In 1997, A Sea Kayaker’s Guide to South Puget Sound came out. I put the first 50 copies of the book together myself and sold them all at a slide presentation at Backpackers Supply in Tacoma. (Remember slide presentations?) I made 50 more the next day and they only lasted for another week, maybe less. Eventually, that guide book and the two others in the series went on to sell thousands of copies and introduced people to the unique paddling experiences here in the Salish Sea. Low-end production, spiral binding, rudimentary maps and questionable prose were hallmarks of the guides to South Puget Sound, North Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands, but people seemed to enjoy them and for that I am truly grateful.
All guidebooks, however, have limited lifespans. The on-water descriptions don’t really change too much, although there are some new developments here and there, but camping considerations, access issues and changes in basic driving directions are common. Streets change names, and four-way stops turn into roundabouts. Informal launch points can get fenced off and free put-ins can gentrify into being for the benefit of “permit holders only.” When enough of these little changes happen – and they happen every year, just a little bit – they become the things that render a guidebook less usable. Time always wins.
Long story short, the rewrite is well underway. The old guidebooks are coming off the shelves and an updated version will be coming out in 2021. A Paddlers Guide to the Salish Sea, Part I, will include completely updated trip information, as well as some new perspectives on the opportunities for sea kayakers, canoeists and standup paddlers. There are many stories here and a good guidebook can be the starting point for an enjoyable hour on the water or the next epic. It’s an amazing place, this sweet inland sea that we often take for granted and it important to know it better if we are to be able to protect it effectively.