Sea nymph

Sea nymph

My friend and great photographer Marcy Merrill lives full-time at Washaway, so she knows all the secret spots. She invited me to go for a paddle in the North River in her intrepid canoe, the Sea Nymph.

I’d driven through that area before. In fact, it’s one of my favorite drives, south on 105 between Tokeland and Raymond. It’s part logging, part protected marshland, so it’s completely undeveloped and swarming with eagles and blue herons. It was thrilling to see the underside of the bridge, comprised of huge old timbers, and the old log jams rising out of the water.

Marcy Merrill, paddling photographer.

It was a rare, fine summer day and Marcy knows where to go. Way down from the bridge, after a vigorous paddle past ancient trees and numerous birds (Marcy knows the obscure ones, like Kingfishers), there are a series of floating shacks.

If you were not in a boat, there’s no way you could find them. I liked that they reminded me more of Louisiana swamp shacks than Seattle fancy houseboats.

They are very small and have little dock space, and every one seemed to have only what the priorities were. A grill. Adirondack chairs. Propane tanks. Firewood.

Curiously, it was a beautiful weekend but no one was utilizing their shack. We saw one that had solar (good luck!) and wind (good idea!) power. I also enjoyed the shack signage.

"Terry's Coke High Estate."

"Slow down please."

"Our state government is being run by environmental communists."

Marcy was telling me an environmental group recently acquired a huge parcel of the wetlands, across from the logging, so now it can’t be developed and your swamp shack remains a secret. Duh!

Marcy kept joking about Environmental Nazis. I said, “Get your party straight, you’ve got the wrong outfits.”

Vee haff vays of making you green!

I told my coworker Leo this story and he sighed, “I wish we were being run by environmental communists! I would vote for them.”

July ladder

Meanwhile, at Washaway, enterprising July 4th types have built a beach access ladder. It is extremely well made, all smooth beach logs and tumbled lumber, pleasing to the hand and bare foot. My compliments to the chefs.

Red tide

There’s a red tide going on right now, so don’t eat the shellfish.

And if you want to be all self-referential and go around photographing your own shadow, you must tip your hat to photographer Lee Friedlander, who did it first.


About washybeach

Washaway Beach This Week is a blog by photojournalist Erika Langley. See more work at
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