Mats Mats Bay

Posted by Ken Campbell October 18, 2008 0 Comment 2816 views

It was still dark when I got on the road, another couple of hours before daybreak. Of course, this is the time of year when that’s more likely, days getting shorter and the sunlight, which always feels rationed here in the Pacific Northwest, is even less of a factor. The dark season.

I got to the boat launch at Mats Mats Bay and put my kayak in the water just as the sky was getting light. A blue heron stood motionless in the shallows off to my right, waiting for breakfast to be served. I paddled slowly on the glassy water, past gleaming yachts and dingy fishing scows riding at anchor in the protected harbor. Houses and fields lined the shore and from the put-in, it was impossible to see the mouth of the bay. The impression that Mats Mats gives is that of a lake rather than a part of the wider Puget Sound. If it weren’t for the falling tide and the accompanying ring around the shoreline, the illusion would be complete.

The entrance to the bay is long and narrow, with a bend in it that ensures calm water. The wind-driven swells of Admiralty Inlet can’t penetrate the tight waterway and I paddled on silently until I got to the outside. The wind was out of the north, cold and strong, and whitecaps formed in the fast-moving water just offshore.

There are several different rock outcroppings punctuating the deep water just east of the harbor entrance. Klas Rock is situated almost directly east, low and flat, and I had to stare directly into the sun to see it. At higher water it is a shoal, completely covered up. To the south are a couple of other formations, higher and wider. I made my way toward Colvos Rock, the largest of them, surfing down the swells as they pushed me along on my way. The wind was blowing in opposition to the direction of the current, making the waves bigger and the ride a wet one.

There were seals hauled out on Colvos Rock and they eyeballed me as I passed. Eventually they shiggled their lardy bodies into the water and swam toward me for a closer look. Guano stained the ledges and the cracks of the rock, although there were no sea birds around at the time. The sun shone brightly on the dirt cliffs of Whidbey Island, a half-dozen miles or more away accross the water.

I headed in toward the shore to get out of the main thrust of the wind. Paddling along the rocky coast, I worked my way back to the Mats Mats entrance. I passed the gravel pit that sits near the harbor opening, a place that is often loud and active with the pulse of heavy machinery; it was quiet now, with only a single loader at work.

Back inside the entrance to the bay, the water became calm once more. A family of otter swam toward me, whistling and diving when I came too close, then popping up behind me and following me for a few minutes until they lost interest. Kingfisher chattered in the overhanging trees and several heron waded along the banks. In a few minutes I was back in the bay, cruising back to the launch ramp. It was still early, but that was fine by me. I had other places I wanted to go before it got dark again.

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