SSJF – Port Angeles and Around Dungeness Spit

August 9, 2019 – When I awoke at 4:45 am I looked at the forecast. Still small craft advisory, big winds, gale warning in effect. After yesterday’s mild weather all day, and looking out at the water and seeing how mild it still was, I decided this would be the day to paddle the final segment of the Strait of San Juan de Fuca between Ediz Hook in Port Angeles and around Dungeness Spit. Uncle Sid rallied about an hour later and by 8 am we were on our way to Ediz Spit.

Launching was easy with no wind and lite fishing boat traffic. We watched the ferry leave for Victoria as we put BABS in the water so having to dodge that ship was now off the table. While doing my “launch spinal stretch routine” I noticed seven young spotted sandpipers exploring the shore and bobbing their tail ends. A fine sendoff!

The crossing to the Dungeness bluffs was soft and easy. Then began the journey around the west side of Dungeness Spit, the longest natural sand spit in the United States. The water along the spit is so clear that it reflects everything around it. The sky above was varying shades of gray and purple, and the water reflected that and the browns and tans of the spit. I was part of a living watercolor.

About halfway around I encountered my first California sea lion of this journey, a big male. He was sticking his head out of the water and just twirling around happily. I don’t think he knew I was there. I quietly reached in my pocket for my camera and by the time I got it out and ready he was gone.

I stayed about 20 feet offshore as I paddled around the hook. There were two California sea lion pups and their mother on land at the water’s edge. One of the pups and mom went immediately into the water. I kept paddling steadily along, keeping the same distance from shore and admiring the remaining pup on the beach when a large male surfaced right off my port bow. His menacing scowl told me he was not happy with my proximity. I sent my most sincere energy to him that I was just traveling through. He dove down in the direction of my kayak. I held my breath and kept paddling. Five seconds later he surfaced just behind my stern and I thanked him for allowing me to pass. He hung there for another minute or two to make sure I kept going.

Once I got around the hook it took me little time to get to the Cline Spit launch ramp where my dear uncle and dog were waiting for me and helped me load BABS and my gear on and into the Saab. This final segment of the Strait of San Juan de Fuca was an easy and lovely five-hour, 22-mile paddle, with nice weather.

We drove back to Ken and Kris’ place in Sequim. In the evening, there was a neighborhood gathering around a fire. I brought the travel guitar and played and sang with others. It was a nice way to celebrate completing the journey along the southern shores of the strait and around the cape.

Dungeness Bluffs
Red-necked Grebes
Seaweed snacks – yum!
Dungeness Spit Lighthouse from the outside of the spit.
My first viewing of California sea lions on this trip.
As if the sign itself isn’t enough to convince you.
Dungeness Spit Lighthouse from inside the hook.

Written by

kyleenaustin

I am passionate about outdoor exploration. In the recent years I have discovered how much more I can experience from a kayak. I am a professional musician and own a dairy where we produce raw milk, butter and cheeses. My son tells me I have "too much on my plate". He is correct, but I wouldn't live life any other way.

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