Trip Report    

Sea Kayak - Steilacoom to Toliva Shoal

Participants and responders learned a lot about kayak rescues on the water

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • When I arrived, Sunnyside Beach Park lot was completely filled, with more cars circling looking for parking. I moved the launch to the ferry terminal. The fee at Sunnyside is set to go to $10. It is $10+tax at the terminal.

In retrospect, moving the launch to the ferry dock was a good choice from an incident management perspective due to the opportunity to practice VHF communications with the bridge on ferry Steilacoom II.

An amateur weather station in Steilacoom reported sustained wind 6-8mph with gusts 10-12mph, 70 degrees and sunny.

This trip was the third in a series of incident management trainings with Fireboat Endeavor, an opportunity for kayakers to better understand how a rescue by first responders could unfold on the water.

It was a busy day: the county was operating two ferries to Anderson Island, which swapped terminals every 15-20 minutes. Several barges with gravel and sand from DuPont worked their way toward the Narrows. A fire boat—not Endeavor—transferred a patient to a waiting medic unit at the ferry terminal. And a mid-sized USCG cutter headed south, slowing down to reduce their wake. The captain wished us well via VHF.

We performed two rescue scenarios with Endeavor, the first a dizzy/nauseous kayaker with a history of heart trouble, and the second a kayaker in the water. The participants were impressed by the responders professionalism and with the speed of the rescues. It was great to see how confident the Mountaineers were in jumping into the scenarios and providing valuable realism to the training.

After the incident management scenarios were completed, we circumnavigated Ketron Island clockwise. The passage between Ketron and the mainland causes a funneling effect for both wind and water. We used this to our advantage on the way out knowing that there would be less intense wind and current against us on the outside. We encountered another group of kayakers on their way back from an overnight at Anderson Island’s Andy Park who wished they had made the same choice.

We landed at 5:30p, a little later than intended, but no one was in a hurry to get off the water on such a pristine day.