CANCELLED: Swinomish Channel - One Way to Skagit Bay


I will re-post this paddle when the right currents come around again.  This will not be for at least a month.  Stay tuned.  Very sad it can't happen - but safety first.

We will paddle with the currents south through the Swinomish Channel behind Fidalgo Island, out into Skagit Bay, then up to play around Hope Island and Skagit Island State Parks - a beautiful area - and taking out at Snee Oosh boat ramp near Hope Island.  The whole route is about 10-14 miles (with favoring currents), depending on how much people want to paddle around Skagit Bay.  The car shuttle is an easy setup, with launch and take-out fairly close together by road.

This is a great winter day paddle - very protected and very beautiful.  However, we will be dealing with some strong currents (mainly behind us) through the slough, and the possibility of winds in Skagit Bay.  But both are small bodies of water, and we will always be near shore.  It is ranked SK II for the mostly protected route, but SK III for currents.

To join this meetup you must have your own sea kayak and all safety gear.  You must wear a drysuit or wetsuit, as the conditions will be cold.  And you must have practiced self-rescue.

Here is the plan:

  • 8:30:  Meet at Snee Oosh Boat launch near Hope Island (see meeting place above).  Drop a few cars, transferring kayaks to others.  It is VERY CRITICAL that people arrive ON TIME.  We will not wait for stragglers, for the simple reason that the tide will not wait for us, and we do not want these favoring currents to turn against us.  So budget to get a little lost or have complications in your departure time.  You may arrive early, but don't arrive late.
  • 9:00:  Arrive at Swinomish Channel Boat Launch (bring $7 for parking).  It's at the north end of Swinomish Channel, on the mainland side, under Highway 20.  I will find it in advance, and we can just follow each other there from Snee Oosh.
  • 9:30:  Must be in water paddling by this time.  So please have your drybags packed, and whatever other preparations you need done, so we can have a quick launch and catch the rest of the flood current to carry us partway down the channel.
  • Somewhere along the channel we will meet slack tide and/or the summit - the location where the current direction turns around.  The idea is that the tide turns about the time we get to this summit, so we then ride the faster ebb current of the day the rest of the way south through the channel and out into Skagit Bay.
  • The ebb current also flows north in Skagit Bay, and will help us along.  Depending on the time, weather, and how much energy we still have, we can paddle around the north part of Skagit Bay, perhaps gettting out to walk around on Hope I or Skagit I.
  • Take out at Snee Oosh.  Shuttle to retrieve cars from the launch site (a short 5-6 miles away).
  • Food/beer at local establishment on the way out.

Again - timing is the most important thing for this paddle.  I'm tempted to set the meet time a half-hour earlier.  But if we can all be organized and take responsibility for punctual timing, this schedule should work fine.  I'm really looking forward to getting out paddling with people again.  It's been awhile since I've posted a trip.  Email me with questions.  See you there!

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  • Martina M.

    Well, the weather gods are clearly not listening. There's some interesting info online about the inversion we're having. Apparently it's 50+ and sunny at about 1000 ft above sea level. Maybe we should go for a hike instead :-)

    January 19, 2013

  • Claudia

    Have fun on this trip guys! My heart really wants to be out there with you. This is one of my favorite places to be but I haven't paddled out there. I hope someone organizes another trip out here and I can join in next time. It looks like there is a lot of interest in this trip since there is a waitlist. Maybe next time we can take two groups or is doing something like that even possible?

    January 19, 2013

  • Martina M.

    i'm praying to the wind gods!

    January 18, 2013

  • Phyllis

    WEATHER UPDATE: KOMO Weather details predicts we may have such fog lingering through the weekend. I will watch it closely, and may need to cancel if visibility is likely low. I agree with Martina that we don't want to be out in that. If, however, a breeze comes through and sweeps it away, the paddle is on. There just aren't good alternate weekends this month or next for the tides to postpone this to. So for whoever is willing to watch the weather with me, we will keep it a tentative go for now. I will update tomorrow in hopes for greater "clarity" in the weather.

    January 18, 2013

  • Martina M.

    Hey Phyllis,

    I don't know what the weather looks like where you are, but here by Lake Washington it's essentially freezing fog. It isn't burning off over the course of the day. I'm not sure I would feel comfortable out on the open water with the lack of visibility I'm seeing here.


    January 18, 2013

  • Phyllis

    The weather forecast looks good for Sunday. Calm winds, partly cloudy, temp up to 50. It's going to be a great day. Be sure to bring all your layers, in addition to your dry/wet suit. Include warm hat and gloves (pogies or glacier gloves recommended). And most of all, BE ON TIME. I have not planned a lot of wiggle room before the tide turns, and tides are critical on this paddle. So leave earlier than you think you need. Looking forward to being on the water with you.

    January 16, 2013

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