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  • Radford Bean

Four-Day Kayaking Expedition in the San Juan Islands - Day 4

This was the final day of our trip.

After a breakfast of oatmeal and blueberries and fresh fruit, and after washing up a small load of dishes, we packed our gear we had bagged up before breakfast into our kayaks and set out for Roche Harbor. This time we paddled out of the north harbor entrance, heading down the eastern shore of Satellite Island. The water was a little bumpy; we certainly encountered the roughest water we had all weekend long. Dan Numbers was good at educating me on how to handle rough water coming broadside.

We headed from Stuart Island back over to Speiden Island. The boat wakes coming from behind gave me the opportunity to do some surfing, which helped speed our crossing. The bull kelp we encountered during our crossing provided opportunities to rest from paddling. While sitting in the kelp beds, we could see the currents flowing quickly past us, probably doing at least three knots.

Getting in and out of the kelp beds in that current was a little tricky. The thickness of the kelp beds made it difficult in some places to plant a paddle blade. The currents also wanted to push me onto the kelp, so there were times I worried about getting high centered.

Michael had to place a call to San Juan Outfitters to make sure their docks were available to tie up to and unload all our gear. We hunkered down again in kelp beds while he made the call before our final push into Roche Harbor.

We passed numerous yachts costing millions of dollars and the old Haro Hotel as we headed to the dock.

Once tied up at the dock and our land legs back, we unloaded all our gear from our boats and packed the gear into carts for easy transport back to Michael's vehicle. We hauled the boats up the dock, but not before having someone from San Juan Outfitters snap a picture of us having completed a safe and successful trip.

I had left my vehicle in Friday Harbor, so Michael and Dan had to give me a lift back to my SUV after they loaded up their gear and the boats they had brought with them. Stephanie stayed behind to keep an eye on my boat. Once I had my vehicle, I drove back to Roche Harbor, piled all of Stephanie and my gear into the SUV, and loaded my kayak up on the vehicle. Stephanie and I then returned to Friday Harbor where we caught the 6:30 p.m. ferry back to Anacortes and long-awaited showers.

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