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Trip Report    

McNeil Island Circumnavigation

TIDES/CURRENTS: BALCH PASSAGE S@0830, +1.1 @ 10-1130, s @ 1430. PITT PASSAGE s @ 0730, +0.8 @ 0930-1130, s @ 1345. TACOMA NARROWS SOUTH +3.32 @ 1130, S @ 1459
CONDITIONS: SEA CALM, S BREEZE 0-5KT, CLOUDY, SOME DRIZZLE WITH PARTIAL AFTERNOON CLEARING , TEMPS 50-60S, VISABILITY FAIR TO GOOD
SIGHTED: SEALS, CORMORANTS, SCOTERS, BUFFLEHEADS, KINGFISHERS, GBH, EAGLE, LOONS

We started our huddle slightly late but launched on time approx 0945. We paused briefly mid channel for a radio check before continuing on to the lower shoreline of McNeil to Bee Point where we then headed for Eagle Island with the current, arriving about 1045. No seals hauled out but we did for about 20 minutes on the SE side. We then crossed the channel towards the island, slowly following the shoreline into Pitt Passage where we predictably found the current slightly against us. We then crossed the channel and hauled out at 1230 for lunch on the west side of Pitt Passage and waited for the current to shift about 1345. We crossed over to the point after passing Pitt Island on the west side and continued on to Gertrude Island with about a half knot current pushing us along. Though signage indicated that Still Harbor was closed, I had called mid-week and received permission to land on Gertrude Island which we did for a 15 minute bio break. We then headed on back more or less to Hyde Point where we then turned and headed straight across the channel to Steilacoom. Tim and Dave pulled ahead for a more intensive workout and John and I met them on the other side. Recoveries, rolls and general silliness were observed before the haul out on the concrete boat launch made much shorter by a cooperative higher tide approx 1700. Tim went home, Dave and John came over to my house for a post paddle chili dinner. Beautiful day and in spite of us ALL being trip leaders, paddlers performed well with excellent group dynamics.

PARKING NOTES: The parking lot adjacent to the boat launch is free for residents and boat/trailer parking. There is a $6 charge for all non-resident parking in the lower and upper lots. One slot is available in the box for envelopes. The lower lot was out of them but there were plenty in the upper along with a pencil. Paddlers would be prudent to bring both.

 

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