Tuesday, May 15, 2007

son of showdown at skagit island

Day 1- First kayak experience. First time I loaded one on a car. They are heavy, awkward and require specialized knots to tie the ends. Ahoy landlubber. I figure this all out eventually, as well as learn that Thule must think everyone paddles a 20ft kayak as the cord they include with their attachments is way too short. Remember the paddles, a paddle float, and a bilge pump. I sure would feel stupid if I forgot something! On the road; lots of traffic. Get to Cornet Bay and unload at the marina/boat launch. Being without a truck or trailer at the boat launch makes me an oddity. Load up and launch and shortly realize that I forgot to bring a spray skirt. Yikes, who feels stupid?

I hug the coast line. Meet up with the sea clipper gang before the crossing over to Skagit Island. Pretty calm paddle. Kaj, sitting in the bow position of a canoe, unfolds and holds a spinnaker as the wind was coming from behind. It looks like a monty python skit featuring Vikings, showtunes and the sea. We arrive on Skagit after 45 minutes or so. The kids are flying kites on the point. The grownups are making beer bread in dutch ovens. Upon getting out of my kayak, I find that my legs are asleep and nearly topple over. Twice. Eventually, I set up camp on the beach, and optimistically reason that the tide couldn’t come this high. About an hour later, some guy motors onto shore with an aluminum fishing boat, family, dog and the biggest box of Coors Light you have ever seen. Fortunately, our group grabbed all the campsites here, so he must go further down the island. Rats.

Day 2 – The kids, sleeping in one big kid tent for the first time, wake up at 5:30am and go nuts with a giggle and laugh marathon. Nils leads the charge. A few hours later, the dutch oven club bakes scones for breakfast. Ted makes fun of the marshmallows in my hot cocoa, but I remind him that my stove works when I push the button, unlike his. It actually IS all about the marshmallows, and do not let anyone tell you otherwise.

First paddle of the day is a trip around nearby Kiket island, with Lisa tearing it up in a solo canoe and Ted and I tandem in another. As we get to a sand spit at the head of the island, Ted thinks we should portage over the spit, put in on the other side, and make it a circumnavigation. So we do. Upon coming back, I hear an accordion and the singing of sea shanties; see the movie for a taste of that.

The Campbells arrive midday, and we later go for another paddle to Hope Island. [Funniest moment of the day: Clark's youngest daughter, Lauren (see pic of cute little girl with curls) walks up to me as I am packing my kayak. She puts her hands on her hips, looks the kayak up and down and says "Sooo, is this your boat?" I look at her and answer that it is. She takes another second to look at it, then replies "It's nice." Then she sauntered off. Killed me.] As we begin the crossing, we pass a point where the fishing boat family decided to camp. We look to see the mom holding a piece of wood and allowing the small boy (probably 5 or so?) try to split it with a hatchet. Scar-ree. Hope Island iss warm and calm, and I take a little nap on a big boulder. This is what the trip is all about. Kaj and Maylon turn up a spray skirt (long story) and give it to me to use for the rest of the trip. They also give some paddling pointers on the way back that makes life on the water a little easier.

Since Clark had so much cargo room coming out, he has a big bucket of oysters. These are popular at dinner, especially with the kids, who keep asking for the biggest ones so they could eat them in front of the others. When I was a kid, there is no way I would have eaten an oyster. None. Wind arrives that night and rocks the tent a bit, but it is still very sleepable.

Day 3 – Mothers Day means mimosas for the moms at breakfast. Another midday cicumnav of Kiket for those that missed it the first time. A slow pack up and then back home we went. Crossing back to Cornet this time is windier and choppier (for me at least), but I can say I feel more comfortable after 3 days of paddling than I was on day 1. Thanks to the Hope island crew for the invite and hospitality; everyone was very accommodating and I learned a lot. Canoe or kayak, that is the question.


Anonymous said...

You got it right Josh: paddling is at least 50% about the eating.