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Trip Report    

South Puget Sound: Olympia to Steilacoom

Trip: Olympia to Steilacoom
Date: Sunday, February 28, 2016
Launch time: 8:30am
Return time: 2:45pm
Distance: 20 nm
Actual Conditions: SK-IV
Weather: Cloudy, some rain, some sun. Rain/wind squall in afternoon.
Wind: SSW 5-15kt in am; SW-WSW 10-25kt in pm
Sea Conditions: wind waves to 1.5ft, some whitecaps; significant whitecaps on crossing to Steilacoom during squall
Leader: Will Greenough
Participants: Tim Burke, John Dunlap, Bob Burreson

This was a fantastic trip with a great group. The forecasted winds were significantly greater than the SK-III level planned for the trip (WSW gusts to 30kt in the afternoon), but the skill and experience level of the participants allowed the trip to go forward. With the winds at our back for most of the day and current assist as planned, we arrived at Steilacoom about an hour ahead of schedule.

The car shuttle worked well – all met at Steilacoom boat launch and transferred boats to 2 cars. Parking fee at Steilacoon was $6.00 per car. We then drove to the boat ramp at East Bay Marina in Olympia to launch (launch fee $5.00). The meeting time of 7:00am was perfect for a planned launch time of 8:30am, so 1-1/2 hours should be allowed for the shuttle, assuming meeting first at Steilacoom.

At launch, conditions were calm, with a little rain, but the wind and waves picked up as we headed down Budd Inlet, providing good surfing during the last 2 miles to Boston Harbor. Arriving at 9:50am, we took a short break at Boston Harbor and then headed out Dana Passage with good current assist and light winds at our backs again. Once past Johnson Point, we encountered 5-10kt headwinds during the last mile before reaching Devils Head at about 11:45am. We found a good wind shelter on the west side of Devils head at a small closed off lagoon and had an early lunch break.

After lunch, we headed off toward Eagle Island with 10-15 kt tailwinds again and some more good surfing opportunities. We stopped and had a second lunch at Eagle Island before heading off around 1:45pm on the final leg to Steilacoom. There were significant rain squalls travelling through between Eagle Island and Steilacoom, but for the first part of the crossing we were in the wind shadow of Anderson Island with the squalls to the east of us. Once out from the wind shadow, we had SSW winds hitting us from the side at about 10-15kt with associated wind waves occasionally capping. We could see a significant black cloud to the SW heading our way and were expecting a significant rain squall. The squall hit us with about a mile to go with winds from the WSW over 25kt – whipping the tops off of the waves. This was not an issue with the experience/skill levels of the participants and provided some fun/exciting conditions to top off an already great trip!

This trip worked very well for normal late fall through early spring prevailing wind patterns, providing planned for a good and long ebb tide cycle. Would be more work in the summer with north winds. If group strength is good and winds are strong from the S-SW, a trip from Olympia to Titlow Beach or Owens Beach would not be too difficult, and would provide more downwind surfing opportunities.