Placeholder Routes & Places

Trip Report    

Sea Kayak - McNeil Island Circumnavigation

A great trip in moderately challenging conditions on a blustery spring day!

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • South-Southwest winds between 10-15 kt all day with gusts up to 20+kt in the afternoon.  

    Wind waves in the 2-3' range with lots of whitecaps and fairly steep faces.

    These conditions made the crossings to and from McNeil bumpy and challenging - particularly in the afternoon. 

Everyone arrived at the launch early enough that we got on the water about 20 minute ahead of schedule at 8:40am.  The weather forecast was for winds from the SSW at 10-15 kt, gusting to 22 kt.  Conditions looked reasonable, so we decided to cross over to Eagle Island and then decide whether to continue around McNeil (committing us to another challenging cross-wind crossing) or to go round Anderson (which would allow for a downwind run on the crossing on the way back).

On the crossing to Eagle we experienced lots of breaking whitecaps and waves about 2' . All in the group did well and were comfortable with the conditions.  We swung wide around the north end of Eagle to avoid disturbing the large seal group hauled out on the east facing beach.  Stopped on the west side of Eagle for a short break.  Light rain on and off, combined with the wind made for chilly stops, so we pushed on after about 20 minutes.

We had some nice downwind rides after we rounded the west end of McNeil and stopped for lunch around 11am at a beach with high bank south of the sand spit just south of Pitt Island. 

After lunch we continued down Pitt Passage with some more good wind wave rides until the northwest point of McNeil Island.  From there we had calm and sheltered paddling along the northeast shore. A couple of us stopped briefly on the outside of Gertrude Island for a bio break before we were committed to the crossing. Along this shore, we saw two coyotes on the beach, one was the target of a bald eagle who aborted a strike only 10' from his target!

It was apparent as we reached the east end of McNeil that the wind and waves had increased somewhat from the morning, but still looked manageable.  (We had the option of returning through Pitt Passage back to Eagle Island and a potential bail out using the Anderson Island Ferry if conditions looked too bad.) The waves were closer to 3' for much of the early part of the crossing and wind gusts were close to 20kt - all were comfortable with these conditions and the group stayed together very well.

I took about 1 hour and 20 minutes for the crossing and we arrived back at Steilacoom around 2:30pm. Overall this was a great trip in interesting and fun conditions.