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Trip Report    

Sea Kayak and Sailing - Marrowstone & Indian Islands

On last Saturday, a group of 7 from across all 5 kayaking branches, paddled and sailed around Marrowstone and Indian Islands.  We had winds, sometimes strong, which were at times fun and challenging.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Indian Island Park is a good launch site.  Bathroom was open.

    Water under the new bridge between Indian and Marrowstone appears to be navigable at all tides.  (Could be wrong about low tide.  Could be a carry.)

Promise of Wind

It is common that the wind we experience on trips is less than forecast.  Sometimes significantly less.  This applies particularly to the NOAA forecast, which seems adverse to under-predicting the wind.  Thus, 15kt forecast is often 7kt on the water.  25kt forecast is often 15kt on the water.  This bias makes getting experience paddling in wind difficult.  You can’t dis-regard NOAA’s forecast because it is the most official forecast and the winds could be that strong.  But if trips with forecast winds above 15 knots are commonly cancelled, actual winds are often less, and it is rare to get experienc paddling in 15 knot winds.  

Both the red and blue Windy applications provides some tools to get insight in to the range of wind predictions across different forecast models.  Red Windy has this forecast comparison option

Windy Forecast.png

For our Saturday trip, the forecast wind is consistent across models and for nearly a day before and after our trip.  It seemed likely we would have 15-20 kt winds.

Our plan was to launch from Indian Island Park, paddle south, round the southern tip of Marrowstone, enjoy a downwind sailing run to Ft Flagler on the north end, then finish with a pull into wind to get back to our cars.  

Marrowston emap

Wind on the water

On the water at 8:30.  We make slow but steady progress into the wind.  

Paddling into the wind

As we round the Kinney Point, the wind comes around to our beam and we are able to raise sails and start to take advantage of the conditions.

Fun Wind

The fun begins when round Lip-Lip Point, turn our boats north, and run with the wind behind us.  Our boats are moving easily at 4 to 6 knots.  With our sails, we catch and surf on waves, running at 8 kts and above.  The miles roll by.  


At Marrowstone Point we pass through a group of kite boarders, cruising and flying around us.  

Approaching Marrowstone Point

We round the point and break at a good beach for food, feeling very satisfied.

Unsteady Wind

We get some more sailing as we paddle along the north shore, but wind here is unsteady, gusting strongly in various directions as it drops over the cliffs.  

Challenging Wind

Our plan is to paddle up Townsend bay, through the cut, and back to our cars.  

It feels like the wind has picked up.  It is whipping out of Kilisut Harbor, pushing us off shore a little.

Indian Island is a Naval facility and landing is prohibited so we need to be away from the shore.  There is a doc on Walon Point which we are required to keep well away from.  This drives us toward the middle of Townsend Bay where the wind is very strong.  We estimate 20-25 knots (later check confirms this).  In winds this strong, progress is difficult.  Even turning our boats into the wind direction is difficult.  We organize some towing for mutual support.  Progress remains slow and we soon abandon this route.

Manageable Wind

We paddle in close to the Northwest shore of Indian Island, where we find protection from the wind.  On entering Kilisut Harbor we make progress into the wind.  We cross to Marrowstone and take a break on shore.  Creeping along the shore, we get a little protection from the wind.  Our pace indicates it will take 1.5 hours to reach the bridge at the south end of Kilisut.  Longer than we intended, but manageable.

A Final Wind Assist

We easily cross under the new bridge between Indian and Marrowstone.  From there we have a final down wind sailing run back to Indian Island Park as the sun rests low on the western horizon.  

An Uncommon Trip

This trip provided us with uncommon but great experiences.

We had a great downwind sailing run, and that is rare.  There are plenty of windy days, but it is rare the coincide with a planned trip, rare that trip may have a leg that takes advantage of the wind, and rare for everyone on the trip to have a sail.  This downwind run was glorious.

It is rare to get experience paddling in winds above 20 knots.  Skill and strength are required just to manage your own boat.  Progress into the wind is slow and tiring.  Everything is far more difficult than it was when you practiced in calm conditions.  Though challenging, everyone felt this was great experience.