We wake up at 6 am to get out of Butedale early. We try to pack our kayaks quietly so as not to wake the other boats moored at the dock. It feels very odd to worry about being polite and not disturbing others after nearly two weeks of just being with Jeremy.

Butedale is an interesting place, it was once a thriving salmon cannery but has passed through many owners and dreams in the years since. The guidebooks we have with us talked about ice cream, small cabin rentals and potentially our first showers almost two weeks. When we turned the corner however, we found something more resembling a demolition site. It has apparently changed owners again, the new ones ripping out the old buildings with unknown plans for the future. We pull up to the dock where a few other boats are moored and a caretaker greets us. He says we are welcome to stay the night and we can put our tent anywhere but to be careful as the ground is strewn with debris. We are disappointed but also entertained at this new twist in our plans.

The morning is foggy and visibility is only about 20 ft. It’s both eerie and beautiful. We can hear but not see Butedale falls crashing three hundred feet down into the ocean. Jeremy paddles away quietly and nearly disappears into the fog. As we paddle that morning we talk about the people we met there: the caretaker and his partner, a sailing couple from Friday Harbor, a father and his two sons who are kayaking a shorter portion of our route but travelling South, and an incredibly kind couple from Gig Harbor who are retired and cruising around on their boat the Dreamcatcher for a few months. It was an odd break in our trip, almost intrusive in a way we did not like, but really a welcome respite from the solitude. We’ve been interacting with only each other and an occasional wave exchanged with a rare passing boat. The caretaker planned a potluck dinner on the dock and we all gathered, brought what we could offer without depleting our own food supplies, talked and shared stories for a few hours. The camaraderie between boaters is special. An odd collection of people, kayakers, yachters, sailors, fishermen, but very protective of their own and willing to help out each other. We departed before the other boats but they both passed us that morning as we paddled, waving to us through the fog.

Paddling in fog


  1. I think it was Peter Marquardt and his two twin sons you ran into. Friends of mine who borrowed my charts for their trip!! Butedale is always a trip for through paddlers, regardless of the decade you’ve come thru! You missed the “Butedale Lou” era — a wonderful man who was a caretaker there for many years. Keep on paddling — and blogging! 😉


  2. So did you have to pay to stay there? I really enjoy your insight into the feeling of being alone and patronizing with other people.


  3. Hey guys — thank you for your kind words! I emailed some pics to you and want to be sure you got them. Let me know and if necessary I will resend them. We’re in Ketchikan in the pouring rain. I hope you’ve been able to dry out from time to time! Jerry & Marge


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