Belated: San Juan Island to Canada and Back Aug 22-27 2022

ChrisPoteetPdx

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Jan 17, 2021
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26
Location
Portland, Or
My son and I island hopped for six days; 60 miles roughly.

What I think I learned. My apologies if what I share is common knowledge. Most days we were on the water at specific times to catch favorable currents. Tools consulted: Windy and Current Atlas. It is fun to compare our memories and field notes to the pictures.

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This is the course taken. Each day represented by a new color.

Aug 22, 2022 Day 1 Friday Harbor to Jones Island. 8miles. Took the 9am ferry from Anacortes. On the water by noon to catch the flood train to Jones. Logistics at the marina: The dock is covered with a skid resistant texture all along the edges. There is no sliding your kayak into the water. You will lift all the weight with your paddling partner and place your boat in; unless you want to start off with a nice scrape. This was news to me, I’m now informed.

The whole of San Juan Channel was calm except for the section highlighted below. My GPS confirmed this once I got home. It was a hot mess of white caps, swirls, and eddies. My son and I chose to go through it because, well, it was the route we were taking and it didn't look that bad. Another group heading to Jones rode the western shore of SJI almost up to Ruben Tarte to avoid the mess, but admitted once they arrived that it added an extra hour or so to their trip.

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Jones Island What I learned from Cougarmeat, but got to see in person:
I am now a Jones Island North Shore Convert. The yachties were super polite, quiet, and respectful we were THE ONLY TWO KAYAKERS in the campsite. The south shore site had at least three guided groups, and a couple of folks on their own. That open grassy area had tents in every sunny spot. The WTA site on the west side was filled with two groups, one which appeared to require wooden kayaks and dry suits; pretty sure there were around 8. I’d have taken a picture, but I didn’t want to be that guy.
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Jones Island, looking south at Yellow Island in the distance.

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Jones Island, looking northwest to where we're heading - Stuart Island, then Canada

Aug 23, 2022 Day 2. Jones to Stuart via a stop at John’s Island. 9.2 Miles. The Theme of the day was Glass, Thank you Current, Hello Orcas.
I spent a lot of time Monday night worrying about the rips off Green Point. Well, if you time it right....
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....they don't exist. We called this Lake San Juan Channel and it was like this all the way to Stuart Island.

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Once we got on the north side of Spieden Island, the Ebb carried us past Cactus and right into John's Island.
We took a break here, and then about 20 minutes later, a pod of five transients milled about Cactus Island and Gull Reef. I want to say the the seals stopped all their honking about, but it might be that I was so focused on hearing the whales breathe as they came up for air. We opted not to take pictures because…well they would have sucked

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John's Island looking back at Spieden.

Regarding Stuart Island, I am a Prevost Harbor convert; thank you Cougarmeat. I know this is subjective or YMMV, so please know I know that. On this day and night, we had a quiet evening at camp, the yachties were quiet, and we built a decent size campfire that moved most of the mosquitoes out of the way. We did hike down to the campsite at Ried Harbor and it was party time. A large group dropped into that first site and did a crab boil, sing along and looked to have a good time. I was happy for the solitude.

Day 3 Aug. 24, 2022 Hello Canada. Stuart to South Pender to Portland Island 16.5 Miles
We crossed Lake Boundary Pass (it was that calm, take a look) during the end of the ebb, to check in at Bedwell Harbor.

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Things to know if you are coming in from the US: When using the phone to check in with customs, you have to make a separate call for each paddler, if they have their own boat; lame. 20 minutes turned into 40 just to check in. The water from the tap is tinted, go ahead and use it. The showers were amazing. During the crossing of Swanson Channel then Moresby Pass we said goodbye to the glass and hello to the theme for the rest of the week; “what does it say on Windy?”

Portland Island is a gem (I'll admit this was a destination only because we're from Portland, OR). We camped at Sand Beach; we were the only ones there after the sun started to set. The best image from that night was the silhouette of what we believe is Salt Spring Island after the sunset. Or maybe that's a part of Vancouver Island.
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The second best image was the fifteen pairs of glowing eyes up in the tree right above my tent. It looked like a Christmas tree with lights on.

What we know now and love about Parks Canada: They provide metal food bins that protect your food from the critters. More importantly, Canada clearly budgets more for Toilet Paper than Washington Parks. This was consistent across all the sites. Thank you Canada.
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We also learned that the ferry traffic coming from Swartz Bay is impressive. Get all your belongings off the beach near the water. You will see wake waves all day long.

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What we also learned was when there are people at Sand Beach for the day, just make the walk north of the campsite along the beach and hangout here....No Boats, No People.

Aug 25, 2022 Day 4 On to Rum Island then Sidney
My first ever kayak trip was in 1995 with SeaQuest and Martine took us from San Juan County Park to Rum for a two night stay. I have forever since wanted to return. This was that day. I was also taking a small bottle of rum at the suggestion from @WaterSpider since there might be a “Pirates Chest” in a cave. I found it. And I brought that bottle for the next Pirate to find.
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North Side of Rum Island. We stayed here for about three hours because the South wind was whipping up Haro Strait and Wiindy, our trusty Wiindy, told us it would die down by 4:30pm. That was putting us back in the water against the flood, but we used Spieden, Forrest, and Sidney Islands to block a lot of that.

What we learned: approach Sidney from the north when the tide is in. You get to paddle right over the spit and remove at least a mile of extra paddling. We also learned Forrest Island is private with a lot of signs. It's a great rest stop to contemplate the crossing to Sidney Island.

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Forrest Island

Day 5 Aug 26, 2022 Sidney to Island View Beach for a visit with cousins in Victoria (Shower and Lunch and a beer from Driftwood Brewing included) Along with a stop at MEC as we learned one of us (Me) left the frame to a kayak trolley on Rum Island. So much for leave no trace.

This would be the end of photos taken from the kayak.

When we left Island View for D'Arcy, we had our first miscalculation. In truth, we should have waited. The first two miles to D'Arcy were straight into wind and waves that were breaking over the bow. At one point I told my son we need to consider a bail out point and maybe have the southern tip of Sidney as an option. After 40 minutes of paddling and not yet two miles into the crossing, the wind died. Windy was right we were just stubborn. The rest of the paddle was calm, and then we landed at what might be my favorite spot now....
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D'Arcy Island landing on the west shore. I love the site, the trail, the view across Haro Strait. I don't know if I was just happy to be out of the waves or just to be with my son on the last night of an awesome kayak-about. I sat under the stars that night and watched satellites and shooting stars. All was awesome. I won't post pictures of the leper colony ruins. You can find better ones online.
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Looking north with Little D'Arcy behind the sign.

Day 6 Aug. 27, 2022
This was the day of reckoning. The south wind was once again growing early in the morning. Our plan was to cross Haro at 11:30 because the ebb was moving to slack and the flood could push us through to Roche Harbor. If timed correctly, a current actually turns east as it hits D'Arcy and pushes across Haro toward Mosquito Pass. As luck would have it, the wind was going to switch at 12 pm to a west wind at 2knots.
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What we learned: Just because the wind turned and the current was going to slack does not mean the waves would disappear. There were 3 to 5 ft waves going from the south, our right to left as we paddled across Haro. The only thing that made this not stressful was they weren't breaking white caps and there was no wind. It was just big rollers that would bob us up and down, but it never felt dangerous. (This is what I'm telling myself at least) We also learned that these big waves were rebounding off Henry Island near Open Bay and creating very confused waters. Once we landed at Roche Harbor, a guide from another trip was telling us there was a small craft advisory. I didn't hear that on the weather channel so I want to believe he misinformed.

Epilogue:

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Me and my travel buddy.

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Homeward Bound
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As we rolled off the ferry up the ramp at Anacortes, my new MEC kayak trolley caught a gap and collapsed...The black lines are cracks in my Kevlar Seaward. The trip was epic so this didn't bug me much. Now to find someone who can do repairs in Portland.

Cheers and thanks for reading if you made it this far.
chris
 

CPS

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BC
Looks like an awesome trip! Shame about the damage, but glad it happened at the end and not the beginning.
 

cougarmeat

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Bend OR USA
So - did you make the trip back to pick up your trolly frame? If one of the NWP members can pick it up, they could mail it to you.

Is Windy your weather app? Does it work on Apple devices?

One thing: if you have to move a loaded boat (they are usually not designed to handle a heavy load out of the water), instead of picking such a boat up from the ends, give each person (if there are two people) a long webbing loop they can slip under the kayak and over their shoulders. That way they can pick it up with the straps more towards the center (instead of right at the ends) and you can lift with your whole body instead of just your arms. If there are three or four people to carry, you can have two people - one on each side - on the same strap.

What was dance to check into Canada? I'm told you need to use some "App" on a smartphone and show your vaccination status and specify your point of arrival and intended date.

Thank you for the photos. You visited many of my favorite places. But you didn't mention picking up your Stuart Island shirt so you'll have to plan another trip back :)

If there is no structure damage, you might consider those scratches as memory joggers - reminders of a good time - and keep them. When someone sews up a hole in my recreation gear, I ask them to use non-matching thread. That way I have a story. "see that patch held on by a green thread ... that happened the time I was three-quarters of the way up Mt. Rainier and this big white hairy looking snow creature peeked out from behind a rock ...."
 

ChrisPoteetPdx

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Jan 17, 2021
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Portland, Or
So - did you make the trip back to pick up your trolly frame? If one of the NWP members can pick it up, they could mail it to you.

CP - We did not make it back to pick it up. My bet is the crew wtih Parks Canada picked it up. It was right next to the trailhead leading up the hill.

Is Windy your weather app? Does it work on Apple devices?
CP- Yes, windy app on apple works great. Nailed the winds perfectly, and when it rains I find it is as good as anything else out there.

What was dance to check into Canada? I'm told you need to use some "App" on a smartphone and show your vaccination status and specify your point of arrival and intended date.

CP - Back in August we used the Arrive Can I think just to cover our bases. I could tell the officer on the phone was looking up to ensure we had submitted our Covid Vaccine details. In terms of the rest we used the phones at the dock in Bedwell Harbor. We found out later that the guard shack with the phones had actual officers manning the station the day before.

Thank you for the photos. You visited many of my favorite places. But you didn't mention picking up your Stuart Island shirt so you'll have to plan another trip back :)
CP - I'm glad you appreciated the photos. You know how it goes, you take hundreds and try to find the ones that capture the moment the best and aren't crooked. I'm no pro as my son will attest, but I try.

If there is no structure damage, you might consider those scratches as memory joggers - reminders of a good time - and keep them. When someone sews up a hole in my recreation gear, I ask them to use non-matching thread. That way I have a story. "see that patch held on by a green thread ... that happened the time I was three-quarters of the way up Mt. Rainier and this big white hairy looking snow creature peeked out from behind a rock ...."

CP - This is a great idea. I bought this kayak used, and there is a nice patch where the owner admitted to dropping the kayak on its side. He did a wonderful repair job and apologized that it doesn't match the original color. I will definitely have it patched in a different color as a reminder to never use that trolley on that boat ever again. My son's Plastic Necky would've fared much better.
 

kayakwriter

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kayakwriter

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Me and my travel buddy.

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Homeward Bound
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As we rolled off the ferry up the ramp at Anacortes, my new MEC kayak trolley caught a gap and collapsed...The black lines are cracks in my Kevlar Seaward. The trip was epic so this didn't bug me much. Now to find someone who can do repairs in Portland.Cheers and thanks for reading if you made it this far.chris

Thanks for the great trip report and pix. For future reference, I prefer to put my wheels under the midpoint of the cockpit. This lets you run tie-down straps around the front and back of the coaming to keep the wheels from slipping off. It also means the wheels are supporting more of the combined weight of kayak and cargo. When you have the wheelies more towards one end, it's more wheelbarrow style, with you supporting more of the weight with your hands.
 

ChrisPoteetPdx

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Portland, Or
@pryaker - that map is a screen grab from the kayak atlas app on my phone. It's the digital version of the printed version that Philip was mentioning. I have paper atlas as well and will print copies of the pages I need for the time slots I will be on the water in case my battery is low. For a one week trip it ends up being about 15 pages in total. Not a lot of space taken for a good bit of detail. We knew we wanted to leave near slack, but that tidbid informed us to go a little early for the assist.

@kayakwriter - OMG, thank you so much for that advice. I don't know why I felt compelled to have the caddy so far back. This is why I love this forum. Cheers!!!
 

cougarmeat

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Sep 17, 2012
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With the trolly in the middle, under the cockpit, it is easier for the kayak to twist left/right and get off-line with the wheels. It doesn't take much resistance against a wheel (a small rock) for that to happen. So it's important to snug down those straps you locate just in front, and in back, of the coaming. Also, because you are in front and looking ahead, it's good to have a caboose person making sure that end is behaving, and, should a small obstruction appear, give a little lift so with both of you lifting and the wheels rolling, you more easily clear the obstruction.

It can also provide an exercise in patience when the caboose person thinks they don't really have to pay attention and a wheel rolls into a divot.. Or so I'm told :)
 

kayakwriter

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So I sent Jurfie a link to the PDF of the Current Atlas earlier. In return, he kindly sent me this cool link to freebie downloadable versions of the look-up tables to see which pages in the Atlas to look up for which date and hour. If you've ever spent ages trying to work these out manually, you'll really appreciate how timesaving these are.

https://borsboom.io/current-atlas-tables/
 

JohnAbercrombie

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Victoria, BC

alexsidles

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Jan 10, 2009
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Seattle WA
The Current Atlas is such a great resource I’m surprised it has never been expanded to the rest of BC. I think the first edition came out in, like, 1983. With the vast improvements in remote sensing, communications, and computer modeling that have occurred in the decades since, why haven’t we seen an atlas for the entire west coast?

Chris, thanks for a great trip report! Sorry for the hijack!

Alex
 
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