Getting Started: Puget Sound Challenge Leg 11
Melissa Spangler’s Journal
Puget Sound Challenge Leg 11: Baird Cove to Boston Harbor- 10 NM
We met at Zittel’s Marina for the second time, but for this leg we would end up at Boston Harbor. Once we unloaded our kayaks and gear, we shuttled to the Boston Harbor Marina. A number of vehicles with racks pulled into a large parking area designated for the Marina. Moments after parking, two women walking dogs stalked towards us and stated “You know you can’t park there, it’s for the marina store only.” It appeared like it was open for those using the marina which is where we would finish the 11th leg of the Puget Sound Challenge, however on a small sign at the end of the lot, only viewable as you leave the lot, were details listed about who could park there. Our group is a well mannered, polite and respectful crew who wanted to find public or paid parking. The owner of the store was treating us as if we were treacherous thieves of parking lot spaces. One of our members politely asked if there was paid parking close by. She pointed towards a lot down the road and said street parking was an option. I passed two gentlemen in a driveway when heading in towards the marina and decided to turn around and ask if it was alright to park in one of the spaces in front of their yard. The owner of the property said it was no problem. I thanked him and parked my vehicle, careful not to block the waste receptacles. As I exited my vehicle, the same woman who had exclaimed that we couldn’t park in the lot bee-lined towards me and said “You can’t park there! It’s Lulu’s spot and she’ll be home soon.” I was beginning to feel like this lady owned the block and we weren’t welcome. The gentleman who kindly agreed to have me park in the space said that he actually owned the two spaces along his property and that I could certainly park there. He apologized for the incident and bid me farewell. The other man who lived further up the road offered his roadside spaces for additional kayakers and pointed to the property that this store owner actually had rights to and also apologized for her actions—he was embarrassed that we had experienced her wrath.
After placing our vehicles strategically around the Boston Harbor Marina, we finally carpooled back to the launch site. On this occasion the tide was out and we had to walk along the marshy land a bit before accessing the waterway. The lush green seaweed-covered marsh was a beautiful sight. An incredible fog blanketed the surrounding area making me feel like I was in a storybook fairytale. Once we launched, the fog was so dense that you couldn’t see just yards away from the kayak. I noticed what looked like a couple seals poking their heads up in the distance, but couldn’t be certain due to the limited visibility. It was a mystical space to experience, unlike any other launch.
Our group stayed close together to keep sight of one another. After a while the sun broke through and the fog quickly burned off. An amazing blue sky filled with cloud characters was overhead. It was a gorgeous day to be on Puget Sound. Once we rounded the corner, a tiny baby seal was on the shore waiting for its mother. It kept turning its head, seemingly nervous about the peering sea kayakers. Continuing through the calm water I could see grand white starfish and huge colorful jellyfish throughout the Sound. I saw an orange colored sea anemone, a kind that I have never seen before. The sea life was vast and abundant.
Farther along the shore a diver-down flag was placed where a diver was harvesting geoduck clams. His partner was on shore sorting the catch. The shoreline homes were enormously sized and well maintained. A few homes had docks but very few had motorized watercraft. I noted a handful of kayaks or rowboats on various properties.
Our lunch break came quickly with this short leg. The shoreline was coated in barnacles over a hard shiny gray clay beach. I cautiously stepped over the slippery clay to a downed tree to sit and eat. After our break we relaunched in the bay where David attempted to roll the Necky Looksha. He was able to successfully roll this kayak, although he commented on feeling the resistance compared to his Rockpool. Our group paddled on through beautiful conditions. The steep cliffs covered with green plant life were lovely scenery for kayaking.
Once we rounded near our take out Shawn, David and I practiced rolling. I was going to roll in David’s kayak and before my first try I carefully positioned myself, slightly nervous about trying to roll in a new kayak. The first roll was a grand success. I tried a couple more times and nailed two more. On my fourth try, I started digging my paddle rather than sweeping and needed to use David’s bow assist to right the kayak. I tried again and needed another bow assist. One more try and I successfully rolled. It seems like when I over-think the roll it reduces my success rate. Practicing by feel and memorizing the body positioning works out well. My left shoulder started to ache once I had improper form. I can barely feel a good roll. My left shoulder feels significant tension and soreness when I angle the paddled improperly, creating a strong resistance by digging the paddle instead of gliding through the water with a sweep. It was time to call it a day. This leg was fantastic. The rolling practice was a great end to a perfect day.
Kayak: Necky Looksha 17 Composite
Spray skirt: Snapdragon
Accessories: Peaked Deck Bag, Bungy Paddle Leash and Sea Tec Tow Line all from North Water
Camera: GoPro Hero Waterproof Camera
PFD: Kokatat Orbit
Clothing: Kokatat Women’s SuperNova Paddling Suit, 2 mm Neoprene gloves
Footwear: Chota Posi-Lok High Top Zip Bootie
Roofrack: Thule Hullavator
Paddle float, float bags and bilge pump
Waterproof Stuff Bags
Notes from Christopher Cunningham, Sea Kayaker editor:
It’s a great idea to do some rolling with each outing. The practice not only maintains and improves your rolling skills but it also gives you a good check on how well you are dressed for the water. Even if you have not yet learned how to roll, you can practice wet exits, reentries and rescues. If the prospect of getting wet isn’t appealing, you might take the hint that you’re not dressed for the water. Most of the time I paddle in 50° water, but when I’m in my dry suit I feel like a kid in new rubber boots on a rainy day. I go out of my way to get in the water, wading out to help other kayakers ashore or swimming where there’s ice floating about. If getting soaked means getting uncomfortable and cold, your paddling apparel isn’t going to provide you with the all the protection you need to get you through a capsize and recovery.
Several years ago I went out paddling along the south coast of France. The water was bathwater warm so winding up in the drink was no big deal. One of the paddlers in our group capsized after broaching on a following sea. I immediately went into rescue mode and started paddling to him to help. Then I realized no one else was making a move. In fact they were all laughing at the guy in the water. He was in no danger and took his time getting back aboard. Being dressed for a swim, no matter what the water temperature, can afford the same light-hearted attitude toward a capsize. When you are dressed for the water you can look forward to getting in the water at the end of an outing as part of the fun of sea kayaking.