|The last piece ©2007 N. Smallwood
Water service is provided by the community as part of the annual dues. The water system includes two wells, a desalinization plant, a storage tank, and distribution network that makes water available to each lot. Check water for more detailed information on the water system, hook-ups, and water related policies.
Electricity for the island is provided by Orcas Power & Light Cooperative (OPALCO), 360-376-3500 through underground transmission lines. The original installation in the 1970s was direct burial, but after three decades the aging lines had begun to break down causing frequent outages. In a phased project from 2006 through 2008, OPALCO replaced the old line with cable in buried conduit, an installation designed for much greater durability than its predecessor. In 2005, OPALCO installed a new generation of meters that enable remote meter reading and power export to the grid should a lot owner generate excess power though solar or other alternative means.
Telephone and internet
Land line telephone access is through CenturyTel
. (1-800-201-4099). DSL is available through Century Tel, Orcas On-line
, (360-376-4124), and Rock Island Communications
These services use the phone lines and internet speed will vary depending upon your distance from the source. You may also want to check with these vendors regarding wireless service. Cell phone service is spotty and marginal. Depending upon where you are on the Island you may be able to receive a signal from Verizon or AT&T. For instance, Verizon and AT&T seems to work along Peavine Pass. Also, due to the Island’s proximity to Canada, calls from the island may be routed through British Columbia resulting in a roaming fee. Check your bill. Cell service providers will usually drop the fee upon request.
In 2015, Rock Island Communication, now a subsidiary of OPALCO, began installing wireless internet and cell phone transmitters in the islands. The internet signal is 4G LTE. The transmitters are T-Mobile equipment and, along with the internet signal, broadcast a T-Mobile cell phone signal, accessible with phones with a T-Mobile sim card, either T-Mobile itself or other carriers like Consumer Cellular or an unlocked AT&T phone.
The internet speeds through the Rock Island signal have been reported to be from twenty to eighty times faster than the DSL over the phone lines. Both the internet and cell phone signal varies on location but with transmitters now installed on Lopez and Blakely Islands, there appears to be signal everywhere on Obstruction. The cell phone signal is especially important as a safety issue, providing communication in case of an emergency.
Access to the island is available either via private boat, water taxi, or barge. The nearest boat ramp and landing is at Obstruction Pass on Orcas Island next to the county dock. The closest ferry landing for a car and boat trailer is Orcas Landing, an eighteen mile or forty minute drive from Obstruction Pass. Many members boat directly from Anacortes.
Docks and Beaches
The Obstruction Island Club maintains three docks, the North, South and West Docks. The North Dock Path is located between lots 29 and 30, the South Dock Path between lots 6 and 7, and the easement to the West Dock, the West Beach Path, is between Lot 43 and 44. Both the North and South Docks require climbing stairs to the Island. The West Dock was added in 2007 to provide easier access.
Each dock has a loading zone to ensure that everyone has a chance to unload their supplies. Boats are encouraged to tie up to one of the community mooring buoys or anchor out after unloading in order to provide dock space to others; this requires carrying a dinghy. The Club maintains six mooring buoys: two at the South Dock, one at the West Beach, and three at the North Dock. Club buoys consist of a tire surrounding a float with a triangular top, except for the Club buoy directly off the West Dock which is spherical. Private buoys are generally white and spherical.
In addition, the Club has beach access at the bottom of the West Beach Path between Lots 43 and 44. This West Beach is usually the landing site for building materials and vehicles barged onto the island. A few lots have their own beach access.
The two water taxis that service the Island regularly are the Paraclete(1-800-808-2999 or 360-293-5920: www.paracletecharters.com ) and Island Express (1-877-473-9777 or 360-299-2875; www.islandexpresscharters.com). Both depart from Skyline Marina outside Anacortes. Service from Bellingham is provided by Leap Frog Water Taxi (1-360-220-0538; www.leapfrogwatertaxi.com) departing from the Bellingham Cruise Terminal in Fairhaven.
There are several barge services available to island residents. San Juan Ferry & Barge (360-317-8486), San Juan Enterprise (360-293-7575), Island Transport (360-293-6060), and Pintail (360-317-8532) have been the most active services serving Obstruction in recent years. These barges will deliver larger trucks from pickups on up. The Island Express Charters (under water taxi) can carry smaller loads up to a golf cart size vehicle. Though loads occasionally originate in Anacortes or Friday Harbor, but most are picked up at the Obstruction Pass landing for the short run to the West Beach.
It pays to shop around since barges are often in the area picking up or dropping off loads. Costs can be reduced considerably if one shares trip expenses with other clients, usually in our case Blakely or other Obstruction islanders.
The Island easements offer access to all of the private lots on the island. These circle the central common land with spurs off the main loop leading to the lots on the northwest and southwest points.
The easements were originally developed to install and service underground utilities--water, electric, telephone--and had to follow the natural topography. Thus, in many areas throughout the community, the easement cuts across private property. As you transit the island, either on foot or by vehicle, please note that you are often crossing private property and return the courtesy by proceeding respectfully. Since the easements are unimproved, transit by foot or vehicle is at your own risk
The following community covenant
governs vehicle use on the island:
“All non-construction, privately owned motor (internal combustion engine power) vehicles such as trail bikes, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, go carts, automobiles and trucks shall be prohibited on Obstruction Island, except vehicles necessary to the construction of a members residence, electric vehicles or those approved in advance, by a majority of the board.”
In 1992 the Board passed the following motion to allow limited use of motorized vehicles.
“Moved that the covenant remain as written and that the board approve usage by members-only of small, quiet, motorized vehicles only for the transportation of groceries and other supplies, firewood, equipment, or other goods as necessary for normal use of the member's property, provided that recreational and other unnecessary usage remains prohibited and that the privilege will be revoked for a member at any time if, in the judgment of a majority of the board members, that member has abused the privilege by excessive or unnecessary usage, creating excessive noise, or unsafe activities with the vehicle.”
In September 2001 the Board approved extending usage to include transportation of persons with limited physical mobility.
Vehicles are to be kept on the owner’s property and are not to be left parked at the dockheads, on easements or on community property. Construction vehicles and excavation equipment should also be kept on the client's property for the duration of the job.
OIC maintains the position that it provides easements for utility service and access but does not maintain them as roads. Some easement sections may deteriorate during wet weather. And fragile utility lines under or along the easements are always a concern. Damage is most often caused by construction vehicles and equipment. Owners are responsible for repairing any significant damage they or their contractors might cause to an easement and should alert their contractors of their liability.
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