Report from Ken
It seems like there are always great paddling days in
February. Clear skies, light airs and favorable currents.
The trick is knowing on which dates in February these
perfect days will fall, and then making sure to be on the
water when they arrive.
2006 Azimuth Expeditions. All rights reserved
We got lucky with
the weather on this one. It was cold, but conditions were
otherwise ideal. This leg of the trip was scheduled to go
from Port Angeles to Pillar Point and was planned to last 3
days, but because the paddling conditions were so good, we
were able to finish the 31-mile section in 2 days instead.
Our group size was three: Mary, Miles and myself.
We ran the
shuttle, then set out from Ediz Hook in Port Angeles shortly
after noon. The water was a bit lumpy at the start, mainly
from the wind waves reflecting off the rocks of Ediz Hook,
but once we reached the open water and started pulling for
Angeles Point, the wind was at our back and the current
helped push us on our way. After reaching the point, we
started across Freshwater Bay, staying about a half-mile
offshore to take advantage of the current. We met up with
John, a local paddler out enjoying the sunny afternoon, and
spent about 20 minutes with him, paddling the rock gardens
and inlets just west of Freshwater Bay. Numerous raccoons
roamed the shoreline, and there were several spots along
this section where harbor seals were hauled out on the
We came ashore at
Salt Creek and found a spot to camp just up from the sand.
(Our selection turned out to be private property, a fact
which we would learn the following morning.) By the time the
sky had darkened, we had a fire going and were eating
dinner. The temperature had already dropped quite a bit, and
still had a long way to fall. The sparks from the burning
cedar flew upward and mixed with the light from a few
billion stars that filled the clear night sky. Before bed, I
boiled water and filled my water bottle for use as a bag
warmer, a move that turned out to be a very good idea
Did I mention it
was cold? Well it was. We woke in the morning to find a
thick covering of frost on every surface, including the
inner walls of the tents. The boats were iced over, all of
our water was blocks of ice and the neoprene skirts and
pogies that we were going to put on after breakfast were
hard as rocks. The overnight low temperatures had been
predicted to go as low as 12 degrees, and there was no
reason to think that they hadn't dropped at least that low.
We ate our food quickly, broke camp and got ready to go in
short order. Miles used a thermos of warm water to try to
thaw out the cuffs and gaskets of his drysuit as he put it
on. I warmed my pogies by swishing them around in the icy
sea water. Mary wore just about every article of clothing
she'd brought along.
Once on the water
though, it didn't take long to see that we had stumbled onto
the perfect paddling day. A light breeze followed us, and
the current was moving strongly in the direction we were
traveling. We stayed close to shore at first, where we saw a
square cave in the cliffs near Agate Bay and wondered about
its origins. We theorized that it must have once been a drop
spot for rum smuggled across the Straits from Vancouver
Island; we couldn't think of any other reason for it being
there, and besides, it was fun to believe.
Our lunch stop was
at Twin, which is where we had originally been planning to
spend the second night. After a short rest in the sun, we
got back in the boats and tackled the remaining seven miles
to the takeout at Pillar Point State Park. The tide was
relatively high by the time we finished, but there were
still a lot of rocks to negotiate as we made our way ashore.
We finished shortly after 3pm and drove back to Port Angeles
to get some Indian food before the drive back to the south
Sound. Only one more leg to go!
Stay tuned to
the Field Reports page for an update on the fourth leg of the
Straits voyage, scheduled for March of 2006.