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Trip Report    

McNeil Island Circumnavigation

Trip completed as planned, launching from Steilacoom, paddling across to McNeil and circumnavigating clockwise with a lunch stop on the Key Peninsula. On the water about 9:45, roughly 15 minutes later than planned but that was okay. Slack before flood was about 10:00 am. We enjoyed great visibility, clear, sunny skies and the slightest of breeze. In fact the breeze was perfect for keeping us cool on a warm day.

We made great time, reaching the Key Peninsula mainland around 11:30. A beautiful lunch spot at low tide under the tree canopy. We set off again around 12:20 and passed between Pitt Island and the mainland. By this time we were bucking a light current, and speed reduced to about 2.5 knots made good. As we were leaving lunch we passed some beach homes where a woman asked us to keep an eye open for a lost dingy that floated off the night before. Figuring it was gone for good, we were surprised to see something in the next bay on the north side of McNeil. As we neared what looked like a dingy, sure enough, it was a dingy. Further inspection confirmed it was likely hers... a Livingston, with 2 oars, 2 life jackets, 2 fishing poles and a tackle kit. unfortunately not phone number. It was pretty much on shore so we towed it out a 100+ yards and dropped its anchor. We called the Thurston County non-emergency (only number I had in my phone) and they gave me the Coast Guard. I called the CG and reported the boat. They said thanks, logged the report and said the only thing they can do is match this with a lost boat report. It was a mile to a mile and a half back to the woman. Too far for us on this day. And too far to tow to Steilacoom.

We continued on along the north side. As we passed Gertrude Island we discovered no off limit signs on it. And according to Lisa, who was on the trip, she called the McNeil Island Corrections office and heard it is okay to stop at Gertrude. This is good news, but we did not need to stop. Stopping is only possibly at lower tides from what we saw. We arrived back at our launch around 3:45pm. Very low boat traffic overall. It was fun to paddle around McNeil and see deer, raccoons, and seals. A crane and an eagle. My garmin track gave me 14NM, 3.0 knots avg pace and 4:45 moving time.

The parking situation is different than a few years ago. The boat launch has just a handful of boat trailer stalls for $6.00. The rest of this lot is for McNeil employees. Visitor parking is across the ferry line road in a fee lot. Also $6.