Deception Pass

16 10 2008

Karen took a class with Body Boat Blade at Deception Pass last weekend.  They worked the ebb on Saturday and the flood on Sunday.  I got wet both days but pretty much stayed away from the pass.  This weekend was about Karen.  By all accounts she did really well!

Gorge Down-winder

6 09 2008

Ken, Heather, Fred, Bob, Karen & I met at Lewis & Clark Park then carpooled out the gorge, past The Dalles, to the mouth of the Deschutes.  Miller Island lies in the middle of the Columbia.  It’s about 400 acres and renowned for it’s native pictographs.  I had never been.  

The forecast for the day was 17 – 25 mph west winds gusting to 35.  Independently we had talked about leaving a car at Maryhill, unfortunately, we didn’t talk about it as a group


The winds were very manageable as we crossed to Miller.  We had decided to try a counter-clockwise circumnavigation.  Fred and I stayed more toward the middle and had some really nice surf waves.  We rounded the east end of the island and found a couple camped where we had planned to take out for lunch.  They were  VERY concerned about us!  If only they had known how much more sea-worthy we were than them 😉  

After Lunch we explored the Island a little bit and found some pictographs.  I plan on coming back to the island this fall for a night or two as I’m convinced that I didn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what’s here .  It’s a very spiritual place!

After lunch we quickly realized we weren’t going to circumnavigate the island and a paddle back to the Deschutes was truly going to suck.  We made the decision to paddle east to Maryhill a few miles away.  Once again, great surfing waves were enjoyed and sooner than we hoped we were amongst the windsurfers near the beach at the take out.  Fred was easily able to scam a ride back to the put-in.  We also had a back up offer!  

We stopped for Pizza & Beer in Hood River on the way back.  We found out the next day that Bob’s truck had it’s window smashed at Lewis & Clark.  Luckily he didn’t lose anything.  Karen also ended up losing her license somewhere along the way!

Winds ended up probably 20 – 25 gusting 35.  A few gusts may have been bigger.  The air temp was in the mid 70’s.  I wore a drytop and shorts and was very comfortable!

San Juan Islands

16 08 2008

July 30 – August 6

Karen had a class until 3:00 PM on Wednesday so we weren’t able to get on the road until about 6:30PM. We drove to Anacortes and spent the night. Thursday morning we caught an early ferry to Lopez Island.

I took a class with Body Boat Blade called San Juan Currents. This is the second time I’ve taken this class and have found it the most demanding. Me, Shawna & Leon and my four classmates met up and reviewed some basic principles of tide races, then headed to the put-in at Mackaye Harbor. The race happens on the flood and is quite remarkable. The flood was 4.8 knots and the winds weren’t really a factor. I had one swim in the morning after two failed roll atempts, but was able to sucessfully roll in the race. Unfortunately, the normal lunch landing was not available so boats were hauled up on rocks at a rathe brutal landing. The race built after lunch and everyone enjoyed surfing to their heart’s content. The paddle back was a little slower than the paddle out. Karen, had a laugh at our expense! We still had another day to go!

Day two of the class we paddle out of Mackaye Harbor to Long Island. Along the way we practiced navigation exercises and played in the current. We lunched on Long island, then put on the water to cross to Cattle point at about 90% of max flood. The water wasn’t as crazy as I remember it last time, though it might be because my skills have increased. Max was 4.7 knots and the wind was probably 5 knots from the north. We managed to catch the top of Goose Island after the crossing and stopped and climbed up on a rock to survey the area we just crossed. The crossing is probably only one nautical mile as the crow flies but we started out aiming up stream about 45 degrees to accomplish the crossing. We paddled up the Cattle Point and played on the eddyline before breaking out and crossing back over to Deadman’s Island at Max flood. After working our way around the island we broke out and paddled through the mellowing waters of Cattle Pass down to Fisherman’s Bay and the take out. After sorting out the car shuttle I went back to Joanne’s and met up with everyone. They had paddled down toward Mackaye and back before the currents really kicked up, then practiced various rolls. A pleasant evening was had by all, sitting on the deck eating wonderful food and drinking a couple beers before turning in after a couple days of fun and hard work!

It was nice to wake up Sunday morning & know I could sleep in a little! Karen got up at the crack of dawn and went on a morning paddle down to Lopez Village with Joanne for Coffee. I slept. About noon Jenny, Bob and I decided to paddle around the North end of Lopez, then down to Spencer Spit. We had the wind and current with us except the last mile which made for a nice leisurely paddle! Back at the house, Karen and I paddled a mile or two down to Shark Reef & back, then spent a little time working on rolling with Marcel and Henry. Both had great advice for me!

Jerry & Claudia cooked a wonderful Turkey dinner for everyone & soon enough it was time to say goodnight and Goodbye, as we had to catch the 7:15AM ferry to Orcas for Karen’s Performance paddling class. Joanne actually got up Sunday morning to say goodbye. I can’t tell you what a wonderful host she was!

We had a leisurely breakfast at The Sunflower Cafe, then met Karen’s classmates at BBB. I hung around then took Karen up to the lake for her class. Today would be a no-paddle day for me. Instead, I decided on a hike up Turtleback Mountain. I got very lucky and found very few people and some fabulous views!

I headed back to the park, set up camp, showered, then picked up Karen. She had a great day and was very excited about the training.

Day two of Karen’s class was at Obstruction Pass. I dropped her off, then went back to BBB and met Thomas from Copenhagen, then picked up a boat for him at Shawna & Leon’s. We met up with Joanne, Henry, Leslie & Don at West Sound. I had never paddled at West Sound and was pleased to find a boat launch – a rarity on Orcas! We spent a few hours on a nice leisurely flat-water paddle. After lunch on Victim Island Henry and Don paddled back to Lopez and the rest of us paddled back to the put-in.

Karen had another great day of training. I picked her up at the Pass, we cleaned up, then went to Shawna & Leon’s for a barbeque with them and Thomas who has been staying alternately with them and Matt & Djuna. Way too much food was consumed – Pork chops, sausage, oysters, salmon, salad, veggie kabobs and on and on! Time got away from us and soon it was time to head back to camp. We should have taken them up on their offer to camp there. It was much quieter than the campground! Next Time!

Tuesday morning we said our goodbyes, caught the ferry to Anacortes, then managed to be the last car onto the Ferry to Port Townsend. We got lucky and managed to arrive in P.T. in time for a pint at Port Townsend Brewery, then dinner at The Fountain Cafe before retiring for the night.

We actually managed to get on the water on Wednesday. We put in at Potlatch State Park and paddled over to Union. The wind kicked up against us a little on the way back. Wouldn’t you know I fell out of my boat & Karen had to rescue me 😉 A little while later Karen came out of hers and I returned the favor. A little rolling practice and it was time to head back to Portland.

Another fantastic trip which ended too soon!

Cascade Head

22 07 2008

Sunday Karen, Ken, Heather and I met up at Cascade Head.  Cascade Head is at the mouth of the Salmon River, between Lincoln City and Pacific City.  The forecast was for North to Northwest winds 10 – 15 knots building to 20-25 knots in the afternoon, wind waves 1′ building to 3′.  Swell was 4′ at 13 seconds.  We put in just after low tide at Knight Park, the boat ramp a little less than 1 mile from the mouth.  It became very clear as we paddled down the river that the winds were developing early.  The surf at the mouth was no problem but the gusts were really stopping our momentum!  We played amongst the rocks and a couple caves.  Karen got brave and entered the largest of the caves, which one could paddle back into probably 100 yards.  This was a friendly cave as it maintained adequate width to spin the boat around clear to the back of the cave and the swell surge wasn’t really an issue since it was from the NW.  Ken and I decided to poke our noses out and around the next point.  The ladies decided to hang tight.  Once we left the shelter of the headland the wind became more of a challenge.  I made our way between and around the rocks to the next big wave which I billed “Stinky Cave”.  It was about as deep but not as wide.  Cormerants had been nesting deep in the cave which is where the new moniker came from!   We played a little bit amongst the rocks on the paddle back to the ladies, then decided to make for the beach for lunch.  It was a very quick trip with the wind and swell at our backs!  A boat of fisherman hailed us over and fed us brownies.  Usually our relationship isn’t that friendly with the fisherman but these guys were really friendly and chatty.  The winds had continued to build and were definately 20 with higher gusts.  We hung out on the beach, (watching the wind move our boats!) and debated heading out for some surf play.  In the end we decided that it would be a lot of work for a few quick surf rides and made the decision to turn and head back up river to the put in and call it a short day.  Afterwords we headed up to Pacific City and met Fred  & Bob, who had kayaked off the beach at the Pelican Pub.  After a good lunch, pint of beer & good conversation we called it a day.

Vancouver Island, June 27th – July 9th

17 07 2008

The title of this post is probably a little misleading.  We actually took our time, both on the way and the way back.  This was vacation and I didn’t want to feel rushed!  If you don’t want to read this treatise, click here to go directly to more photos than you ever wanted to see!

Friday, 6/27.  We were only going to Port Townsend, WA, which is a 4 hour drive, for the first night so the morning was spent getting the last of the gear together & loading the car.  Fergus gets nervous whenever the duffel bags of kayak gear migrates from the spare bedroom to the garage!  The drive up was uneventful, though slower than anticipated as there was alot of construcion happening on HWY 101.  We made it up in time to hit the Port Townsend Brew Pub for a pint of Hop Diggity while listening to a live jazz band in celebration of their 20th Anniversery.  After our pints, we took a walk along the picturesque Port Townsend Marina then made for one of our favorite restaraunts, The Fountain Cafe for a delicious meal.  It’s kind of funny.  We live four hours away but the waitress remembers us.  We’re regulars!  We checked in to the hostel at Fort Worden for the evening.

Saturday 6/28.  We didn’t have to be at the ferry terminal in Port Angeles for a few hours so we had time to hit the Salal Cafe for Breakfast.  The drive to Port Angeles was uneventful, though the car got nervous driving past the spot where I hit a deer 1-1/2 years ago! ($7,000 damage to the Subaru)  We had time to wander up to the bookstore in Port Angeles & each picked up a book for the trip.  Karen also brought a couple from home so we were well stocked for reading.  We met Ken & Heather in the line for the ferry.  They drove up from Portland that morning.  They were on a different plan to get to Gold River.  Our plan was to blast up all the way on Saturday so we’d have all day Sunday to visit Strathcona Park.  They weren’t going to arrive in Gold River until Sunday, so after sharing the ferry ride we parted ways.  Victoria always amazes me.  For the seat of the Province and one of the larger towns in BC, there is no easy way to leave the city!  Highway 1 is stop and go at traffic signals for probably 30 minutes before you even begin to leave the city, then there are random signals all the way to Nanaimo!  Once we got north of Nanaimo, the flavor of the island changed considerably to a more rural feel.  We made a quick stop in Campbell River for loonies and toonies and fuel, ($5.48 / Gallon), turned off Highway 1 onto the road to Gold River and left the bulk of civilization behind.  The road to Gold River takes you along Campbell Lake and Strathcona Lake, which we’d explore tomorrow.  We arrived about 7:00PM, checked in to the Gold River Chalet, changed rooms due to a backed up shower, had a nice dinner and turned in, anticpating the days to come!

Sunday, 6/29.  The morning was spent getting all the gear sorted and into dry bags.  I was still a little nervous that we hadn’t done a test packing of the boats, though it seemed we were taking less than last year.  Today was the day to visit the Park.  For some reason I used to think of Vancouver Island as relatively flat and pastoral.  That must have been because those were the parts I visited as a kid.  I’ve since learned that it’s a pretty dramatic landscape with steep mountains rising out the ocean & inlets, mountain lakes and glaciers.  Strathcona lake is surrounded by just such mountains.  We were amazed that on a holiday weekend, (7/1 is Canada Day), there were very few boats on the water.  In the states it would be a madhouse of drunken powerboaters and jet-skiers and would be surrounded by ticky-tacky stores full of rotund people buying ice cream, cotton candy and “souvineers”.  We saw none of that.  The highlight of the lake was Myra Falls.  As one approaches the south end of the lake you can look across the lake, probably one mile away, and see the falls through the trees, emptying into the lake.  The hike to the falls is a very easy 15 or 20 minutes to a spectacular viewpoint looking both up toward the upper falls and down to the lake.  Amazingly, there was only one other couple at the falls with us and they soon left.  We had it to ourselves!  On the way back to Gold River we spotted a resident of the park, our first, but not last, bear sighting!  Karen made me back up to get a good picture!  The other paddlers had all arrived while we were in the park, so our group of eight went out to dinner and to plan for tomorrow’s drive and departure from Tahsis, then back to the motel for one last gear check before bed.

Monday, 6/30.  We eight paddlers met for breakfast at 6:00 at the motel and then left for Tahsis one car at a time since the road is a 40 mile gravel road frequented by logging trucks, (though we saw none).  Tahsis is a community of 400 that sits at the head of Tahsis inlet. We found a public boat ramp, off-loaded the boats, and spent about an hour packing the boats up, (most everything fit!) and left “the city” behind for a week.  The first 3-1/2 miles is down the inlet before taking a sharp right hand turn through a 100 yard gap aptly named Tahsis Narrows.  The wind was non-existant and the current was in our favor.  We stopped for lunch in a small village of perhaps 10 buildings, called Esperanza.  Esparanza is primarily a Christain youth camp and the hosts were very accomodating, allowing us to stop at their beach for lunch and even use their bathrooms!  Beaches are a pretty rare commodity in this area.  Many of our stops over the next week would be tight gravel or rock beaches and if they were sand they were often “dumping” beaches where the waves were not friendly for landing or launching, (as Karen can attest!). We made another stop a couple miles from Esperanza at a lovely waterfall at Lutes Creek that would be a nice place for a group of one or two tents to stop if they weren’t pushing for Garden Point the first night.  Many of us went for a post-lunch swim under the falls!  The wind had been slowly building from the west, (into our faces), since lunch.   White caps were now clearly visible across Esperanza inlet and continued to build to 16 – 20 knots.  We crossed to the south and the beat our way into the wind for the rest of the day, hugging the shore, sometimes in wind waves into our faces or quartering.  It was a long slog!  People were beat when we pulled up to Garden Point.  Fred went in to check the beach while Ken & I went about 1/4 mile further to a point we had both marked on our charts as a possible camp spot.  The group came to Ken & me.  Our spot wasn’t as asthetically pleasing as the point but we learned that another group had tried to camp at the point but a bear wouldn’t leave so they did.  We also under-estimated the height of the evening tide and several of us ended up having to move tents further from the incoming tide before bed!  All in all, a challenging but rewarding first day.  Total for the day – 18.1 miles.

Tuesday 7/1.  Happy Canada Day!  This day’s goal was Catala Island.  Catala is one of the western most and largest islands in Nuchatlitz Inlet.  Karen and I were up at 6:00AM but apparently 30 minutes too late to see the bear ambling along the shore towards our camp.  Many rocks and harsh words were directed toward the bear without it seeming to mind.  Time to move on!  This was to be an easy day, playing among the rocks & caves.  We left Garden Point, traveled west along the north shore of Center Island and crossed north the the mainland.  We were finally experiencing the swell!  As we got closer to Catala and were preparing for the crossing we noticed a cave on the mainland about 1/4 mile away.  A couple of our group decided to wait while the rest of us headed in for play.  There were actually a couple interesting slots and caves.  I had backed out of one when I heard “wave” followed by the grinding sound a kayak makes when scraped along rocks.  Bob got caught on the rocks!  We didn’t think much of it as we finished playing, made our way back to the rest of the group, then across to Catala, where we landed for a break on the east shore.  We contemplated camping at this spot, but a friend had told us one of her favorite campsites was the SE Tip of Catala, and we respect her opinion as she’s circumnavigated Iceland, Haida Gwaii & many other incredible places!  I was helping Bob get his boat in the water and he yelled at me to stop – His boat was holed.  Sure enough, we pulled it back up the beach and discovered a hole the size of a pencil eraser and a steady stream of water draining from his back hatch!  Thank god for repair kits, (of which we had several).  A little 2 part epoxy & an extra 1/2 hour break and we were on the water and back under way.   We rounded the island along the SE side and recognized the camping spot as soon as we saw it.  Looking west was nothing but the Pacific Ocean, looking south and east was all the islands of Nuchatlitz Inlet.  This would be a good camp!  After dinner, we watched sea otters watching us, took a walk to to west side of the island where there was loads of wolf prints and finished off a great day with a campfire on the beach.  Total for the day – 10.5 miles

Wednesday, 7/2.  Today we head down the coast.  The day began a little foggy and we started out with a couple mile crossing so we made sure to take compass bearings before setting out.  We made for Rosa island and worked our way around the north, then east side.  We came to a scenic little cove and happened upon another group of kayakers – the ones who were run off Garden Point by the stubborn bear!  We chatted a little while, then shoved off through the myriad of islands and islets that make up Nuchatlitz.  The wind had picked up a little so we decided to stop at the last island before the crossing to Ferrer Point for a little lunch,  Karen and I tried our big experiment.  Corn Tortillas with re-hydrated beans and taco seasoning, (that we dried before the trip), cabbage and cheese.  It was delicious!  The crossing from our lunch island to Ferrer was a pretty exposed 2 miles.  The wind and swell was SW but very managable.  Ferrer Point is known to require a wide berth but on this day was no problem, though I wouldn’t have wanted to be too close to the massive sea lion hanging out there!  A little past the point Fred’s bladder was yelling his name so he, Don and Dave headed in to a tiny pocket beach while the rest of us bobbed in the swell for 10 minutes or so waiting for their return.  We continued South along the beautiful & exposed coast to the first real landing & camping opportunity, 3rd beach.  This would be our camp for the night.  We found a path through some rocks that eliminated the need for a surf landing which was welcomed by some in our group.  Surf landings in loaded boats can be a challenge!  After a few days of trying to fit six tents in an area appropriate for four, we had a huge beach to ourselves.  Let me be clear, we’ve always had the beach, (and/or island) to ourselves, but it’s not always easy finding space for six tents.  There was space nice space for plenty at 3rd beach!  The only downside was the carry.  One of the tricks of kayak camping is planning for tides.  The tidal exchange in this area during our trip was as much as 13 vertical feet.  In real life, unless you plan to land and leave at high tide, it means you’re in for some long carries of either gear or kayaks.  In this case it was gear!  It was still worth it.  We had the beach to ourselves, wolf footprints, a creek from which to filter water, a dining room table and another campfire with friends…

Total for the day:  15 miles

Thursday, July 3rd.  We were actually ahead of schedule as we had planned to spend last night in Nuchatlitz Inlet and tonight at Calvin Falls.  Calvin is purported to be one of the highlights of this portion of the west coast, so we set our sites there and figured we’d have a relaxing day and evening.  The wind had built some since the previous day, but nothing to crazy.  Probably 10 – 12 kts.  The launch was basically surf free and we headed way out to avoid the boomers & reefs.  As we snuck up to Skuna bay we noticed the reef outside was going off so we decided to land at Skuna bay where conditions were calm.  Dave, Don & Fred hiked around the point to get a look at what was going by Calvin Falls.  Their report was that we’d have a surf landing but very doable!  We all got back in our boats and headed out approximately 1/2 to 1 mile off shore to avoid the boomers & breaking waves on the reef, then made our way south then in toward the falls.  We could see it from off shore, cascading about 30′ down to the beach!

This was Karen’s first big surf landing and she did fine.  I went in first then gave paddle signals to Heather & Karen, directing them in.  Bob followed, got knocked over, but executed a great roll and glided on in!  As we landed we met two ladies with packs on their backs who were hiking the Nootka Trail.  They were just heading out but threw another log on their fire for us!  We set up camp and spent the rest of the day hanging out, surfing, (Dave, Don & Fred), filtering water, walking on the beach, etc.  This is definately somewhere I could hang out for a few days.  The only downside is that the weather was changing.  We could sense something was happening but couldn’t get a report on our VHF radios.  Hopefully tomorrow AM would bring a better signal!

Total for the day – 8.9 miles

Friday, July 4th.  I have no pictures from the most exciting portion of the trip!  We woke up Friday morning and things were definately different.  The tide was way out.  WAY out.  The wind had picked up from the south and though the surf was very managable, the seas looked a little more ominous.  We tried getting a VHF weather signal during breakfast to no avail.  Because the tide was so far out, the carry was brutal.  Empty boats probably weigh 50 – 65 lbs.  Gear can add another 60 – 80 lbs.  The trick is to put four people on each boat – one on each end and one on either side of the cockpit for the carry.  I was not feeling comfortable launching south into unknown weather conditions for a pretty committing section of coast.  There was really only one bail out spot between Calvin and Friendly Cove, which was Beano Creek.  Beano was about 5 miles away and very exposed to southerly weather.  As people were making final preperations to get on the water I made one more attempt at a forecast while standing at the surf line and managed to receive a weak weather signal.  S winds building to gale force, 1 – 2 meter swell building to 3 – 5 meters!  Our decision was made for us.  The bulk of our crew was strong, but those are big conditions.  Most of our crew also had not built any flexibility into their schedule & couldn’t afford to be pinned in at Beano Creek for a couple days, so the decision was made to turn around and let the weather chase us back to Nuchatlitz Inlet.  We headed out close to a mile off shore to keep us away from most of the boomers and the reef.  I took the lead, Don was sweep, Fred and Dave kept an eye on Karen & Heather & we let the wind & swell take us back.  The swell was quartering a little from the rear and would steepen and occasionally break.  Occasionally we’d also see an eight footer come through which definately increased the “pucker factor!”.  Once we’d round Ferrer Point we’d be in relatively protected water.  We were probably 2/3 the way back when I heard the hiss of a breaking wave.  I looked back over my shoulder to see the Karen’s boat flipped and heard Fred yell “Karen’s over”.  Just as quickly I heard him yell “She’s up!”  Karen executed a beautiful combat roll, her first, in some pretty big conditions!  Fred asked if she wanted to raft up, but she was fine to keep going, so on we went!  A t-rescue in those conditions in fully loaded boat was doable but would certainly be challenging.  Karen did a fabulous job, and as a result, made it easier for the group as well!  Sure enough, after close to three hours, we rounded Ferrer Point and got some protection from the wind and the swell.  There was a little pocket cove about 6 or 7 meters wide and 30 meters deep on the back side of Ferrer Point.  The group was ready for a pee break and some lunch so we started to head in.  Fred Landed.  I landed.  Ken & Don(?) came in followed by Heather and a wall of water!  In our rush to get people landed and bladders emptied we didn’t spend more than 30 seconds on the outside to see what was happening when the swell entered the cove.  About every minute or two the swell would build to walls of white water & dumping waves, then everything would turn peaceful again.  Heather was surfing toward Ken’s head, Ken got flipped and his boat filled with water & turned into a 500 lb steamroller.  It was all rather exciting and dangerous.  Lesson learned!  Let’s just say we were careful leaving the beach! We launched the paddlers one at a time, (and well timed).  At lunch we talked about where to camp and what the plan was.  We decided to head back to Rosa Island, which is pretty centrally located, and spend the last two nights there.  Our gear was pretty wet from last night’s rain at Calvin Falls.  Rosa is about 3 miles from Garden Point.  It would be a long slog back to Tahsis the last day but by staying two days at Rosa we wouldn’t have to break & reset camp to move only three miles.  We made the 2 mile crossing in calmer conditions, (saw whales!), navigated around islands 37, 40, 44 to Rosa, where we landed at the camp where we had visited with the kayakers two days previous.  This camp was different.  We were in the trees – Old growth Cedars – rather than on the beach.  But there was a privy at this camp.  The ladies were happy!  Total for the day – 17 miles.

Saturday, July 5th.   We all slept in since we wouldn’t be moving camp.  We had been getting up between 5:30 and 6:00 to eat, break camp and load boats to be on the water by 8:30 or so to avoid the afternoon winds.  Not today.  Karen and I awoke about 8:00 and figured everyone had left for day paddles. No one was stirring & Ken & Heather’s boats were gone.  Wait – Wasn’t there a log under the stern of our boats?  There’s Ken & Heather’s boats up in the trees…. Everyone’s boat was present and accounted for but not in the same spot!  The tide came in higher than expected and completely changed the beach.  Luckily everyone had tied their boats up and Dave heard boats moving at 3:00AM and got up and moved them up the beach if needed.  Thanks Dave!  It turned out everyone was either still in bed or had gone back to bed.  It truly was a lazy morning!  Soon everyone gathered in the kitchen and plans formulated.  Fred, Don, Dave & Bob would head toward some supposed caves and sea stacks, Ken &  Heather would fish in the kelp beds & Karen and I would head out toward islands 37 & 40 and rock hop.  The day was obviously windy from the south so we didn’t really go out the west sides of the outermost islands, but did have fun playing in the rocks and swell none the less.   We did decide to come up the outside of Rosa figuring we should circumnavigate the island since we were staying on it two nights!  We stopped for a snack and pee break in a neat little cove, then rounded the NE side of the island to find everyone else hanging out in the flat water working on strokes.  Apparently the group that was going to play in caves and sea stacks decided to paddle around Rosa instead and Ken and Heather didn’t have any luck fishing.  We truly did have a lazy day!  We all headed back to camp for dinner and a campfire on the beach for our last night on the water.  I waited until everyone went to their tents and stood on the beach, trying to burn this image into my memory.  Twighlight, the silhouettes of the mountains, water lapping against the rocks…just then I saw a mink swim across the little bay and scurry up on the rocks 20′ from me.  It truly was a beautiful night!  Total for the day – probably 5 miles. Sunday, July 6th.  The last day on the water.  We knew this would be our highest milage day for the trip so we all got up at 5:30 AM.  We had strung a tarp over our tent and camp so most of our gear was dry, (except for the tarp).  Loading the kayaks was easier as most of the food was gone.  We were on the water around 8:00 AM with the wind at our backs.  The south winds had receded and were now from the west.  It would be at our back for the day.  The three miles to Garden Point went quickly.  We decided to stop for a pee break but this fellow didn’t want to give up his beach so we rounded to the other side of the point where we were able to get our of our boats.  I caught a glimpse of another bear about an hour later as he ambled across a rocky beach and disappeared into the trees along a creekbed.  We stopped for lunch at Lutes Falls, where we had stopped on day one.  The tortillas held up the whole trip!  Though this was the highest milage day, it really was an easy paddle.  The current was also in our favor the bulk of the day and sooner than I wished we passed through Tahsis narrows and headed North to Tahsis, which was clearly visable, though 3-1/2 miles away.  The wind picked up but not enough to be a problem and a little before 3:00 PM we pulled ashore in Tahsis.  The paddling was over.  Total for the day – 20.5 miles.  After unloading boats and packing up the cars we took turns departing back to Gold River so we weren’t breathing each other’s dust on the logging road.  About 5 miles outside of Tahsis we scared this fellow up the side of the road.  Apparently he made an appearance for two of the other cars as well.  Back in Gold River, we showered for the first time in a week, changed into clean cotton clothes and met the group for one last bittersweet dinner together for this trip.

Monday, July 7.  At this point in the story I’ll spare you many of the details.  The exciting part of the trip was over.  After breakfast we made our way south to Cowichan Bay on Fred’s recommendation.  What a pleasant little town on the SE portion of the island!  We splurged and got a suite on the bay facing the marina.  We spent the afternoon exploring the town including an interesting wooden boat museum.  Our sleep schedules were still on kayak time so we managed a beautiful sunset and sunrise shot of the marina from our room!


Tuesday, July 8th.  Today’s big adventure, other than returning to the states, was the long anticipated first trip to MEC.  Canada’s version of REI!  We managed to come out only about $200 lighter, had lunch & made our way back to the ferry for a windy ride back to the states.  Another stop at Port Townsend Brewing for a Hop Diggety, (best IPA hands down), dinner at the Fountain Cafe, and sleep at the hostel.

Wednesday July 9th.  I had to make a trip by the Northwest Wooden Boatbuilding School on our way home.  It’s always fun to see what they’re working on!  Our trip home was uneventful.  Of course this was the highlight of the return!

And if you’ve stuck with the story for this long you truly do have a high pain threshold!  Feel free to ask any questions, and by all means, get out there on an adventure!


9 06 2008

Last weekend’s paddle was pretty lame, a splash & thrash session on Cascade lake on Orcas.  We had gone up to get Karen’s boat & for a myriad of reasons, ended up not paddling until our short paddle Sunday AM.  Not have been on a real paddle for two weeks had me itching for some fun.

We met up with the other 12 paddlers at Netarts Sunday morning.  The day’s forecast was NW wind @ 5-10 knots, 1′ wind waves, west swell 5′ at 8 seconds.  High Tide was 11:48 AM.  We put in about 11:30 and paddled to the mouth of the bay.

Things had changed since everyone had been there last so we pulled out on a newly formed sand bar to survey the situation.  Since the tide had just turned, things were breaking a ways out.  We sent Fred, Dave & Neil out to check out the possibility of getting outside.  They reported getting summarily thrashed so we made the decision that since a few of our group were not reliable rollers, to stay inside and play in the surf.

Netarts has an interesting variety of play spots.  We began on the South side of the mouth playing in the smaller surf.  It got bigger the further south we went, though the north end of the south side was also interesting as the waves kind of come from two directions.  Lots of fun was had by all.  People picked their play spots depending on their comfort level.

After lunch, part of the group wanted to check out the north side of the mouth.  I chose to stay & work with Karen in the smaller stuff.  People started getting tired & decided to drop back to a supposedly forming eddy.

Don, Greg & I decided to join the others on the north side.  At this point the current into the bay was running strong and the wind had picked up to probably 10 – 15 knots from the NW, or directly into my face!  I charged out and kept a stong pace.  Greg was lagging some & Don was kind of hanging back with him.  The problem is that it was a lot of work to just hold my position so I charged on!  It took probably 15 minutes of solid paddling to get out of the current.  Now the fun started with the larger & irregular wave action.  Don had caught up with me & we could see the original 6 paddlers were now all on the beach.  By this point Greg looked not-too-comfortable in the swell so Don hung back.  I worked my way through the swell & breaking waves to the beach for a much deserved rest.  Standing on the beach, we saw Greg go over & come out of his boat.  Don was there, but no help due to the Surf.

After about 10 minutes of rest we all piled back in and made our way back to the south side.  That was a lot of work for not much fun!  The south side had filled in very interestingly though! The area over the large sandbar at the mouth became a sea of clapotis and rips.  What a fabulous place to practice maneuvering & bracing in conditions.  It was a pity Karen wasn’t there to play!

Everyone was spent so we let the current carry us back into the bay.  The group Karen was with had been practicing rolls & a few rescues and were also ready to head back to the put in.   A short paddle later about 4:30 we pulled our flotilla out of the water and called it a day.  A good time was had by all.  Conditions were about as predicted, though the wind did pick up after lunch.  This is a great and relatively safe place to play on an incoming tide!


28 05 2008

We’ve figured out something about ourselves. If we don’t get our act together the night before, we futz around and waste time in the morning and then it’s too late to go very far from home. Sunday was that day, so instead we got our act together Sunday night so we could head to Ilwaco Memorial day morning.

The forecast was for high’s around 60f, 3′ swell, 2′ wind waves, NW wind to 10 knots gusting to 15 knots and 20% chance of showers. Part of the goal of this trip was to introduce Karen to some surf. We arrived at Cape Disappointment right about low tide and made our first stop at Waikiki. There was no surf! (well, maybe 6″ or so). I figured it would be small, given that it was low tide with a 3′ swell but this was silly!

We made our way over to the East side and launched about 1:30. There was virtually no current to fight against heading out past the Coast Guard Station. I thought we’d find some surf between the station and Jetty A, but once again we were kind of skunked. The surf was 1-2′ emphasis on the 1′.

Since nothing was holding our attention we made our way out to the end of A jetty. I tried to impress Karen with stories of how rough it can get in the rips at the end of the jetty but she just rolled her eyes and said let’s go around 😉 We didn’t, although I told her she could console herself with the knowledge that she could have gone around, and that she actually did paddle out past the end of the jetty!

After observing the Sea Lions hanging out on the “11” buoy, we turned around and made our way to Sand Island. I was hoping we would find a little surf, albeight dumping. We got lucky and found some 1-2′ surf, which was fun to practice maneuvering in and around.

After playing awhile we made our way South along the island. The current was now cooking through the wing dam at the southern tip, where a couple sea lions were busy eating their lunch. We gave them a wide berth, zipped into shore around the next wing dam and pulled in for lunch.

The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful as we worked our way up the east shore, though I did surprise Karen by jumping out of my boat so she could practice a rescue. Rounding the north side, we made our way back to the launch to complete the circumnavigation.

Wildlife sightings for the day included seals, sea lions, eagles, herons, loons, and brown pelicans. The conditions ended up as 2-3′ swell, no wind waves, west winds to 5 knots, temps and rain as predicted. Total distance was about 8 miles with lots of time spent playing along the way. Hopefully we’ll get a little bigger conditions at Netarts in two weeks!

Beacon Rock

13 05 2008

We had hoped to go to the coast this last weekend but the weather gods didn’t cooperate.  It was a lazy day on Saturday.  When we explored our options on Sunday we decided to head inland.


We decided to take the SOF for it’s second voyage and Karen would be in my Romany.  We put in around 12:45 at the launch by Beacon Rock.  Weather was in the high 50’s, low 60’s, winds were west about 6-10 mph.  As soon as we launched the current surprised me.  I am not stable, nor comfortable in the SOF.   I’ve decided that until I have a reliable roll in this boat I won’t be comfortable in dynamic water.  I actually had to work to make sure I had a proper ferry angle to get to Pierce Island!  I felt like a newbie in a looksha!

We paddled up the North side of Pierce and Ives Island and found a terrific eddy in which to practice entering & exiting current & eddy turns.  I’d guess the current was moving about 4 knots through this channel.  Karen made fabulous improvements in technique and also in comfort level.  She compared me to Matt Serra, the coach on the UFC ultimate fighting championship series.  I didn’t know how to take it – Was it because I was screaming high-pitched instructions or because I was actually helping??!!  She let me paddle my Romany for a few go-arounds in the eddy since I didn’t feel comfortable in the SOF.  

We made our way back to the put-in and practiced rolls for probably close to an hour.  Karen is looking very solid!  We did c to c, sweep, butterfly, shotgun, attempted forward ending and norsaq rolls, and finally called it a day. 

I managed to roll the SOF twice, though not comfortably.  I fear this may mean skinning, modifying the coaming and re-skinning.  I’m going to have an experienced SOF paddler try it first…