Sunday, May 11, 2008

Trip to Stuart Island

With close friends coming up from Oregon we knew we had to do something extra fun. These particular friends are very adventurous and love all sorts of wilderness travel and so we thought in our short amount of time with them we would head to Stuart Island, which feels as far away as possible without going up into Canada.

We loaded up and departed on Friday night for the two hour trip to Reid Harbor. I had hoped that the max flood would push us along nicely all the way north but it turns out that on the back side of Spieden Island the current flows SOUTH in a big flood and we were slowed to 2 knots against the very strong current. We had to motor the whole way with the absence of any wind. The east side of Spieden is very scenic and we had harbor porpoises all around us in the gap between San Juan and Spieden.

Once into Reid Harbor we joined about fifteen other boats at the head of the harbor by the state park dock. The highlight of the trip was hiking out to the Turn Point Lighthouse on Saturday. It is a short 2 mile walk and the reward is an extraordinary overlook and historic lighthouse buildings.

Besides the usual bald eagles, harbor seals, harbor porpoises, and other miscellaneous local fauna, we were treated to the sight of a Peregrine Falcon that clearly resides on the sheer cliff face of this NW point of Stuart Island. We also found the tidepooling to be especially rich down on the rocks for such small pools. Very large limpets, diverse chitons, sea urchins and all the usual critters in small pools near the mid tide line.

That night I went out for a solo sea kayak paddle in our Helios inflatable and retraced my steps from my Anacortes to Port Hardy sea kayak trip of 1999. I had stayed in Reid Harbor on that trip and crossed from Stuart over to Canada. As I paddled the route again that night, I had wonderful memories of that 30 day 300 mile journey. Paddling a sea kayak is as smooth and natural and comfortable as anything could be to me. When our boys are bigger, we will take expeditions together.

Our friends had a great time, we think, and on our return to Friday Harbor on Sunday we enjoyed 15 knot winds and a sustained beam reach at near hull speed almost the entire way home. Heaven.

Gosh our Gulf sails beautifully and smoothly. No herky jerky bouncy jitters. Just smooth and solid and easy.

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