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Trip Report    

Sea Kayak - Goat Island

Successful paddle around Goat Island with a stop to tour Fort Whitman.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Winds were fairly mild and water was fairly flat for much of the trip, except on the south side of the jetty where wind waves in the morning were high enough to make us decide to keep to the north side of the jetty until conditions called down later in the day.

    The scramble up the bank from the beach to the Fort Whitman trail was fairly easy to negotiate. In wet conditions it could be harder to make the first ten feet up or so.

    Take care walking around the fort area.  Watch out for holes in the ground and sudden drop offs. 

The day was selected for its tide profile, with the morning high over 10 feet and the afternoon low over 7.  This allowed for launching and return using the kayak beach at Connor Waterfront Park instead of having to use the rough concrete boat ramp. It also allowed more flexibility with the route since the tide over the course of the trip was always high enough to pass through the fishway in the jetty between McGlinn Island and Goat Island.

The weather forecast for the day vacillated in the week prior. By the day of the paddle actual conditions turned out to be fairly mild, despite a NOAA forecast calling for 16 kt winds with gusts to 21 and wind waves of 1-2 feet. Based on milder expected conditions from the models in the Windy app, we proceeded with caution and had a great trip.

After paddling down the Swinomish Channel through the Hole in the Wall, we headed directly to the fishway and through to the south side of the jetty.  Proceeding west toward Goat Island, we found the wind waves building up to a point that could have exceeded the SK II rating for the trip.  Based on that, the leader made the decision to return directly to the fishway and resume the paddle out to Goat Island on the north side of the jetty.  This worked out very well, the north side was very calm in the wind shadow of the jetty, like a mill pond.  

The trip out to Goat Island was uneventful from there.  We landed as the tide began to recede and made our way up the bank to the fort trail.  We had a fun time touring the old fort and enjoyed a nice lunch there before returning to the beach to continue the paddle.

Conditions improved in the afternoon and we were able to continue counter-clockwise around Goat Island without much trouble. The wind waves we encountered were mostly one foot or less, and mostly concentrated off the southwest corner of Goat Island.  

Returning to the fishway the tide had fallen to about 7.3 feet and we did encounter some current flow in there as the higher water on the north sided came through to the south side.  Nothing the group could not handle easily by simply maintaining a steady paddling pace.

We next proceeded to the beach on McGlinn Island and did some self and assisted rescue practice.

Afterward, we returned up the Swinomish Channel to the kayak beach at Conner Waterfront Park, enjoying some righteous fishing boat wake to get a boost to 5.2 knots at one point.

We finished at the expected time and loaded up to head home.  It was a great day on the water.