Gold Beach to Crook Point, July 24th 2008.

To my disappointment the flashing lights indicating a ‘Rough Bar’ were not on when we paddled out the jetty in the morning. There was a breeze that slowly built as the day progressed. We ducked behind Cape Sebastian and were out of the wind for a few minutes. I had considered camping on the beach here and it looked like it would have worked well. We took a look at Hunters Island. I had once hoped to camp on an island or two on this trip, like I did in Washington. But all the Oregon Islands seem to have very steep sides and no easy landings.

When we paddled south away from Hunters Island we came out of the shadow of Cape Sebastian and back into wind and waves, which continued to build. We tried to stay close to shore and rock garden the whole distance but waves were breaking around the offshore rocks. As we approached Crook Point we discovered that a minefield of reefs and rocks surrounded it. With the wind pushing me I was mostly paddling to position myself not to get blown into a rock. Shallow rocks would disappear and re-appear in the rough waves and I had to keep track of them even when they were under water. One rock kept coming up where I didn’t expect. It almost ran into me before I realized it was a gray whale swimming north away from the point! I shouted “There She Blows” to get Brian Schulz’ attention and at first he thought I was just exuberating about waves breaking over rocks. Finally when I shouted “Whale! Whale!” and pointed, he got the message and stopped to watch it swim between us. He said later that this was everything he loves about kayaking: Rough, challenging conditions, rock gardens, and then large marine mammals!

Brian moved ahead to plot a passage through the rocks while I hung back with Dave Harry. We were close to Crook Point and could soon duck behind Saddle rock and out of the wind. But Dave looked at the chaotic water and decided that he was outside his comfort envelope. He told me that he wanted to turn outside the rocky area and go around. I turned back with him and we had to paddle into the wind to get safely above some shallow rocky reefs. When we came around and met Brian a few minutes later, he asked, “Why did you guys take the scary route?”

As we hoped, the water was calm behind Saddle Rock and Crook Point. We soon landed and went exploring for a good place to camp. The wind blew right over the point and down the beach. Brian tucked his gear right up against the north end of the beach in the crook of the point. Dave and I moved our boats south to a large rock in the sand and set our tents up behind that. We hiked all over Crook Point and took lots of pictures. Offshore south of us was an incredible rock garden with a dozen large rocks. One of them had a huge arch in it named the Mack Arch. We’ll get to paddle through that tomorrow.

All text and images Copyright © 2008 by Mike Higgins / contact