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Sucia Island Paddle 2011

Paddling to Sucia via Spencer Spit, and Jones Island 

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Launch Point Beach next to Guemes Ferry Dock
Max Difficulty: SKIV
Paddle Length/Time 5 Days
Tide/Current Station  
Destination Echo Bay Sucia Island
Description Sucia Island State Park is a 564-acre marine park and is considered the crown jewel in Washington's marine park system. It is consistently ranked as one of the top boating destinations in the world. Sucia Island and several smaller islands comprise the "Sucia group."  Sucia Island is one of the the northern most Islands in the San Juan's, only Patos is further north . The island is horseshoe shaped and approximately 2.2 miles north of Orcas Island. There are 60 campsites on the island. Our plan is to spend 3 days at Sucia paddling the local waters.  We picked an extended paddle route to reach Sucia which also allowed us to circumnavigate Orcas Island.

Day 1 We meet at the Guemes Island Ferry Dock and load our boats on the beach just to west of the dock.  We are crossing the Guemes Channel and heading west toward the Bellingham Channel and crossed to south end of Cypress Island heading along the island to Strawberry Island located on the west side of Cypress.  Strawberry was WWTA site but was closed by the state for budget reasons.  You can still take a break there before crossing Rosario Strait.  Please note you are crossing 3 channels that all have strong flow associated with them, be sure to check your current charts before going.  Departing Strawberry we make for Thatcher Pass and our 1st days destination Spencer Spit State Park. We are treated to some light rain that evening, luckily there is a nice shelter there where we cook and eat our dinner.

Day 2 We pack up and head out paddling north along Lopez Island we round Upright Head and cross over to Shaw Island.  Our initial destination is Blind Island for a rest stop. The weather has been nice and sunny.  We are soon ready to depart and head for Jones Island we'll be continuing west in Harney Channel we paddling through Wasp Passage, we cross over to Crane Island and once reaching the end of it we head north through the Wasp Islands on to the west side of Jones Island State Park.  Jones is a  popular kayaking destination, there are 2 WWTA camp sites and several regular state parks sites.  We are the only ones here and enjoy a spectacular sunset.  Be sure to check the current charts when paddling this leg,  Wasp Passage and Pole Pass can have strong currents during max flow.

Day 3 We are up early,  we have a long 15.5 mile paddle planned.  We head north around Jones and cross over to the west side of Orcas Island.  The weather is good with sunny skies.  We paddle up the coast watching bald eagles and variety of other birds.  The coast line is a very rocky with minimal places to stop and stretch, especially at the south end.  It takes us about 3 hours to reach Point Doughy at the north end of Orcas.  We turn east here along the coast and paddle for a 1.5 miles  before north again to make the crossing.  About 3/4 of mile into the crossing we start feeling a wind coming out of East Sound on Orcas and we soon are paddling in 1-2' wind driven waves.  We paddle the remainder of the 2.2 mile crossing paddling the waves and winds.  We are all beat when we reach Sucia Island and get some shelter from the wind.  The  rest of the paddle into Echo Bay is uneventful.  We are happy to be on the beach and setting up our camps.

Day 4 & 5  We stayed on Sucia.  We had planned day trips to Matia and Patos Islands but the win continued to blow making fr some rough seas we opt to do a circumnavigation of Sucia Instead staying close in to avoid the worst of the wind. 

Day 6 It's time to go!  We have enjoyed our stay even though it has been unseasonably chilly in the evenings.  The camp fires helped!  The plan for today is to paddle to Clark Island.  This is a 12 mile paddle.  The Marine Forecast is good with only light winds forecast.  We start out and head across to Orcas Island and then paddle along the north shore.  Once we get close to Barnes Island we paddle across to the south end and then cross to Clark Island.  The camp sites are on the east side of the island about mid-point.  We are soon ashore and have our camp setup.

Day 7 It s a great morning, sunny and clear skies and totally calm.  We pack up and leave Clark by 9-9:30 and paddle south along the shore crossing over to the Sister Islands and then start the crossing.  The weather and water is so calm that we decide to make a straight shot for Pelican Beach,  this is a 5+ mile crossing.  You should only do this is the conditions, weather and current and all in your favor.  It's a long crossing..  but after a couple of hours we reach Cyprus Island and Pelican Beach on the north end of the island.  Cypress is a DNR site and has 2 camping areas on it, the other is at Cypress Head, also on the north side of the island.  It's our last night of camping.

Day 8 We pack up and head back to the Guemes Ferry Dock.  We paddle south along Cypress until we reach the small islands between Cypress and Guemes.  We cross over to Guemes and paddle along the south shore until we reach Guemes Channel, we have timed it so that we reach the channel with a 2.2 kt current pushing us toward the Ferry Dock and it's an easy paddle in.  The Channel as usual is choppy from boat traffic and the current but not bad.

A good trip! 


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Last Updated:  June 02, 2015