On Saturday April 24th, the Body Boat Blade clean up crew embarked on a journey to Henry Island. From the West side of San Juan Island we paddled North into Open Bay with the intention of picking up as much trash as we could find. This effort was organized as part of the Great Islands Clean Up event. We would be the first kayak group to participate in the event.
Keep the Salish Sea Plastic Free
A small group of us camped at the San Juan County Park the night before. We sat around a fire and shared homemade Sukiyaki made by camp chef Kevin. We shared stories of past adventures and enjoyed libations to the tune of a light drizzle hitting the leaves on the trees and owls hooting in the distance.
In the morning we all gathered on beach of Smallpox Bay. The weather was sublime. Light rain tapped the smooth surface of the water and the air was completely still. We all took a large NRS Tuff Sack to collect our trash in, and Kevin secured his kayak trash barge. While we were loading, we picked up some trash there on the beach. I found some granola bar wrappers, Styrofoam and a crab bait lid.
We paddled together up to Mosquito Pass where we would cross over to Henry Island, spotting some bald eagles and seals along the way. As we made our way across to Henry the sun came out. A crack in the clouds showed us blue sky and warmth. It wouldn’t last long but it felt like a good omen as we landed on our first beach in Open Bay.
As we made our way up Open Bay we stopped at a few secluded beaches picking up what we could find. We found fishing buoys, plastic, a pair of shoes, flare cartridges, beer cans, a lot of Styrofoam, and a tire. Our goal was to clean up the San Juan Preservation Trust Land at the North end of the bay and we hadn’t even made it there yet.
There was more than we thought…
We made it to the beach by lunch and took a break. We took stock of how much there was to clean and prepared for a couple more hours of beach combing. My drybag was already half full and Kevin had a hefty pile in his trash barge. We came up with a plan to walk in a long line to cover the as much area as possible. We walked the length of it twice and managed to fill eight 55L drybags. We filled Kevin’s kayak barge and strapped large items onto kayak decks.
The paddle back to Smallpox Bay included the usual southerly headwind that always seems to know when kayakers are coming. We saw some river otters and porpoise hunting just off shore. We made it back by mid afternoon with enough time to drop our trash at a collection site and make the ferry back to Anacortes.
I cannot express enough gratitude to the folks who helped us during this clean up. Thank you for making the trip. Thank you to Amy Nesler for helping coordinate all the different groups involved in the clean up. Thank you to Sierra O’Connell for giving us access to the preservation trust land, and for disposing of our trash for us. Thank you to the coordinators of the Great Islands Clean Up! And a huge thanks to NRS for supplying our re-usable trash bags that will be used again for future clean ups.