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


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 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 -


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: / 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.
Get the Book


Aerial Photography Sites for Planning Paddling Trips

Whenever I get an idea for a paddling trip, race or finding a new surf spot, I immediately think of the general location, then open Google Earth to start scouting routes, beaches, access points or in the case of racing, figuring out mileage for the race course.

Dept of Ecology - WA Coast
Before Google Earth, I used a Dept of Ecology site called Washington State Coastal Atlas. The site covers all shorelines, saltwater or fresh in the state. With this site, you bring up state image then click on the red dot of the area of interest, then zoom in.  You scroll left to right or vice versa to explore the shoreline. There's four choices of which years of footage you want to view which is great for comparing shoreline change. The years are 1970's, 1990's, 2001 and 2006.  Click here to check it out.

In recent years, I've mostly switched to Google Earth which breaks out of the left right scrolling to pulling or scrolling anywhere you want to go. Google has 'street views' which is seeing the image 1-1 vs from the air.  The only downside is when you zoom all the way in, a forest begins to look fake or photoshopped. Same issue with some street views. Perhaps that's the result of the current technology with pixels being re-created to allow us to scroll any direction up or down, etc. Military locations are shadowed out and some areas which are not sensitive may look cloudy.

Google Earth 5 mile race course (Seattle)
Google Earth does allow you to save a jpg of a place and save that to your page as well. I use the Ruler a lot to determine distance in miles, nautical miles, km, etc. That's all I use it for, I'm sure you can take advantage of more of it's features if needed. When I have a race, I'll save the race course (ruler path showing course route) then open it in Photoshop to lighten it and/or add arrows, text and other directional items.

Sometimes I use both Google Earth and the Dept of Ecology sites. Then checking web cams and local weather stations (NOAA) to get a history of weather in a specific area

Here's a few examples of how I use Google Earth and the Ecology site...

Google Earth with Photoshop directions

Dept of Ecology - WA Coast

Any questions give me a holler: / 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.
Get the Book


Seattle Beach Park on Perkins Lane - Trip #15 & #18

A few years ago, I was leading SUP tours from the 32nd Ave W put-in on Magnolia (south of the village). Right before our turn-a-round spot at Four Mile Rock, a small 'pocket park' suddenly appeared accessed from Perkins Lane.  From a quick glance, the park had rock rip rap to prevent erosion and a gravel path leading to the street.

Parking, road access
Today I was in Magnolia and thought I'd take a peek at the park from the road.  Perkins Lane is famous for it's disastrous 1996 landslides that took out several houses pushing them into the Sound. There's still evidence of the house foundations on the beach halfway between 32nd Ave W and the current end of Perkins Lane.

Perkins lane itself is a one lane curvy road that borders the SW corner of Seattle Magnolia neighborhood. Homes of all sizes can be seen on both sides of the road ranging from junky old homes to huge mansions and a more modern yet well designed small homes tucked in between. A friend who live along there says the walled home with the multiple security cameras was Mackelmore's right hand man, Ryan Lewis's house. It's now for sale.

There's no public access to the water aside from the pocket park. Driving along Perkins from Discovery Park you can see West Point through the trees, then Alki and Harbor Island from the south side.

The park has about 3 parking spots alongside the road. The carry in is about 100 yards down a gentle sloped gravel pathway which leads to a paved patio or sorts with a boat ramp on the west side. Though I was winded walking without a board/boat up to my car. Four Mile Rock is just offshore to the west. There's private signs on the east side of the park with substantially large homes above.
Path to road

Four Mile Rock History - An erratic boulder, it was left here during the glacier age. Native Americans called the rock LE'plEpL, also written La'pub, and also called it Tele'tla (meaning "rock"). A legend says that a hero named Sta'kub could throw a giant cedar and hazel branch dragnet over the rock while standing at the beach Read more about the rock

The Magnolia paddlers I know don't launch there but it could be a good spot to take a break or evac in case of a emergency. The drive in from the Discovery Park access takes about 10-15min. Raye Street would be a shorter access point. The park would be difficult to access with waves and wind given the rock border. Freighter waves do break pretty big on these shores even at higher tides.
Four Mile Rock, looking West

Paddling Info for Four Mile Rock, the ebb current will pull your around the corner past the rock into the bay leading to West Point. When we did tours here, the rock was our turn-a-round spot. If we dilly daddled to much, the ebb would pull us north, making for a hard paddle up current back around the point (with beginner paddlers).

The point by the rock that leads towards West Point is great for freighter waves at lower tides. I've seen 5' sets jacking up here (it's a point break) and firing all the way into the bay below the bluffs at Discovery Park.  If you don't like waves, watch for freighters and time passing this area before/after the waves. You can use to spot boats before they come to you.

In the book..32nd Ave W to Four Mile Rock is part of Trip #15 / Ballard to West Point is trip #18
Location:  47°38′20″N 122°24′48″W

West Point Webcam (operated by a kite surfer on Perkins Lane)

Real Time Marine Weather for West Point (NOAA)

Four Mile Rock Barge Dive

Park Directions

Paddling Distances:
2 miles from the West Point Lighthouse
1 mile from 32nd Ave W put-in
3.5m from Elks Beach in Ballard.

Any questions give me a holler: / 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.
Get the Book


Paddling Pillar Point on the Strait of Juan de Fuca

After the Mountaineers commissioned me to revise this book, I chatted with original author Randall Washbourne in Port Angeles.  Like many, the book was my first introduction to where to paddle on Puget Sound and the Salish Sea. I still have my original copy, a bit worn but still in good shape with a few coffee stains.

When I told him that I had permission to add 10 trips, he suggested a few places, Pillar Point west of Port Angeles and Sooke Harbor on Vancouver Island. Sooke got in or the BC section of the book, but Pillar Point was just a tad bit too far west to be considered Puget Sound.  I will on occasion post about other great places to paddle in the region that are not in the book.

Pillar Point, Clallam County
Pillar is on the windy Highway 112 (Scenic Byway) about 45 minutes past Port Angeles (35 miles). Head west on the 101 from 'PA' as locals call it, then in about 10 minutes, take the Highway 112 exit on the right. In a minute, you'll pass over the Elwha River, then in another 2 minutes, you'll see Place Road on the right. This is the best access to the Elwha River mouth. Keep following the 112 enjoying it's forest, pasture and Olympic Mountain views to the town of Joyce. The Joyce General Store is your last gas (and snack) stop until Clallam Bay, fuel up if you're low on supplies. The Blackberry Cafe down the road is also a goo stop for lunch and a blackberry shake. Also a fun stop in, especially if the owner is playing his guitar at the counter. Kids will love their massive supply of candy (though you may not).

Why 112 view of Pillar Point from above Deep Creek
Back on the road, continue down the 112 west of Joyce. The road will curve up into the hills past various clear-cuts then after about 15 minutes drop down to the beach to Twin, a nice spot to launch, crab or go smelt fishing. Also a great beach to poke around on.  The 112 once again turns uphill into the woods, then again drops down in about 10 minutes to Deep Creek, another spot to get out and explore by foot or launch (watch reef if there's waves). There's parking along the road. Past Deep Creek, the 112 heads back up into clear cuts then in about 15 minutes, look for the Pillar Point County Park  sign. Upon my last visit in summer of 2016, there was a fresh clearcut at the sign. Head down the one lane hill to the beach. There's lots of parking, an outhouse and a boat ramp. Also notice the 'Warning Contaminated Shellfish' signs. Check regs for updates for fishing here.

Facing the Strait, the Pysht River empties out into the pleasant shallow bay on your left (west) which can empty at lower tides. Across the bay one mile is a 5 story vertical rock, this is Pillar Point.

View from parking lot across to Pillar Pt
Explore the bay following the river channel up into the river mouth, a meandering Class 1 float into the Pysht River Conservation Area managed by the North Olympic Land Trust. You'll feel light upriver current, stronger with recent rains.  Back into the bay, view intertidal life below your craft as you cross to Pillar Point.  Park your boat/board along the shore to explore the rock and surrounding lands. If you're a long distance paddler, it's 7.4 miles to Slip Point and Clallam Bay along a rugged yet interesting shoreline with pocket beaches, surf below a tall bluff.

A PA local and former logger suggested we park our boats at the point then hike over the hill to a meadow which may have a large population of elk. You might do some research to see if this legal from a trespassing point of view.  I believe the land is DNR or may below to the Pysht River Tree Farm (accessible via the 112 past the park's entry).

On a huge winter surf day about a decade ago when all other spots were blown out or going off bigger than what I prefer to surf, there were waist high waves coming in from the Point leading to the parking lot. These would've been long easy rides but we moved on to another spot down the road for a bit more size. The park is also a good place to take a break when coming back from or going to Neah Bay.

Get directions and more info on the park at the Clallam Bay park site.

Going to Neah Bay?  You have two options, Highway 101 then the 113, or Highway 112 then the 113. We prefer the 112 for less traffic and it goes along the Strait providing paddling and surf options the entire route. The 101 has Lake Crescent which is worth the view but can be slow with summer tourist traffic.  Check with WSDOT prior to departure for any travel alerts. These roads do go out on occasion, especially the 113.

Google Earth view of the bay (parking lot lower right)

Any questions give me a holler: / 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.
Get the Book


How to Pack a SUP for Overnight Trips

5 Tips for Packing a SUP for an Overnight Trip..

Packing a SUP for an overnight trip can be tricky if you're on a 11-6 to 14' long board.  If you're in non tropical climate packing enough warm clothes, sleeping bag and tent can be a problem.  But smart choices and clever packing will allow for more things to fit on your board.

- If your board doesn't have leash plugs on the deck to attaching ropes/bags to, add some using plugs by NSI (spectral loops) or Seattle Sports.  Usually 4-6 plugs will do on the nose in front of where you stand.  Give more than 24hrs to cure before attaching rope/bungy. I've rushed it and have had them pull off prior to curing. Or find install your own leash plugs (or hire someone).

Freshwater Bay, WA
- Use cargo netting from a fabric store (rope not bungy) instead of the stock X crossed bungy that comes on most boards. The X shape isn't enough to secure most items down. I've seen a few students lose water bottles from that arrangement.  Kayaking deck bags are also a great solution. Some are waterproof and others like Seattle Sport's Parabolic Deck Bag are shaped to allow for water to pass by without too much drag.

- Pack with minimalism in mind.  Small down sleeping bag vs big synthetic bag.  Tarp and/or bivy instead of a tent. One pair of camp clothes with packable coat.  Pack food and misc small gear into pots to save space. Pack dry items in dry bags then all into a waterproof duffle bag.

- Gather what you need and pack into dry bags.  Then decide what you can do without.  Pack again then remove again till you have the absolute basics.  Carrying too much also means paddling a heavy slow board.

- Do a test run also called a shake down trip before your trip to make sure you gear isn't too heavy to paddle, won't shift in wind and waves or will be a weather cocking (wind shear) issue.  Can you right after a capsize?  How far/fast can you paddle with 35 lbs of gear on your nose?

Safety - Always wear your PFD and leash on open water and in remote areas.

Watch my video on How to Pack a SUP for SUP Magazine, here.

Who's doing overnight SUP tours?
- We do at Salmon Bay Paddle - 1-2 night guided tours on Puget Sound in Washington State. Click here for more info.

- in British Columbia, Norm Hann Expeditions

Any questions give me a holler: / 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.
Get the Book


High Winter Daytime Tides of 2017

Tis the season for big daytime high tides and a few King Tides, the highest tides of the year on Puget Sound.  The image below was from November 2016, about a 12.5' high tide.  King Tides usually go to or above 13' heights creating problems for low bank housing, docks and marinas.  Seattle area tides have a smaller range than those of the South Puget Sound. Whereas the Strait of Juan de Fuca and outer coast have ever smaller ranges than Seattle.  

Notable daytime high tides in 2017..
1/2-4 - 12.5'
1/13-15 - 12.9'

In contrast, in Spring and Summer leading up to and just after summer solstice we'll get into big tidal exchanges going from a -3.6 on 6/25 at noon to a 12.4' high that same day at 7:49pm. Pretty cool and fun to watch the change. Get out there and explore the low tide beaches and note how every ridge or depression effect incoming tidal flow and/or waves.  

Follow tides using the resources listed on the following post from earlier this week.  Click here to view

12.5 high tide in Seattle, Nov 2016

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 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 -