Being from the Pacific Northwest, kayaking is almost always a pleasant pastime. The Inland waters of Drayton Harbor, the Semiahmoo Bay, and the San Juan Islands are exceptional. The crisp cool marine breeze surrounds you as you make your way through the salty water. Kayaking can be such a great way to explore our marine environment, but it can also be a challenge to take on. Here, we are going to help you discover some new tips and tricks to making your way through the bays and shores of Northwest Washington, in your kayak, where your adventure awaits.
For any beginners wishing to take on the Puget Sound for the first time, there are a few tidbits of advice that will be most helpful to your journey out on the water. The primary and one of the most ignored pieces of advice is: wear your life jacket while you are out on the water. Even if it may seem safe and calm, you never know what the water will do once you are out there. Having your life jacket on allows you to be better prepared in case of an emergency while you are paddling.
It can also be beneficial for you to bring a spray skirt along, especially if you are taking on the ocean water. A spray skirt will help to keep water from getting into your kayak. Be sure that it is fitted to you, and the kayak.
It makes sense to wear a wet suit or dry suit, depending on the water temperature of which you are paddling. Typically, the Pacific Northwest waters are cold most of the year, so it smart to wear clothing that can help you stay warm in case of the event of hypothermia. Most kayakers also wear helmets, although it is not necessarily required when sea kayaking to wear one. It’s a good idea to bring along a float bag or dry bag for your necessities that you might carry such as a knife, food, water, and a first-aid kit.
Check the weather. If the wind comes up, you might find yourself in a different country from the one you left.
Doug Romano, Semiahmoo Marina’s Harbormaster and avid kayaker has this tips,” I always consider the wind and the current before leaving shore. Most of the time, I’ll try to paddle upwind or against the current when I start out, so the trip back is a bit easier. Current is especially a factor in the channel entering Drayton Harbor, where currents of 2 knots are common during ebbs and floods.”
If you plan to tackle Semiahmoo Bay, and you are still in the early stages of learning to kayak, make sure to practice your new-found skills in calmer waters. For example, the south end of Drayton Harbor or a fresh water lake might be good choices. Lake Padden in Bellingham or Silver Lake out in the county would be good starting points. Build your confidence in the kayak before trying to take on salt-water.
Finally, don’t go out alone, make a point to tell someone where you’re going and when you plan on being back. It is also always a smart idea to bring someone to come along with you, preferably someone with more experience. It should go without saying that taking a kayaking class would serve you well before venturing out on your own.