Under the Narrows.jpg

Trip Report    

Sea Kayak - Tacoma Narrows

Nice paddle with great company on what turned out to be a beautiful day! Photo: Jeff Evans

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • T&C: STEILACOOM TIDES: 13.2 @ 0509 / -1.3 @1151  GIBSON PT: -2.6@0912 / S @ 1245 / NARROWS SOUTH END: -4.7 @0852 / S@1212 / +5.8 @ 1520





I was halfway into my 20 minute drive to our put in at Chambers Creek when I got a phone call from Jeff that he was in Dupont when he realized that he had forgotten his drysuit.  It was too far for him to return to Olympia so I told him to meet us at the put in and turned around to get my spare drysuit, wetsuit and paddling jacket.  I called Dan and told him I would be a few minutes late.  The others had already arrived and their boats were down on the shoreline.  I found out how slippery that mud was when I slipped carrying my boat down aided by Jeanine. Falling on my ample bum didn’t hurt and I dumped the rest of my stuff out in my gear bag beside my parked car. The drysuit fit Jeff with no problems. Dan had carpooled with Don so he stayed with the boats and the rest of us drove up to Titlow.  Don and Kevin shuttled us back and we shoved off approx 0915 with no further mishaps into the rapidly disappearing water without huddling first.  We sighted an eagle while Great Blue Herons squawked from nearby trees on our way to the first corner.  Mallards were wandering onshore and swimming along it on the right side and some bikers pedaling by on the other hollered hello as we turned the corner into the deepening water.  The lovely trees in the little valley south of the creek are already starting to show their fall colors.

 We rafted up for a rather scattered huddle as we floated towards the trestle bridge, eventually getting pushed through it.  As we turned right and started paddling almost immediately we sighted some porpoises almost straight ahead.  The max ebb current was pushing us north and we made rapid progress the 5 nm with little effort towards Day Island, turning the corner about 1030.  We didn’t get very far before running out of water on the left side so reversed and went down the right side all the way to the bridge before running dry.  We rafted up at the mouth of the opening and I did a short talk on how water moves and negotiating eddy lines and currents.  After a short bio break we proceeded on towards the bridge arriving approx noon.  We were still on the almost dead ebb and stayed on the east side for a bit, floating around and admiring the bridges.  After about 10 minutes we moved towards the other side of the bulkhead to find that the flood was just getting started.  However, there wasn’t enough movement to practice eddy turns or peel outs so after a brief discussion we opted to head across to the west side on the north side of the bridge. Another short bio break was completed and by the time that was over the wind began to pick up.  The quiet water was turning to 1’ wind waves.  I took a minute to introduce ferry angles before we headed north in the back eddies.  After a few minutes we turned and after another directional calculation we headed diagonally under the mid span of the bridges towards Titlow Beach.  Once away from the bridge the wind predictably died down and the water smoothed out.  Sarah had become slightly separated from the group but Dan and Don were attending her and the rest of us adjusted our angle to intersect with them closer to the east side.  We then rode the current down towards the pilings, Jeff and I a little farther than the group before we turned left and headed in. The tops of the pilings that are usually speed bumps at high tide were at least 10’  above our heads as we negotiated our way to the rocky beach at 1315.  Good teamwork was applied to get the boats up on the grass in the park on top. Most of us got loaded up while Don, Jeanine and Will went into Steamers to get a table.  Dan and Sarah opted out of lunch so Jeff and I were the last to join the others and Kevin who were already eating at a table outside on the deck.  Jeff kindly bought my lunch and just as we sat down a few sprinkles dropped and an osprey flew by.  As usual, the view was wonderful and the food good.  Jeanine surprised us with some much appreciated brownies for dessert! All paddlers performed well with very good group dynamics.

 NOTE: I watched the 11/07/1940 collapse of Galloping Gertie on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-zczJXSxnw. (According to Underground Weather the wind speed was 30 mph). I wonder if some of the turbulence directly under the bridge now can be attributed to the fallen debris?