Gateway: Living

No time like the present to get out on the water

A pair of kayakers paddle down the Puget Sound at sunset near Kopachuck State Park in Gig Harbor on August 3, 2014.
A pair of kayakers paddle down the Puget Sound at sunset near Kopachuck State Park in Gig Harbor on August 3, 2014. Staff file, 2014

My kayak started to drift toward the muddy shore just as Herschel peeked his head above the water line.

Drifting toward the banks of Crescent Creek, an eagle flew above my head. Distracted by these amazing spectacles, I found myself traveling quickly into shallow waters. I paddled with all my might to get back into the mainstream and to my guide, as she coached me to maneuver the very narrow and sleek sea kayak.

Flipping the keel up and down helplessly, I finally got the hang of it and my comfort level returned to normal. After this amazing yet tipsy start, we began our shore line tour of Gig Harbor Bay. This June day was a glorious day for a paddle on the harbor. We rowed away from the glossy harbor seal. As he was watching me from the distance, I got the impression he was calling me a novice under his breath. Later, my guide told me a story of how Herschel (as I like to call him), can sometimes appear to be attempting to climb aboard to say hello. I kept calm, and paddled on.

The guided kayak tour took us along Donkey Creek Park and Austin Estuary, where my escort provided a bit of history about the property and the families that have called the area home. Through the marinas we wandered, and onto Skansie Brothers Park we arrived. What a different perspective, to see the open green lawn and beautiful pavilion, netshed and Skansie House from the water. On toward the Tides, the sandspit, and back up along the east side of the bay we meandered. During our trip, my guide provided tidbits of “did you knows” about this and that. Similar to the Gig Harbor Waterfront Alliance’s Waterfront Walking Tours (that take place on foot each Saturday morning beginning at the Maritime Pier, see www.gigharborwaterfront.org/walking-tour/), the tour provided me some new insight about the history of the harbor, the waterway, and properties that border it.

My guide, Gaylene from Gig Harbor Rent a Boat, has spent considerable time visiting with residents and gathering information to share with her groups. She is a wealth of knowledge and truly has the passion one needs to be an outstanding tour guide. One of her most valued contributor is longtime resident and former Mayor Gretchen Wilbert.

Take advantage of the number of ways you can get out on the water in Gig Harbor this August. Gig Harbor Rent a Boat offers a jetcraft, peddle boats, kayaks and paddle boards as a way to beat the heat. Have your pick from a variety of boats, and if this is your first time out, don't sweat, because you can sign up for kayak lessons or take part in a guided tour of the harbor. Lee’s SUP also offers paddle boards and is conveniently located alongside Jerisich Dock, so no excuse not to take in a concert from the water!

For youth, the Gig Harbor Yacht Club offers four sessions of sailing courses this month. The Yacht Club Junior Sail Program provides each sailor his or her own assigned boat — an all new Open Bic sailing dinghy, a Laser, or an FJ — and they are coached by a US Sailing certified instructor. The courses emphasizes on-the-water sailing experience and include instruction on basic boating safety, seamanship, sailing etiquette and knot tying. Visit the Gig Harbor Yacht Club website for details.

Gig Harbor BoatShop’s Launch No. 706 is a restored 1927 electric motor launch and feels like the boaters answer to the Tesla. Unlike the slim sea kayak, this vessel seats one to four people and has only a slight hum while in operation that is actually very soothing. The No. 706 is a vessel included in the livery fleet and is available each Saturday as a part of the Classic Boat Rental Program.

Call the BoatShop for details at 253-857-9344.

When you do get out on the water, say hi to Herschel, but certainly don’t dawdle unless you want to meet a seal up close and personal.

For more information about what to do in Gig Harbor, on water or on land, visit www.gigharborguide.com.

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