Early April is generally when we start ramping up our mileage, in preparation for our annual SEVENTY48 race. Our goal for this weekend was to paddle more than 17nmi. When the forecast for Saturday looked like it would be a bit more blustery than we’d hoped, we chose our Sunday paddle plan. We’d paddle to Purdy, with rest breaks at Cutts Island State Park. This would be the first time we paddled so deep into Henderson Bay.
We’ve already circumnavigated all of the islands in Carr Inlet, but it’s still a popular destination for us. The Fox Island boat launch has free parking and is less than 30 minutes from our front door. Sunday was a beautiful day for a paddle. As we headed across the Narrows Bridge, the Olympics were out in full force, giving us a preview of what we’d see all day.
We launched into calm waters with sunshine and high clouds in the sky. As the clouds passed overhead, we’d cool off just a bit, which made the sunshine all the more welcome when it returned. There were sections of the day when the water reflected like glass and we enjoyed the companionship of a few harbor seals in the distance. The Olympics continued to shine, and the water was fast and flat all the way to Cutts Island.
Cutts Island – the Long…
After our first break on Cutts Island, we headed toward the Purdy Bridge. We launched at almost exactly the lowest tide level for the day, and we enjoyed paddling along the long spine that appears on the Northeast end of the island at low tide. It was amazing how far along the spine we could see the bottom. It doesn’t really look like you could quite walk all the way to Raft Island. However, it does look like it would be a very short swim at the lowest tides of the year.
As we came around Allen Point, the wind picked up a bit and we fought a headwind all the way to our next stop at the Purdy Bridge. When we were planning this route, we had a goal to get more than 17nmi under our paddles in one day. It was therefore important that we made it just about as far into Henderson Bay as we possibly could. The downside to spending time on the Purdy Spit is that you’re never far from a highway. The plus side was shelter from the wind (that same highway provides a bit of a windbreak) and a few moments to stretch our legs and eat a snack. As we were about to launch, I was pretty cranky from the vehicle noise. Then Travis reminded me that we were about to head into my favorite conditions: following winds with following seas.
…& the Short of It
As we launched from the Purdy Spit, we were able to take full advantage of the wind at our backs and the waves going our direction. A few power strokes here… a sweep stroke there… Our NC19 Expeditions were able to harness some of the speed of the waves around us. We were nearly a knot faster with the wind and waves helping us than we were pushing against them, with far less effort needed.
As we approached Cutts Island again, we were much closer to the high tide of the afternoon. The island was considerably smaller, and the spit had all but disappeared. We paddled right over most of the spit and were able to land our kayaks just a few steps away from the driftwood seats we’d used a few hours before.
The Final Stretch
We ended up taking a very short break on Cutts Island – we were ready to keep going. It’s amazing what an energy boost we get from pleasant conditions… and being ahead of schedule. As we made our way around Green Point, Mt. Tahoma/Rainier showed above Fox Island.
On a clear day, the final approach to the Fox Island Boat Launch is almost always amazing. We’ve paddled that stretch of water as the last leg of several paddles of note. This was how we finished our “on your own” 70Forty-Eight in 2020. It was how we finished our four-in-one island circumnavigation. The last half mile is more protected than the waters around it, so it is commonly glass-flat. So even if we’ve been fighting winds all day, we get a reprieve at the very end. And the promise of dry clothes and rest is waiting for us. No matter how enjoyable the day, those are always welcome at the end of a challenge.