Our First Five Islands

The first five islands we circumnavigated

We technically decided to¬†circumnavigate all of the islands in Puget Sound after we had crossed a few off the list. The first of the islands we completed is Ketron: a small island in the South Sound now nationally known as the place the stolen Horizon Air Bombardier crashed in August 2018. It’s about 3 miles to paddle around it; if you launch from Steilacoom, that adds a mile over and a mile back. Circling Ketron is not a high-mileage paddle, so it’s a great one to tackle early-on a challenge like ours.

Next, we paddled around Fox Island, which is almost 11 nautical miles around. We’ve done this paddle several times now and added a quick detour to go around Tanglewood Island once. From our home base in Tacoma, it is an easy trip to the boat launch at the Fox Island Bridge. The distance is long enough to get a good workout, but short enough that it doesn’t take the entire day. Quite some time after our first circumnavigation of Fox Island, we decided to circumnavigate ALL of the islands in the Sound.

Narrows bridges as seen from the southeast end of Fox Island.

Completing Carr Inlet

While Carr Inlet separates Fox and McNeil Islands, there are only two islands completely within Carr. We circumnavigated Cutts Island for the first time on a calm, sunny day. For the quickest trip around, go when it’s calm and the tide is relatively high. We have also experienced Cutts Island at a low tide and in a headwind – that can add both mileage and a lot of time to your trip. The spit that makes up the northeast point of the island just gets longer and longer the lower the tide. On a warm summer day, you’ll find the beach populated with a variety of boaters enjoying the state park. On a cold winter’s day, you’re more likely to share the island exclusively with Canada geese and harbor seals.

Eagle at Raft Island.

We then paddled around Raft Island. It is bigger than Cutts, but not quite as big as Ketron. We launched from Fox Island and paddled to Kopachuck State Park where we stopped for a short break before paddling on to circumnavigate Raft Island. Since the Raft Island boat launch and parks are for community members only, we did not land during our circumnavigation. We got a little relief from the sun and saw a bald eagle as we paddled in the shade of madronas and firs close to the Eastern shore. After we finished paddling around Raft Island, we headed towards the Purdy Bridge for a while to get some extra miles before returning to Cutts Island for our final break and heading back to the car.

Paddling back from Cutts Island.

Stay tuned for more islands in Pierce, King, and Mason counties…

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