Day 1 Friday Harbor to Griffin Bay: 6.3 miles
This should have been an easy paddle, <7 miles and all afternoon to
get there. The paddle out of Friday was easy and we headed for
Turn Island. The tide was going out and by the time we reached
Turn Island the pass between Reef and San Island was high and dry so
we paddled around the east side of Reef. We start getting a wind out
of the southwest and hit it full on passing Danger Rocks. We
have a 15 MPH wind with <1 wind driven waves coming straight at us.
We paddle on getting a bit wet as some of waves wash over the bow
and we get the occasional wave over the cockpit. After
paddling hard for about an hour we decide we are not making any
significant headway and decide to alter our course and quarter the
wind, we make a little more headway but its still a slog. We
finally opt to head due west and make land fall so we are sheltered
from the wind. It takes another 30 minutes to reach shore and
we take a break. We been paddling 2+ hours to go 7 miles and
were still 1.5 from Griffin. We follow the shoreline down to
Griffin, much easier and arrive. We are the only ones there.
We make camp.
Griffin Bay camp site
is a little hard to find/see on approach (thank you GPS!).
There is a Water Trails marker that is visible once you get about
100-200 yards off shore. The campsites where large and grassy
and it looked like there were at least 4 sites. We were the
only ones there that evening. Restrooms are 300 meters inland. The site
has a nice view to the east.
Day 2 Griffin Bay to Ram Island: 16 miles
We had a really early get up (5 AM!!) so that we hit Cattle Pass at slack, we
were on the water at 6:40 and paddling. This is a 16 mile day
so there is little time for sightseeing or exploring. The water was calm
crossing the bay, but we did have a tailwind. We entered Cattle Pass and had some light
chop, light wind, and paddled through with no issues passing
Deadman's Island and rounding Davis Point. Once we round Davis
Point we encounter wind and wind driven waves, like the day before
it's about 10/15 MPH with ,1 ft wind waves and swells. We
paddle across the bay passing Mummy Rocks, Long Island, Hall Island
and on to Iceberg Island heading for the beach near Agate Beach
County Park. The beach is protected by Iceberg Island we have
a nice break. After a 30/45 minute break we are off again
rounding Iceberg Point we encounter some really rough waters at this
point 2-3 ft waves being blown in and rebounding from the rocks.
It becomes a rough ride as we paddle through, I am thinking
that a dry suit in the aft compartment is not doing me any good!!
The rough rides last along most of the southern end of Lopez with a
steady parade of swells coming from the southwest. I suspect
that the waters here are always turbulent and you should plan for
that, these waters are open all the way to the San Juan Channel and
any wind action will whip up swells and waves.
The first part of this leg is very exposed to westerly's, be sure to
check wind conditions before paddling this route. Be prepared
when paddling the south end of the San Juan's.
We paddle for about on and decide to take a break on a nice beach
just before Cape St Mary, we need to be in Lopez Pass at 2:30
(slack) and we have about 2 hours to rest up. The sun comes
out and we take a nice nap on the beach and after lunch.
Getting ready to go we find out Bob left his PFD back at Agate
Beach!!!! He is wearing his dry suit... but... We press
on, the paddle to Lopez Pass slowly gets calmer with the Lopez
sheltering us from the breeze. We reach Lopez at 1:30, and
hour prior to slack. Please note there are quite a few beaches
at this end to stop on. We look into the Pass and it is still
flowing out at about 1.5 kts, we stay close in to shore and paddle
through the pass. The water is calm with no turbulence showing
at his time. Our destination is Ram Island just through the
Pass. Bob and Conrad stop on a small beach just across from
Ram and I opt to paddle across, it takes me about 15 minutes
paddling against the current and wind. Not bad. Ram
Island is a private island that is for sale, it was recommended as a
potential camp site by one of the kayak shops. I spend about
45 minutes exploring the island while Conrad and Bob take another
nap. The Beach on Ram is on teh Southwest side, it is exposed to the
southwest wind. The camp sites are about 40' behind the "For
Sale" sign in the trees. Conrad and Bob paddle over and
we climb to the top of the island, Spencer Spit is about 3 miles
north and after some discussion we decide to forge on. It took
us about 45 minutes to reach Spencer, at tis point we are tired and
sore.. it ended up being a 21.6 mile day, we were worn out!
Again we were the only campers in the kayak camp site, it was a
chore hauling the gear up the hill. We had a well deserved
freeze dried meal and a drink. A couple of Advil for the body
and all was OK...
Day 3 The rain started after midnight and continued all night
into the morning. We had breakfast in the cooking shelter and
pondered our options. The wind was again kicking up even
more than the day before. There were lots of white caps on the
south side of the Spit. The forecast was 10 Gusting to 25...
we sat and waited hoping for it to calm down. Bob did some
exploring and talked the park rangers into giving us a lift to the
ferry so about 1 we opted to head home. The wind blew for the
rest of that day, it was a good decision. Why spend all day
sitting in the chilly wind... ?
We stopped at the Mt Vernon Brew Pub and had an excellent dinner and
an unventful drive home.