Unguided rental FAQ
What's up with your crazy hours?
Our area (like most of the Salish Sea) is subject to strong tidal and tidal current variations. We are only open for rentals when it's safe and appropriate. Because of the fluctuations of the moonphase, every other week we can only be open for a short period each day, and every other week we can be open for longer shifts. We would like to have regular hours for rentals, but we prioritize safety and are only open for rentals when currents are 2 knots or less. If we have winds greater than 15 knots in our area (Kilisuit Harbor), we will close and, if necessary, refund participants.
What wildlife am I likely to see?
The abundant wildlife in Kilisuit Harbor varies with the seasons. Marrowstone and Indian Islands represent excellent habitats with healthy eelgrass beds, salt marshes, and unarmored beaches. Harbor Seals abound and raise their pups in the harbor in the summer, there are ample Bald Eagles which also raise young, and, although they can be shy, there are healthy populations of marine River Otter. Charming Pigeon Guillemots raise their young in nest holes made in sandy bluffs surrounding the harbor, and in the Spring and the Fall there are countless migratory birds, especially sandpiper species. Since the recent habitat restoration at the harbor's southern end, various Salmon species are migrating through the harbor again, and keen eyes can find interesting marine invertebrates like sand dollars and sea cucumbers.
Will you see Orcas, Porpoises, or other members of the whale family? Alas, no. These species prefer the more open, rougher waters, so if you want a chance to see these species, you can join a guided tour!
Where can I go with my kayak or SUP?
What are your kayaks and SUPS that you have available for rent?
We're glad you asked! Our 1 person kayaks are [Perception Pescadors 12.0)](https://www.perceptionkayaks.com/us/kayaks/pescador-120) and our 2 person kayaks are [Perception Tribe 13.5)](https://www.perceptionkayaks.com/us/kayaks/tribe-135t). These are both stable and reliable watercraft. You can find the full details about each boat on the links provided, but the 1 person kayaks are rated for 375 lbs including gear, and the 2 person kayaks are rated for 500 lbs including gear.
SUP details coming soon.
How experienced do I need to be?
We do our best to set you up for success by making sure we only rent when the currents are gentle, monitoring weather conditions, and keeping all our unguided renters in a relatively sheltered and safe area. Nonetheless, if you're going on an unguided rental you ought to have some experience and comfort kayaking. If you're totally new or nervous we recommend you book one of our guided tours. We require at least one cell phone per party and will provide a floating case on a lanyard. If you get in trouble out on the water, you should first call 911 and then call us to see if we can help.
What are your age limits?
The smallest class of lifejackets we carry are for children 35-50 lbs, so, if you wish to bring a toddler or infant, you will need to supply your own appropriately sized lifejacket. For guided tours, we allow children as young as 5 years old, provided they are paired with a strong adult who can paddle for two. Ultimately, the decision about whether to bring small children is your own and should depend in part on your skill level and strength, where you intend to paddle and the weather and conditions on that day. Our rental schedule is restricted to times when the current velocity is low (less than 2 knots) and the winds are mellow (less than fifteen knots); these conditions are comfortable for the average adult paddler, but may not be suitable for youths. You can contact us if you're interested in developing specific itineraries that better accommodate young kids, especially if the adults are not strong or experienced paddlers. When accompanied by children, you should be flexible in your schedule so that you can use tide and current to your advantage!
What happens if I get into trouble on the water?
We are doing our best to set you up for success with restricting rentals to times with mellow currents, friendly weather forecasts, and sheltered areas, and by providing very stable kayaks. Ultimately, if you choose an unguided rental, you are assuming responsibility for your own safety. We supply one waterproof, floating, cellphone case neck lanyard per rental party and require at least one member per party to bring a charged cellphone that is kept on. We supply lifejackets, and require that renters wear them. If you find yourself in a life-threatening emergency on the water, you should call 911. You can also call us and we may be able to help via motorboat or kayak, but we may not have anyone available who can respond. If you are unsure of your skills you should join a guided tour.
For a larger version of the map click here.
We will explain the boundaries when you arrive but we are keeping folks within the more sheltered waters of Kilisut harbor. Though they sometimes look (and can be) calm, the waters of Port Townsend Bay to the north have more hazards
including shipping freighter wakes and at times extremely powerful tidal rips, We are also keeping folks away from the waters direct around Rat Island as this area is directly on the boating lane (think pedestrians in the street) and there are rips that can form between the Rat and Marrowstone islands that can pull folks out of the harbor, also there are sensitive wildlife that raise their babies on the island and we don't wish to disturb contributing to less seal pups and bird chicks surviving to adulthood. To the west, Indian Island is a naval base that absolutely must not be landed on and paddlers should keep a minimum of 50 feet (15 meters) away. To the south however Kilisut harbor stretches 5 miles long (8 km) and can be explored. Note however that south of Fort Flagler the beaches of Marrowstone are private property and can't be landed on until you reach Mystery Bay state park 3.25 miles (5km) to the south.
We will explain these boundaries to you in person and they are easy to follow, and each kayak and SUP comes equipped with its own small map, and they have GPS trackers on them that will alarm if people go seriously out of bounds.