Firefighters, we respect them. We get out of their way when they’re racing to a scene. We crowd around their trucks when they’re at a fair or a parade. We can tend to think that every firefighter is like every other firefighter, hanging out at a fire station while waiting for a call that demands immediate action. Yes, and no.
But what does firefighting look like on an island? Follow along as we discuss firefighting island style.
Firefighting Island Style
Oak Harbor is a city with paid firefighters and a place where a lot is going on in a small space. Trucks have to navigate a grid of streets and the traffic on them. Houses are close and that can mean fires are close, too, but so are fire hydrants. There are plenty of stereotypes that can apply. Spotted mascot optional.
In most parts of the country that might be enough, but the island is large enough and long enough that some other solutions are necessary. If the neighborhood is remote enough, they may have some creative solutions to fight fires in the interim after getting to safety and making that call to 911. An easy situation to imagine is a waterfront house that may require a fireboat. It takes time to collect the crew, launch the boat, and power their way to the site – tides, currents, and weather allowing. A lot can happen in the first few minutes of a fire. Any help can be appreciated – and incredibly valuable.
Rural areas also have to guard against brushfires and barn fires. Long roads mean accidents can happen far from the station. Even places that are accessible by a pickup may be too windy and twisty to maneuver in a firetruck, which eventually also has to turn around and get back to the station. Some fires may even be on boats, both in the marina and off-shore.
A Unique Mix
At the other end of the scale is the unique fire district that is the Navy’s. Airports have special requirements and tools, and military airports have to handle even more specialized situations because of what their planes can carry. The need for an immediate response is an understatement.
Fortunately, while there are various types of firefighting arrangements, when the need is there they all gather to help each other. City, base, and rural doesn’t matter as much as ‘where is the fire and how can we help?’
If you haven’t heard much about the variety, great! That means the crews are doing what they have to do to stay out of the headlines. In firefighting, boring can be good. Too exciting can be too much. This is firefighting island style.
Whidbey has some other attributes worth remembering. Whidbey is a lot of small-town America wrapped around a city and a base. Most of it has fewer people because it is rural. That also means that firefighting crews can sometimes be understaffed. (Pay attention to the election initiatives to see their current situation.) While rural can be quaint, sometimes the small-town nature that leads to smaller firefighting crews becomes critically apparent. A few places have paid firefighters, but much of the island is served by a few stations with a few paid firefighters who rely heavily on backup volunteers. They have rules to follow, just like the rest of us. (In 2018, another fire department in WA was cited for violating the state’s version of OSHA’s two-in two-out requirement.) Of course, more paid firefighters mean they need more budget. Not an easy problem. Think about that. A few paid people; and other people who risk their lives for us for free. They deserve greater thanks than they receive. (Please, volunteer!)
Surprisingly the bulk of their workload comes from medical emergencies. Over 60% of their time is spent with Basic Life Support calls where they work side by side with the paramedics. In some places that is over 80%. They have to be ready for everything: motor vehicle accidents, rescues on land or on water, storm responses, traffic control, power outages, and downed lines. It isn’t just about fires and ambulances.
So much for sitting around the firehouse. These people are busy.
How you can help
Of course, there are ways to keep them less busy (and keep costs down). Much of this is variations of the messages we’ve heard since school: follow safety instructions, keep fresh batteries in smoke detectors, make sure any electrical work is done right, remove trash and other flammables. Some things are even simpler: don’t leave burning candles or fire unattended, don’t burn during burn bans, handle fireworks legally and safely. Keep fire extinguishers handy and up-to-date.
There are plenty of other precautions, but that’s part of being a responsible adult.
How this relates to homeowners on Whidbey
Understanding a place’s fire situation is also something to keep in mind when considering buying a house. What is the firefighters’ response time? Where’s the nearest hydrant or nearest firehouse (is it even staffed)? Is the house marked well enough for a crew to be able to find it in the dark, maybe during a storm? Your insurance company may have some ideas to add to the list.
If you live in rural Island County some additional services they might offer include: installing high visibility house address numbers; home safety surveys to reduce the risk of harm from fire, accident, or illness; smoke and carbon monoxide detector check; fire inspections for businesses; CPR training; child car seat safety checks.
Chief Helm says “In an emergency, we need to be as efficient as possible, and the partnership between homeowners and the fire department is critical. Maintaining reflective address signs and driveways that fire trucks can navigate down is very important. One of our biggest hurdles is locating the emergency in a hurry, and then navigating a driveway that may or may not be able to handle a 40,000lb, 11-foot tall truck. Many times, the storybook-style narrow wandering lane, sounds peaceful and relaxing, but can pose serious problems if our trucks cannot access your house. Please remember to maintain not only driveways but the surrounding vegetation and hanging branches that will damage a truck the size of ours. Together with your help, we make this Island a safer place to live and work. We are more than happy to visit your driveway and test fit our apparatus, as well as bring you a reflective address sign anytime.”
One of the most delightful rural traditions on Whidbey is the annual Santa Mobile where Central Whidbey Fire Department drives around different neighborhoods with Santa Claus on top of one of their Fire Engine for multiple nights in a row in December. They will put out a schedule and a map on their Facebook page in preparation every year. Kids love it! It’s also a fundraiser for collecting food and donations for the food pantry in Coupeville.
Fortunately, most folks pay attention to safety. It’s part of being a homeowner and a good neighbor. Do enough of those boring but necessary steps, and free up time to relax and enjoy the rest of island life. Just check for burn bans before stoking up a campfire.
If you have additional questions about firefighting island style your reliable Windermere real estate agent can help you get them answered. Don’t have an agent? Connect with us here.
Whidbey Island is a beautiful and picturesque destination located in the Puget Sound, just a short ferry ride from Seattle. With its stunning natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and abundance of outdoor activities, it’s no wonder that Whidbey Island is a popular destination for travelers and residents alike. In this blog, we will explore the top 10 best things about Whidbey Island, from its scenic beauty to its thriving arts and culture scene.
Top 10 Best Things About Whidbey Island
- Scenic beauty: Whidbey Island is known for its breathtaking views of the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. Whether you are driving along the winding roads or hiking through the forests, you will be treated to stunning vistas at every turn.
- Outdoor activities: With its numerous parks, trails, and beaches, Whidbey Island is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you are into hiking, biking, kayaking, or just soaking up the sun on the beach, there is something for everyone on this beautiful island. One of our favorites is Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve in Coupeville.
- Small-town charm: Despite its proximity to Seattle, Whidbey Island has a laid-back, small-town feel that is perfect for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. The island’s charming towns and villages offer a variety of local shops, restaurants, and breweries that are worth exploring.
- Local produce and seafood: Whidbey Island is known for its rich agricultural heritage, and the island is home to a number of farms that produce fresh, locally grown produce. The island is also home to a thriving seafood industry, with local fishermen bringing in a variety of fresh, locally caught seafood. Seabolts comes highly recommended.
- Wineries and breweries: Whidbey Island is home to a number of wineries and breweries that offer tastings and tours. These local businesses offer a chance to sample some of the best wines and beers produced on the island.
- Arts and culture: Whidbey Island is home to a thriving arts scene, with numerous galleries, theaters, and music venues that offer a variety of performances and exhibitions throughout the year. The island is also home to a number of festivals and events that celebrate the island’s rich cultural heritage.
- Accommodations: Whether you are looking for a luxury resort or a cozy bed and breakfast, Whidbey Island has a wide range of accommodations to choose from. The island’s many hotels, inns, and vacation rentals offer a variety of options for travelers of all budgets and preferences.
- Dining: With its abundance of locally grown produce and seafood, it is no surprise that Whidbey Island is home to some excellent restaurants. From seafood shacks to fine dining establishments like Frasers Gourmet Hideaway or China City, the island has something for every taste and budget.
- History and heritage: Whidbey Island has a rich history and cultural heritage that is worth exploring. The island is home to a number of historic sites, including Fort Casey State Park, which offers a glimpse into the island’s military past.
- Accessibility: Despite its rural location, Whidbey Island is easily accessible from Seattle and other major cities in the region. The island is just a short ferry ride away, making it a perfect getaway for those looking to escape the city for a few days.
Whidbey Island is a truly special place that has something for everyone. From its breathtaking views and outdoor activities to its charming small towns and delicious local cuisine, there’s no shortage of things to see and do on this beautiful island. Whether you are planning a weekend getaway or a longer vacation, Whidbey Island is the perfect destination for those who love nature, culture, and a slower pace of life.
If you are thinking about moving to Whidbey or just have questions about the area please do not hesitate to connect with us here.
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Horses have been a prominent animal throughout history, dedicated to their human’s side. Many would go as far as to suggest that horses, just as dogs, cats, and other pets can be man’s best friend. Like other pets, horses can contribute to the health, wellbeing, and happiness of their humans so much so that there have been people that contribute overcoming their mental illnesses to using a technique called Equine Horse Therapy. Likewise, many children have found companionship in their horses and have grown to learn valuable life lessons from them.
While we as humans receive so much from these amazing animals, it is equally important that we pay attention to their health, wellbeing, and happiness as well.
If you are new to the equestrian lifestyle here are a couple of tips to keeping them happy:
1) Consistent Exercise:
Horses, just like us need daily exercise to stay healthy and fit. A daily workout helps to reduce your horse’s stress and allows them to release pent-up energy. While it might not look like the typical gym workout, working out with your horse by training can be beneficial for both you and your horse.
2) Keep Vaccinations Current:
Like humans, horses also need vaccinations and it is important that they stay current, or like humans, they can get sick. Having the proper vaccination in a timely manner helps you keep your horse healthy, fit, and happy.
If your horse gets sick, it will take a lot of energy for it to fully recover. Keeping your horse on a vaccinations routine not only will help prevent your horse from getting sick but will also help your horse to recover against the more serious diseases more easily.
To ensure you are providing your horse the best care and keeping regular on its vaccinations, you can ask your vet for a list of vaccines he/she suggests you give to your horse and which ones are most important for your horse to have. If you don’t currently have a vet, click here for a list of ones in our area.
3) Your Horse Needs a Safe and Comfortable Environment:
Here’s one that lies near and dear to our hearts. As real estate agents, we know just how much we as humans want our homes to keep us safe and comfortable. Similarly, your horse not only deserves but needs housing that not only keeps him safe from things like storms and prey but also makes him comfortable. If your horse lives in a barn, provide them a stall and protection. If they live outdoors, they need some way to get out of the sun. Often a run-in shed, or shady trees can give them protection from the elements they need. Additionally, you will need to provide them with a dry walking area, grass, rubber mats, and hoof care.
Not all properties are created equally. When looking at properties, it is important to make sure it is sufficient for your horse and easy for them to maneuver and permitted for horse use. If you need help determining whether or not a property is viable for your equestrian needs reach out to our equestrian advisors here.
4) Good Nutrition:
We know that when we eat junk food, we feel, well like junk. Similarly, your horse requires a diet that can fuel the energy they need to stay fit and healthy. The digestive system of your horse is designed to process large amounts of fibrous foods regularly.
To keep the horse’s digestive health and increase their energy level, you should include grass, hay, and grains in their regular diet along with a lot of fresh CLEAN water. Including traditional mineral blocks into their routine will help your horse maintain an optimal diet. Check out these great places on Whidbey to purchase food for your horse.
5) Your Horse Needs a Dentist Too!
Have you ever been petting your horse when he decides to give you a big lick across your face?! We have too. That’s how we know it is of the utmost importance for your horse to have a dentist too. You should anticipate a checkup about once a year. Like humans, horse teeth grow. However, unlike humans, horse teeth continue to grow and could potentially become damaged by opposing teeth if not properly taken care of. Because their teeth continue to grow it is important for them to be filed regularly to ensure the horse is comfortable when he eats. Could you imagine trying to eat if your teeth hurt you?
Without regular dental check-ups, your horse could develop problems that could lead to more serious problems like colic and choke.
6) Their Hooves:
It is important to take care of your horse’s hooves, by cleaning them and trimming them regularly. Like humans, every horse is different. The growth at which your horses’ hooves grow may be vastly different from that of another’s. However, it is often common for hooves to grow in between 4 to 8 weeks. You can begin trimming them after that.
7) Visit Your Horse Regularly:
The bond between you and your horse should be very strong like the friendship between you and a best friend. You will develop this bond over time by spending adequate time with them. You should expect to visit your horse daily if possible.
But also, like humans, your horse needs equestrian friends too. So get out and make friends with similar interests as both you and your horse.
At the end of the day…
In this amazing shot by Willie Shaw at Team Shaw Photography, you can see the actual harbor of Oak Harbor, the marina, Maylor Point with its iconic white radar dome, the spit to Polnell Point, and the snow-covered Cascade Mountains. Phenomenal views like this one can be seen while driving all over Whidbey Island. Winter makes these vistas even more stunning by providing clear air and snow-capped mountains in every direction. This is just one of the reasons a drive down the length of Whidbey is designated as an official scenic byway called the “Whidbey Scenic Isle Way”.
Written by: Kristen Stavros
16 September 2021
There is a general feeling amongst brokers that the Oak Harbor market has softened up just a bit. As Branch Manager and Co-owner of Windermere Whidbey Island I pay close attention to what my brokers are seeing and feeling out there in the market. When I begin to sense a theme I go to the numbers to see if they are telling the same story.
I’ll be really curious to see how these numbers change when we can add September data to them but I’m seeing the teensiest sign that there may be some easing.
For the first time all year, we’ve seen a dip in closed sales in August.
At the same time, new listings continue to rise every month.
Average days on market has plateaued.
Does this mean buyers can start getting homes for less $$$?
The answer is emphatically, NO. As you can see from the graphs below prices continue to climb, inventory is still at a record low, and homes are still moving off the market incredibly fast. This just means that instead of being up against 10 other buyers you now may be up against just 2-3 other qualified buyers. Instead of great homes going for up to 10-20% over list price, the good ones may just end up 5-8% over list. The pressure on buyers is still decidedly strong but the dial has been turned down ever so slightly.
Average Price Per Square Foot.
Months’ Supply of Homes (based on closed sales).
Average Days on Market.
Sellers still have a fantastic advantage in this market but things are changing weekly so we are encouraging sellers to not get too greedy or assured because doing so may mean you overprice the market, lose the opportunity to garner multiple offers out of the gate, and ultimately make less profit on your home.
Working with a smart and sophisticated listing agent has never been more important in the previous 3 years than it is RIGHT NOW. You need someone who is really going to take their time analyzing the market against your specific home before giving you pricing advice. Call us today to be connected with a market pricing expert!
This analysis focuses just on the Oak Harbor market but we have the same analysis going on for all of Whidbey Island! If you are interested in knowing more about any aspect of Whidbey Island real estate let us know and we are happy to share.
Whidbey Island straddles the 47 to 48th parallel. This means the summer brings gluttony of sun, so much that black-out shades are a staple in Pacific Northwest homes. Although, this abundance of light is sometimes hard to remember during the darkest days of winter when the sun only passes by at a shallow 45 degrees above the horizon in the South and keeps us in darkness 15.5 hours out of 24 on our darkest winter day. These extremes are affected even more depending on where we live, what direction our property is “facing”, and how much tree coverage we have. We consider the direction property is facing as the direction of the major view or placement the outdoor area is oriented towards. So if you enter a home on its east side but the outdoor area is on the west side with a deck/patio and view we would call this a west-facing home.
In the following sections, we will discuss the pros and cons of the four major directions that homes face or are oriented towards on Whidbey. Our focus will be on water view properties but the info will work for some territorial or non-view homes as well. We hope you find this helpful and that you will take this into consideration when buying or selling your home on Whidbey Island.
This is likely the least sought-after direction for the sole reason that during the winter months there are often large sections of the North facing beaches that never see a ray of sun because of hill or tree coverage. There are only a few sections of shoreline that are facing the true North on Whidbey. Some of these are the charming Town of Coupeville and the City of Langley that no one can resist! There are some sections of shoreline east and west of Coupeville along Madrona Way and near Long Point that are mostly shaded in the winter but absolutely delightful in the summer.
There are numerous sand points on Whidbey with a north-facing side that get a lot of sun because they jut out in the water like Long Point, Snakelum Point, Harrington Lagoon, Whidbey Shores, and Sandy Point. Dugualla Heights is another kind of anomaly in that it gets more sun because it is not heavily treed, has an open bay, and flight line that gives it more exposure. These nuances are one of the many reasons it is helpful to have a hyper-local full-time Windermere broker to be your guide!
If you are a morning person and just relish a warm cup with a view of the sun rising over the mountains, water, or horizon then an East facing orientation is for you! You are in luck because Whidbey Island has a majority of East-facing shoreline and the hilly nature of the island offers a plethora of view opportunities for the Eastside. Many of such views include the Cascade Range and Mt. Baker to admire. They can really put on a show when it is clear. The only downside is that you lose the sun in the mid to late afternoon on Eastern shorelines.
The major benefit of living on the Eastside is that it is the more protected side of the island so there is not as much wind and wave action. Occasionally, an unusual day will occur when there is a wind howling out of the South where the fetch created across the long body of water in Saratoga Passage can really kick up some waves! But this can also make for some amazing photo opportunities.
South-facing properties are a pretty rare find on Whidbey Island because of Whidbey Islands’ long north/south orientation. If you are a person that lives for the sun you will want to seek out one of these South-facing properties. Unlike the North facing properties who often get no sun during the Winter, these South facing properties get every bit of light possible all year long even during the winter pouring into their South facing windows. In fact, because of the low angle of the sun in the winter, it can be more piercing than in the summer when it is placed directly overhead.
South-facing beaches tend to be the most sought after for wading, swimming, or just lounging on the shore because they are typically a lot warmer.
Penn Cove Road and Polnell shores not only enjoy South facing beaches but are also on the more protected East side of the Island. One of the warmest sandy public beaches can be found right at the end of Monroe Landing on the Northside of Penn Cove. If you are looking for the best sandy public beach that is South facing on the bottom half of the Island Double Bluff beach just cannot be beat AND you can bring your four-legged friend for an off-leash romp! Read more about it here.
Sunlight Beach and Shore Avenue in Freeland have some of the highest-priced homes on Whidbey because of these unique attributes. Except for the rocky beach and jet noise Keystone has exactly the same view aspect but for half the price.
If stunning sunsets and enjoying the warmest part of the day on your property is what you are after then you should be looking for a West-facing view. Sipping an evening cocktail or cup of chamomile tea while watching the last rays of light dip over the horizon is just bliss for a lot of people which is why the West side of Whidbey has some of the highest-priced homes and sought after neighborhoods. Yes, the wind can be a little more fierce as it hits the West side of Whidbey dead on when it howls through the Strait of Juan De Fuca in the winter but this can also be a highlight as you watch a winter storm take shape from the comfort of your couch. If you are on the edge of one of our high sandy bluffs on the West side of the Island you should also expect to deal with blown sand, saltwater, and the corrosion that comes with it. Some West-facing homes operate more like a ship at sea than a stick-built home. The sunsets though… Definitely worth it if that’s your jam!
Some of our favorite West facing neighborhoods are Sierra and Ledgewood communities because the sloping topography allows a lot of homes to have stunning views without having to own waterfront property. The canal community of Lagoon Point is a unique West-facing community and of course, anything along West Beach Road is likely to have this coveted orientation.
50 miles South of the U.S./Canada border and 25 miles North of Seattle lies Whidbey Island, an incomparable destination for nature lovers and bird enthusiasts. On Whidbey, you can get lost for hours and find yourself mesmerized not only by incredible views but by a breathtaking variety of birds.
Whidbey Boasts 148 miles of winding shoreline, 6 state parks, 4 lakes, hundreds of miles of trail, and a ridiculous variety of habitats from bogs to estuaries to the prairie. It is not surprising then that Whidbey accommodates roughly 250 resident and migrant bird species.
Birdwatchers will declare some of the best times to watch for birds on Whidbey are:
Late April through May you can expect to be woken early by the Songbirds singing a pleasant tune.
Late July through September It is hard not to miss fat red-breasted Robins filling the apple trees and spot migrant visitors from the north like wigeons, ducks, coots, waterfowl, and red-tailed hawks.
November through mid-March is a great time of year to watch for Northern Shrike, Bald Eagles, and other raptor-type birds.
Best places for birdwatching:
If you are just trying to take advantage of easily accessible shoreline almost any time of year works. Some of the best places to watch for shorebirds birds on Whidbey Island are Penn Cove, Keystone Landing, Fort Casey State Park, and Dugualla Bay.
If you don’t live on Whidbey and are coming just for birdwatching be sure to schedule more than one day for viewing. Plan time so you can experience multiple locations, each with its unique features. To better understand all the places you can access the shoreline you really need to buy Getting to the Waters Edge! We sell it at our Windermere offices both in Oak Harbor and Coupeville.
Frequently asked questions:
Some people wonder if there is a time of day that birds are most animated. Typically speaking most birds are bustling around sunrise and sunset but that rule does not apply to all birds. For example, the morning is typically the best time for spotting diurnal species, while nocturnal species are generally spotted in the evening, but it really depends on the bird and the time of year.
Whidbey Island is native to species like Eagles, Northern Harriers, wading birds, loons, grebes, sea ducks, including Harlequin Ducks, dabbling ducks, Black Oystercatchers, Common Yellowthroats, Marsh Wrens, and more. It is also is a temporary home for migrant birds who frequent the island seasonally for the island’s ideal breeding habitats. But do not be fooled. Some birds like robins, hawks, cardinals, finches, sparrows, and more stay here all year but they seem to “return” because they become active again during the spring through fall seasons after they have bundled down in their nests and shelters during the winter.
To learn more about the birds that can be spotted on Whidbey and a guide for when you will likely catch a glimpse check out this detailed Whidbey Island Bird List created by the Whidbey Audubon Society.
Here are some of our favorite spots on Whidbey to watch for birds let us know your favorite spots in the comments below.
Staying Cool This Summer
Water activities are something particularly special to Whidbey Island. After all, we are completely surrounded by water. With the sun making more and more guest appearances in the sky you can place a good bet on the expectation of increased activity on the waves. Between kayaking, paddleboarding, sailing, and more; Whidbey shores offer quite a bit of enjoyment for those willing to get wet.
Below are just a few water activities frequently seen here on Whidbey.
Kayaking is easily an island favorite when it comes to water sports. The flexibility of kayaking regardless of weather and the ability to do it alone is a HUGE plus for many. Don’t have your own Kayak? Rent one from Whidbey Island Boats and Boards where you pick the location and they deliver the kayaks and paddleboards anywhere on the island.
Another island favorite, especially in the summer, is tubing! The wonderful thing about tubing is the community feel to it. It’s a great activity that brings people together and almost always results in a few humorous stories.
Want to kick tubing up a notch? Water skiing is for you! This sport requires a bit more resilience and core strength, but once you get it down you are sure to leave the water with some epic pictures of yourself.
Paddleboarding is a slightly newer interest on the island, but well deserving of the hype. This sport is made for those who simply want to enjoy the water. Sit, stand, lay down, it doesn’t matter! Paddleboarding allows you to enjoy the sea the way you want to.
Sailing is a Whidbey Island classic. There is a long history of sailing on Whidbey that has been passed down from generation to generation.
Another beloved activity on Whidbey is boating. Avid boaters will get out on the water any chance they get to relax atop the calm waters surrounding Whidbey. Take in the scenery, sunbathe, read a book, or play a game. All are welcomed while relaxing at sea.
Perhaps fishing is more up your alley for a fun relaxing time. The great thing about fishing is that you can do it by boat or by land and Whidbey offers a plethora of opportunities.
Splash Pad and Lagoon at City Beach
Maybe you have littles that can’t quite participate in some of the other activities yet. Oak Harbor Windjammer park offers a family-friendly splash pad and lagoon to keep the whole family cool on these hot summer days.
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