It’s time to put the paddle to the Puget.
Kitsap’s annual trek across its water trail by kayak, paddleboard, canoe or other human-powered vessel will put swarms of paddlers on the water on Aug. 23.
Whether a beginner or an expert, the paddle is designed for all.
“It’s meant to bring people together in a laid back environment, and to get their feet wet so to speak,” said Forrest Wells, manager of Olympic Outdoor Center in Port Gamble that organizes the event. “Especially for people that may not have paddled the distances we are covering. It’s a great way to get people out who don’t have as much experience, with some professionals.”
Paddle Kitsap began in 2008 when John Kuntz, owner of Olympic Outdoor Center, wanted to promote local water recreation, as well as the emerging Kitsap Peninsula Water Trail. The water trial extends 371 miles around the Kitsap Peninsula, leading through unique views and rarely visited corners of Bainbridge Island, the Hood Canal, Liberty Bay, the Port Gamble more. The water trail has been recognized by the county and the National Trail System.
“That puts us in the upper echelon of trails,” Kuntz said. “It puts us up there with the Pacific Crest Trial. It’s a pretty big status.”
“Our trail is exemplary,” he said. “There are numerous small towns and ports along the trail that make it fun for paddlers.”
The first few Paddle Kitsap events were two-days long on different parts of the trail.
The Aug. 23 paddle will be a one-day event, beginning at 1 p.m. It will start at the Port Orchard boat ramp, lead out of Sinclair Inlet, continue through the Washington Narrows, into Dyes Inlet, and end on the shores of Silverdale.
Kuntz notes that the trip through the Washington Narrows will be particularly interesting as the paddle is timed for when the tides will push paddlers toward their destination. And incoming tides in the narrows should provide quite a push.
“We’re expecting it to be pretty strong going through there,” Kuntz said. “We did this same trip with about 100 Microsoft people and they loved it. It was not much work at all.”
Visit Kitsap is sponsoring a barbecue at the end of the paddle. Shuttle service will be provided, for $12, to bring paddlers back to Port Orchard to pick up their vehicles.
Paddlers can register online in advance, or on the day of the event. The paddle cost $15, or $10 for ages 17 and younger. Anyone can join in on the paddle for free, but paying participants get a commemorative sticker and a snack pack. Also, part of the proceeds go to the Kitsap Peninsula Water Trail Alliance which supports the trail.
“It’s designed to be inexpensive and open to everybody,” Kuntz said.
Kuntz recommends that paddlers come prepared. A vessel that is at least 12-feet-long, for example, should be able to handle the Puget Sound waves, he said.
Kuntz said that people have come with sit-in, or sit-on-top kayaks, and even paddleboards.