In 1792, Captain George Vancouver sailed the Discovery through the Strait of Juan de Fuca and became the first European to explore the waters of what is now Puget Sound. Vancouver took his ship as far as the southern end of Bainbridge Island. From there, he sent the young Lt. Peter Puget further south in the ship’s longboats with instructions to follow the right-hand shoreline and to determine whether these waters connected to any others (still looking for the elusive Northwest Passage!), or whether it was – as he suspected – an inland sea.
Puget’s journey took a week. In that short time, he was able to produce good maps of the southern region, make contact with the natives in the area, and figure out the complex tide and current patterns along his route. When he returned to the Discovery, he must have known that he had seen a new land in a way that it would not likely be seen again. It was a wild land, an Eden for a wayward sailor, and for others as well. Even then, English and American settlement was coming, close on the heels of Puget’s excursion.
The land and waters of Puget Sound have continued to change since those early days and as the human population has increased, the wild areas have begun to disappear. With the 225th anniversary of Puget’s voyage coming up, the Ikkatsu Project is planning to retrace that first trip up the Sound and to examine the changes that have taken place since then. Ken Campbell will follow Puget’s route in a sea kayak, making camp in the same places that Puget stayed and comparing the observations made then with what can be seen now.
As with previous Ikkatsu Project expeditions, Campbell will be collecting data for several different microplastics studies and conducting beach debris surveys in selected locations. Portions of the route will be identified for future use in Ikkatsu teacher training programs and a short film documenting the trip is planned to follow.
Updates will be posted to this page and in individual blog postings, as well as on the Ikkatsu Project Facebook and Twitter feeds. Please feel free to send any specific questions or observations via email: