Trip Report    

Sea Kayak - Case Inlet

A fine, windy winter day with new snow adorning the Olympics. Launched from Grapeview and after rounding Stretch Island, we crossed the inlet and paddled north to the end of the inlet.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Launch: Grapeview - Fair Harbor Marina
    Weather: Wind 10-20kt from the NE, partly cloudy in the morning and sunny in the afternoon. Cold.
    Distance: 14.9 nm
    Launch: 8:50am  Return: 3pm
    Waves: 1-2' with many whitecaps

This turned out to be a fantastic day. Due to the unusual forecast of strong northeast winds, we changed the launch point to Grapeview - Fair Harbor Marina. This would allow us to do the upwind portion of the trip in the morning and have the wind at our backs on the return. I had emailed out notification of the launch change the day before, so all paddlers arrived on time and we were able to launch about 15 minutes ahead of time. The launch fee is steep at Grapeview: $10 for kayak launch and $5 for parking.

We observed that the wind was as forecast as we launched and decided to paddle downwind to the south end of Stretch Island and then decide whether to go downwind all the way to the north tip of Harstine as planned. It was pretty cold and all but John wore pogies to keep hands warm. We had a pleasant downwind paddle inside Stretch Island and quickly reached its south end. Looking across Case Inlet, we observed 1-2' waves and plenty of whitecaps, so we decided to cross to the east shore from there rather than go farther downwind to Harstine. The crossing conditions were fun - probably 10kt winds with some gusts to 15kt with waves around 1' and occasionally breaking. We crossed on an ESE course and took our first break on the beach at Haley State Park with a spectacular view of the newly white Olympics.

After break we started north into the wind getting a little shelter close to short from the northeasterly. We paddled up to the beach under the high bluff just outside Vaughn Bay for our next short break. We continued to enjoy the view of the snow clad Olympics along this section and the wind was not too difficult to work against.

We then paddled north all the way to the end of the inlet, viewing the petroglyphs at Victor along the way. In the upper inlet the wind intensified to 15kt with higher gusts and we took advantage of the shore protection to make easier headway. At the head of the inlet we turned around into the bright sun now and had a quick downwind run to the park at Allyn for our lunch stop. The trees to the north of the park provided good wind protection to the picnic benches on the lawn, and the sun continued to shine although the temperatures were still brisk.

During the run downwind to lunch and through luch the wind continued to pick up. After lunch we had lots of fun surfing the wind waves while being pushed along by 15kt+ wind with some higher gusts. It was quick work to get back to Grapeview and we arrived with smiles on our faces a little before 3pm.