-Paraclete Charters, http://www.paracletecharters.com

-Island Express Charters, http://www.islandexpresscharters.com



While Shaw Island has its share of millionaires - commuting to the mainland by private helicopter raises no eyebrows - there's also the more earthbound, some with an extra dollop of character. Everyone said I should meet Pete Nelsen, fisherman extraordinaire, whom some call "an iconic Shaw Islander." I caught up with him outside his beachfront home overlooking Canoe Island, on Indian Cove.

We chatted as he gutted two king salmon he had just caught aboard the well-outfitted powerboat he moors near the ferry landing.

"I got some beauties today," he said, showing off a 12-pounder and a 16-pounder, the sun glinting off their scales. "One came from Buoy 16 off of Cypress Island and the other from a secret spot."

Secrets are closely held by fishermen such as Nelsen, who was competing in a season-long fishing derby he had won three times previously.

The 72-year-old Bellingham native, who looks at home in faded jeans, plaid flannel shirt and a lot of gray whiskers, started fishing at age 14 on his father's purse seiner and came to Shaw as a logger in 1974. These days he likes making gravlax, which he cures with dill and washes down with Southern Comfort and tall tales. You can buy his own recipe of hot sauce at the Shaw store. Spend enough time with him and he might tell you about the Sasquatch he saw when he was 17.

What does Pete Nelsen like most about his island?

"It's quiet! And the fishing. And I can go clamming on my own beach … And I don't worry too much about getting run over, not like on the mainland."



GETTING TO SHAW ISLAND: It's a 55-minute ride to Shaw aboard Washington State Ferries from Anacortes if you get a direct boat; most sailings require stops at Lopez and/or Orcas islands first. Check schedules. Standard-size car and driver: $48.30 round-trip in peak season, additional for passengers. For schedules and wait-time alerts: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries.

LODGING: The quaint waterfront cottage (a former nunnery) next to Shaw General Store sleeps 4-6, with full kitchen, $150/ night. More info: http://www.vrbo.com/334848 or 360-468-2288.

To request a stay at Our Lady of the Rock monastery, contact Mother Hildegard at 360-468-2321 or mhildegard@rockisland.com.

MORE CAMPING: Besides Shaw Island County Park, Blind Island Marine State Park in Blind Bay offers four primitive campsites for campers arriving by wind- or human-powered watercraft. See http://www.parks.wa.gov/parks/?selectedparkBlind%20Island.

FOOD: Groceries are available at Shaw General Store, at the ferry landing. The store also has the tiny Silver Bay Cafe, which serves a menu of sandwiches, soups and hand-dipped ice cream.

MORE INFORMATION: Shaw General Store, http://www.shawgeneralstore.com or 360-468-2288.