Rob Casey is the owner of SUP school Salmon Bay Paddle in Seattle, co-founder for the PSUPA and is the author of two paddling guides.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Nautical Term of the Week - Gunkholing

I love the word Gunkholing. Sounds a bit like spelunking. I first came across it after purchasing 'Gunkholing in the San Juan Islands', a classic Pacific Northwest boating guide by Carl Nyberg and Jo Bailey. Now out of print, the couple wrote 3 other guides for our region.  

Definition from Wikipedia...
Gunkholing is a boating term referring to a type of cruising in shallow or shoal water, meandering from place to place, spending the nights in coves. The term refers to the gunk, or mud, typical of the creeks, coves, marshes, sloughs, and rivers that are referred to as gunkholes. While not necessary, gunkholers typically seek out the serenity of isolated anchorages over the crowds of marinas and popular bays, and a minimal draft is preferred, since gunkholers tend to go as far up and into the gunkholes as possible, seeking ever more inaccessible destinations.
Not all boating locales make for good gunkholing. The many inlets, bays, and rivers in places like the San Juan Islands and the Inside Passage can make for ideal gunkholes, as opposed to the relatively inaccessible coastlines of Southern California and Baja. Other locales well-suited to gunkholing include the Intracoastal Waterway, the New York State Canal System, the Chesapeake Bay,[1] the Great Lakes and the many canals and rivers of Ontario.
Carl and Jo used the phrase 'a good gunkhole' to describe an overnight moorage with considerable protection from wind and current.  
One of my favorite gunkholes is Cypress Head on Cypress Island located in the eastern San Juan Islands in Washington State. Others in our region include Mats Mats Bay, Bowman Bay and Cornet Bay.  In the Pacific NW, aside from the Gunkhole book series check out The 2014 Waggoner Cruising Guide.  Marine charts and aerial photos can also help you find protected spots. For paddlers, checking out local Water Trails will be helpful. Water Trails will tell you where to camp especially if you're hoping to keep some distance from boaters.  In WA State, our org is Washington Water Trails, www.wwta.org. 

Dewatto Bay, a great gunkhole on Hood Canal.  

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