Day 16 - Saturday - June 23 - North Rendezvous Island to Big Bay on Stuart Island

Heading north up Calm Channel after launching from Rendezvous Island.

When making the trip through Yuculta Rapids the currents are weaker at slack tide turning to ebb than at slack tide turning to flood so I timed my passage for the weaker slack tide to ebb. The current table to use for Yuculta Rapids is Gillard Pass. If you are going through at ebb, like I was, add 5 minutes to the figures for Gillard Pass to get the time when Yuculta turns to slack. If you are going through at slack turning to flood, add 25 minutes to the figures for Gillard Pass. For example, on June 23, the current table for Gillard Pass showed slack turning to ebb at 12:40pm. I added 5 minutes to that and knew that the current would be slack in Yuculta Rapids at 12:45pm. Now all I had to do was be there waiting to go through at 12:45pm.

A rain squall on Calm Channel.

I was glad to have company for this section of the trip as I had never experienced saltwater rapids before and did not know exactly what to expect. It was comforting to know that we had both figured out the time of slack tide to within minutes and that we would not be going through at the wrong time and get into trouble.

This is the lighted navigation marker at the southern tip of Stuart Island.

We had six miles to paddle to the tip of Stuart Island where the entrance to the rapids begins. Not wanting to be late for our rendezvous with Yuculta, we launched at 9:10am and had no difficulty making the six miles in two hours. We found a small bay with a dock at the tip of Stuart Island and pulled in to wait out the next hour and a half. At 12:30pm, we pulled out of the bay and slowly started making our way around the tip of the island and towards the infamous Yuculta Rapids that were about a half mile away.

This is what Yuculta Rapids looks like at slack tide.

After all the agony of anticipating this section of the trip, and all the horror stories we had heard about these treacherous waters, the surface turned out to be smooth and calm. We realized though that if we had not done our homework, and taken the timing of running this stretch seriously, the outcome could have been much different.

Looking out from under the pavilion at Big Bay.

The destination for tonight was “Big Bay” on Stuart Island and being just past Yuculta Rapids we arrived there at 1pm. At Big Bay, there is a large municipal pier with a smooth pebble beach at its base that is perfect for landing a kayak. Just a short walk from the beach is a small grocery store with a huge pavilion full of tables and chairs. There is a grassy lawn where you can camp for a small fee, and best of all, a clean bathroom with hot showers. After carrying up all our gear and the kayaks and setting up camp, we started heating up something to eat on a table under the pavilion. Just then, it started to pour down rain. This was the hardest rain I had encountered yet on the trip, and I could not have been in a better place to have to deal with it. I did not know it at the time, but this rain would continue uninterrupted all the way to launch time tomorrow.

The dock at Big Bay on a very rainy day.