The first day was crucial in my seventy-mile, ten-day kayak camping tour of the San Juan Islands, WA. It was a seventeen mile kayak to the first campsite along the rugged western coast of San Juan Island, open to the southerly winds and swells off the Pacific. If I was unable to reach the campsite that day, it could derail my carefully laid plans for the rest of the trip.
To complete this leg of the trip I would need calm seas, mild winds and a small tide. The weather is usually best in the morning and slack tide on this day was at 6.30 am. This was going to be the best time to launch and round dangerous Cattle Point and the shallows past it, before the wind and tides increased causing tide rips and currents and terrifying whirlpools. Not ideal since I am not the most organized person and this would mean I have to break camp, drive to the sneaky, secret launch site, load the kayak with equipment and supplies for ten days and then launch by 6:30 am latest. Luckily, for once I had it together and launched right on the money.
The skies were dark with a low ceiling of clouds , no wind, water like glass: perfect. I paddled hard and made good time. A light rain started to fall as I passed Cattle Point and powered through the shallows and up the west coast of San Juan Island. The resident orca pods frequent this coast, hunting salmon, and I was hoping to run into them. I glided over huge kelp beds, along wind-swept rocky shores, with the sky, ocean and shore all different shades of gray under the cloud-filled skies.
At 2:30 pm I finally landed at the County Campsite at Small Pox Bay; a full eight hours after launch, with sadly, no orca. I set up camp on the field on the bluff overlooking Haro Straight and took a quick nap. When I awoke, just after sunset, a pod of orca passed off-shore, a good omen for the trip to come.