The Return to Fox Island

If it’s not broke…

One of our favorite training paddles is circumnavigating Fox Island. It is close to home. The launch site has parking. It is a long enough paddle to be worthwhile, but not so long we need contingency plans. It’s one of the very first islands we circumnavigated when we began our journey to tackle all of the islands of Puget Sound. The past few months have been difficult for us, personally. Those personal challenge have kept us off the water far more than normal (for longer than I’d like to admit). But that is a different story.

The protected waters of Hale Passage

I wonder where I put my…

After an extended period on dry land, the date was set, the weather cooperated (ish), and it was time to collect the gear to be loaded into the car. All of the kayaking-specific gear was in its place. I needed to charge the electronics, but I knew where they were. Some of the other gear that we use for camping, day hikes, and afternoon hikes at the local park had wandered off into spare clothing bags for this, put in the trunk for that… I needed to round it all up and put it in place to go kayaking.

A rock, sometimes island off the coast of Fox Island.

What are the sheets for?

Years ago, my wife put together a few kayak prep lists in Google Keep. There is the “Kayaking Checklist,” the “Kayak Camping Checklist,” and the “Seventy48 Checklist”. I used the “Kayaking Checklist”… load an item into the car; check it off. Since my wife perfected this list, the occasions where we discover we’ve left the house without something have gone to almost zero. The glaring exception is the several times I mistook the dry bag that had sheets for our camping setup with my spare clothes bag. So now my wife and our paddling partner like to poke fun at me because I’m the only kayaker they know who paddled prepared for a toga party.

An Eagle having some lunch on Fox Island.

So… How’d it go?

We gave ourselves a little wiggle room on our paddling schedule. We padded the plan with extra time to launch, a lower predicted average speed, and a longer break. While I won’t say we were in top form, I will say we were ahead of our schedule all day. My wife had also been studying videos to improve her forward stroke. We commented on how much faster she was. In the Japanese Grey’s Anatomy tradition of “see one, do one, teach one,” she shared what she had learned from watching Robert Nissenbaum’s forward stroke video:

Video credit:

Nothing beats hours in the kayak for improving your technique. However, my wife is a visual and kinesthetic learner. So watching a video, imagining the movement, and then trying it out next time she’s on the water works well for her.  If you’re stuck on land, it’s worthwhile to find some resources that can tap into your own learning style. You may even be able to improve between paddles.

In our plan, we erred on the side of caution, and I think that is always the right call when you’re easing back in. But it was very nice to find that we didn’t need to. Even though the wind was stronger than predicted, paddling with 1-2 foot waves abeam, and then astern. We took it in stride and our reward was beautiful scenery, glimpses of wildlife, and the calm waters of Hale Passage for the last leg of our trip back to the boat launch by the Fox Island Bridge.

It was very, very good to be back on the water.


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