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Seventy48 Training - Where to Camp for the Race on Puget Sound

WWTA Campsites along the race course
A few folks have asked me where to camp during the Seventy48 race. Here's a map of legal campsites courtesy of the WA Water Trails Association and other useful info..

If you go the regular route up Colvos, there's plenty of legal options until you pass Bainbridge - then it's time to pull out the camo netting and go guerilla style until the south end of Indian Island.

Luckily the race route follows the Cascadia Marine Trail run by the WA Water Trails Association. On the map below you have plenty of options.

Click here for the WWTA site to get detailed info for each site. Look for number of campsites, site fees (bring cash), water options, sanitation options, fire restrictions, and other info. The Kitsap Water Trail also has a few of these on their Map

The WWTA site can also help you plan your trip between each site with marine chart info, distance between each site and trailheads as well as GPS coordinates. Join the WWTA for more detailed info, discounts and to support public access and to keep these sites open.

See the image here for Blake Island which has 3 campsites.  The NW site is WWTA, the E site at
Tillikum Village which has the most space and water. The S 'primitive' site only has 1-2 tent spaces.

Things to look for with legal camp spots:
- Water
- Fees
- Tent sites (how many)
- Sanitation options
- Raccoon issues (get a bear canister). Blake Island does have bear boxes. Raccoons can and will rip into your kayak hatches and dry bags.

Guerilla / Stealth / Ninja Camping
Should these options not work for you either due to where you happen to stop for the night and/or your camping style, you could get away with guerilla camping.  Use Google Earth to scout for non-developed areas. The former SeaTrails sites do on occasion list private and government land to avoid.

Things to Consider for Guerilla Camping:

- Daily high tide - NOAA tides for Puget Sound
- Know the rules and avoid development
- Read more about guerilla camping below..
- Leave No Trace

From the Mariner Kayaks Owner's Manual
Beach Camping Hazards
On an outgoing tide you could become stranded in tidal basins with wide areas of muddy shallows such as often occur where a river enters a bay. A long shallow beach could mean a long carry to a resting or camping place at low tide. Also on this shallow type beach the tide comes in very rapidly so you must be especially careful not to leave your kayak unsecured for even a few minutes or it could float away. Carry your kayak and equipment well above high tide line and then tie it to a fixed object in case you misjudged the tide. More great info from Mariner

Here's a few links to help with guerilla camping..
Guerilla Camping for Paddlers
We May or May Not Support Guerilla Camping / Adventure Journal
Stealth Camping Tips
Stealth Camping 101
Fresh off the grid - Free camping resources
How to Camp on a Beach

2 NW Paddle Guides to help plan your trip:
Water Trail - Joel Rogers (out of print) Joel paddled from Olympia to Pt Roberts. Great info and photos on everything in between.

Kayaking Puget Sound and the San Juans, 60 Trips (my book). The Seventy48 route is well covered in the book.

Check for future posts on this subject:
-How to pack your SUP for an overnight
-Outfitting your SUP for overnight trips
-Finding Ultralight gear

Check out my other 70/48 Posts;
5 Books I'm Using to Plan for the Race

Salmon Bay Paddle / Paddle Smarter not Harder
Beginning to advanced SUP instruction in the Pacific Northwest
and PSUPA certification.


Seventy48 Race Training - Which Route to Take?

Three paddlers interested in the Seventy48 race asked me this week which route I was going to take.  I told them I couldn't answer that question because the wind direction and speed will ultimately determine my decision. And we won't know which direction they'll be blowing until a few days prior and for sure on the day of.

But for planning sake, here's my thoughts in regards to specific wind (or no wind) conditions if one were to try to finish the shortest time possible.

No Wind (Or a favorable light S or SE wind) - 62 Miles

Starting at high tide, take the ebb up Colvos Passage past the east side of Blake Island, Restoration Point, then northwards up the east shore of Bainbridge.

Then it's a straight shot to Point No Point Cape Foulweather then northwards past Port Ludlow to Oak Bay and Indian Island, PT Canal then PT.

Google Earth puts this route at 62 miles. Using a speed distance calculator (since math isn't my strength), at 6 kts per hour I'd get there in 9 hours. Or 13.5hours at 4kts per hour.

Tidal Info:
Ebb (Start) 5:30pm @ a 10' tide.
Tidal cycles run 6 hours. Given the 4kt per hour speed (more likely) I'll hit slack or the beginning of the flood at the north tip of Bainbridge Island. Or thereabouts. Pt Ludlow has a 5'.7 low at 9:45p.

(Still working out the tidal differences of paddling north with the ebb)

Providing I'm able to keep up my 4kt per hour speed, I'll try to avoid the flood by using the eddy inside Apple Tree Cove (Kingston), then hug the shore en route to Point No Point and Cape Foulweather then towards Pt Ludlow, past Mats Mats to Oak Bay.

Take advantage of the ebb and fire through PT Canal. Head directly towards the north shore to avoid weird swirls inside the bay. Follow along the north shore to PT then finish at the Maritime Center just before Pt Hudson. Then get a beer, foot massage and sleep for 2 days.

Do your Research - Take a look at Puget Sound Currents by to see that on either tidal direction, it's not a straight shot of current in your favor. At every point, headland, nook or bay, there's mini gyros of swirling current. In some places you may angle more towards the middle of a water way vs where you'd think you'd want to be along the shore.

Strong SE or S Wind Downwinder - 66 Miles

Think downwinder.  Deploy those Vashon designed wind pants, poncho or really big hat and get ready for the most epic glide of your life straight (hopefully) up the Sound. You have 2 start options.  Either fire up the Colvos and hope you get the wind benefit. Vashon locals tell me it's mostly SW in Colvos so there might be some corrections to do. Then pop out into the Sound east of Blake Island. 

Or.. providing the ebb out of Quartermaster Harbor isn't too strong at the race start, fire up through the Harbor, portage at Portage and into the Sound at Tramp Harbor, then downwind is directly up the shipping lanes as far as you can go per wind direction/speed. But watch out for large ships.  Use to track shipping. Would be wise to deploy a kite (or foil) here to max your efforts. 

Strong NE Wind (Common in the Sound) - 70 Miles

Love blue skies? Downside is that a NE wind could develop and blow most of the day sometimes slowing at dusk. 

Colvos to Manchester, then up Rich Passage (will be bucking ebb so use eddies) then northwards up west side of Bainbridge. Time the ebb to ride the current through Agate Pass, then northwards.

Other 70/48 Posts;
5 Books I'll be Using to Plan for the Race
Tips for Success for the Race

Salmon Bay Paddle / Paddle Smarter not Harder
Beginning to advanced SUP instruction in the Pacific Northwest
and PSUPA certification.

Seventy48 Race Training - 5 Books I'm Using to Plan for the Race

So much to learn, so little time. With the epic Seventy48 race looming a few months out, those interested in the race are sounding overwhelmed with info and aren't sure where to start - Currents? Tides? Which way to go? How to train?

In the next few months I'll be posting a bunch of blog posts and offering clinics in the Seattle area to help you figure it all out. We also have paddling classes in tidal current, wind and in applying on-water navigation.

Let's start with the 5 Books I'm using to plan my route from Tacoma to PT

Using Boating Guides for Planning Paddling Routes - Also, note that in using boating guides for research, they're great for most of what you need to know. But unlike a boat, paddlers can get into super shallow water so keep that in mind. For example, boaters will be surprised when I tell them we can paddle upstream in Deception Pass. What they don't know is that we can paddle 1-2' from shore in fin depth water using eddies to 'eddy-hop' upstream.

Where to get all these books?
In Ballard, one of my favorite bookstore is Captain's Supplies across from Maritime Brewery. You can order these and many other maritime guides from 

Tidal Currents of Puget Sound - David Burch /

This is an essential guide in figuring out how tidal currents work in Puget Sound. If you paddle rivers or in tidal rapids you'll know about how current wrapping around a rock creates a back eddy behind the rock. The same goes for current wrapping around a headland or point of land. A gyro or eddy is created in the bay behind the point or headland.

This current will swirl in a circle, sometimes up to a few miles wide. Often you can't see it, but will definitely feel it. In whitewater, it's called 'sticky water'. You're wondering why you were going 5kts but suddenly have slowed to 2 knots getting the feeling of paddling uphill. Then it releases you.
Puget Sound Currents

The book will show you how to avoid these spots on all levels of the ebb and flood.  You'll learn how to also use that back eddy to your advantage to get a free ride along the shore whereas 200 yards out you'd be 'bucking' or going against the current.  Order

After a while you won't need the book as you'll know through experience how currents work when planning trips.

Puget Sound Current Guide / Out of print / Island Canoe
Similar to Burch's book above, this guide has marine charts that show the basics of how currents work in the Sound. The current maps aren't as detailed but here you can see access points and more land details to work in your planning.

Gunkholing South Puget Sound / out of print / Jo Bailey, Carl Nyberg
This is one in an epic series of unfortunately out of print cruising guides to Puget Sound, the San Juans and Gulf Islands. Written by long time NW boaters, the book covers everything you'd want to know about every part of the Sound. For example, for the Colvos Passage, you'll learn about how the current flows north, where the rips are and whether there's a rock to avoid. You'll also learn about the
native, explorer, pioneer and maritime history about the area. Imagine this detail for every nautical mile of Puget Sound. Sections of charts are included to show all the details.

Find the books in maritime bookstores, used bookstores and Powell's in Portland.  Or Amazon link here.

Kayaking Puget Sound and the San Juans, 60 Trips / Rob Casey / Mountaineers Books
I updated the 3rd edition of this classic NW paddling guide, first authored by Randal Washbourne. 
We added 10 trips and I tried to change the title to 'Paddling' but it was already established with buyers and distributors. That said, it's for all paddlers, canoeists and anyone else looking to explore the Sound from the water.

The entire 70/48 route is covered in the book. Check it out for learning how to paddle each section, where to camp (legally), which charts to use and some historical tid bits.  Order

If you use the book send me any access or other updates we can apply to the next edition.

Evergreen Pacific Exploring Puget Sound and British Columbia / Evergreen Pacific Publishing
To me paddling this race isn't just about getting point A to B. The scenery is pretty cool and is rich in history which to me enriches the route.

The guide is made up of marine charts but also tons of historical and navigation points about each chart. You'll learn about how the rock on the south end of Quartermaster Harbor was said to have been superstitious by the natives thus was avoided. And how Captain Vancouver dispatched smaller boats to explore each nook and cranny of the Sound sometimes having interactions with the natives who may of come from the 100' long longhouse at what is now Suquamish.

I was once paddling across Puget Sound to Blake Island when on channel 14 of my VHF, an incoming container ship alerted boaters to watch out for 150 indian canoes crossing from Suquamish to Golden Gardens. Part of the annual Tribal Journeys event, the canoes were headed down the Sound, picking up more canoes as they went, all headed to a final destination and epic party (potlatch). Knowing where their ancestors' villages where and how they got around is pretty cool.

Here's two other great books about pre-white contact native living in middle Puget Sound. Chief Seattle / Native Seattle. Native Seattle shows where the villages were in the Seattle area.

One more bonus book - Fundamentals of Kayak Navigation. Also by local navigation guru David Burch, this book is a great (all paddle craft) book using hands-on marine navigation methods.

Local Lingo - Not local? PT=Port Townsend. 

Other Seventy48 Posts:
Seventy48 - 6 Things to Know for your Success 
Seventy48 - Which Route to Take?

Salmon Bay Paddle / Paddle Smarter not Harder
Beginning to advanced SUP instruction in the Pacific Northwest
and PSUPA certification.

Seventy48 Race Training - The 6 Things to Know for your Success

Talking to paddlers recently, Some plan to do the 70 in a day in one shot, others have mentioned 1.5 days, 2 days and even a few who will tour it taking their time coming in after the clock, in 3 days.

In the next few months I'll be detailing how to plan for the race not only mentally and physically but in applying smart route planning.  Learn to paddle smarter, not harder.

Join my mailing list to get weekly updates on 70/48 Race Clinics which will be offered throughout each month to help you get there not only quicker but also less painfully.

6 Things You Should Know for the Race
(I'll cover each upcoming blogs and our clinics)

- Rough water paddling skills. You should be comfortable paddling in mild to high wind (15-30kts), how to downwind, upwind, and paddling in beam (side) winds. You can handle boat and ship waves and unexpected weird water like rips and squirly current. 

- You should have reliable self-rescue skills in all conditions. And worse case know how to call EMS services if you need help (EMS=Emergency Medical Services) which includes the Coast Guard. 

- Have solid on-water navigation skills day or night in all conditions. This means not only route planning, but understanding boating right of way including avoiding ferries and ships. 

Navigation and route planning includes working with the tides, current, wind and land shapes to determine the easiest route.

- Be in strong physical condition in order to paddle at least 30+ miles daily.  

- Have route planning skills factoring in wind and current. 

- And be willing to have an open mind and be willing to change your plan, course or route for weather changes or even for your changing state of mind while en route. Sh.. happens, be willing to adjust your plan - sometimes it works for the better.

Next up..

5 Books I'll be using to plan my route
Which Route to Take?

Salmon Bay Paddle / Paddle Smarter not Harder
Beginning to advanced SUP instruction in the Pacific Northwest
and PSUPA certification.


3 Epic Winter SUP Trips

With the holidays in full gear there's nothing better than bailing out of town - or off shore to escape the madness and hopefully lose a few new pounds thanks to that addicting egg nog (I'm addicted).

Here's 3 Epic PNW Paddle Trips for Winter..

Hood Head

You can see Hood Head from the Hood Canal Bridge. It's located just east of the north span and is connected to Olympic Peninsula via a thin strand of sand.
Hood Head

Launch at Shine State Tidelands just east of the bridge off Paradise Road. Cross the bridge (if headed north), Take the first Right, then an immediate Right down a steep hill to the park. Discovery Pass required. You can see the lot from the bridge.

Camp on the WWTA paddle-in site on the west side and check out the 50' long driftwood sea monster sticking out on the SE spit.

There's a few boat-in houses on the north side so respect their privacy. The island doesn't have much for trails but is easy to get to and rarely visited by paddlers.

Enjoy views of Foulweather Bluff, Marrowstone Island and Port Gamble to the south.

Trip #32 Kayaking Puget Sound

Neah Bay

Going to the Coast?  Neah Bay has lots of paddling if the surf is blown-out or that's not your thing. We love the Sooes River just a mile south of the Hobuck Campground. Get back on the dirt road and head south.

Sooes River
Park at the day use area (by decorative shelter and restrooms) or along the river mouth around the bend. Only the Rec Permit is needed there (get while entering Neah Bay, an annual pass).

The Sooes River is a lazy Class 1 tidal estuary that winds through the flat lands behind the beach amongst frayed cedars and firs We've gone as far up as the bridge.

The river mouth can have epic surf, or if small a fun tidal bore like wave that will push you upriver sometimes 100yds, then float back down, and up again. Cool spot.

In summer the mouth is popular with fishermen and locals and their kids who like to play in the water and light current.

Camp or rent a cabin at Hobuck Beach Resort (cabins book weeks out)

Getting to Neah Bay

Hope Island (South)
Hammersley Inlet to Hope Island

There's two Hope Islands. This one is in the South sound north of Olympia. It has multiple access points. But my favorite is from Shelton due to the free ride down Hammersley inlet thanks to tidal current.

Launch at Walker State Park (Bring Discovery Pass).  Time it for the ebb (outgoing tide), ideally a big exchange. Head east down the inlet, ideally with a free ride from current.

When the inlet reaches the Sound, take a right and head a few miles to Hope Island. It's a marine State Park with only a caretaker's cabin. The WWTA site is on the SE corner.

The island has a nice wooded walking trail that circumnavigates the island. Or paddle around it for cool beaches and views of the totally undeveloped an ancient looking Squaxin Island, owned by the Squaxin Tribe (don't land!).

You may experience light swirling current around the island, but nothing requiring advanced skills.

Getting home - Take the Flood back up Hammersley Inlet.  Kayakers call it the Hammersley Shuttle.

Trip #5 in Kayaking Puget Sound

Coastal & Winter Paddling Tips..
Dressing for Winter SUP
9 Tips for Paddling in Coastal Areas


Seventy 48 Race Training

June 11 is the first annual Seventy 48 race from Tacoma to Port Townsend put on by the folks at the Northwest Maritime Center, who run the R2AK race (Race to Alaska).

This is a human powered unassisted paddling race.

I signed up.  That said, like myself and I'm sure many of you aren't ready to paddle or rather race, 70 miles in 48hrs.

So I'm developing a training course for the race which will include the following. If you're interested in this course, send me your info to keep you on our mailing list. Once we figure out the specifics, we'll send updates on a start time, cost and duration. Open to all paddling craft racers.

3 Course series each including the following over 2 month periods:

Day and Night Navigation - Taught by David Burch of

Currents / Tides / Wind - How to read and use to your advantage and route finding.

Fitness - Pre-race training tips

Nutrition / Hydration - During race

Paddling Technique - Reading water, currents, rough water, boat wake surfing, etc.

Endurance Racing - How to prepare, the mental game, etc

Gear Outfitting - How to outfit your board or kayak for overnight and long distance trips, best fins.

Rescue Techniques

What to Bring - Clothing, camping gear, food, hydration, first aid, etc.

First Aid On-Water - First aid kit, taping fingers/hands, emergency hydration, pain, etc.

On-Water Gear Repair

On-Water Communication

Optional Power Options - Kite, kayak paddle, drafting, etc

Missing anything?

More Info:
Race to Alaska - R2AK

More Race Prep Posts:
Seventy48 - Which Route to Take?
Seventy 48 - 6 Things to Know for your Success
Seventy 48 - 5 Books I'm using to plan for the race

Salmon Bay Paddle / Paddle Smarter not Harder
Beginning to advanced SUP instruction in the Pacific Northwest
and PSUPA certification.


Ballard Shipwreck - SS Bering at the Elks Beach

If you paddle in Seattle and in Ballard, you may of been to 'Secret Beach' or 'Hidden Beach'.  Since it's not a secret anymore, we just call it Elks Beach. The Ballard Elks lodge shares the north side of the beach. We run most of our Seattle classes including freighter surfing from the beach.

Offshore about 100yds are a series of old pilings. Some say there was a ferry here in the 1930's over to Suquamish (need that back!).

What many don't know about is the ship keel remnant only seen at extreme low tides near the end of the pilings in front of the Elks lodge.

The keel was from the SS Bering, once beached at this spot for many years. In 1957, it was burned to make way for the Ballard Elks Club.  See more info on the SS Bering below.

SS Bering on Point Shilshole, 1950's

SS Bering - Burning next to Ballard Elks members
Read more..

TitleDerelict ship Bering on Shilshole BaySeattleJanuary1957
CaptionThe steamer Bering was badly damaged following a stranding in southeastern Alaska waters. The ship was towed to Seattlewhere it was condemned and sold for $1.00 to the TregoningBoat Companylocated on Seaview Avenue in Ballard. The Tregoning Comoored her as a breakwater for a proposed small boat mooring at the entrance to the Lake Washington ShipCanalAfter some years the vessel was beached near the canal entrance

In this image the derelict SS Bering sits beached on the shore of Shilshole Bay. The ship was intentionally burned down about 1957 due to its unsafe condition. At the left of the image pilingsfrom the Tregoning operations remained until at least until 1987Behind the boat Puget Sound is visible, with the Olympic Mountains beyond.
NotesCaption information sourceH.WMcCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest.p512-13SOURCE: