The life-size white granite sculpture of her has been respected for compelling people to consider the need for responsible environmental stewardship and fostering the connection between humans and wildlife.
Beyond Popeye and following the path out of the park you’ll pass a pleasing rock & water garden illustrating the natural environment of the island and the never ending interaction between water, land, and sea. Next time you're visiting Friday Harbor, take a few moments, maybe more and enjoy this pleasing, informative, and ultimately rejuvenating little park, overlooking Friday Harbor.
The park is located just above the Friday Harbor Marina, on your right as you arrive by ferry. Walk along Front Street away from the ferry terminal, the park is in a narrow strip between Front Street and the Marina.
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San Juan Islands