Each year, winters in the PNW seems to last longer. It is difficult to fit a decent adventure into these short, gray days. Hauling my fancy fiberglass sea kayak around for a quick day trip is not always practical. So, I've adopted a small plastic kayak
. It puts me on the water faster, is easy to haul around, and can be dropped off the back of a pick-up at 30 m.p.h. without suffering significant damage (so I've read...). I wouldn't attempt a major crossing in it, but for rivers, lakes, and coastal day tripping, it's a fun boat. At a relaxed pace I average about 3 knots of speed, which beats sitting on the couch waiting for spring.
Discovery Bay is a perfect spot for a short winter day trip. It is a beautiful, protected body of water with few public places to launch boats - which means no boat traffic. The bay is about 12 miles long, capped at the north end by Protection Island. We put in at Chevy Chase Inn, about half way up the eastern side of the bay, then paddled 6 miles north, past Bleckett Point to Cape George.
From Cape George, it is 1.5 mile crossing to Protection Island, then a 3 mile trip around the island. Protection Island is a National Wildlife Refuge, so boats are not permitted to land anywhere on the island. With more daylight and proper gear, it would be a beautiful paddle. From Protection Island I would cross to the western side of Discovery Bay, paddle south, and cross back to Chevy Chase Inn. The entire trip would be about 16 miles, a reasonable day trip.
On this day we enjoyed views of Protection Island from Cape George and returned south watching the sun set over the Olympic Mountains. We spent some time searching for John Tukey's hidden treasure
at The Chevy Chase Inn, retracing the canoe trip made by thieves a hundred and fifty years ago, looking for a golden glimmer from the stolen sovereigns rumored to be buried nearby. After spending a long day paddling in the cold, it was just a 10 minute drive to Port Townsend where a hot meal and cold beer were easy to find.
The real hidden treasure on this trip is the Chevy Chase Inn. The lovely cabins with sweeping views of Discovery Bay are booked a year in advance in season. The Inn has a long history of regular customers who appreciate the beauty of this location and return to the resort each summer. Come during the off season, enjoy the solitude, and try to find that gold.