In which our novice launched into his new endeavor with four paddle trips at West Point in Discovery Park in Seattle, two trips each to Green Lake and the Elks Club beach, and one each at Golden Gardens Park, the 14th Street NW boat launch, and Cormorant Cove Park near Alki Point in West Seattle. East of town, Issaquah Creek from Lake Sammamish State Park and Sammamish River from the WDFW boat launch were explored.
Monday, August 25, 2014
My boat isn't what Water Rat would have had in mind, but it should do for me. Made in 2009, it's a rotomolded, linear polyethylene, short eleven foot version of a 17 foot sea kayak.
It's a Necky Manitou Sport, 10 feet 11 inches long and 44 pounds. It has sea kayak lines, but with a bit of rocker along its length and a skeg molded in aft. Widened to keep enough floatation and with a rounded chine, it's very forgiving. With a large, nearly recreation-sized cockpit, it's not built to defend against water coming in.
Tuesday, the 26th
After a stop at the NorthWest Outdoor Center (NWOC) on Lake Union to buy two foam blocks, two straps, and a used PFD, all for 73 bucks, then the carpet store on 85th Street for a 28 by 48 inch bound carpet remnant for nine dollars more, at last I was on the water at Green Lake, floating off Duck Island in a bower of willows.
So loading and unloading from both the interior and the roof are taken care of (except for the car connection points for the front and back lines for the roof). The PFD for $25 was about a third of new, giving me more to spend on the boat. I don't suppose you could swamp your boat with drips from your paddle, but you sure can get wet. I need a cockpit cover.
Sunday, August 31st
At Green Lake with Lee in attendance, I twice dumped the kayak and went swimming, then emptied the boat of most of its water and reboarded, scramblng cowboy style over the stern. The first time was in water shallow enough to just barely stand up, and emptying and reentering were both easy. The second time was in deeper water. Emptying and entering the boat with only a sleeveless shorty wetsuit and no PFD was possible, but left enough water to make the boat unstable without a lot of bailing. Climbing aboard was harder, too, but not by much. It's pretty easy over the stern.
Monday, September 1
After that, I played in the waves in the shallow water off the point, then paddled down toward the Hidden Valley beach, with sea lions, rocks, and a good paddle back. Loading up gets easier each time. But my hands are shot -- my kayaking might have to be limited to shorter trips.
Wednesday, the 3rd
I used the new cart to cross the sandy beach at Golden Gardens. The kayak twice slid off the cart before I figured it out -- the boat had to be nearly centered and tied more securely. I launched, eventually.
At the green buoy I sat for a bit, hoping for a ship's wake to play in. The water stayed quiet, so I paddled north to look at the little rock garden, then back south, into the sun.
Landed the boat on the beach, to the car for a snack, then back on the water and south for a look at the Shilshole Marina ramps and docks.
I didn't see how I'd get my little boat from the water up onto the dock -- it seemed too much of a lift for me -- and I didn't want to risk the boat on the concrete ramp, either. So back I paddled to the beach. There, to keep sand out of the van, I ended up just shouldering the boat and carrying it over the sand to the grass by the car.
It added up to some confused wave action. Then, not sure how easy returning against the building north wind would be, I paddled back.
After beaching and bathroom break at the Elks, I headed north into the wind, hoping for a break from the marina breakwater, but no luck. So paddling against the moderate wind provided a nice lesson -- stay off the water when it's very windy.
Saturday, September 6th
I launched from the 14th Avenue NW boat ramp in the fresh water of Salmon Bay, for a jaunt down to the locks into a little breeze and with the wind back. Very little current was evident from lake outflow.The spray deck showed its worth today as a couple of steep waves from a powerboat wake washed over the kayak's bow. Without the spray deck I'd have been soaked, but with it, hardly any water at all.
Afterward, I drove over to Magnolia to look at the put-in at Commodore Park just west of the locks. It would be a steepish but grassy thirty yard walk to a bit of sand beach, at higher tides.
Sunday, the 7th
I had wanted to do a moonlight paddle, but decided on all days one of the few we've had this summer that was gray and threatened rain. So a day off shopping instead.
At the library I borrowed paddling washington as it styles itself. I'll buy it and Paddle Routes of the Inland Northwest, too. Even tho' the latter repeats much of paddling washington, it describes more routes in its smaller area. I'll also buy kayaking puget sound and san juan islands, which seems to cover its area well, including such details as the gyre in Shilshole Bay.
Tuesday, the 9th
This afternoon the wind was picking up and there were small craft warnings for this evening. So instead of going out and playing in the waves (I'll order a real spray skirt tonight), I stayed home and tightened all the screws on the Necky, fixed the Sienna's seat belt (without dismantling anything), and sawed and shaped a plywood cover for the Sienna's spare tire. On a roll, I installed the dashmat, too.
I drove to West Seattle and explored the put-ins from south of Duwamish Head to Alki Point to Cormorant Cove Park. There I finally found a put-in protected from the surf, but which required a somewhat difficult carry -- which, it turned out, did a job on my back.
With a moderate north wind and waves everywhere else, Alki Point protected the water of Cormorant Cove. But paddling out from the point provided practice in how not to broach in a following sea, plus demonstrated the need for both a skirt for the cockpit and more skill. I ordered a skirt, cover, and dry bag from REI. Am working on the skill.
Picked up the skirt and cover from REI and returned the spray deck, then stopped at NWOC to exchange the PFD for a larger size.
Saturday, the 13th
My back still a mess, I made it to the Friends of the Library book sale at Magnuson Park and in an hour and a half picked up 15 books at a dollar a book -- kayaking, climbing, trees, birds, and more. It was like Christmas. After, I drove over to the small craft center and ate a late breakfast as I people-watched on the dock. It was being used as a beach, with sunbathers, readers, and chatterers, plus divers, swimmers, boarders and boaters of all ages and kinds. But I left the kayak in the car.
Thursday, September 25th
Below that tree I'd scootched across one tree, snuck through another, and ducked under a third, but this one would have required a portage, so that was that for this exploration.
I floated back down the side channel and continued up the river. Looking for slower water, I ferried from the inside of one river bend over to the next, in a kind of watery ju-jitsu, using the force of the current itself to ferry me from side to side.
That wasn't always the thing to do when the river widened, dropping its already slight current to near nil and a more direct line, straightening the stream as it were, was the better approach to the task.
I made it about three miles up to Bothell Landing, where there was no landing today -- with all the heavy equipment there maybe they intend to make one.
On the drive I stopped at Lyon's Creek Park. It was nice enough, but with on-street parking and a wheel to the water. Note that with a south wind the waves at this north end of Lake Washington have at least a ten-mile fetch.
Sunday, the 28th
It looked as if two miles west down Ebey Slough would get me to the flats around the west end of North Ebey Island and the triple confluence of Ebey, Steamboat, and Union Sloughs. From there, either out into Possesion Sound or up one of the other sloughs.
Or, east up Ebey Slough about four miles to Otter Island and a cut through to Steamboat Slough for a return through the mud flats to home. All very ambitious.
From there I drove back down I-5 to US2, immediately off its viaduct and down around to the Snohomish River's main channel, on the way crossing Ebey Slough with disappointedly no access at all, and along the lovely Riverview Road, also with no water access for miles. I hit Hiway 9 at Snohomish, then fast to home.
Tuesday, September 30th
Then, near as I could tell, he spent the next twenty minutes scratching himself on the cable anchoring the buoy or eating or something. He was nose down in the water, back or tail flippers up, as he kinda hung there, then came up for a snorting breath.
At one point a young harbor seal popped up so close to me that I was afraid he might hit my paddle, but of course he didn't. (An hour or so later another kayaker reported that the sea lion was still at it.)
After that I headed into the sand spit off the point to try to surf the wakes that can stack up and run in the shallow water. I got a little taste from a tug, and then a cruise ship. The tide was still too high, though, and the waves to small for much real surfing. But it was fun and my hip snap felt right, too.
Here's the journal for the next month of October 2014.