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Trip Report    

Sea Kayak - Washington Park to Friday Harbor

Paddle from Washington Park (Anacortes) to Friday Harbor via Cattle Pass and return via ferry.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • n.a.

The paddle went well with good weather, a strong group of paddlers, and little or no wind. We learned about an easy route through Cattle Pass on the flood. We also learned some valuable lessons about approaching the Firday Harbor marina safely via kayak, and about loading kayaks onto the Ferry.

By taking the Eastern-most route through Cattle Pass, we were able to avoid nearly all of the rough water found on other routes through the Pass. After lunch at Iceberg Point, we headed to the East side of Davis Bay passing close to Buck Island. Once near shore in Davis Bay, we followed the shoreline West to Davis Point, where a significant SW current flows out of Davis Bay past Davis Point and opposes the main northerly flood currents of Cattle Pass, creating a large area of standing waves a hundred yards S and SW from the point. We avoided the standing waves by continuing along the East shore of Cattle Pass, East of Deadman Island, continuing all the way to Kings Point. From Kings Point, we headed NW into the center of San Juan Channel for maximum current assist, then proceeded NNW toward Turn Island State Park.

On a previous paddle of this route, the Harbor Master at Friday Harbor told our group that kayaks should only enter the marina from the extreme Northern end, avoiding the fueling station area where there is often heavy boat congestion. Therefore, for this paddle we approached Friday Harbor by paddling the East and North sides of Brown Island, then crossing to the North side of the marina to access the kayak docs, which are located on the West-central part of the marina. Unfortunately, crossing from northern Brown Island to the North side of the marina put us directly in the landing area for sea plans and in the main channel for boats entering and exiting Friday Harbor. In the future, it would be safer to paddle the more traditional approach to Friday Harbor from Turn Island: around the SE tip of Brown Island and approaching the marina area from the SE. The traditional approach from the SE does have a brief crossing of the ferry dock area, but this approach has fewer boats and has no sea plan traffic.

We caught the 3:45 pm ferry back to Anacortes from Friday Harbor after arriving in Friday Harbor a few minutes past 3:00 pm. With an arrival near 3:00pm you should have just enough time to unload kayak carts, move kayaks to the ferry, change cloths and catch the ferry with little time to spare. Ferry operators begin loading kayakers with their boats along with all walk-on passengers immediately after the last vehicle has exited the ferry. Trip leaders should communicate the above timing issues clearly to everyone in the group and remain in the back of the group to ensure that everyone makes the initial walk-on loading period.

Fortunately, if you miss the initial walk-on loading period, you can still get on the ferry after all of the vehicles have been loaded. This means you will be last onto the ferry in Friday Harbor and also last to disembark in Anacortes after all the vehicles have been offloaded. While not ideal, boarding last (after all vehicles have been loaded) does give you some extra time in Friday Harbor if needed.