nearly 60 years in canoes. First an unequivocal, “Don’t do it !!” The considerations.
Tides. Tides move water faster than you can paddle. Period. Yes, there may be slack tides, ebb and flood, spring tides, neap tides, king tides. Before you venture on to the Sound even once, you MUST understand them all, and WHEN they occur during the day and during the month.
Wind. On open water, wind can entirely exceed the ability of even the most experience paddler to make positive headway. I have literally been blown backwards onto a beach while continuing to paddle into the wind. The classic fatal error concerning wind, just occurred in Maryland. Robert F. Kennedy’s granddaughter Maeve McKean, and her son. Ball was blown off the land into a shelter small bay, the first clue is the ball was being blown offshore, they grabbed a canoe and went after the ball. The wind was too strong for them to paddle back into the wind and the safety of the shore. The shore was sheltered, because the wind was going from the land out over the water, it looked easy and doable, but 50 or 150, or 250 feet out, the wind was too strong to be able to point the bow into the wind, and paddle back to shore. There are many times, it cannot be done, by me, or by anyone.
Third. Sailing, or paddling on a schedule, you need to get back to your car, house, job, girlfriend, you need to get back on a schedule. “Oh, I can make it.” uh, No. You cannot. Open water, Lake Washington, Puget Sound, you ARE a sailor, and you “Sail on the tide.” You make or adhere to ZERO schedules, except are the conditions perfect. Wind light and from the correct direction, tide running exactly how is best, lights, night travel, You Do Not push off from shore because, “You have to be home.” The only clock you are on is the Sea’s clock. If you ever make a decision because you have to get back, you are dead.
I own 4 canoes and 9 paddles at the moment, some of the paddles, have 9 or 10 thousand miles on them.
IF you really want to do it, the right boat, sturdy and good tall bow and stern, high sides, The first two I would recommend are both from Clipper Canoe, the McKenzie 18’, and the Sea Clipper 18’6" WITH A full spray deck… North Water Vancouver, BC will build and excellent one for you. You should have some substantial floation under that cover. Both boats are beefy enough to be able to deploy a rope three step ladder over the stern so you can climb back in. You always go with suitable clothing AND dry spares in a dry bag.
We just went through 6 grand in gear, and we covered the must do, and must not do, gathered from 60 years in canoes. I was out paddling today. I have a 200 mile white water trip lined up for mid June.
Begin with an inexpensive boat, small lakes, and small rivers. The turns and twist of a river are absolutely essential training for what is coming. You cannot paddle a straight line, until you learn to paddle the twisty river. The two or three currents you MUST learn, a canoe paddles in the river current, the canoe at the same time paddles the wind current, you learn to play one against the other, the third feature, is waves and wakes. You must be able to without thinking about it to deal with a 3 or 4 foot tall wave, with the next following, and then the next,and the next.
The Puget sound is for an absolute rarefied canoeist who is also willing to stay on shore for Monday and Tuesday, before he heads home on Wednesday, 2 days late for work. He will get there safe and sound and alive.