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Weekend Cover Story

A quest to Hope Island by sea kayak

Adventure center invites you to kayak inside Puget Sound

Published: 01:18PM September 12th, 2013
A quest to Hope Island by sea kayak

Scott Hansen/Northwest Guardian

Northwest Adventure Center invites you to kayak inside Puget Sound

The open waters are calling at the Directorate of Morale, Welfare and Recreation’s Northwest Adventure Center.

Sea kayaking in Puget Sound’s inlets is one of the many opportunities service members, their Families and base employees are offered at Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s NAC, which has established its autumn and winter adventure calendar for the year.

The next kayaking trip, which costs $40 a person, is set for Sept. 21, and features a visit to Hope Island State Park, about 10 miles north of Olympia and six miles east of Shelton.

Bradley Hinton, one of three civilian NAC programmers who handles kayaking, said the trip is an easy one for beginners. Necessary skills are taught first, including how to paddle for propulsion and maneuvering.

Hinton skips teaching how to use a kayak rudder, saying that if you can maneuver with paddles, you can learn with a rudder.

Also included is how to not flip the kayak over.

“People are unsure of their abilities in the kayak and they get scared,” Hinton said. “And when they get scared, they get stiff, and that’s when you flip over.”

Usually there is someone who flips, Hinton said, and usually it’s right at the beginning of the trip, just off shore. A little balancing practice tends to right the person. As an added level of precaution, guides have sleeker kayaks that let them quickly reach troubled adventurers.

Wide, Necky-brand sea kayaks are provided by NAC, along with the basic gear a person needs to make the six-mile journey, including wetsuits. People are matched to a kayak that fits their size.

Hinton said people should bring several other items, depending on their desired level of comfort: fleece or polyester, a swimsuit, sandals, a hat, sunglasses and sunblock. For sunglasses, Hinton suggested a strap to hold them on your head, as weather can get tricky.

A guide favorite “duct tape and string,” he said. Swells of 3 feet have happened before, though most trips feature calm waters.

NAC transports adventurers out to the launch site in Arcadia, just a few thousand feet away from the island’s shoreline. Lunch is on the island, but it isn’t provided, so bring whatever you like, Hinton said.

The kayaking trips are going to be a bigger part of NAC’s season next year, Hinton said. NAC is planning different locations, but Hinton didn’t say where.

“I can’t give any hints,” he said, “but hopefully we have some good kayaking trips next year.”