Exped ambassador Susan Conrad is a sea kayaker and the award-winning author of the book Inside: One Woman’s Journey Through the Inside Passage.
She’s also a prolific public speaker, traveling and speaking about her adventure and her life journey. Anyone who has seen her presentation knows just how moving and inspiring her message is and what a wonderfully positive influence she has on everyone around her. For the second year in a row, Susan is a guest speaker with Princess Cruises, along the very waterway she paddled in 2010. In 2018 she’ll speak to thousands of people aboard the cruise ships Ruby Princess and Golden Princess as they sail north from Seattle and Vancouver, BC to Alaska. Many people will count themselves fortunate to have heard her story!
So it was with pleasure (and a little bit of luck) that we found a 3-day slot in Susan’s busy schedule to join her for a few days of paddling in the San Juan Islands of Washington. We were also lucky to be joined by Susan’s partner, Ben and her longtime friend and frequent paddling partner, Becky. Together they are a dynamic team full of interesting stories about their experiences both on and off the water. Ben is a professional musician and we enjoyed his impromptu solo performances on the beach. Becky has such a wide range of interests and expertise that many more late-night beach fires are a must! More recipes for the food dryer please! What a trio they make!
Susan and Ben own a home on Lummi Island, which sits on the edge of the world-famous San Juan Islands of Washington. This was fortunate because the wind was up on the afternoon of our proposed launch from their beach and we decided not to push our luck on the crossing. So we ate our first night’s planned meal in the comfort of their oh-so-very-quaint beach house (word to the wise: they rent it out! @LummiIslandBeachFarm). What a treat! What hospitality! The next morning, as the weather report predicted, was dead flat calm. Our route took us across the very active shipping lanes to a private island in the San Juans. We had permission to stay the night and enjoyed an amazing sunset and sunrise and a star-studded night sky. The island is inhabited by a group of goats - one billy goat and a group of nannies. We had heard from the caretaker that they are very friendly and sure enough, they were. Maybe too friendly! After about an hour of being herded about by these insistent residents, we were forced to come up with a plan that allowed us to go our separate way, back to our camp at the end of the island. Ben led them away as each of us in turn peeled off behind and ran down the trail like mad people! After a while he jogged back into camp, a bit breathlessly, and we congratulated him on a plan well executed. In truth, it took him several tries to loose himself from our hosts…
After some hammock hanging, sunset watching, beach firing, a great meal cooked in the dutch oven and a leisurely morning in the sun, we loaded the boats for another calm crossing. Before heading home, we paid a visit to Lummi Rocks and then poked our way along the shallows back to Beach Farm’s lovely take-out. One of Susan’s goals for 2018 is to circumnavigate every island (and some of the named rocks) in the San Juans. During this trip she (with us in tow) ticked a few off the list. Such a goal will guarantee an adventurous year for Susan. All one needs to do is have a look at a marine chart of the San Juan Islands to see that many interesting miles of paddling will result! We might just join her on a few of the upcoming outings to add to our life list of island visits (not necessarily to be completed in one year!).
If you haven’t read Susan’s book, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. You will be inspired!
Check out her website: https://www.susanmarieconrad.com
And here's a video about Susan produced by Princess Cruises: