Archive for July, 2014

Into the surf

Friday, July 4th, 2014
The north coast of the Olympic Peninsula, from Washington 112

The Straight of Juan de Fuca, near Bullman Creek

Our life at Loreto Bay had lulled us to some extent. Sure, there were exotic-looking destinations, but they were reached across water that, at least if you arose early enough, was pretty placid. Northwest Washington offers conditions that, if they don’t exactly raise the stakes, at least change the odds when it comes to traveling. The water is cold enough to kill you by itself, and there are places where it moves really fast or gets really big.  I decided to explore some of these possibilities, with the help of my friends at the Northwest Outdoor Center.

My first trip with them was to Deception Pass, where a group of us practiced playing in the tidal currents and nearby eddies.  Then, last weekend, I drove out to Hobuck Beach, on the Makah Reservation south of Cape Flattery, to learn about dealing with surf.

The setup is perfect. The beach is sandy and gradual, the campground above is comfortable and now boasts of some modern amenities, and the experience, both in the camp and in the water, was well orchestrated. I have now had a little success at surfing. As for heading out through the waves, I now understand the problem well enough that I may not just be stupefied the next time I punch through a wave that’s taller than I am.

A surf log and a long stretch of gradual sandy beach, south of Cape Flattery

Hobuck Beach

We become anadromous

Friday, July 4th, 2014


Five years ago when we bought our kayaks we needed a place to keep them while we were getting ready to move to Mexico.   Seattle of course offered a number of options, but some were either distant or inaccessible.  We could see the Bell Street Marina from our window, for instance, an easy walk up the waterfront; but getting the boats there, and then in and out of the water, would have been difficult.  Other spots that allowed storage did not always provide easy launching.

But after the end of the summer season, temporary spaces opened up at the Moss Bay Rowing Club, which is located, not on Moss Bay in Kirkland as one might expect, but at the south end of Lake Union. Though we got our Eddyline Fathom at Alki Kayak Tours in West Seattle, it was at Moss Bay that it was baptized, joining the Delta 16 that we had ordered first. We only needed the slips until the end of October, when we left for Loreto, expecting that the boats would spend the rest of their days on the Sea of Cortés.

It turns out though that we are back in Seattle, and the Fathom has come with us, returning to its fresh water origins just like a salmon would, or steelhead.  It has waited long enough to secure a permanent, year-round berth within a few feet of the water.  It’s an easy walk from our digs, or one can make part of the journey on the famous South Lake Union Trolley.

Who can live in Seattle and not consider buying a houseboat?

Who can live in Seattle and not consider buying a houseboat?

There’s plenty of paddling to do locally, admiring the ingenuity of house-boat dwellers, dodging seaplanes and racers, stopping in to eat at shoreside cafés — and all of Lake Washington can be reached without any barrier.   And, temptingly, Puget Sound, the Salish Sea, and ultimately the Pacific Ocean are just beyond locks or portage.