Monday, May 11, 2015

Sea kayaking the San Juans in whitewater kayaks?

looking westward into the San Juan Islands

The spring road trip had brought us to Anacortes, Washington, known to be one of the best sea kayaking destinations in the world. 

After calling a myriad of sea kayaking shops near the San Juan Islands Avery and I were still without any usable beta. The local paddling community was still mourning from a double fatality from early in the month and handing out beta to non-sea kayakers wasn’t going to happen. Some Google research later, and we had a rough idea of tides and a couple camping options on Cypress Island.

camp on Cypress Island

I’m not exactly into paddling non-moving water but that was my first misunderstanding. The water between the San Juan Islands moves at speeds upwards of ten miles an hour. Determining the lulls between high and low tide wasn’t easy, and Avery and I spent close to two hours making a one mile ferry from Guernes Island to Cypress Island due to a minor tidal misunderstanding.

sunsets on the ocean are beautiful

The camping was gorgeous and the fact that we came ashore pre-season meant we had the camp and ample winter driftwood to ourselves.

not your average sea kayak

Checking the weather report before we took off, it looked as if we would catch a small storm overnight with light wind and rain. The ocean showed us who had the upper hand with driving rain and gusts of wind upwards of thirty miles an hour. The Coast Guard issued a small craft advisory, and I’m pretty sure our whitewater boats are smaller than what the Coast Guard fathomed.

awaking to a pair of bald eagles

The next morning we awoke to a clear blue sky, light breeze, and the sound of a mating pair of bald eagles in the trees above. It was exactly what we were looking for, a relaxing morning of instant coffee and fire toasted bagels. We waited and timed our route back to the mainland with the current. Our six hour paddle out turned into a three hour return while using the current in our favor. This included a curious chase where we were trailed by our new friend, an inquisitive harbor seal.

our new friend the Harbor Seal

Sea kayaking will never overcome my love for the river but it is a unique way to see the Washington coast.

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