Trip planning: San Juans, Summer 2019

Discussion in 'General Paddling Discussions' started by pawsplus, Oct 1, 2018.

  1. rider

    rider Paddler

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    Hey :) I am going to (attempt to) throw a wrench in the gears and say that you should instead make a trip to BC where you can rent boats from a store and drive them to any number of cool places on the west coast of vancouver island.
     
  2. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    Someday, perhaps. This is the trip I've wanted to make since I first fell in love with kayaking in the San Juans. And we'd have a rental car anyway, without a kayak rack, so don't think that would work anyway. :) Trying to keep this relatively simple.
     
  3. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    All other things aside, I can only take so many days off of work and away from my farm. Every day I'm away costs me $50 for the petsitter. And I have to visit my mom in Van as well, so that adds on 3-4 days. :) So spending a lot of time getting to the launch and back is wasted time from that standpoint.
     
  4. designer

    designer Paddler

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    PawsPlus, the chart I use for that area are Sea Trails Marine Maps. They have a laminated version and I believe a waterproof paper version for a little less (if you use a chart case). They are detailed enough - including direction of ebb and flow currents - yet small enough for the deck or packing.

    The Mountaineers Book publishing has Washington State Parks. It has a full chapter for the San Juan parks as well as one each for North Puget Sound and South Puget Sound - and of course other State Parks in Washington. You can probably review the book through your interlibrary loan program.

    I don't recall if the Cascade Marine Trail Guidebook is included with a year's membership or is a separate purchase. The campsites where you will be traveling are pretty well established - nothing hidden or esoteric. So I'm guessing the Mountaineers book would be enough.
     
  5. designer

    designer Paddler

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    Google shows Washington Water Trails as a distributor for those Marine charts and most are "temporarily out of stock". But they do seem to be available at NorthWest Outdoor Center (online and in Seattle).

    If you are using a "smart" device, I think the NOAA has their Marine Chart of the area available for free as a download and for Printing. You could download the whole thing and print just the pages you need. It is one of the "layers" I use with iPad apps (Gaia and iNavX). Free is good.
     
  6. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    So I found an outfitter on Orcas which will theoretically rent us boats. I still like the itinerary from Anacortes but if anyone (Alex? Others?) wants to suggest alternatives, beginning and ending at Smuggler's Cove on Orcas, that would be awesome. :) Would like to include Sucia and Patos.
     
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  7. designer

    designer Paddler

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    If you get to Patos (note - no water; only on Sucia) you may have a visit from a golden eagle. But don't get too close. He nearly pooped on our tarp/hammock (has quite a range).
     
  8. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    We could circumnavigate Orcas, going to Sucia, Patos, and Matia on the way maybe. Or add in Stuart?
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2018
  9. alexsidles

    alexsidles Paddler

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    The North Beach/Smuggler's Villa area is a great launch point, probably the best on Orcas. I think you'd have just enough time to visit all your desired islands on a 4-day, 3-night circumnav of Orcas.

    A good itinerary might be:

    Day 1: Launch at North Beach on an ebb and head west. Stop briefly at Point Doughty to hike to the top of the bluff. Stop at Freeman Island for lunch. Continue with the ebb south down President's Channel to Jones Island to camp. The campground on the south side of Jones is superior to the one on the north side. There is also a small marine trail campsite on the west side, though it can be hard to see from the water. Jones will be crowded in July. Miles today: 11.

    Day 2: Depart Jones on an ebb and head southeast through the Wasp Islands. Stop at Yellow Island to hike and visit the Nature Conservancy cabin. Fantasize about one day applying for the caretaker job on Yellow Island. Continue with the ebb east to Blind Island. Stop for lunch on Blind Island and wait for low tide. East of Blind Island, the ebb stops flowing eastbound, so departing eastbound from Blind Island requires a flood, not an ebb. Depart Blind Island eastbound on a flood. Stop at Obstruction Pass State Park. Continue on the flood through Obstruction Pass and turn north up Rosario Strait to Doe Island to camp. Miles today: 16.

    Day 3: Depart Doe Island on a flood. At the northeast tip of Orcas, turn west and continue to ride the flood, island-hopping through Clark and Matia Islands to Sucia Island to camp. Enjoy hiking, sandstone, fossils, etc. on Sucia. Sucia will be crowded. Miles today: 13.

    Day 4: Depart Sucia Island on an ebb. If possible, swing by Ewing Cove on the northeast tip of Sucia. Head over to Patos Island to hike out to the lighthouse. Depart Patos at the tail end of the ebb, return to North Beach/Smuggler's Villa. Miles today: 12 (less if you leave off Ewing Cove).

    If you're looking for an itinerary with fewer miles per day or more rest days, and you still want to visit the islands north of Orcas (which I recommend) then a circumnav of Orcas would require more days than you have. You can, however, just putter around between Patos, Sucia, Matia, and Clark for three nights. There wouldn't be a lot of kayaking, but it sure would be fun.

    Alex
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2018
  10. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    That sounds awesome. The only thing making me pause is the ferry proximity from Jones to Blind Island and crossing again to get to Doe. Am I worrying unnecessarily? I will have a radio.
     
  11. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Alex, that itinerary around Orcas is awesome!

    I think a couple of those launch timings appear to be designed to avoid crossing areas known to be extra rough on a strong ebb or flood: which ones, if any, are likely to be nasty if you miss the desired launch timing?
     
  12. alexsidles

    alexsidles Paddler

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    Dave and Paws,

    My itinerary actually does not take turbulent waters into account. All my itinerary does is give optimum times for taking advantage of the direction of currents. Tides in the San Juans are strong enough that it’s important to travel with them rather than against, but the tides are not so strong that they ever become dangerous due to turbulence. In this region, only tides in Deception Pass ever become that strong. As I mentioned before, the only thing you have to fear in the San Juans is strong winds.

    Nor do you have to fear ferries. They’re easy to avoid just by staying out of the center of the channel. The only place I would give ferries any thought at all is around the Wasp and Crane Islands, where sightlines are short and maneuverability is limited. Even in these narrow channels, you can just hug the coast and avoid endangering or inconveniencing anyone.

    Contrary to what many kayakers believe, power boats such as ferries are not automatically required by Rule 18 to give way to kayaks, nor are kayaks automatically required by Rule 18 to give way to power boats. Kayaks are simply not addressed by Rule 18. (Kayaks are not “a vessel restricted in her ability to manoeuvre,” as that term is defined in Rule 3.)

    Instead, the usual standard for kayaks is Rule 2, which requires kayaks and all other vessels simply to exercise ordinary, seamanlike prudence. Whether the kayak or the power boat must give way in a particular encounter is dictated by the circumstances of the case. The kayak’s limited speed would certainly be a factor, as would the kayak’s superior ability to enter shallow waters, as would the kayak’s greater vulnerability to wind, waves, wake, and current, as would the power boat's inability to hear above the engine noise, as would the kayak's difficulty looking astern, as would the low visibility of a kayak, etc., etc. Rule 2 mandates a balance of all relevant factors and the exercise of prudence.

    A scenario in which kayaks are subject to more than just Rule 2's balance-of-factors arises when a boat such as a power boat is overtaking a kayak. Under Rules 13 and 17, when a kayak is being overtaken from behind, the overtaking boat must give way to the kayak. All the kayak must do is maintain its course and speed except as needed to avoid collision.

    Another scenario in which more than just Rule 2 applies arises in narrow channels under Rule 9. Rule 9 requires small boats including kayaks not to impede unmaneuverable vessels like ferries in narrow channels. Under Rule 9, kayaks must hug the shore and stay out of the way in narrow channels regardless of other circumstances, so long as hugging the shore is safe.

    On top of the above, the Coast Guard has the power to enforce special ferry rules for periods of limited duration under 33 CFR 165.1317. When such rules are in force, which could happen at any time, all boats including kayaks must keep 100 yards or more from an operating ferry, unless they have the ferry captain’s permission to approach closer. Also, within 500 yards of a ferry, the ferry captain is authorized to give orders that you must obey, which orders could potentially impose a buffer larger than 100 yards. Currently, these special ferry rules are not in effect, but unless you keep up to date with your local notices to mariners, you should probably just assume they are.

    So there’s your roadmap for ferries: try to keep out of their way and they’ll try to keep out of yours, but feel free to cross or traverse ferry routes if you need to, but hug the wall in narrow channels, and obey any orders a ferry captain yells at you. All of that is probably what your common sense would tell you to do anyway, and that's because the rules are written with common sense in mind.

    Alex
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2018
  13. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    The outfitter on Orcas apparently only has poly Necky Lookshas and they make you pay extra if you want a spray skirt. ??? I know renting is gonna suck. I'm used to my own stuff now. Wish we could take our own boats, but it's way too far. The Anacortes outfitter has better boats from the sound of it.
     
  14. chodups

    chodups Paddler

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    Well done Alex! Thanks for the the common sense interpretation.
     
  15. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    That sounds way off. Something wrong on their end.
     
  16. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    It made me kinda concerned about renting from them. Either they don't know what they're doing, or they're big risk-takers.
     
  17. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Paws, this is a long shot, but you may be able to get the straight story by calling Alder Creek Kayak and Canoe in Portland, OR. They run five day tours in the San Juans. ACKC is an ethical, respected crowd. https://aldercreek.com
     
  18. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    They're not gonna let me have boats! I don't want a canned trip. Been there, done that. May just go with the Anacortes launch.
     
  19. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    Does anyone known if Uber and Lyft are an option in Anacortes in the summer? Would love to avoid renting a car and paying for it to sit in a pay lot for 4-5 days!