Washington State’s Puget Sound has over 1300 miles of coastline in a relatively small geographic region and the water is mostly protected from large swells and waves especially in the Summer months. When we first arrived in Anacortes we realized that Sea Kayaking would be our ticket to explore even just a tiny bit of this maritime playground. Anyone can get on Amazon and order an inflatable kayak like we did (watch us set it up for the first time) but knowledge and experience don’t come from a box. Getting ourselves to the point to where we would confidently launch it in salt water meant that we needed professional guidance. We hired Anacortes Kayak Tours to teach us the ropes.
Kayaking in the Sound is a whole different experience than paddling in a lake. There are mighty currents and tides to contend with that at the very least can leave you high and dry in quicksand or pulled in a direction that you don’t want to go. Water temperatures are also dangerously cold much of the year which can make a capsizing a life or death experience. Then you factor in that there are whales and sharks and all kinds of marine life below you and, well its best to have someone hold your hand your first time out.
Our Son Luke was visiting us from Colorado and we opted for the three person kayak referred to as the “party barge”. Our guide outfitted us with paddles and life jackets and taught us the proper way to get into place and secure the sea skirts that would prevent water from getting into the boat. Luke assumed the all important rear seat where he was in charge of the rudder. I sat in the middle and Tammy sat up front where she could focus on getting video of our tour. Once outfitted we paddled out of the harbor and into the open water of Burrows Bay. I think all three of us felt a bit of anxiety as we made the crossing of about a mile from Fidalgo Island to Burrows Island but once we got there we all relaxed and took in the adventure of it all.
Our guide pointed out that we should be proud of ourselves. We did complete the circum-navigation of an entire island! In all we paddled about 6 miles and we had a blast. We didn’t see any whales or sharks but we did have a brief interaction with a few harbor seals and that was exciting enough for us. We did have one tense moment when our long boat was caught sideways in the wake of a speeding sea taxi but we lived to see another day and nobody went swimming. For certain the experience taught us that our new inflatable would be best suited for exploring estuaries and shorelines on calm days in the right tide. If sea kayaking is on your bucket list we highly recommend hiring a guide your first time out.