Kayak Camping – Take 2: 2016 Edition

After the debacle that was our first kayak camping expedition, I wasn’t too keen on the concept of trying again.  Until I talked to a colleague who loves kayak camping and learned that we’d traveled more than FIVE TIMES further on our maiden voyage than my buddy recommends.  So I considered for a day, and then told the Hubby that I was open to trying again.  IF we shorten the distance by A LOT.  And IF he could get everything we need ready in less than 48 hours.

The plan: we get everything we need for successful kayak camping loaded into the car for a Saturday morning departure.  We take the Point Defiance-Vashon ferry, and then drive to the North end of Vashon Island.  There’s a boat launch right near the ferry dock there, and a place to leave the car not too far away.  We’ll paddle a couple of miles, to Blake Island, and camp for the night.  Since the weather reports are predicting thunderstorms late Sunday afternoon, we plan on getting back to Vashon by midday – thunderstorms seem easier to handle in a car or on a ferry than they do in a kayak.

At no point did either of us sit down & figure out how much food and water we should bring with us.  We just went for it.  It turns out that we brought more than 21 litres of water and more than 12 meals worth of food.  Which would be good, if we were going on an extended trip.  But we were literally on blake island for less than 20 hours.  This still wouldn’t be a big deal, except that I’m not accustomed to how the boats react when fully loaded.  They sit lower in the water and they have more inertia.  Which is great if you’re trying for long distances.  But it’s not awesome when you’re ready to turn.  Or accelerate.  And it takes a lot longer to pack tons of food & water than it does to pack 2 meals worth of nourishment.

That’s right – two meals worth.  Because we had lunch on Saturday at La Playa Mexican Restaurant.  And then, since we’d just paddled back & loaded the boats onto the car around lunch time on Sunday… we ate there again.  So our frito pie on Saturday night and our biscuits & gravy on Sunday morning were the only meals we needed.  Of course, I was glad to have apples & peanut butter when I didn’t like the biscuits & gravy.  So it was good that we brought snack foods, too.  That’s right – snack foods, in addition to the 12 meals worth of food.  In addition to the emergency rations that we always keep in the boats, you know, in case of emergency.

Although Blake Island has three Cascadia Marine Trail campsites, the Hubby was willing to compromise with me and camp at the standard campground.  Running water, bathrooms, and even an option to enjoy a salmon bake seemed more my speed than a pit toilet and no running water.  We were a bit of an anomaly on that side of the island, as we were the only folks camping out of kayaks on that end.  We had lots of folks ask us how many trips it took to get all of our gear to the island by kayak (answer: one).  Several folks were amazed that we’re able to fit the tent, sleeping pads, reclining camp chairs, and tons of food, water, books, and games into our boats.

We hiked over to check out the marine trails sites.  They’re not as primitive as I’d imagined, but I’d still rather take this journey slowly.  I haven’t fully embraced the concept of kayak camping.  Crossing open water, dealing with shipping lanes and other boaters, and being at the mercy of the weather are all things I need to get more comfortable with if this is going to be a regular thing for us.

The evening was pleasant, and we had a leisurely start to our morning.  Everything was going fairly well, until the weather started coming in as we were packing our campsite.  Although the thunderstorms were still predicted to be hours away, the winds bringing the storms our way made packing the tent an adventure.  We loaded the kayaks in the rain while I contemplated whether I was brave enough to make the crossing back to Vashon.  In the end, the weather died down a bit, and I put on my big-girl-pants and opted to paddle back, rather than trying to hitch a ride with one of the bayliners in the marina.  My fear of social awkwardness overcame my fear of a rough sea.

In the end, we made it back just fine.  I got somewhat more comfortable with open-water crossing, and I’m willing to try it again next year.  In the meantime, we’ll work on our packing list, and pare things down a bit more.