Canoe Journey Journal
Coverage of the annual gathering of canoe cultures
A Port Gamble S’Klallam canoe is making a splash on the front of NewYorkTimes.com.
A feature story on the Journey and a photo of the canoe Kloomachin were among the top 10 “most emailed” stories on the Times’ site Monday. The photo was taken as a Port Gamble S’Klallam crew welcomed canoes to Port Gamble Bay on July 20. The photographer stuck around to capture a poignant slideshow from the hosting.
“The first time we landed, the feeling was just unexplainable,” Port Gamble S’Klallam skipper Charlie Trevathan told the Times writer. “I cannot put it into words. Ever since then, we’ve gone back every year.”
Route: Suquamish to Tulalip
Distance: 26 nautical miles (aprox.)
Time: 11 hours (including breaks)
The hard work began Saturday morning before paddles ever touched water.
More than 30 canoes were spread out on a lawn in front of the House of Awakened Culture in Suquamish, and each needed to be carried down the steep ramp to the water. Even with eight people lining each side of the canoe, hefting a cedar canoe is still hard labor. Its weight is grinding and the shifting load threatens to drive you to your knees. And though heavy, dugouts are fragile. A hard drop can shatter a hull.
Imagine hoisting a five gallon bucket of water onto your shoulder, hobbling down a long boat ramp, across 100 feet of barnacle-studded rocks and into knee deep water, and you have an idea of what it’s like to launch a dugout.
At 6 a.m., in the orange glow of the sunrise, canoe families brought their vessels to the shore, asked parting permission from Suquamish Chair Leonard Forsman, and paddled north out of Agate Pass one by one. Our route Saturday would take us across Puget Sound, from the Kitsap Peninsula, past the south tip of Whidbey Island to Tulalip, near Marysville. We would cross two ferry lanes and a lot of wide open water.
The Port Gamble S’Klallam’s canoe Kloomachin left Suquamish with a crew of 10 pullers, and about eight more piled onto a support boat. Canoes scattered over several miles worked their way up the coastline past Point Jefferson. The day was calm but the water was choppy. Hundreds of fishing boats on the Sound created a confusion of wakes and skippers had to be vigilant to not be caught off guard. From the support boat we watched one towering wake lift the bow of Kloomachin out of the water. The crew pulled deep in unison to keep the canoe level.
Route: Point Julia (Port Gamble S’Klallam) to Suquamish
Distance: 24 nautical miles (aprox.)
Time: 9 hours (including breaks)
Port Gamble Bay was calm and gray Thursday morning as canoes began pulling away from Point Julia.
More than 20 canoes landed on the beach over the previous two days. At 6 a.m. they still lined the driftwood above the sand shoulder to shoulder. Many pullers and skippers arrived at the beach that morning yawning from a long night of protocol ceremonies at the House of Knowledge.
The Port Gamble S’Klallam family circled on the beach and held hands for an opening prayer and skipper Laura Price picked a 10-person crew from among about 20 pullers to fill the dugout Kloomachin. Reserves were chosen to load in a support boat to change in on the water. Another group of relief pullers would drive to Point No Point to meet the canoe at mid-morning.
Thursday would be an odd journey in ways. We would spend about nine hours transiting a canoe nearly 30 statute miles from Point Julia to Suquamish around the north end of the Kitsap Peninsula. By land these towns are separated by 10 miles, a 15-minute car ride. But paddling the shoreline on a quiet day gives you a very different view of Kitsap.
View Paddle to Swinomish in a larger map
The canoes left the beach one at a time. It was low tide, and families helped each other carry the heavier dugouts the 100 feet or so to the water line. Canoe crews paddled strongly out of the bay, past the pilings of the old Port Gamble mill and north into Hood Canal. They’d be fighting a gentle flood tide to Foulweather Bluff.
The water was still calm as we subbed in a few pullers off the support boat off Twin Spits in Hansville. But as we pulled toward Foulweather Bluff, Price recognized a few tribal dive boats motoring back toward Little Boston. A cell phone call confirmed that rough weather near Kingston had forced divers to be pulled for the morning. A strong wind was blowing from the south and it was likely we’d have to pull the canoes out in Eglon. It was hard to imagine, gazing across the glassy water off Hansville. Even a standup paddleboarder was a hundred yards offshore, watching canoes pass. …Read the rest of this post
At least 43 Northwest Coast Native canoes, one of them an umiak, arrived at Suquamish on Thursday, more than had been expected earlier.
Suquamish continues its hosting today with protocol in the House of Awakened Culture beginning at 3 p.m. and dinner at 6:15 p.m. Canoes depart Saturday morning for Tulalip, followed by Cama Beach on Sunday and the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, the final destination in the 2011 Canoe Journey, on Monday.
Swinomish expects to host at least 15,000 people over the seven-day cultural celebration.
The Suquamish Olalla Neighbors sent this message regarding Friday’s dinner:
“We now have an accurate count from tonight in Suquamish. Side dishes and desserts for over 2,000 will be needed at (Friday’s) community potluck at the canoe journey stop in
Suquamish at the House of Awakened Culture. Extra bread and salad would be especially helpful. Sorry this is such short notice. We are grateful for your help with these last minute numbers.”
Protocol — cultural sharing — began Thursday with Haida, Tlingit and Tsimshian from Alaska, Kingcome Inlet, Warm Springs, Grand Ronde, Coquille, and Chinook. According to a posted list, protocol continues today with Cowlitz, Chehalis, Chumash, Ahousaht, Beecher Bay, Makah, Hoh, Quileute, Quinault, Dandalia, Nooksack, West Shore, Samish, Swinomish, Tulalip, Oliver Family, Lower Elwha, Jamestown S’Klallam, Port Gamble S’Klallam, Squaxin, Nisqually, Puyallup, 253, Muckleshoot Sacred Water, and Suquamish.
Port Gamble S’Klallam’s main canoe hosting event is planned for Wednesday, but a few canoes are already trickling in to Point Julia.
According to canoe family organizer Laura Price, canoes from Quinalt and the Hoh River on the Washington coast have already arrived, along with a canoe from Ahousat on the west side of Vancouver Island.
Another seven canoes departed Port Townsend shortly after noon today, and are expected to arrive at Point Julia this evening. Port Gamble S’Klallam expects to host about 22 total canoes on July 20. Volunteers interested in helping prepare meals for the visiting families can contact Price at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s the 2011 Canoe Journey/Paddle to Swinomish route map.
Aurelia Washington, Paddle to Swinomish coordinator, said Saturday that Swinomish expects 130 canoes will arrive on its shores July 25, and that Swinomish expects to host 10,000 to 15,000 guests. There’s a need for 450 volunteers. Visit www.paddletoswinomish.com for more information.
As you can see by the map, First Nations canoes from the west side of Vancouver Island, the Pacific Coast of Washington state, and the Olympic Peninsula will be in Port Gamble S’Klallam July 20; those canoes, as well as South Sound canoes, will be in Suquamish July 21-22, then proceed to Tulalip, Cama Beach and then Swinomish.
Karen Platt and Ted George of Suquamish Olalla Neighbors wrote this about the need for volunteers July 21 and 22 for the Canoe Journey hosting and community potluck in Suquamish.
Thursday, July 21:
– Two volunteers from 1-3 p.m. to pass out food and water bottles at Jefferson Head as the canoes come in and rest before the formal landing at Suquamish later in the afternoon.
– One to two volunteers to oversee the Boy Scouts who will be on hand to work on environmental jobs from 2-8 p.m. in downtown Suquamish.
– Six to seven volunteers to serve food from 6-7:30 p.m. in downtown Suquamish.
Friday, July 22:
– 10 volunteers from 7 a.m. to noon, at various sites.
– Six to 10 volunteers from noon to 6 p.m. at various sites.
– Six to 10 volunteers from 6 to 8 p.m. to help serve at the Suquamish Olalla Neighbors potluck dinner and clean up afterward, in downtown Suquamish.
– 10 volunteers from 6 p.m. to midnight to work at various sites.
Call Platt at (206) 310-6096 or email email@example.com to sign up.
The Suquamish Tribe will host Cold Water Training for canoe families, July 12, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., 7235 NE Parkway, Suquamish.
The training is open to all canoe families. Lunch will be provided.
According to Tina Jackson, Suquamish Tribe cultural activities coordinator, “We’ll cover hypothermia, flotation devices (go over the different types of PFDs) through lunch, then go down to the dock and go over strategies for what happens if the canoe tips over — getting out of the water as quickly as possible, getting the canoe tied to a support boat, getting out of the water into the support boat, towing the canoe, and self-rescuing the canoe.
“Should be really good, and mandatory for the Suquamish canoes.”
A Samish canoe family member said, “If you have never done an open water rescue, it’s great to get training in up-righting a swamped canoe and bailing it out and re-entering it safely.”
For more information, contact Jackson at (360) 394-8455 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Canoe Journey/Paddle to Swinomish update:
Port Gamble S’Klallam will host traveling canoe families July 20. “We expect to see up to 1,000 guests,” according to The S’Klallam View monthly newsletter. “We will greet and welcome canoes at Point Julia as they land. Time varies but can be estimated from noon to 5 p.m. We will feed our guests a traditional clambake at the beach. It is what our visitors look forward to each year. We also will be serving a meal at the Tribal Kitchen that evening and will open our Longhouse for presentations and protocol.”
Canoes will leave July 21 in the morning with the tide.
If you would like to help at Port Gamble S’Klallam, call Marie Hebert, 297-6241.
The Suquamish Tribe will host traveling canoe families July 21-22, at the House of Awakened Culture, 7235 NE Parkway, Suquamish.
About 100 canoes from Northwest Coast indigenous nations will land at the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, near La Conner, July 25-31.
Canoe skippers gathered at Samish Indian Nation’s Fidalgo Bay Resort to confirm routes and arrival dates for the 2011 Canoe Journey.
The ensuing conversation, involving 80 Northwest Coast leaders and canoe skippers, was a reminder of what the journey has become: a cultural renaissance with economic, environmental, political and social implications.
Look for the Port Gamble S’Klallam canoe family in the 2010 Canoe Journey in this German feature about the Salish Sea, filmed last year. With other Canoe Journey scenes. Starting at 18:55.