Under the Narrows.jpg

Trip Report    

Beginner Sea Kayak - Tacoma Narrows

We toasted both of our now qualified graduates, Jenney from Seattle and Jennifer from Olympia! Photo credit: Jeff Evans

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • TIDES: STEILACOOM:13.5 @ 0432 / -2.3 @ 1146 / 13.7 @ 1911

    CURRENTS: GIBSON PT: -2.5 @ 0859 / S @ 1233 / +3.33 @ 1556 / NARROWS SOUTH END: -4.7 @ 0839 / S@ 1200 / +5.7 @ 1517

    WEATHER: Mostly cloudy, clearing in p.m., little or no WNW breeze, water calm to rippled under bridge, temps mid 50s- mid 70s, visibility good to excellent.



All of the paddlers except one no show were on time for the meeting at 0730 at the Steilacoom Ferry boat ramp.  Gear and boats were quickly unloaded.  Jenney parked her car at the upper lot ($8 credit card ok)  and stayed with the boats while the rest of us drove our cars to Titlow Beach and then returned in Fred’s car.  After a pre-trip huddle where good questions were asked and info shared we launched at 0915.  We wound up about a quarter of the way into the channel riding the dying ebb observing plentiful seals and various birds.  After about an hour we headed towards the eastern shore shortly before reaching the most southerly houses at the end of Day Island for a bio and snack break on the shore below the railroad tracks. Eventually we continued on and the group opted to slip inside the opening to the marina to check out Day Island.  We didn’t get very far though before running out of stinking water on the east side of the shoal that rises very inconveniently in the middle of the protected area.  Rather than going down the other side of the rock we elected to observe and assist Jenney in her solo and assisted recovery to fill her paddling requirement for the Seattle Mountaineers group. We headed to the opening where it was somewhat blocked from most of the viewing areas at Titlow and we stayed close to shore and the couple of houses next to it.  Nobody seemed to be home so we were undisturbed. It was some time along this point that we saw some porpoises.  Jenney successfully did her solo exit and re-entry and rather than eat up time to pump out her boat she just took it to the shore and emptied it with some assistance from Fred before getting back in.  Peter volunteered to be the swimmer and while it took some coaching Jenney eventually got Peter back into his boat.  I had hooked up a deck leash tow as we were getting pulled out into the channel. Once Peter was buttoned back in we headed straight towards the pilings at Titlow before turning north and heading towards the point next to the private park boat lauch just north of Titlow Beach.  There must have been 200 people on the beach from one end of the cove to the other, exploring the extremely low tide life along the shore.  I went a little ahead of the group to find by the time I had reached the bridge that the flood had already begun probably a few minutes before.  During a pause for the others to rest in the back eddy I briefly explained how to set a ferry angle to  maneuver a boat across current that was demonstrated by Fred.  Then the students followed me to try it for themselves.  Jenney returned to the shore accompanied by Fred while Jennifer, Peter and I spent a little more time in the rising current before heading back to regroup with the others.  I then explained the very basics of “mooning the current” to then peel out and head back towards Titlow Beach.  We arrived at 1300 in by now almost complete sunshine and rapidly warming temperatures to a rather difficult rocky take out.  The area was extremely busy as good teamwork was applied to get our boats and gear back up to our cars.  Jennifer was the only one who had the foresight to bring wheels which would have made the job easier.  We all changed and Peter opted out of the lunch at Steamers.  I was going to put my name in earlier but then remembered it is counter service and our meals were then brought to our table.  We toasted both of our now qualified graduates, Jenney from Seattle and Jennifer from Olympia!  Afterwards Fred kindly bought me an ice cream cone that we ate outside after saying good-bye to Jenney and Jennifer who nicely provided the shuttle.  I then took Fred and his boat back to his waiting car at Steilacoom before heading home.  All paddlers performed well with excellent group dynamics.