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Trip Report    

Sea Kayak - Doe Island

This trip was a good reminder of why we wear immersion wear and use spray skirts. I have done this trip at least five times and this one was easily the most active and demanding—and fun!--paddle of any of them--and with the fewest number of campers!

  • Sat, Jul 8, 2017 — Sun, Jul 9, 2017
  • Sea Kayak - Doe Island
  • Doe Island
  • Sea Kayaking
  • Successful
  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • see trip report below




T&C: SAT: GREEN PT:  -2.7@ 0828, S@1207, +3.18 @1504 / SHANNON PT: -2.6@ 0828, S@1243, +2.3@1637 / STRAWBERRY ISLAND: -3.3@0948, S@1345 , +2.7@1634 / PEAVINE PASS: -3.2@0828, S@1220, +3.0@1507 / SHIPHARBOR TIDE: -1.2 @1047, 7.8@1900SUN: LAWRENCE PT: S@0512, -2.2@1050. S@1430 / BELLINGHAM CHANNEL: -3.3 @0910, S@1246, +2.2 @1623/ GUEMAS CHANNEL: -3.0 @0919, S@1313, @ +1.6 @1542 / SHIPHARBOR TIDE: 6.9@0404, -1.4@1121, 7.8@1928



 Terry and I arrived to a full parking lot at Washington Park about 1:00 after stopping at a Subway in Anacortes for Terry to pick up his dinner and I got some chips. We were able to unload quickly and there was plenty of overnight parking for $6 a night and TP in the honey bucket.  We launched at 1415.  We headed west in the warm sunshine to Green Pt and mostly held our heading, adjusting our ferry angle as we approached the other side of Guemas Channel about 45 minutes later.  Terry got to pet the buoy but I was swept past as we made our way to the tiny beach at Strawberry Island.  I almost got swept into the overflows but was able to paddle my way out and safely land unassisted. We took a stroll up to check out the view and the old campsite that is mostly overgrown now.  After about 15 minutes we headed out.  The decision was made that with only two of us to be conservative so we went wide and I played a bit on the outside in the 2+ footers while Terry managed to keep himself out of the “Big A” whirlpool closer in by the rocks. We then made fast time across the channel and predictably slowed as we hit the back eddy and tide rip chatter the closer we got to Doe Island. We landed approx 1615 to find to my amazement that the south side of the island was deserted.  We had just chosen our campsite when Terry discovered a large crowd of kayakers landing at the mid point but most of them didn’t stay to camp.  After setting up our camp we sat on a warm rock ledge to admire the scenery and watch the water activity as we ate our dinner.  (No cooking, no cleanup, I like it!) We saw something with a fat fuzzy face that we finally decided had to be an otter a little way away from the rocks as it didn’t behave like a seal or sea lion. The resort and hot tubs were closed due to a wedding so we went for a walk around the island instead. We found a couple of teenagers who belonged to a larger group sponsored by the YMCA that were on the third day of a week long kayaking trip through the SJ Islands.  We also found the one toilet available but the SP System is building what looks like will be a very nice wooden toilet facility—or two--close by it.

 Camping is $12 a night per campsite and the pay station is on the north side of the island at the top of the power boat dock. We walked on back to our spot and soon I had a fire going with the wood I had brought. Collecting kindling is allowed but no other foraging is permitted.  There are no food lockers but fortunately Terry had some extra line that we used as I had forgotten my food hanging system.  We turned in after 10 p.m. getting up under mostly sunny skies with some fog in the upper mountain tops of Orcas.  It was my turn to see the deer when I went down to our boats that were tied off with my tow rope. Terry said he had slept well but I hadn’t so was still feeling fatigued and sleepy as we shoved off in the slight chop at 0815.  It took about an hour to reach Lawrence Point, occasionally surfing little wind waves and spotting what we decided had to be another otter as we made the final approach.  I forgot to have us head east for 10 minutes so we wound up just peeling out into the easily observed current after a brief pause to admire the scenery up north.  We were very soon swept in the first and largest of a series of standing waves.  At one point I was coming down the back of one when I spied what I thought was a grey buoy of some kind directly in front of me.  A round head and nose with big wide nostrils appeared and a seal gave me a startled look before fortunately diving just in time just inches from my bow.  That and the occasional 3’+ standing waves were waking me up in a hurry as the 3+ knot current pushed us rapidly down Bellingham Channel.  We had repeated tide rips to get through as the wind began to rise.  By the time we got to the Cone Islands it was a steady 15 knots from the south.  A group of 4 doubles and 3 singles took off from Pelican Beach just ahead of us at that point and they went east along the outside of the rips that Terry and I shot to the middle for. The 2+’ cold dumping waves made us grateful for our drysuits and sunglasses as we turned and headed east for Guemas to get in the lee of the wind.  The other group disappeared behind the eastern most Cone Island and we didn’t see them again until we were on our break on a sunny beach on Guemas Island.  They had gotten caught in the mid channel activity just south of the Cones before heading for a beach north of us and we didn’t see them for the rest of the day. I’m still curious where they ended up.

 We had a welcome break for about 15 minutes before setting out again.  The wind was still blowing 15 as we began a slow slog in the unwelcome back eddy along the shore.  Since we weren’t getting much benefit from the island we headed the 25’ or so west to catch the current.  By the time we reached the south end of Guemas the wind had died to a pleasant breeze as it was shifting to the west and our water had settled to 0-1’ pleasant chop.  We were still making good time in spite of the busy power boat traffic as we watched a ferry come in as we started across Guemas Channel.  We plotted our course to stay on the east side of the dock but just as we were within 1000’ of it another ferry was coming in and the wind and waves suddenly kicked up again.  But the docked ferry left before the other one came in and cleared us easily as we then turned and headed west behind it.  We landed at the WA Park boat launch about 15 minutes later at 1230 to find that there was actually parking to spare at the beach. We were loaded up and changed within 45 minutes and on our way to a greatly appreciated meal at The Skagit Bay Brew Pub where Terry kindly bought my lunch.  There was some backup on I5 but for the most part we didn’t have too much traffic heading back to Terry’s house in Kirkland to unload him and his gear before I continued on to my house in Tacoma, arriving around 7:30 or so.

 This trip was a good reminder of why we wear immersion wear and use spray skirts.  There were times I felt like I was in a car wash as we were drenched repeatedly and our faces and sunglasses covered with salt once we had  dried off.  We would probably have been considerably chilled had we not had on drysuits. I have done this trip at least five times and this one was easily the most active and demanding—and fun!--paddle of any of them--and with the fewest number of campers!  Even though Terry is a tough act to follow it is always a treat to paddle with such a highly skilled and pleasant companion!

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    48.500953, -122.692137
    48.5009527298 -122.692136765
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    48.632882, -122.787403
    48.6328821 -122.7874035

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