Trip Report    

Sea Kayak - Ketron Island Circumnavigation

We launched from Steilacoom and paddled past ferry docks, then crossed over to Anderson island, explored Oro bay, then returned via Cormorant passage. About 12 nm.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • We launched at the Steilacoom boat launch, which goes under the RR tracks just north of the ferry docks.    Day parking is across the street at a pay lot ($8.75 for 10 hours).   

    The Steilacoom ferry schedules are available online, except for the Mcneil island ferry schedule which is available from Washington DOC.

    Ferries have the right of way, and kayakers need to give them plenty of space, be aware of the ferry routes and schedules, and be alert.    I would not recommend this route to inexperienced paddlers or large groups.   

Everyone was on time for our 9 am launch so we were able to launch a few minutes early, crossing the ferry docks safely in between ferry arrivals and departures.     

From there we crossed over to the tip of Ketron and then to beach 8 on Anderson island.    There was an approximately  9-10 kt SW wind and around 1 ft waves until nearing the shore.     We were focused on paddling and didn't get any photos until later.

The beach was mostly underwater due to high tide of 12+ ft.   After a break we paddled along shore into Oro bay.     

We took a one hour lunch break at the historic brickyard site at Jacobs point park.   Then we launched and explored a good portion of Oro bay.  We checked out the old rusting ferry, Ocean City.    



When ready, we headed out of the bay toward Cormorant passage, past the south tip of Ketron island.  We were assisted by  wind which had calmed to about 5 kt, and mild ebb current.    The early afternoon sun briefly lit up the Olympics.   


Once in Cormorant passage we made faster progress.   We did pause to look at a derelict ferry, the Olympic.     


Then we crossed back to Steilacoom ferry area where it was clear and we paddled past the docks to the boat ramp, finishing around 2:15. 

In terms of wildlife we saw kingfishers, scoters, cormorants, bald eagles, gulls, other waterfowl, and harbor seals.

We fortunately had no rain during the paddle, wind was not a problem and visibility was good.  Boat traffic was light other than the ferries.    Marine forecast described a "conga line of fronts" for the week and today we had a  "lull between fronts."  We had backup paddle plans in case the conditions had been unacceptable.   

It was an enjoyable paddle and went well.     All of the participants did great!     

I gave the paddle plan 4 stars and not 5 because of the necessity of crossing ferry docks near the launch.   

Although it wasn't the focus of the trip, we did get several glimpses into history of the region.   I learned that Steilacoom was one of the first incorporated towns in Washington territory and Washington state.     The old ferries have intriguing histories and Jacobs Point Park deserves another exploratory trip (maybe after the pandemic...)