By Ken Braband
Fifteen club kayakers enjoyed a spectacular time during the 2023 version of Rock Island kayak campout, June 11-14. (At least I assume they all enjoyed it, judging by their feedback.)
Once again I reserved group site 1 for our hardy NEWP members. I say “hardy” because weather conditions were not always ideal. Our original intent was to board the Washington Island Ferry on Sunday and paddle from Washington Island to Rock Island (about 1-1/2 miles) that afternoon. However, north winds whipped up 4+ foot waves in the strait so we had to deal accordingly. Six of us elected to ride the small Karfi ferry so we could set up tents and tarps and camp Sunday night. Others in the group waited until Monday for calmer conditions, either on the mainland or Washington Island.
In my 16 years of visiting Rock Island, this was my first experience riding the Karfi. And it was memorable! As the fully loaded boat rocked back and forth, waves crashed over the bow resulting in a few screams (not mine), wet clothing (everyone) and several inches of water deposited in my Ikea carry bags.
Monday turned out to be a fine day for paddling and hiking. Some kayaked six miles around the island while others paddled shorter distances, hiked or just chilled.
Tuesday started out rainy so some of us played Jenga in the boat house while others hiked to the lighthouse. The rain stopped by mid-afternoon so a group of us paddled around the island. A roaring campfire topped off each evening. Everyone retreated to their tents by 9:30 or so for well-deserved sleep.
Wednesday morning we packed up, paddled back to Washington Island under beautifully calm conditions, and said good-byes before heading our separate ways.