Bainbridge Island Circumnavigation report by John Krause

Bainbridge Island Circumnavigation report by John Krause


In March of 2022 I circumnavigated Bainbridge Island in my sea kayak, taking 3 nights and four days to do so.  

With Washington Water Trails Association campsites strategically located throughout the Salish Sea, it makes a trip like this not only possible but fun.  

I had spent the last 10 years paddling in this area so I knew my way around but there were also places I had not been to.  Doing this trip helped tie the area together for me.   

The trip planning decisions came down to direction of travel based on the currents and location of campsites.  The entire distance was right at 40 miles and each day’s paddle was going to be 10-13 miles.  I decided to start and end my trip at Southworth Ferry Terminal where there is a put-in just north of the terminal and a safe place to park my vehicle nearby.  I frequently use this location when paddling over to Blake Island.

The first day required 13 miles of paddling and two water crossings from Southworth to Brownsville.  Brownsville is a small community and marina north of Bremerton which I hadn’t been to before but was looking forward to visiting.   As I paddled north from Southworth, departing at 11 am I stayed along the west side of the channel passing several large container ships that were anchored here.  I paddled by Manchester State Park and didn’t stop but it was nice to know I could, if needed.  I crossed over to Bainbridge Island at Point White which is located on the southwest end of the island, being very aware of ferry and other boat traffic as line of sight is problematic here.  The water was rough in this channel from the tide and opposing wind but the distance short and within 15 minutes I was on the island side of the channel.  I then decided to cross Port Orchard channel to Illahee State Park while the weather was favorable.  I took a short break here at the park before continuing to Brownsville.  After 4 hours of paddling, I arrived at Brownsville.  

The WWTA guidebook talked about a deli and hot showers right there at the marina in Brownsville and I was excited to check it out.  Pull carts were available at the marina which I used to haul my gear up to the campsite located in a clean, small park on a bluff above the marina.  I went to the office building and signed in, paying $4 per night for the campsite and .25 cents for a 4-minute hot shower.  Wow!  .25 cents for a long, hot shower!  After my camp was set up, I took an 8 minute hot shower, and got dinner from the deli.  The deli, which is right there in the same building, serves delicious hot or cold sandwiches and cold beer right up until closing time at 6pm.  What better way to end a day’s paddle then with a hot shower and tasty food!   

The following day I left early to take advantage of the calm winds to cross the channel back over to Bainbridge Island.  Once there I used the ebb tide to help pull me toward Agate Pass.  I knew from listening to the area forecast on my VHF radio the weather would be deteriorating, so I pressed on to Fay Bainbridge County Park, another 4 miles from the pass.  Once at Fay Bainbridge, I quickly unloaded my gear and set up camp, as the rain and winds were increasing.  There was a Small Craft Advisory issued until late the next day so I figured I would be spending two nights here.  And sure enough, the weather was too rough to get on the water that second day.  I checked with the County Park manager and he suggested I stay in one of their 3 cabins.  At $95 per night, this was a good deal and great way to get a roof over my head and my gear dried out.  This also allowed me to get fully rested for the long day back to my vehicle.  


On the fourth and final day of my trip, with the storm moving on and being fully rested, I set out early along the east side of the island, heading south.  As this was my last day, I had 15 miles to go to make it back to my vehicle.   I still had a slight head wind, but I made steady progress.  I also had to be aware of the ferry traffic coming in and out of Bainbridge at Eagle Harbor and along the south side of the island.  

After a short break just before Restoration Point, located on the southeast corner of the island, I swung wide around this point but still felt the current and lumpy, chaotic water along this reef.  The seals didn’t seem to like me in their territory as I rounded this point, and I didn’t much want to be there either.  Restoration Point was the “wildest” part of the trip for me.  

After checking for boat traffic, I decided to cut across open water to Blake Island to save time.  Upon reaching Blake Island, I enjoyed taking a long break knowing the hard part was behind me and I only had a couple miles to go.   

I made it back to Southworth around 3pm that afternoon, after paddling for roughly 6 hours.  

Overall, it was a fun trip, despite the weather.  Being flexible with my schedule was an important reminder to me on these multi-day trips.   


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