Kirkland resident Bill Coady explores Washington via sea kayak

Kirkland resident Bill Coady in his sea kayak. - Photo courtesy of
Kirkland resident Bill Coady in his sea kayak.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of

Under the shadow of Mt. Rainier, while Lake Washington’s deep blue water twinkles in the morning light, Kirkland resident Bill Coady frequently launches his sea kayak in what he described as Washington’s perfect environment.

The chair of the Everett Mountaineers sea kayak class doesn’t do anything special to keep in shape for it, but he knows the joy of kayaking.

Coady always liked the water. He used to go fishing with his father as a child in San Diego where he grew up, he said. Back in 2008, after he moved to the area, he was in a canoe paddling down the Snohomish River with a group of friends when they encouraged him to try out one of their sea kayaks.

“I sat in it and I was sold,” said Coady. “I went to a class and bam. That was it.”

Coady learned basic kayaking skills in a course offered by the Mountaineers, a Washington-based volunteer organization that offers training in various outdoor activities. This included four lecture classes, a five-hour pool session and one day out in open water.

The classes are popular across a diverse slice of Washingtonians.

“An age range of 28 to 60 is not unusual in our sea kayak classes,” said Mary Hsue, staff liaison to the Everett Branch of the Mountaineers.

Coady says there is no bad age for kayaking.

“From a class standpoint, there is a limitation if you are under 18,” Coady said, “but some of the best kayakers I know are significantly older than me, and I’m 62.”

Hsue and Coady agreed that if a person doesn’t have a significant physical handicap and is older than 18, they could take to the water.

Karen Cramer, a former Mountaineers student, says her dream boat is a kayak.

“I find the initial skills are pretty easy,” said Cramer. “You get a good start in a basic course, and then have plenty of time to practice those skills.”

The Pacific Northwest sports a wide variety of open water for sea kayakers to enjoy, Coady said, from the island-heavy Puget Sound to Ross and Baker lakes up in the Cascade Mountains.

Coady’s favorite sea kayaking destination is Pelican Beach on Cypress Island, part of the San Juan Islands chain.

“You can hike up to the top of Eagle Point and look at the sunset,” said Coady. “It’s just gorgeous.”

The campground on Cypress Island is part of the Washington Water Trails’ Cascade Marine trail. This is a route of 55 campsites for boaters throughout the San Juan Islands to visit and make multiple-day trips out of their kayak excursions.

Coady frequently launches his sea kayak during the spring and summer months, not just for longer trips out into the San Juans, but also for one to two hours on Lake Washington. He was appointed chair of the Everett Mountaineers sea kayak class this last year. He’s gearing up to begin on March 27.

“If you like the outdoors, if you like water, if you revel in the fact that you get a sun break and the mountains out and you look down and see Lake Meany and the water is twinkling blue,” said Coady, “if you really like that kind of stuff, you should make time to paddle.”

Hillary Kirby is a student with the University of Washington Newslab.

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