With an already packed schedule this summer, I had also planned to take my father kayaking, overnight, in the San Juan Islands. This is something I've been meaning to do for many years.
I bought my Feathercraft kayaks back in 2000, maybe 2001. They're expensive boats, but so far I feel worth the expense. I haven't managed to do any once-in-a-lifetime expeditions, which I had dreamed about, but I sure have had some fun vacations. It's about time for them to get repaired, which is a sign to me they have had a lot of love.
My red boat was still wet from Hawaii, Hitomi's was a little muddy from a picnic back in July. Hitomi's boat bag, as it turned out, was also missing some key safety items, such as a spray skirt and PFD. After a hectic night of packing (for two) I overlooked this. I had, however, carefully packed VHF radios and some other supplies, such as snacks, water bottles, and also checked the stove (not used in a year) for proper functioning. So, ready to launch with my father, with every bit of food and camping gear, I went back to Anacortes and located a kayaking touring company, soap, and eventually went to West Marine for a PFD.
I already have 4 PFDs, so this time I bought one that is inflatable using a CO2 cartridge, for the times I do flatwater paddling and don't want a full-on PFD.
Minus a spray skirt for myself, and with my father in probably the worst possible kayaking gear: Windbreaker with wide sleeves (scoops water), cotton layers, and sweatpants. At least he had sandals. But I felt, even with an assisted rescue, hypothermia would be a bit more likely, as any wet clothes would not keep him warm.
Still, the weather was close to perfect, at least for the middle of September. And the current predictions matched our itinerary very well.
Getting to the island from Washington Park is very easy. And with the correct current took about 30 minutes for a 3 mile crossing. This I had a few year's back with Kevin. Dad was pretty slow, though, being a beginner, so with the late launch the sun disappeared over to the other side of the island, making the remaining 5 miles fairly cold. The low light did illuminate the Cone Islands beautifully. My legs started to ache in Hitomi's boat and I patiently waited for my father.
While I was worried about my legs and reaching camp, Dad was enjoying the sea life. A number of porpoises were in the area, and he would stop and look for them.
Eventually reaching camp, it took about 10 minutes to set up the tent, sleeping arrangements, and cooking. A large number of other kayakers were on the beach, along with a rowing dingy, with its occupants setting up camp on land for the night. What appeared to be an "organized group" of kids turned out to be "trouble teens" who seemed to be having quite a good time. Their guides or counselors seemed to have quite expensive, advanced fiberglass boats and I wondered if this was a program rich parents contributed to. Or maybe the guides had their own boats?
I put together a pretty decent meal of fresh pasta, spicy pasta sauce, sausage, boiled vegetable, and cheese and fresh bread. I boiled some hot water and mixed it with shochu. It was dark and we ate using headlamps.
Everything came together, but I was more relieved than happy. I wondered what I was hoping for, all these past years, wanting my Dad to do this with me. Kayaking, being on the water, being self-sufficient is part of what makes me happy, and I should not expect the same enthusiasm from others. I decided that day, though, I wanted him to have some sort of story, me included or not, that at least leaves some memorable impression.
The weather the next day was a lot nicer than forecast, with hardly any wind, and eventually low clouds that looked like would burn off in a few hours. Since we had some extra time, then, we took a to Eagle Cliff.
Dad's largely unpleased about how computers haven't shortened to work week and how the rich have disproportionately benefited from efficiency increases. For some reason, since a child, I get an earful from my father about workplace issues. Sure, being in the software business I understand a lot of the bullshit, but fortunately I have never felt unduly compensated. Maybe I have been shorted? Still, I've never been able to reach level of indignation my father has.
The return to Anacortes was sunny and peaceful. We stopped at Strawberry Island and had lunch. The island was empty, except for us two, which felt a little surprising given its popularity. The smooth rocks on the beach had been heated by the sun and made a good spot to stretch out. The 10-15 knots of wind forecast never developed and with the current close to slack never caused any great mischief for the return stretch. Dad insisted, when packing, that we hardly moved for quite some time in the middle. But that's the nature of crossings which seem to cause a bit of worry and often despair I find around the halfway point.
(Speaking of despair, the worst such time in a kayak was last year, when an 11 mile (?) paddle in the fog and steep( swell took 5 hours. The coastline (out of the fog) looks like this the whole way so maneuvering around takes some special skill to avoid breakers and rebounding waves. My advice is to carry a pee bottle.)
After a long day, we topped it off going to Malay Satay Hut, which despite complaints by some people is one of the best ethnic restaurants in Seattle.