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Kayaking Anacortes to Friday Harbor (about 25 miles, 7-30-2011)

The event was a Peninsula Wilderness Club (PWC) event sponsored by Les Moore (who sponsored kayaking the Indian Island Circumnavigation 3 weeks ago).  I wanted to backpack the interior of the Olympics (NW Washington State) but there are still way too much snow in the high country (above 4000 ft), and needed to be careful about too much weekends away from home.  Debating dayhiking or kayaking, at the last minute, I chose to Kayak since this PWC trip looked like an excellent kayaking trip in San Juan Islands area (to learn the area where it has so many beautiful islands near the border with Canada.)

I tremendously enjoyed this trip (a paddling trip that I donít mind going by skipping my hiking trip): an unforgettable experience in open-sea kayaking (including capsized once),"the expansive views (as the hikers calls the views from the high country)," and excellent exercise (I got tired around 24 miles).  The diverse views of the nature along the coast of islands were simply "the expansive views": strange rock formation, a small island in the middle of Rosario Strait, kelp and seaweed along the shore, seals, sea birds, etc.  I got capsized once but nothing was dangerous as I was comfortable in capsizing in the water and there was a small chance of hyperthermia with dry suits on in the summer. 
 Many San Juan Islands (NW Washington State above the Olympics)            Our Paddle Route (from Les Moore)                                          A group picture just before launching the kayaks.

 Day 1 (Drove to Kingston, Ferry ride, Drove to Anacortes.  Drive around the "Loop" in the WA park.)

Charlie, Paul, and I left Bremerton around 1500.   We met up Les (from Port Townsend) and Connie (from Ocean Shore) at the Washington (WA) Park. Took Kingston ferry and drove to the WA Park (about 1 mile west of the Anacortes ferry terminal) at 1930:  Kingston ferry was busy (waited more than one hour).  Then, the drive along the I-5 from Edmonds to Marysville met with commuter traffic going at 15-20 miles per hour.   Our lessons learned was to take Port Townsend ferry to Key Stone (needs a reservation).  The WA Park had a very nice campground. It was jam packed but Les (our trip leader) reserved one hookup campground for us (for $24 per night).  Paul gave us a tour by driving around the Loop (within the WA Park), which was about 2-3 miles of paved road/trail.  We were glad to have some fire woods for a couple of hours.  We turned in at 2230.

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Day 2 (Epic kayaking from Anacortes to Friday Harbor, 25 miles, Average speed at above 4 knots, Capsized once, etc)
It started out with a thick foggy day but it was cleared to a blue sky day in the middle of our jaunt.  For this trip, I was ready to Kayak with full of energy being rested for 5-days after summiting the Mt Adams with the PWC hikers. We quickly paddled crossing the open ocean (Rosario Strait) to the South Eastern edge of the Lopez Island.  That's where I capsized.  We met with rough waves created by "tidal rip" or possibly a "tidal rapid".  I was comfortable with my Kayak and its stability, but did not know what I needed to do in that kind of turbulent water (not consistent waves) and I did not pay particular attention to what the others were doing.  I was washed away to a less choppy area (maybe less than 2 minute in the water) - I hung on to my paddle and secured my kayak placing my left foot inside the cockpit (as I almost lost my kayak by choppy water).  When the others arrived, I was quickly rescued less than 1 minute.  Then, Connie gave me a quick tip: keep the paddle in the water in paddling motion.  It made a lot of sense as the paddle was used for bracing.  The tip gave me a huge confidence staying upright and moving out of a patch of the bigger tidal rip for a couple more times !!! Avoided capsizing 4 times !!!  We moved along fast averaging 4.2 knots that included 2 stops and 1 lunch.  My both shoulders got finally tired about 1-2 miles before the Friday Harbor. .

I usually take lots of pictures but not so many pictures on this trip.  Because I was capsized and my camera was not water proof, I did not have any other pictures other than some pictures I took prior to capsizing and a few pictures I took with my cell phone on the way home on the ferry. 

We got up at 0600.  Launched the Kayaks at 0800.  We stopped by 2 places to relieve and 1 lunch stop. Arrived at the Friday Harbor Ferry terminal around 1520.  We took 1540 ferry, Friday Harbor to Anacortes (free ride with Kayak !).  Came back home around 2045 on the same routes (I-5, Edmonds Ferry, etc.).   What a fantastic kayaking day with the fellow PWC members !!!

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On the way back from Friday Harbor (using my cell phone):

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Here were some nice pictures from Paul:

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Below was our trip leader (Les Moore)'s trip description before the trip and his trip report in pdf (900 Kbytes) (Click HERE)::

This is Class III paddle. We'll leave Friday night and camp near Anacortes. There's camping at Washington Park and car parking there for $6/day. This will let us launch from Washington Park at 8 am, an hour before the max ebb current in Rosario Strait. The current will help carry us around the southern end of Lopez Island where we'll have lunch, waiting for the flood to develop. The flood will help propel us through Cattle Pass (between San Juan and Lopez Islands), and onward to Friday Harbor. From Friday Harbor we'll take the free ferry ride back to Anacortes, and continue on home.

We recommend that you bring a kayak carrier for loading your boat on and off the Friday Harbor ferry.
Trip Details:
Spend Friday night July 29 at Washington Park campground. From I-5 take Highway 20 west. Enter Anacortes on Spur 20 and take Commercial Avenue to 12th Street. Turn left on 12th (Oaks Ave.) and follow the signs (approximately 3 miles) to Washington Park.
1. Put-in at Sunset Beach will be at 8 am sharp Saturday July 30.
2 We'll cross Rosario Strait from Picnic Point (Washington Park) to Boulder Island (SE Lopez Is.). Course calculation: 3 kt/192 magnetic estimated mean current / 3 kt/222 magnetic bearing = 5.7 kt/209 magnetic course/5.56 nm/58 minute crossing.
3. From Boulder Island, we'll paddle around the Southern end of Lopez Island to Iceberg Point for lunch. This leg of the trip is 4.4 nm / 3 kt estimated speed = 1.5 hours (we'll have some current assist, too).
4. We should reach Iceberg Point by 11 am. We'll rest and eat lunch at Agate Beach Country Park (Iceberg Point) and start paddling again by 12:30 pm.
5. We'll paddle west from Iceberg Point to Cattle Pass to hit 2 pm maximum flood at Cattle Pass. This leg of the trip is 4.3 nm / 3 kt estimated speed = 1.4 hours (we'll have some current assist, too).
6. We'll cross San Juan Channel from Shark Reef (small rock) to Danger Rock (San Juan Is.). Course calculation: 2 kt/358 magnetic estimated mean current / 3 kt/303 magnetic bearing = 4.47 kt/325 magnetic course/2.82 nm/38 minute crossing.
7. From Danger Rock, we'll complete the last leg of our paddle around Reef Point, Turn Island and Brown Island into Friday Harbor (2.7 nm / 3 kt estimated speed = 54 minutes, with some current assist again.
8. We'll take out at Friday Harbor, attach our kayak wheels and board the next ferry back to Anacortes (free ferry). We should reach Friday Harbor by 3:45 and have plenty of time to catch the 4:50 pm ferry.
9. We can either put our boats back into the water at the ferry terminal and paddle 1.5 miles back to Washington Park, or leave our boats and walk the same distance back to our cars.

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