After my short jaunt on Lake Padden I wanted a longer paddling trip. I kept watching the weather and tides, things were just not working out. I got out on the water for one short trip that got cut short, and took another organized trip that also didn’t quite live up to expectations. Oh well. At least I met some neat folks and found some options for future treks. Here are the reports…
Bellingham Bay from Wildcat Cove
It was the Summer Solstice and I really wanted to hit the water. My preference would have been to greet the rising sun on the water, then watch it as it descended at sunset. However, up here the sun rises at about 5:00 am and sets well after 9:00 pm on the solstice. Plus, it was cloudy, windy, and cold when I did get going. Add to that inconvenient tides, and it just didn’t work out. I went with Plan B, which was an afternoon paddle in Bellingham Bay, where the tides wouldn’t be as much of a problem.
When I got to Wildcat Cove in Larrabee State Park it was still overcast with brisk winds. No one else was around. There were no other kayakers. I began to have second thoughts, but I launched anyway.
The waves were really picking up, especially as I paddled out of the cove. Some of the troughs were wider than my 14 ft boat. I didn’t feel like it was something above my skill level. However, I was out there totally by myself and it felt…weird. Especially with no other boats around. I paddled out about a half mile then returned.
I pulled into thick eel grass on the bank and just sat there awhile, contemplating options. Tauntingly, the wind died down a bit, just enough for me to give it another go. I pulled back out into the bay.
Since this was supposedly National Selfie Day, I turned the GoPro around so that it was facing me.
The waves were still pretty bad. I decided that I wouldn’t take any more chances by myself. Here’s a short video clip showing the conditions. These waves don’t look as bad as some I’ve encountered, but I just didn’t think I should continue. I didn’t want it to get worse while I was out there.
I was able to celebrate the solstice in some small way, but I still wanted to get some decent time on the water. I spotted an event in one of the local papers for a guided kayak tour around Bellingham Harbor for “Orca Month“. The price wasn’t too bad if you brought your own gear, so I signed up.
Orca Awareness Month covers the entire orca habitat around the Salish Sea. The tour would just be around the harbor, so I knew that we wouldn’t see any whales. Didn’t matter to me. I’d be out on the water for an evening paddle, so that was OK.
On Tuesday, June 25 I met the folks from Moondance Sea Kayak Adventures at Zuanich Point Park in Bellingham. Kristi, the owner of Moondance, introduced herself and the rest of her crew as we awaited the rest of the tour.
In addition to the Moondance Crew there were several from RE-Sources for Sustainable Communities. The had put together the tour in partnership with Moondance. A couple of other tourists joined us. As Kristi went through our introduction/safety briefing I was glad I had brought my own boat. The other civilians would be paddling in tandem kayaks.
We would be launching from the youth sailing pier at the park. The meant getting into the boat from a dock, which is always awkward for kayaks. I managed to launch with no embarrassment, as did all others in the group.
There was a good bit of traffic coming into the marina. We crossed to the other side of the channel and looked at the I&J Waterway. We heard about projects to remediate contaminated marine sediments and clean-up from shoreline industrial waste. A wall of rock holds in a containment pond with untreated wastewater from another plant on the bay
The wind and waves were just as bad as when I abandoned my Wildcat Cove trip. However, here I was with others. I never felt like I was beyond my paddling abilities.
Kristi pointed out several “pocket beaches” along the waterfront. These small areas are important for salmon returning to spawn and serve as habitat for other species. On this particular pocket beach a homeless person had set up a tent. I’m sure that didn’t help with habitat reclamation.
From this waterway we continued around the containment pond and into the main waterfront of the City of Bellingham. Our guides pointed out other industrial sites along the way, including the “Acid Ball” once used in processing lumber. A rainbow framed the sphere perfectly as we paddled.
Our destination was Waypoint Park, a new park formed from the remediation of an old industrial site. In addition to a reclaimed pocket beach there was a playground and waterfront trail. The Acid Ball had been moved to this location and studded with reflective glass to turn it into an art installation.
Representatives from both the city and the port were there to tell us about the reclamation projects along the waterfront. Analiese Burns from the Public Works Department describe the development of the new park.
By the time they had finished with their talk, we were out of time for our trip. We loaded back up and paddled back to the marina. The setting sun highlighted the boats along our route.
I’m impressed with Bellingham is doing. I hope that they can continue to remediate these old industrial sites. One of their biggest challenges is with the homeless population that tend to disrupt their efforts. They are working to provide services and facilities for them so that they aren’t as inclined to hang out in sensitive environment areas. It’s a problem.
The trip was informative and I met some great new folks, but this still wasn’t the paddling experience I was after. Thinking about my Facebook friends on the Church of the Double Bladed Paddle, this service was mostly preaching and less paddling. I do understand that the whole point of the trip was to raise awareness about the waterfront, but I would have preferred to spend more time on the water. Oh well. I still had a bit more time to paddle for we return to South Carolina.