Hope & Skagit Islands Paddle (Apr 26, 2014)

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skagit_hope_coverConditions: day paddle
Gear: nothing special
Map: SeaTrails WA101 Deception Pass and Skagit Bay
Area: Deception Pass
Reference: The San Juan Islands Afoot & Afloat
Stats: 7.43nm (8.56mi) (for the loop)

I'm looking for a change. It's been a weird year. Franklin's death... Kinda got me thinking about a lot of things. Time to stop putting things off. Life isn't getting any longer ya know...

Franklin had been encouraging me to take the sea kayak class. Something more long term to think about he said, a bit kinder on the knees than the hiking and climbing. I never got around to signing up for a class last year. By the time I thought about it...the classes were well underway. This year, Franklin's accident kick started a couple of things for me. One was to join the basic sea kayak class with the Everett Mtneers. I logged on the site and found out...dang...the class was full! I'd be first one wait list if I registered. What the heck...I'll give it a try...if it's meant to be...it will be. Lo and behold...one person cancelled an I was in!

The class started out with a few weeks of instruction...the expected stuff...navigation, gear, tides and current, safety... Then came two field sessions, one in a pool to learn and practice the basics. Key was the wet exit. That session was followed later by an open water session. Same topics but this time, the environment was less "controlled". So with the class sessions ended and the two field sessions complete, all I needed to do was complete two student paddles. The club arranged for one totally dedicated to students. The benefit of doing this paddle was that I wouldn't have to transport my own gear (mainly the kayak). The club arranged to Kayak Academy for all the equipment that was needed and KA transported the gear to the site for those who needed it. I wasn't ready to buy a kayak so this option was perfect. I'd get to try out different gear and then purchase when I was ready.

I drove up to Deception Pass the morning of the paddle. Yuck. The weather was wet and rainy. At least the forecast had moderated a bit from the original forecast (~ 1' waves). I arrived early and others soon came in after me. It was still raining as we unloaded all the gear from the trailers and vehicles and lined up the kayaks along the beach. Then time to climb into the dry suits and make sure we all had the gear needed (paddle, spray skirt, pump, etc). Those of us renting tried getting into the kayaks we'd been assigned to adjust the foot pegs. I climbed in and...um...had a problem... Even with the pegs adjusted to their longest position, I couldn't get my knees into the cockpit. I'd been assigned a Wilderness Systems kayak and it's a low profile boat. The only way I could get my legs completely into the cockpit was to push my knees under the cowling. This wasn't good. I was afraid that if I did roll, I'd get banged up again trying to exit a kayak that was too tight. I'm still recovering from lots of bruising from the pool session several weeks ago. I was also worried about my achy knees and not being able to move my legs all day because I was crammed into a smaller kayak. It was doable...but it wasn't going to be comfortable. So after looking at lots of options, the only reasonable solution was for Max and I to swap out boats. He had a TideRacer Xcape-X and it's a high volume boat. I could get my legs in. Max was generous...very generous...we agreed to let me start out in the Xcape and then we'd swap out at the lunch spot on Hope Island. Max really wanted to try his boat out. Max ended up letting me use the Xcape all day. Thanks Max! I owe you :)

We started out padding (about 10am) toward the north side of Skagit Island. As we left Cornet Bay, the rain abated and blue skies appeared. The choppy water was nowhere to be found. Instead...pure glass...

We put in on a rocky beach on the north tip of Skagit Island (11:13am). A quick snack break and time to stretch out legs. There was one quick boat repair (a fiberglass boat had a crack...duct tape came to the rescue). Then we were off again...paddling SE towards the east side of Hope Island. There was a nice sighting of a young seal pup resting on a rock...mama we saw shortly afterwards in the open water. There was a slight detour to a fish farm near Lone Tree Point and then we headed south around a tiny peninsula on the SE side of Hope before we put in along a protected beach (12:40pm). Time for lunch! It was a nice relaxing break. Lots of fun getting to know the other students.

After lunch we continued padding wet towards Ben Ure Spit. The bit of open water between the west end of Hope and the spit was the roughest water we'd seen all day. Waves weren't big and I liked the boat I was in. It felt comfortable and I felt very stable in it. We continued north, hugging the coast as we headed towards Hoypus Point making a point to stay out of the ebb current heading towards Deception Pass. We arrived back at Cornet Bay Marina about 3:00pm.

Fun day! I'm glad the weather held out for us. Made for a beautiful day outside. Now...time to plan for the next trip!
 
Skagit & Hope Islands Slideshow

skagit_hope_map

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