Cypress Island Cruise Report

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Cypress Island Cruise Report

Postby jeffd » Mon Oct 03, 2011 10:29 pm

Here's a recent cruise for me - I took this cruise Thursday, Sept 29, 2011. I've had a cruise to Cypress Island on my list for a while. The island is mostly DNR (Department of Natural Resources) land, and there are a lot of hiking trails on the Island. It is not very far from Anacortes' Washington Park - about 7 nautical miles via Bellingham Channel, but you've got to watch the currents!

I found lots of great reviews and resources about Cypress Island:

From the DNR Web site: Descriptions, restrictions, other good info: ... px#cypress ... sland.aspx

This is a really good map of the Island: ... il_map.pdf

Here is a good report on the hike to Eagle Cliff: ... 5100095572

I left home a bit late - I had something going on in the morning. So I hit I-405 northbound traffic. Not much fun while towing a boat. I usually try to leave very early (6am) if I'm heading northbound. But today, it was OK, because the tides and currents were such that a later departure was probably better. It turned out that the wind was better too. I rigged and launched, and left the dock about 12:30pm. My plans were to head for Pelican Beach, on the northeast side of the island. There is a trailhead to Eagle Cliff. The Eagle Cliff hike has great reviews (great view from the top), but the trail is closed Feb 1 - July 15.

Map of Cypress Island Cruise: Sailing track in Red, Hike in Blue:

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The wind was pretty good - maybe 10 to 15 knots from the northeast, shifting to the northwest later in the day. I was making 4.5 to 5 knots with on a beam reach/close reach with the main and jib. With the good wind, I decided to sail around Cypress Island - up the Rosario Straight (west) side and around the top of the island to get to Pelican Beach. The current was predicted to turn in the early afternoon, so I might be able to get a boost. The weather was cool, clear, with some thin high clouds. The water was fairly smooth – little ripples, but no swells. I ate my lunch while beating northward, up Rosario Straight, always watching out for large boat traffic, since I was crossing the shipping lanes. Watch the ferries! It was cool enough for a fleece jacket. Mt. Baker was very pretty.

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In Rosario Strait, the wind was kind of variable. I was able to make 3.5 – 5 knots most of the time. Midway up, I caught the current: 5 to 6 knots, up to 6.5 knots, while sailing! I rode the current all the way up to Eagle Cliff – it was quite spectacular from the water.

Eagle Cliff, from the water

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It was about 3:15pm, so, I decided I’d better motor over to Pelican Beach. I tied up to a DNR mooring buoy at Pelican Beach. There was only one other boat there, and a group of kayakers were departing. Shortly after I arrived, a large sailboat arrived. By 4pm, I had my inflatable kayak ready and went ashore for a hike. Oops, I forgot the water - no drinking water available on the island! - so back to the boat for water. Later, I was very glad I did. I took the trail behind the shelter, up to the signboards, and beyond, then somehow, I lost the trail. I ended up bushwacking up a steep part, then across to find the main trail. It was a lot of work – it is very natural, with lots of downed stuff , brush, etc– not easy to hike through. Some parts were quite steep too. I finally got back on the trail – turns out I missed the trail junction and ended up on the Eagle’s Cliff trail. OK, that was the way I wanted to go anyway. After finding the trail, it was a pretty easy hike, but with some elevation gain, especially at the end. The hike was in the trees most of the time. There's a bit of a scramble up to the top at the end, but the view is quite spectacular – to the south, west, and north. The sun was setting behind the clouds, so the lighting was great. It was a bit windy – good, nice and cool.

Eagle Cliff: View from the top, looking Southwest:

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Eagle Cliff: View from the top, looking West:

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Eagle Cliff: View from the top, looking Southeast:

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I was fortunate to be able to do this cruise/hike in the fall and in the middle of the week. Still, I met 2 parties of hikers on the way up, shared the view at the top with another party, and met three parties on the way down. After enjoying the view for a while, I hiked back to the boat - this time on the trail. I left Cypress Island about 6:40pm, motoring at about 1/2 throttle and making 5.8 knots, then 6.1 knots - riding the current! It was late, and getting dark, so I unrigged the boat on the go (I had a lifejacket and harness on) – pretty much everything, except taking down the mast. I got done before it got pitch dark. As I was passing Eagle Harbor, I noticed about 6 boats anchored there - I wonder what this place is like on the weekend! As I crossed the channel, I was carefully watching out to stay out of the way of ferries. It was pitch dark by now. Finding Washington Park in the dark! Kind of exciting My GPS helped a lot – it shows the line of projected current course, and has a good "Go-to" waypoint feature. I also saw someone retrieving a boat – brake lights of the trailer and tow vehicle. Nice. But when I got nearer, he was gone, so it was pitch dark. With the help of a flashlight, I found the dock – luckily, the pilings had reflectors. It was a challenge backing down a dark ramp. There are pretty much no lights at Washington park near the dock. Another long day trip for me - maybe someday I'll figure out how to spend a bit more time out here. Cypress Island would make a nice weekend. I'll have to come back sometime.
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