Vacationing in Seattle Area - need ideas

If you’re going where you think you might capsize, wearing Doc’s vented earplugs or a neoprene cap or headband would be a good precaution to lessen the shock of the cold water.

Beach topography varies. Obviously, a slight slope will mean a longer carry at low tide. AFAIK, Patos doesn’t have bears. At least, it didn’t when I was there. The major nuisance in the SJI is RACCOONS, not big critters.

Your list of places is too much for 3 or 4 days. Mt. Rainer AND Hall of Mosses AND Orcas-Patos campout AND Salt Creek/Freshwater Bay AND Cape Flattery? And none of those is in Seattle, where you stated you’d be based.

Access to Sucia

– Last Updated: Jun-09-14 2:36 AM EST –

I saw on google maps that Moran St Park does have a short strip of land adjoining the north shore (at the end of Bluebell Springs Rd), but I guess no launch. Oh well. Looks like there is a ramp at the end of North Beach Rd, and a kayak shop to boot, but I'm not sure about their regs. I don't think they allow you to paddle their rental boats to Sucia but will transport them via water taxi (but not sure if they let you camp with their boats overnight). I'll look into it.

too much
I was planning on 3-4 days of paddling, but my gf is leaving on the afternoon of the 27th and I will be staying through the 4th (and leaving on the 5th), so more like 9 days to do those things.

not random…

San Juan County Parks and Washington State government were upfront totally supportive.

So now it’s a gf, not a wife? nm

gf not wife

– Last Updated: Jun-09-14 2:18 PM EST –

There is a perfectly innocent explanation. My wife is leaving on the 20th and my gf is leaving on the 27th…got a problem with that? :)

No, just kidding….we've been together for 8 years…so for all intents and purposes she's my wife, so sometimes I say that because it's more descriptive of our relationship. GF sounds too casual. Sooner or later though, we will have to visit the JOP to make it official.

Everett harbor isn’t bad
For serious paddlers on a time budget, it’d be best to head north of Seattle to Deception Pass area and San Juan’s. But for less adventurous paddlers or paddlers who want something closer to Seattle, Everett Harbor isn’t too bad. You can paddle around Jetty Island and stop off on the island for a rest. Jetty Island is a narrow island that helps form the Everett Harbor, supposedly the biggest private harbor on west coast.

Jetty Isle is an isolated park, accessible only by boat. starting off at the Everett Port boat launch, you can paddle around Jetty Isle at high or low tides. At high tide, it is a relatively short paddle, but enough for a workout. If you paddle low tide, the paddle will be longer and you may need to tow your kayak at parts(so bring a rope). Although you’re near a high density population area, you feel pretty isolated for most of the paddle, especially during low tides when motor boats can’t go get to most of the areas.

You can see harbor seals and birds. Some times of the year there is a nesting bald eagle on the island and outside of the harbor a ways, you can see grey whales at certain times of the year (April usually) if you are lucky.

Navy Shipyard
You have received lots of good suggestions. You really can’t go wrong with anywhere you decide to paddle. Lots of mothballed ships at Navy base Kitsap. I think there are 5 carriers there along with some Destroyers, tugs and landing craft. Only rule is you can’t approach closer than 300ft. They Navy has cameras watching the waterfront so they will send a patrol boat out to question you if you breach the perimeter. If you launch at Lions Field, you have to plan for tides. Current is pretty swift through the Washington Narrows. If the timing isn’t right you can launch at the gazebo on the corner of Trenton and E. 10th in Manette. It is right across from the Manette Bridge approx. 1/4 mile.It bypasses the Narrows and puts you in very close to the USS Turner Joy. The TJ has military history/Vietnam etc and is now a floating Navy Museum. You can get real close to that ship. From there it is an easy paddle to the Navy shipyard and dead fleet.

freshwater vs. neah bay

– Last Updated: Jun-09-14 3:20 PM EST –

Freshwater bay to crescent beach and back is a very nice paddle and much lower on the risk scale than cape flattery.
Cape flattery requires surf launch and landing and several miles of paddling with no place to land. However, scenery wise, Cape flattery and Tatoosh Island is probably one of the most spectacular paddles in the lower 48 states. It's also 5 hours from Seattle. Caves, big sea stacks, rock gardening, whales, etc. The cape has been the site of numerous CG rescues.
In Seattle, the best local paddle is over to Blake Island state Park from Alki point in West Seattle. Involves a 3 mile crossing across shipping lanes. The whole island is a state park.
South of seattle, there are several small islands near Olympia which make good day trips. Circumnavigate Harstene or paddle to Hope island.
In the San Juans, launching from Washington Park in Anacortes involves a 7 mile rough water crossing with 3-4kt cross current or you can take the ferry to Friday harbor and WHEEL your boat to the kayak dock. My favorite paddle is to go from Washington park to Friday harbor via Cattle pass. A 25 nm paddle but only doable a few times a year due to currents.
From Friday harbor, you can paddle north to Jones Island, around Shaw or to Stuart Island if the currents cooperate. The san juans are full of passages with 3-5kt currents so trip planning is complex task. Some trips are just not possible some times. All trips involve crossing currents and rips.
Other paddles from Anacortes include an overnight or 20mi day trip around Cypress or Anacortes south to Bowman Bay near Deception pass.
If you like currents, Deception pass is our local playground. A 6-7 kt ebb is quite friendly in the northern Canoe pass with a cove and beach and small current area. A 6-7 flood in the main pass is several grades harder with a large boat swallowing whirlpool and no place to land. If you miss a roll in the main pass you are flushed out and your day is done.
Driving on to the Orcas island ferry, and paddle to Sucia island for a great overnight. The 2 mi crossing to sucia crosses 3-4kt cross currents and a reef.
One of my paddling partners has a great personal site.

Do you guesstimate the currents based on tidal data, or is there a specific resource one can consult for current information?

300 ft
Google overhead imagery maps looks like the perimeter is delineated with a float line so hopefully that would prevent me from engaging in behavior that motivated them to send out a boat.

Well, if I did Flattery, I had hoped I could avoid any surf landings/launches by leaving from Neah Bay. Looks like about 15 miles out and back, and I would do so with a hired guide, aborting if the conditions seemed perilous or otherwise beyond my comfort level. But I don’t know, maybe it’s not a good idea. It does look amazingly scenic.

current and surf data
Check out the list of paddles at

Launching from Neah bay works but I would at least want surf survival skills to do this paddle. Most people do this either from Makah bay as an out and back or as a shuttle with direction depending on current. I’ve rarely done this paddle and not been worked over a bit. I’ve had to tow exhausted paddlers, rescued someone with a dislocation, paddle in 20kt winds and 6-8’ seas. The calmest time to do this paddle is late summer. If you can find a guide to take you on this paddle do it but definitely I wouldn’t go alone. This is also a tidal trip as there is a significant flow along the coast and in the strait.

The freshwater to crescent paddle is much more doable without surf skills and still gives you a ‘coastal’ feel.

Another trip with a semi-coastal feel is Anacortes to Deception pass. 19nm with cliffs, kelp, lighthouses and fog.

I use the noaa link below for currents.

Very often in the san juans you end up pulling over to a beach waiting for the current to slack to make a crossing or get through a passage. Unless you like being on a current treadmill! Winds blow from the West and North in the afternoons. 20kts in Rosario, the Strait of Juan de fuca or strait of Georgia is normal for a summer afternoon. Interior winds in the san juans are usually less than 15kts.

The adventure kayak charts below are very useful as they have current vectors, tide rips, and other important info on them. I would order some of those charts and start planning!


tides and currents

surf forecast

live ferry winds

animated currents

freshwater bay and flattery photos

ace ! thanks for the links.

I haven’t kayaked Neah to Flattery, way beyond my skills. I have watched from above Tatoosh on Flattery hill. Swell between Flattery and Tatoosh were always 8+ feet on clear days and unknown on foggy days.

Fishing boats surf through there. Looks exciting !

The primo kayak route out there is Makah Bay to Wedding Rocks or Alava ? …I read of this. Never saw a kayak out there.

key thing to remember about slack
current and slack of the tide, they ARE NOT THE SAME THING. many a person has went awry thinking low/high tide means there is not current. Depending on where you are there will be an offset. Washburne tables work well for the San Juans. There are some online current predictors as well but I haven’t used. Best to consult where you are renting boats and describe your paddle plan. Enjoy, you are in for a treat.


– Last Updated: Jun-10-14 4:56 PM EST –

Don't think the barricades are set at 300 ft. Maybe in some places but believe they are close to the end of some of the piers. The mothballed fleet does not have a barricade around them so it would be easy to violate the 300ft security space. Can't remember all the carriers in the dead fleet but know the USS Ranger, USS Independence, USS Kitty Hawk, USS Constellation and I think one more but can't think of it right now. Rule of thumb is if you are close to the floats you will get a visit. No big deal, just say you are from out of state and thought you were 300 ft. out. Worth the paddle. Not far away is the USS Turner Joy (allegedly fired upon by the Viet Cong which brought us into the VN War)and the Bremerton Marina. The TJ is open for tours. You can paddle circles around that Tin Can and nobody would care. Fun place for a leisurely paddle.