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Paddle Kitsap is this weekend | Kitsap Week

The call of the sea. Kitsap paddlers take to the water this weekend. - Courtesy Photo
The call of the sea. Kitsap paddlers take to the water this weekend.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

If you are near North Kitsap's shoreline this weekend, you may notice pods of brightly colored boats as paddlers take to the water at the fourth annual Paddle Kitsap event.

Organizer John Kuntz said he expects about 50 participants at the two-day event which begins on Friday in Port Gamble and ends Saturday in Poulsbo. When it's all said and done, about 35 nautical miles will be floated, paddled and splashed as boaters circumvent their way around North Kitsap. (A bit of trivia: 1 nautical mile is equal to 1.15 land miles.)

Kuntz began Paddle Kitsap to give paddlers a social event on the water. Since its inception, the event has drawn participants from across the country and from as far away as Florida.

“Puget Sound is recognized as one of the premier locations for paddling in the world,” Kuntz said. “And Kitsap County has some of the best paddling in Puget Sound.”

Part of the proceeds from the two-day Paddle Kitsap event will go to the North Kitsap Trails Association. The goal of the association is to establish a water trail, linking local land and water trails with other state and national trail systems. So far, over $2,000 has been raised. Kuntz said the money would pay for trailhead signs indicating where a paddler can enter the water, as well as trail maps.

“People don't know where to go [to put in their boat] and they really need to know weather and tide conditions,” Kuntz said. “Part of the reason for creating the water trail is that information would be readily available and more people would paddle in Puget Sound.”

Paddle Kitsap is divided up into four different segments each day and paddlers are on the water for an hour or two at a time. Rest stops and meal breaks refuel the human-powered boaters.

At past events, paddlers have seen harbor seals and porpoises, California sea lions and eagles. Interesting views along the shore include overturned burned out cars (no explanation, but it looks like something from a Hollywood set), ziplines that go down to the water and an extremely long staircase (the kind of staircase that once you reach the bottom, you won’t be heading back up anytime soon.) Native canoes attend the event as well and are often a highlight.

As participants paddle through Agate Pass, they will enter the fastest current on the route and can reach speeds upwards of six knots, even without paddling. Kuntz said it's fun to pass through so quickly, with very little effort.

When paddlers enter the waters surrounding Keyport, they need to stay away from the naval facilities. Security is tight around the protected waters and if boaters come too close, they will be stopped and questioned, and then escorted away.

For those new to paddling and who are interested in partaking in next year’s event, Kuntz recommends training twice a week starting in the spring, and being comfortable paddling one to two hours at a time.

The paddling ends at 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and the majority of boaters camp out at the Paddle Tent City in Kingston. A catered dinner Friday night gets everyone off to a satisfying start.

More information about the event, as well as training recommendations, can be found at www.paddlekitsap.com.

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