Narrative: When the tides are right Hammersley Inlet is a classic Puget Sound paddle trip. Friday March 30 is one of those times.
Launching from Walker Park near Shelton, we will paddle six miles down inlet with a strong assist from a brisk (3.1 knot) ebb. We then cross to Hope Island for lunch, wait for the tide to turn, and paddle back up inlet on an only slightly less brisk flood (2.5 knots). Distance covered over the ground is about 17 miles; distance paddled through the water is about 10 to 12 miles. That is, assuming all goes according to plan.
Current Skills: Much of the inlet is thirty feet deep and the current runs fast but smooth. However, at these velocities, the intermittent shoal patches and prominent points (Skookum, Libby and Cape Horn in particular) kick up significant boils and eddy lines. Many of these can be avoided; some cannot. Conditions permitting, we will pause in the back eddies for optional play time. Thus eddy line crossing, edging and bracing skills are absolutely necessary.
Landings: Much of the inlet has sloping gravel shores which could be used in an emergency. Unfortunately all of it is private, so there are no good rest stop or bio break spots until the Arcadia launch ramp, about 6.5 miles and perhaps two hours into the trip. Hope Island Marine Park has good landings, toilets and picnic tables.
Timing: Time and tide wait for no-one, and so it is with Hammersley. Maximum ebb is at 10:30 am, minimum before flood at 1:15 pm, and maximum flood at 3:30 pm. Thus we need to arrive no later than 9:00 am and be launch-ready no later than 10:00.
Walker Park is 133 miles from Portland, 2 hours and 30 minutes’ drive time on a Friday morning. Parking at Walker Park is limited, so we need to car pool as much as possible.
We won’t be back to Walker Park until late afternoon, so we can’t count on getting back to Portland before 7:00 pm. Bailing out and paddling back against a 3 knot ebb is not an option.
Meeting Time: 9:00:00 AM
Launch Time: 10:00:00 AM
Type of activity: Paddle Trip
Put in: Walker Park
Take out: Walker Park
Route Alternative for bad weather: Cancel or change trip to something on the lower Columbia
Required equipment: Towline
Minimum Immersion protection: Drysuit
Primary Organizer: Bob Hyslop
Assistant Organizer(s): Verne Brown
Has organizer paddled here before? Yes
Has organizer led an OOPS paddle here before? No
Organizer's first aid and CPR current? Yes
First Aid /CPR Person:
Maximum number of paddlers: 10
I certify that I understand and will conduct this activity in accordance with the OOPS Activity Policy: Yes
Estimated Air Temperature: 50 degrees
Estimated Water Temperature: 45 degrees
Estimated Water Time (including breaks/lunch): 6 hours total, 4 1/2 hours in our boats
Tide times & heights: 0600, 15.1 ft; 1230, 2.9 ft; 1800, 13.6
Current information: 10:30 am, 3.1 knot ebb; 1:15 pm, minimum before flood; 3:30 pm, 2,5 knot flood
Hazards: Shipping traffic
Wind strength: Level 2: 7-12 knots (14 mph) – wind noticeably effects movement of paddle
Swell/Surf size: Level 2: Waves up to 2', no breaking waves
Sea state: Level 2: Waves up to armpit; light to moderate chop, scattered whitecaps
Landing types: Level 2: Frequent landing opportunities including docks or moderate sloping banks, brush or overhanging trees
Currents: Level 3: Up to 4 knots: paddlers must sprint to move forward
Total distance: Level 3: 11 to 15 miles
Open crossing: Level 2: Less than 1 mile
Overall rating: Level 3
Rating Comments: Since the 17 mile distance is mitigated by current push, this trip could be rated level 2. It will be canceled or relocated if predicted winds exceed 10 mph. Also, There is occasional barge traffic.
Location (Optional): Hammersley Inlet, WA
Photos (optional): yes
Comments and Discussion
Oregon Ocean Paddling SocietyPortland, Oregon