Our Tidal Rapids SUP Training Class in Deception Pass St Park

Deception Pass is a huge park 1.5 hours north of Seattle (no ferry).  The park has extensive hiking trails, and despite it's reputation for ripping whitewater, 95% of the park's waters are super protected and are flat calm most of the time.  The scenery is similar to SE Alaska or British Columbia's Inside Passage.  In a rain shadow, it's always sunnier than Seattle which is a perk for sure.

The rapids are caused by a natural bottleneck canyon that separates Skagit Bay and the Puget Sound. Whenever the tide comes in or out, the water squeezes through the narrow gap and the energy has to go  somewhere, so much like surf hitting a beach - it goes up, thus becoming whitewater.  But the water is very deep and unlike rivers there's no strainers, sketchy hydraulics and if you fall off your board the rapids end quickly vs taking you downriver for awhile.

We enter on the tail end of the flood current which pushes us through to the east side of the canyon, then slack occurs. This is a calm lake like period between ebb and flood which lasts a few minutes.  During this time we paddle around Deception Island which is in the middle of two canyons topped by a bridge with Highway 20 flowing through.

Soon therafter the ebb (outgoing tide) begins as a trickle.  At this point we start working on peeling out into the current and peeling back in the eddy.  We do this a few times til students are comfortable. As we're doing it the current is increasing.  Then we teach how to ferry across current where students learn to cross the river without going down it - an interesting manuever which is quite easy with the right instruction.  By now the current has hit it's max, usually 5-8kts which appears to be flowing quite fast but students are comfortable with it and begin to experiment and play.

We finish the class taking the ebb downstream around Reservation Head which has several sea arches, caves and pocket beaches.  The current in these sections on the ebb is minimal.  Then back to Bowman Bay and our cars.

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