Day Two on the Cascadia Marine Trail!
Woke up amazingly refreshed at Joemma Beach State Park! I didn’t use the rain fly on my REI Quarter Dome T3 tent so all the early light was surrounding me. But as I was prepared with my face mask and ear plugs, I did not arise until about 6:45. And when I did, I couldn’t believe how dark under that mask it was, and how bright once I took it off! Wow! Others told me crows had been crackling keeping them up – I didn’t hear anything!
I also used this new REI inflatable pillow. I used it to support my still recovering shoulder, and this made my night SO much more comfortable! No more achy shoulder! No more rolling around to get it into a comfortable position.
Sunday was July 4th, so fireworks were a big part of the day’s activities! We decided to do a lazy start, wait for the late morning high tide, and then head down southward toward Anderson Island.
We got a little ambitious and made a last minute plan to head to Eagle Island State Park for “lunch,” not really taking into consideration that it was already well past eleven o’clock. Eagle Island is 7.5 miles from Joemma Beach, and we just got over ambitious. We paddled into Drayton Passage, which lies between Anderson Island and the Key Peninsula. Ahead lay McNeil Island, a Federal Penitentiary we wanted to check out.
Unexpectedly the wind picked up substantially! As we entered Drayton Passage the wind picked up from the south/southwest to maybe 18 knots with whitecaps. Fortunately tide wasn’t much of a factor. It was against us, but it wasn’t strong.
Like a mother hen, I doted over the group and especially Bibi and Michelle. Monte did a great job of sticking with Michelle. The wind and waves grew and a few breakers sent water across my foredeck. My charts were not totally water proof – so I relied on Deborah and Warren’s protected charts. Crossing Drayton Passage, we encountered lots of traffic. Deborah sent out a hail over VHS to alert the power boats we were about to cross.
Checking my watch, I notice the time kept moving on. It was already 1:45 mid way across the passage. Once across, I polled the group about Eagle Island. Michelle was going to head to our campsite with Monte no matter what – she was tiring. We all decided it was not a good idea to try to make Eagle Island and then paddle all the way back to the camp. Too many paddling miles in this 18 knot wind.
So after lunch we abandoned Eagle Island ambitions and began the trek for our spot on Anderson. Plunging into breaking waves was, for me, lots of fun! My Valley Aquanaut LV loved it. Without skeg deployed, it wanders in calm waters. But in conditions, it tracks true without the skeg and is also rock solid stable. But here, Michelle’s flimsy spray skirt failed her – allowing water from the plunging waves to enter. Fortunately, Warren supplied an extra spray skirt, which solved the problem!
We saw smoke in the distance. Coming closer we realized there was a wildfire on the shore! We put ashore to check it out. The 8′ x 8′ fire was burning hot, and above it were large driftwood logs – which were catching fire.
Further downwind on the beach there was plenty of fuel. We tried to extinguish it with our water bucket, but we knew it’d probably re-ignite.
So we spent some time calling 911 on the cell phone and managed to put a call out to the marine fire department. They agreed to send out a fire boat. We then put some buckets of water on the fire, and then took off. Maybe 15 minutes later a fire boat appeared, found the fire, and used its cannon to stop it. Kinda cool!
So far, the waves were coming at us mostly from the bow. This wasn’t much of a problem for our novices. We don’t have any images because we were too busy. But as we rounded the western end of Anderson Island, they’d be mostly to our sides. We were concerned for Michelle and Bibi. I figured they’d need to use a brace more than a few times. Once there, however, it became apparent that close to shore, the wind calmed down a lot. The island has one hundred foot high headlands – and a phenomenon was occurring there which reduced the wind. Sometimes when a wind comes directly at a headland, it lifts several hundred yards offshore, leaving the space near the shore much calmer. We could see that far above our heads, the trees were swaying, yet for us, there was not nearly as much wind. We could also see that there were whitecaps further out, but not where we were.
We came to the spot we assumed was the camping site I’d reserved through the Washington Water Trails Association. But a sign said NO OVERNIGHT CAMPING very clearly. Warren and I asked folks on the beach and they told us our site was 1/2 mile down island. Well, once we reached the end of the island with no site, we decided that the original site was in fact our place for the night, regardless. The information in the Marine Trail Guidebook must need updating? After the trip, I learned there is usually a water trails sign on that same post but it was missing.
It’s a very pretty site, located on the end of a sand spit with a lagoon behind. It was about low tide, so we were careful to check signs of high tide and pitch tents well above. You can see all up and down the opposite shore from there. It would be great for fireworks viewing!
Michelle brought some wine and Warren had a bit of scotch, both welcome after this long day’s paddle!
All forms of backpacking food were brought out and cooked up. Warren and Deborah were the most prepared with dehydrated/vacuum sealed food they’d done at home. I had my usual Lipton pasta mixed with a pack of meat with a side of fresh greens, and Michelle had lamb she’d cooked earlier in the day.
Just past dinner twilight brought desire for a campfire. We gathered some wood and sparked a little beach campfire, and we all agreed we were privileged to have this spot, view, and atmosphere all to ourselves!
As night set in the opposite shore lit up! Some community fireworks began to really show their stuff by 10:00 and private fireworks displays were going on everywhere. I had my own cache, which we indulged in!
Fireworks continued to decorate the opposite shoreline all night – some people must have broke the bank to keep going on like that! Pretty cool to watch!