Kayaking with NSSKA: New Friends, New Places
Though I have been kayaking throughout the pandemic, 2020 has looked much different than 2019. What has felt like internal politics combined with a potential liability risk, derailed the sea kayaking trips with my local club. Our H20 Project has been placed on hold – part club function, part the usual life happenings with a shift to more housework and family time.
A few months back, in an effort to get on the water more, we started a new, informal group – nothing more than a group of kayakers having a place to post trips with an opportunity for others to join. No membership fees, no rules. Post a trip and go, with everyone using common sense and their best judgment.
The first trip out was ‘running’ the Hammersley inlet from Shelton, WA to Hope Island. We’d ‘ride the current’ there, put our feet up for a long lunch, then ride it back. With a close to 4 knot flow, there’d be eddies to play in (or avoid) by choice.
For me it is about new waters to paddle – part of my desire to cover as much of the Puget Sound shoreline as possible.
As April came to a close, I was informed I’d need to move. COVID-19 had its first real impact on me. The owners of the Salmon Beach cabin I was renting planned to move back in, opting to rent their home in North Proctor. I moved north to Bellevue and into my girlfriend’s small place. (I’m sure that thrilled the squirrels!). We’d previously discussed the idea, so it was an opportunity rather than done out of necessity.
Being off the water and further north, and with fewer paddles scheduled, I looked for other options. I joined the North Sound Sea Kayak Association (NSSKA).
This would turn out to be a different group of paddlers than I was expecting. Less organized and rule bound than my other club, it all felt more relaxed. The paddlers are predominantly at an L2 ACA assessment level. I didn’t have as much cumulative time on the water as a few of the members, though likely had more experience in open, rough waters, and conditions. A couple of conversations revealed I had more rescue practice (and not practice) in conditions than many in the group. A vastly different kayaking experience when many of those on the water with me are L3 – L5 certified instructors, with considerably better skills and more time in the cockpit.
I had nothing to prove – to them or to myself.
The common thread – how friendly and inviting everyone was.
More new places
Snee Oosh Beach into Similk Bay.
Plans called for a short paddle with sun, little wind, and calm water. Eight of us headed out from just south of Snee Oosh Point into Similk Bay for lunch, then back. Easy and uneventful, the trip afforded us views of the Deception Pass bridge Mount Baker. A short leg to add to the Sound already explored.
Mukilteo to Possession Point.
This trip would take me south, landing at the southernmost tip of Whidbey Island. Back in April a group of us launched north of the Mukilteo Ferry dock across to the dock on Eastern side of Whidbey.
The morning saw clouds and a misty rain as we set the kayaks on the beach. While most tend to want sunny days on the water, gray skies and light rain make me smile. I love being out in that weather. Some of my best moments kayaking have been in downpours. Maybe it’s tied into having always enjoyed watching storms roll in over the water. Perhaps my preference comes from the added bit of ‘adventure’ when adding the weather element.
We launched from just south of the Mukilteo lighthouse with a short crossing of the Possession Sound in mind before heading south to the point. With a weak tide in our favor and wind from the south, we opted to head direct. It kept the wind at our face and made for a bit fun heading into the ‘waves’.
Lunch at Possession Point (southernmost tip of Whidbey Island). The beach is part of undeveloped Possession Point State Park. Looking south as we prepared to head back.
Following seas made the return to Mukilteo quicker than the outbound leg. As one in our group described it:
One foot wind waves made for a rollicking passage on the second half of our trip.
Steve captured the feeling closer to my own thoughts:
The trailing wind and mild current flowing through Possession Sound made the return trip to Mukillteo very enjoyable!
A very different experience paddling with members of the NSSKA – and much welcomed. I’m looking forward to more time on the water with the group.