This blog covers trips from the book and other favorites. Contact Rob in Seattle: rob@robcasey.net or 206-465-7167

2/16/17

Elwha River Mouth - Washington's Newest Beach (Seattle Times article) Trip #40

I've had the opportunity to watch the Elwha River dam removals over the past few years. I surfed the river mouth pre-removal when the beach was cobble. Over the years, soft sediment began to not only cover the cobble but also extend the beach into the Strait several hundred feet. The sediment changed the river mouth from shallow reef style waves preferred by short boarders to sandy beach waves better suited for paddlers. Pre-removal, I was able to paddle up the river mouth nearly a quarter mile to a class 2 rapid, now the sediment has choked the mouth to where it's nearly impossible to make that trip.  The sediment is so thick that you lose sight of your hand just below the water's surface.

Paddling the mouth is best at high tides when you can skim over shallow submerged sections of the delta. At low tides, you can paddle around the entire delta.

Be watchful of waves. The Strait can be flat calm, or not. Despite the differences in wave types, large waves can break on the west and north sides of the delta at any tide level. If you prefer a calm no wave day, use the following sites to forecast swell 4' or less, and no or little wind. A NW or W swell over 4' can deliver substantial waves to the delta. Or a strong W or NE wind (over 15kts). Use surf etiquette if other surfers are present.

Launch from Place Road (right fork) but be prepared for a 10 minute walk on gravel to the beach. Check out the book for additional launches. Trip #40

Read a great article on the post-release Elwha delta.. (posted 2/14/17)

Surf Forecast Sites I Use:
Surfwater.org - PNW surf forecasts
NOAA - Puget Sound to WA Coast Marine Forecast
WindAlert - Real time wind data

Looking west towards Freshwater Bay and Striped Peak  (courtesy of Doug MacDonald) / Seattle Times

2/6/17

Portage - A Vashon Shortcut - Trip #11

Portage from Maury Island, Seattle & Mt Rainier in backgroun
If you're paddling down Puget Sound from Seattle to Vashon Island, there's a long way around Maury Island, (SE Vashon) and a short way. The long way is over 8 miles from Tramp Harbor to the south tip of the island.

By portaging from Tramp Harbor over Portage, a narrow isthmus separating Vashon Island from Maury Island, the route through Quartermaster Harbor is only 4 miles in protected water.

Portage is approx 200 yards wide at high tide. Watch for speedy traffic. In Joel Roger's Water Trail book, a classic read, NW paddling guide Joel is seen crossing Portage during his epic paddle from Olympia to Pt Roberts following the Cascade Marine Trail.

The Shomamish People used Portage not only to shorten trips but to catch birds. By raising 300' wide nets, they would catch birds passing through the narrow gap.

Looking to rent a SUP on Vashon? Fat Cat Paddle Boarding operates during the summer on the south side of the point.

Joel Rogers crossing Portage



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1/30/17

How the Navy Tried to Turn Bioluminescence Against the Soviets

Here's a really interesting article fellow paddler Darrell Kirk of Stand Up Paddle the World sent me. Since I offer Bioluminescence tours, this was down my alley, sorta...


Reports of bioluminescence from the past, collected in 1966.
 U.S. NAVAL OCEANOGRAPHIC OFFICE
 In October 1999, Ukraine’s secret service showed up at the home and office of Sergei Piontkovski, a marine biologist, and started raiding his files. They were looking for information about plankton.
Piontkovski was a leading scientist at the Institute of Biology of Southern Seas in Sevastopol, Ukraine, and since the fall of the Soviet Union, he had been working with colleagues in the West to analyze huge troves of ocean data that Soviet ships had collected around the world during the Cold War. The investigation focused on the grant money that Piontkovski and his colleagues had received from western institutions, but the New Scientist reported at the time that there could be another reason for the Security Bureau’s interest in the scientists and their plankton data—some of their studies focused on tiny bioluminescent organisms that could help military forces detect enemy submarines.  Read More..
A port beam view of a Soviet submarine, 
1977 NARA/6363107


Learn more about my book Kayaking Puget Sound and the San Juans, 60 Trips. I also offer SUP and Kayak lessons available throughout the year at Salmon Bay Paddle. Questions about paddling on the Salish Sea, give me a holler anytime at salmonbaypaddle@gmail.com or 206-465-7167

Support the Washington Water Trails Association and the Cascadia Marine Trail. The wwta works to create and protect access for paddlers on Puget Sound as well as provide an extensive network of over 60 paddle-in camping sites - www.wwta.org





The Salish Sea Marine Trail

Reposted from Wild Coast Magazine...
Trans Canada Trail (TCT) and BC Marine Trails Network Association have come up with the perfect recipe for connecting Vancouver Island and the rest of Canada by trail. Just add saltwater and stir with a paddle.
The result will be the Salish Sea Marine Trail, a blueway – a saltwater route designed for paddle craft and small beachable boats – that will connect The Great Trail (the new name for the Trans Canada Trail) from Horseshoe Bay on the BC Mainland to Kilometre Zero of The Great Trail at Clover Point in Victoria.
Salish Sea Marine Trail
The 257-kilometre trail will snake north from Clover Point along Victoria and the Saanich Peninsula into the Gulf Islands, then north past Nanaimo through the Winchelsea and Ballenas islands across to Lasqueti and Texada Islands, then down the Sunshine Coast and across Howe Sound to
end at Horseshoe Bay.
From there it will connect to the Sea to Sky Marine Trail to link to Squamish by water plus connect with The Great Trail land trails in Vancouver and the rest of Canada.
The Salish Sea Marine Trail will not only provide the link, it will create an incredible new paddling route in its own right, providing a human-powered connection spanning the Canadian side of the Salish Sea.
Spearheading the Salish Sea Marine Trail is the BC Marine Trails Network Association (BCMTNA), an affiliation of British Columbia's kayaking and paddling clubs along with private members and business members. Formed in 2009, its mandate is to develop marine trails along the British Columbia coast through a network of access points and campsites developed in association with government agencies, First Nations and stakeholders.
Other partners coming on side for the Salish Sea Marine Trail include the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea, which will provide the marine ecology interpretive component for the trail as it develops. Read More..

Learn more about my book Kayaking Puget Sound and the San Juans, 60 Trips. I also offer SUP and Kayak lessons available throughout the year at Salmon Bay Paddle. Questions about paddling on the Salish Sea, give me a holler anytime at salmonbaypaddle@gmail.com or 206-465-7167

Support the Washington Water Trails Association and the Cascadia Marine Trail. The wwta works to create and protect access for paddlers on Puget Sound as well as provide an extensive network of over 60 paddle-in camping sites - www.wwta.org

1/28/17

Point Robinson on Vashon Island - Trip #11

Point Robinson is a point on the SE section of Vashon Island that juts out into Puget Sound facing the beach front town of Des Moines. The Sound zig zags a bit here this forcing current traveling north and south quickly around the point. Some say freighter waves jack up here when opposing the current. The historic lighthouse was built in 1885 and automated in 1978. The lighthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. 

There's several routes for paddlers to access the lighthouse. Des Moines from the east is approx 2.6 miles which includes a crossing of that section of the Sound. Think about current when crossing, over compensating your route - go further north if the current is flooding.  You can also access it from various put-ins on Vashon, the closest being Portage which separates Vashon and Maury Islands.

The lighthouse and surrounding grounds are run by the Vashon Parks District and the light keeper quarters are maintained by the Lighthouse Friends.  You can rent the adjacent lighthouse keeper quarters for the night via VRBO.  There's also a Cascadia Marine Trail campsite north of the point and up the hill.

Lodging & Visitor Info - Vashon Parks 
Pt. Robinson Stewards have fully restored the two Keepers' Quarters on the property for use as rentals. All proceeds from these rentals goes back into the park's restoration and maintenance. For additional information about renting the Keepers' Quarters, contact Eric Wyatt, Lodging Manager, at 206-465-3180, ewyatt@vashonparks.org, or see VRBO.COM to learn about all of our vacation rentals.


Sunday tours of the Lighthouse are available mid-May through mid-September. During the off-season, tours can be scheduled by calling Captain Joe Wubbold at 206-463-6672.

The Ship's Store Gift Shop is open seasonally on Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 5:00 p.m. Call for additional information at 206-463-1323.


Address: 3705 SW Pt. Robinson Rd., Vashon, WA



Learn more about my book Kayaking Puget Sound and the San Juans, 60 Trips. I also offer SUP and Kayak lessons available throughout the year at Salmon Bay Paddle. Questions about paddling on the Salish Sea, give me a holler anytime at salmonbaypaddle@gmail.com or 206-465-7167

Support the Washington Water Trails Association and the Cascadia Marine Trail. The wwta works to create and protect access for paddlers on Puget Sound as well as provide an extensive network of over 60 paddle-in camping sites - www.wwta.org




1/19/17

Armored Shorelines of Puget Sound

"Shoreline armoring" refers to any kind of structure built to immobilize beach sediments and prevent natural erosion of the shoreline.

Approximately 27% of the total shoreline length of Puget Sound is armored with some type of retaining structure, although in urban areas such as the city of Seattle, the percentage is much higher.

The location of shoreline armoring often overlaps with ecologically valuable habitats for birds, fish and other organisms, but the effects of this overlap are not well understood. Research is needed to determine the effects of armoring in Puget Sound, particularly under what circumstances armoring has negative effects. 

For more background information on the impacts of shoreline armoring, see proceedings from a recent workshop entitled Puget Sound Shorelines and the Impacts of Armoring

The above info from this website





Learn more about my book Kayaking Puget Sound and the San Juans, 60 Trips. I also offer SUP and Kayak lessons available throughout the year at Salmon Bay Paddle. Questions about paddling on the Salish Sea, give me a holler anytime at salmonbaypaddle@gmail.com or 206-465-7167

Support the Washington Water Trails Association and the Cascadia Marine Trail. The wwta works to create and protect access for paddlers on Puget Sound as well as provide an extensive network of over 60 paddle-in camping sites - www.wwta.org

1/17/17

Searching for the Metal Door and WW2 Bunkers in a Cliff on the Strait of Juan de Fuca

Paddling friends over the years have mentioned a weird metal door in a cliff near Crescent Beach and Salt Creek Rec Area on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  The door was said to be on Agate Point, on the west side of Crescent Bay.

In the same area, several pillboxes and gun batteries were built in WW2 to fend off any incoming enemy fleets. Salt Creek Rec area has a drive-through emplacement from a 16' cannon on the cliff above Crescent Beach. I head read recently that several pillboxes and possibly larger emplacements were built extending from Port Angeles to Cape Flattery. Online research of 1940's era Army documents states that an emplacement was built on Agate Point. Google Earth aerial images didn't indicate obvious sign of the bunker so, with a window in my schedule and low surf, I decided to go look for it and the weird metal door.

I rarely allow myself time to search for these things as the launch areas are part of a surfing beach, so usually I end up surfing when I see good waves versus paddling beyond the surf to go explore. On flat water days, I tend to go east of Salt Creek leading sup tours from the east side of the bay past Salt Creek towards Freshwater Bay (or from Freshwater wast towards Salt Creek).

Launching from the Salt Creek RV Park through 4' close-out surf, I paddled beyond the impact zone into the middle of the bay headed towards Agate Point. The middle of the bay was interesting with heightened waves coming in, probably due to a reef below. A 15kt east wind helped my progress towards the point. On the north side of the point, there was a curious hole in the 50' cliff about 1/3rd of the way up above what appeared to be the high tide line. I thought it was the door as it was pretty deep and not very natural shaped. The swell was about 5'-7' and pushing hard up against the waist high rocks below the cliff. No a good place to land, would be better to explore on a flat day.

I continued around the point knowing (from aerial photos) that there was 2 pocket beaches to explore. Several bald eagles soared above and two landed on a cliff above me. An otter slipped into the water from a mussel covered rock reminding me of the native Salish saying 'when the tide is out, the table is set.' Despite being a lower tide, the swell was breaking inside on big rocks near the beaches so again I continued along as landing would cost me a lot of ding repairs. I spotted a cool channel with surge firing through that would be fun to shoot through but there was so much clapotis (reverb waves) and being solo, I passed that one by.

On the south side of the point, there's a nice arch and interesting rocks leading up to the cliffs above. Wind sculpted trees reminded me of the Oregon Coast. An aerial image showed a flat cleared area on the top of the cliff that facing west that could've been a bunker site, but nothing human made could be seen. I was looking for clear areas, maybe a drainage pipe from the cliff or if lucky, a section of overgrown concrete sticking out. Not knowing if it's legal to land plus, heavy surf on the rocks below and a steep cliff with little access up kept me from climbing up.

Weird door in rock, sea cave to the right around the rock
By this time I had view of the bay on the west side of the point which has a crescent shaped steep sandy beach with a weird looking house beyond. Knowing the house was part of the private area, I stayed offshore.  Just to west is a 400' (?) rock cliff jutting straight up to a line of trees. Curious about being below the cliff and looking up, I paddled over. About 200 yards from the beach yet on the cliff, I noticed a hole. Paddling closer, I realized this was the weird hole in the cliff. The door was gone but the hole was rectangular shaped with a rusted metal frame and a dribble of water coming out. Again, the seas were crashing on large rocks below the door, so landing today wasn't an option. I really wanted to look inside.  Perplexed why there was a perfectly shaped rock hole in a 400' cliff face, I poked around and found a sea cave about 25' west. I assumed the door and cave were linked but why would there be a door there? Pretty odd. I sat floating offshore trying to figure it out but the east wind was building, so I reluctantly turned around to head back. I wondered if the hole was related Port Crescent, the former logging site in the area.

Google Earth view. Door at
far left white arrow. 
After rounding Agate Point and heading back to Crescent Bay, I found myself paddling against the east wind and chose to sit down and paddle kayak and canoe style back to my launch. While still sitting, I spotted a few nice swells and rode one in sticking my hand in the wave face to slow the 14' board down for an easy landing.

Tips for Launching on Crescent Bay - 
A family owns the beach from the west side of Salt Creek to the Crescent Beach RV Park, to the west side of Agate Point. Much of this trip was private property, so even if it was calm, I'd be reluctant to land and explore further. Note that the family is very serious about trespassing and will try to prosecute you if you resist. I've seen it before with surfers and once chatted to a local Sheriff officer who responded a call regarding trespassing. A decade ago, a friend and I landed on their beach in heavy seas and high wind for our own safety. A woman came out and yelled at us and followed us, taking our license plates #'s (in the public lot) down threatening us with criminal trespassing. In summer a man will watch kids in Salt Creek (huh?) and direct them to the country park side of the creek. One advantage to the family owning the bay is that it's keeping it from being developed.

While most in the State own land above the high tide line, these folks bought the old logging town rights (Port Crescent) and own beach rights, even under the water to the middle of the bay. If you see some one with a walki-talki, best to get back in the water and leave quickly.

That said, at the Crescent Beach RV Park, you can pay them $9 (check or cc over $10) and use the beach for the day (or camp overnight for more). Many friends do park there to access the bay and campsite's showers and a laundry.  I usually park in the free Salt Creek Rec Area lot down the road (where Salt Creek comes out). On this trip I paid and launched at the RV park to save myself a half mile of paddling to the point (due to my schedule).

Know how to Surf?
The beach can be flat or have 15' close-out waves breaking. The Strait is interesting that way. You can use surf forecast sites to check for ocean swell before launching. If you see a 5' or more W or NW swell coming in, think about a heavy surf launch vs a calm lake like start. In the surf, you can time your launch waiting for a lull in the breakers then darting out (and back).  I did noticed that the beach by the sea stack and county park was breaking less steep than the RV Park beach.  If you're paddling a large kayak or sup respect the surfers by staying clear of them by about 3 boat lengths.  Or take my sup or kayak surfing classes to learn how to surf and launch through surf for trips.

Paddling around Agate Point was interesting with large swell coming in (always look out towards sea) blowing up on the rocks inside. I love that but if you're not experienced in big water, wait for a flat day.  Given the trespassing issues and remote area, I'd want to avoid a paddling incident here.

Camping: at the RV Park and Salt Creek Rec Area.

Getting ready to go at Crescent RV Park
Equipment Used: 14' Imagine Surf Connector SUP, Gath helmet, MTI Cascade PFD, 5.5/4mm RipCurl wetsuit, NRS Desperado Shoe booties with NRS Expedition Socks (due to 30F temps), ProBolt Accent Paddle, SuperFlex rubber SurfCo. fin, VHF and Glacier Gloves. Note: I attach my leash to my PFD to avoid getting stuck in heavy kelp beds.

UPDATE - 1/20/17
Research points to the hole as being a manganese mine, popular in the area during the late 19th century. And there is a bunker above the hole on the 400' cliff accessible via the DNR road nearby. 

Helpful Links:
Aerial Photo Sites for Trip Planning
How to Forecast Surf
NOAA Marine Forecast


Any questions give me a holler: salmonbaypaddle@gmail.com / 206.465.7167
Check out our Kayak and SUP classes in Seattle - Beginning to advanced instruction including freighter and tug wave surfing, coastal surfing, rivers and racing, plus PSUPA Certification.
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