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San Juan Co Park to Stuart Island - Aug 23 - 24

I am hoping to see an Orca. It's been 15 years and that is my goal for this trip as well as having a great time.

The plan:  Saturday morning, 9am ferry from Anacortes , arrive at Friday Harbor at 10:05am. Drive, 10 miles to San Juan County Park Boat Ramp. Park your car over night for $10. My target is a 12pm departure from San Juan Cty Park, aka Small Pox Bay.  Next destination is to head north towards Roche Harbor, round Kellett Bluff then on to McCracken Point, distance so far is 6.0 NM. We will have a 2.5 NM crossing to the entrance of Reid Harbor, then another 1.5 NM to beach our kayaks at the camp grounds. Leaving at noon we will be on the flood with currents starting at about slack with help along the way at about 2 knots. 

My guess is we should be at our camp site some time after 4pm. There are many things to see along the way and much to explore on Stuart. There is a good hike to Turn Point Lighthouse, Satellite Island, Johns Island, Cactus Island, Ripple Island, and last but not least Spieden Island, once owned by John Wayne and seeded with game from Africa - that's what I heard.

There are 18 camp sites on Stuart with water and toilets.

Sunday: I would like to catch the 3:45 ferry, but I would also like to see some of the other islands, like Johns and Ripple and then head on down past Roche Harbor and end at SJ Count Park near 12:30. If that isn't enough time to catch that ferry then there is the 6:30pm run.

Costs: The best way to approach this, given that a car is needed to cross over to SJ Cnty Park is to car pool the ferry ride.

Driver, Passenger and two kayaks is about $80. There is a catch if your vehicle and kayak exceed the 7'6" height limit, then it is another $60 - so go and buy a shorter car - just kidding.

Parking at the San Juan County Park is I believe $20 per night. We are there just one night. 

Camp ground rate, not sure but I think it should be pretty reasonable - it's camping ( bring some cash ).

Food: We all can figure this out for one dinner together and the days lunches and other snacks are up to the individual.

OK. That is the plan. 

Requirements To sign up for this paddle, you must be an intermediate or advanced paddler with good boat-handling, bracing, re-entry, and rescue skills and be able to paddle a sustained 2.5 knots pace and have your own kayak and gear.  The required kayaking experience and skills need to be documented in your meetup-profile information and your answers to the sign-up questions.  RSVP's without answers to the sign-up questions will be deleted.

Ferry Costs: Passenger/Walk-on($12.95), Walk-on with Kayak ($32.55), Stowage($19.60), Auto-Driver($60.65), Over-height 7'6"($60.00)

I included this to show that the walk-on with kayak is not that much cheaper than bringing a car. Driver-Passenger-2-kayaks-parking $100, 2-Walk-ons with kayaks $65.  $35 divided by 2 = $17.50 more per person.


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  • Dave R.

    Thanks again for al your effort and attempt at herding cats, but most of all for the beef stew.

    August 25, 2014

    • Cheryl C

      Oh yes ...that beef stew was the best !

      August 25, 2014

  • Kerri

    any orcas?

    August 24, 2014

    • Aaron S

      We did not see any on the water. When we returned to complete the car shuttle, we saw some in the distance from the viewpoint at San Juan County Park, along with a big parade of whale-watching tourism boats headed their way.

      August 25, 2014

    • Kerri

      I'm sorry that you didn't catch any orcas in the water. The imagery of the parade of whale-watching boats is funny though :)

      August 25, 2014

  • Dave

    Thank y'all for joining me on a very short an tight trip. Great to be with you and if I organize another one I hope you will join me again.

    August 25, 2014

  • Cheryl C

    Thanks Dave! This was a great paddle, great weather, and it was greater meeting new friends!

    August 25, 2014

  • Cheryl C

    Thanks Dave! This was a great paddle, great weather, and it was greater meeting new friends!

    August 25, 2014

  • Aaron S

    Thanks Dave for organizing a fun trip and thanks Nancy for securing campsites for us all.

    August 25, 2014

  • Dave R.

    Great launching place for our trip. Good choice!

    August 24, 2014

  • Dave

    Hi all, I sent out some information last night on camping at Stuart and also on Saturday's evening dinner. In short: with camping we can't be turned away. Stuart is part of the Washington Water Trails. Four of the sites are designated for the Trails' campers and if they are full we can camp in overflow areas. The other 14 sites are free with a discovery pass. Regarding food: I will make a beef stew for Saturday evening. If someone wants to make a second main dish to spread out that responsibility that would be great. Please offer online here so we know what it is and others then will know how to add to that. Lunch will be on the go and should be up to each individual. If one or two will volunteer for breakfast, like eggs and sausage then we have it covered. Starbucks via's work well for the morning.

    Let us know what you think...

    August 19, 2014

    • Linda L

      I have a round 2 burner coleman stove but not bringing it unless someone else can carry it. Takes too much room in my boat.

      August 22, 2014

    • Lee M.

      I plan on bringing an MSR single burner but I won't be arriving until Saturday.

      August 22, 2014

  • Cheryl C

    I have ravioli in the freezer...I'll bring that for dinner, too

    August 22, 2014

  • Matt J.

    I can meet at the Anacortes parking lot and carpool from there on Fri after 4:30pm. Anyone interested let me know. Cell is[masked]

    August 21, 2014

    • Matt J.

      Hey Cheryl, let me know if your able to go on Friday. You can call or text when your able.

      August 21, 2014

    • Cheryl C

      I'm for Friday

      August 22, 2014

  • jhana

    Looking forward to doing something like this next year when I've got more skilz. :)

    August 21, 2014

  • Nancy J

    Please let me know IG anyone else is planning on coming up on Thursday or Friday or we may not have room at the camp ground.

    August 21, 2014

    • Dave

      I want to confirm with you that Linda and I will be joining you Friday at the campsite at the County Park.

      August 21, 2014

    • Dave

      Also, I sent an email requesting phone numbers. If you don't mind, would you reply to that to make it easier. Thank you.

      August 21, 2014

  • Linda L

    Dave and I will need a spot so thank you for doing this! Not sure when we will arrive; will text Aaron and let you know once we are on the ferry.

    August 21, 2014

  • Lee M.

    It looks like I might be the only one heading over Saturday morning but if not I'd like to carpool. I'm in Snohomish about 5 minutes over the Hwy 2 trestle. Thanks!

    August 19, 2014

    • Michelle S.

      Hey Lee, I'm firming things up with a dog sitter this evening. I'll be coming from Gold Bar Sat AM. Are you still interested in car pooling?

      August 21, 2014

  • Cheryl C

    Oh Yay! I get to come! I have to confirm the dog sitter and I'll come over on Friday...

    August 20, 2014

  • Nancy J

    I have two camp sites at the county park for Thurs. &Fri nights. I will be in #11.(welcome to share)we also have site # 35. i20 a car over 1 car per site. Site35 is near the kayak Putin,*11 is up the hill.

    August 20, 2014

  • Dave R.

    Arron are you riding with Dave R as planned?

    August 19, 2014

    • Aaron S

      With going over early and camping a couple of nights, plus less sure arrival time for me on a work-day, it would be best if I bring my "soccer-mom" van over. I checked and with a kayak flat on saddles, it's not over-height.

      August 19, 2014

    • Aaron S

      Nancy, Dave R and I are planning to carpool over on Thursday afternoon or evening. We assume you'll advise us as to where we'll be camping Thursday? If it's a last minute arrangement or it changes, I'm at cell phone[masked]

      August 20, 2014

  • Nancy J

    So we have Dave R, Aaron and me for Thursday and Friday including 3 cars. Dave will join the group on Friday with an additional car. Any one else for Thursday or Friday night.

    August 19, 2014

  • Dave

    I didn't complete my comment about information last night. I don't think that information made it out and the last post is in lieu of that.

    August 19, 2014

  • Dave R.

    I suggest we take a late ferry to Friday Harbor Thursday night. Reserve Lakedale for Thursday and Friday nights, as a base camp.
    Then we can paddle SJI on Friday and be ready to head to Reid harbor on Sat. Without the ferry delays and 0400 drive north.

    August 18, 2014

    • Aaron S

      I like your thinking, Dave. I'm solid with Lakedale as a basecamp. Nancy, you good with that and wanna reserve a spot in Lakedale for Thurs. and Friday nights? I'm in for my portion of the cost no matter what. I'm in CA for work tonight, Tues. and Wed., and need to work back in Seattle some Thurs., but I can probably get off early enough Thurs. to get there Thurs. night (or very early Fri. morning). The way I figure it, the orcas wanna see us and we wanna see them? :)- See y'all on SJI and its salt ... I'm excited!

      August 19, 2014

    • Dave

      Hey Nancy, Dave, Aaron - I am also thinking about Friday afternoon coming up. Would that work with another tent, car at Lakesdale?

      August 19, 2014

  • Dave R.

    Thanks Nancy.
    It appears that there are only 8 on the trip, so the car problem at Lakedale may be doable. We could stash a car in an overflow area etc., If the county park plan does not work, due to lack of sites.
    Use your best judgement and we will support the costs etc.. Your efforts to go with one place or another ASAP are appreciated.
    Thanks for the help!

    August 19, 2014

    • Aaron S

      Ditto on the thanks for doing the arranging work, Nancy. I'm good with whatever you work up. Stashing a car somewhere, if necessary, should be workable. I have a "soccer-mom" mini-van; it's not over-height if I put my kayak in saddles. I'm figuring on getting myself over there unless something else gets arranged. I'm psyched ... this is gonna be a good trip. :)

      August 19, 2014

  • Nancy J

    Me again. Ok--Lakesdale is real tight on the number of cars and we can not fit 3 cars in the sites currently available (although a site may open Thursday). It looks like the county park may have availability. I am thinking about going over tomorrow and try to get the site at the Cty park. Then we would be at the putin (showers at Roche Harbor). FYI the kayak permit fee is basically $7.00 per 24 hr period per boat. Likely an extra charge to camp with extra vech at the Cty park. I will keep you posted. I am thinking only 3 people camping Thursday and Friday--let me know asap if anyone else besides Dave and Aaron.

    August 19, 2014

  • Rob I

    damn! i want to do this! its exactly how i would plan it...

    August 19, 2014

  • Aaron S

    I'd like to go over early and paddle on the west coast of SJI on Friday (...orcas?!). Wiht a morning start, the currents are good for an out and back paddle south and back north out of San Juan County Park (morning start also helps avoid afternoon winds). Best logistic I can figure is camp in Washington Park on Thursday night (or come up early Friday morning) and catch the 6:25 a.m. ferry to Friday Harbor. Friday night, stay on SJI somewhere or paddle out to a CMT campsite at Posey Island or Jones Island for the night. Anyone else interested in going over to paddle Friday?

    August 18, 2014

    • Nancy J

      San Juan Cty Campground must have had a cancellation and they show availability for Thursday and Friday--but I can't reserve it this close to need and I don't know if it has been filled. It is like $32/per night plus $7. I will try to call them tomorrow.There is also availability at Lakesdale . The size site that we need would likely be $58 per night. Are we looking at Thursday and/or Friday night. How many cars? I will be coming from Bellingham.

      August 18, 2014

    • Aaron S

      Friday for sure on SJI for me; work what you can; I'm in; cost doesn't bother me; it's a lot less than a hotel (.. and more fun :)-. Thursday maybe. On an airplane, WIFI about to go down; more later.

      August 18, 2014

  • Dave

    Ferry Lines: I would have liked to roll my kayak on to the ferry but the paddle would have been a little too long. I had to weigh that against cost and waiting in a line for a ferry. You know which one I chose, maybe next time rolling it on and an extra day. Oh well. Last Saturday I checked the boarding availability from Anacortes to Friday Harbor every so often and here is what I found for the 9:00 am ferry.

    136 total available spots for Sat aug 16,[masked]:00am 127 available
    7:15 120
    7:25. 112
    7:35 100
    7:45. 87
    7:55. 75
    8:05. 49
    8:10. 43
    8:15. 40
    8:25. 17
    8:30. 7
    8:35. 0

    Obviously after 8am it becomes a game of chance.
    On the way back it will probably be even harder. Instead of one hour prior to boarding, maybe 2 hours ( they didn't post the availability spots coming back).
    Good luck.

    August 18, 2014

  • Kerri

    Whoops, I forgot my cousin is in town this weekend so I can't go. Enjoy!

    August 18, 2014

  • Matt J.

    I can leave from Anacortes Friday afternoon or Sat morning. My subaru sits low and I have room for one more boat on top or I can ride along with anyone else who has a short car and room for a boat. Let me know.

    August 17, 2014

  • Dave R.

    Arron,
    I have room for another kayak, if needed.

    August 15, 2014

    • Aaron S

      Yes, I'd like to ride, as a kayak on my van is over-height on the ferry. The one catch is I'd like to go to the west side of SJI a day or two early and camp and paddle around some prior to this first-rate meetup trip. I'll post regarding that shortly. Either way, it's all good and thanks for planning this, Dave event-host!

      August 15, 2014

  • Erik G.

    That's a great route for seeing orcas, especially if you paddle on the outside (west side) of Henry Island. Last year I found myself paddling in the middle of a group of about 15-20 in that crossing from San Juan to Henry! I wish I could join you, but I just got back from a week paddling around Patos, Sucia, and Matia. There was a group of transient orcas circling Patos a couple of the days I was there--they were well seen even from shore, coming just 50 yards from the main camping area and even into the little shallow anchorage bay! Incredible.

    August 15, 2014

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