Gunkholing in the Salish Sea

Gunkholing in the San Juan Islands

Gunkholing in the Salish Sea. Available in both Kindle and print formats.

From Wikipedia:

Gunkholing is a boating and sea kayaking term referring to a type of cruising in shallow or shoal water, meandering from place to place, spending the nights in coves. The term refers to the gunk, or mud, typical of the creeks, coves, marshes, sloughs, and rivers that are referred to as gunkholes. While not necessary, gunkholers typically seek out the serenity of isolated anchorages over the crowds of marinas and popular bays, and a minimal draft is preferred, since gunkholers tend to go as far up and into the gunkholes as possible, seeking ever more inaccessible destinations. has published its first field guide (of many to come) of the San Juan Islands! The title, Gunkholing in the Salish Sea, is a ‘tip of the hat’ to the classic Gunkholing in the San Juan Islands. True to the title, this book covers six of our favorite gunkholes in off-the-beaten-path locations:

  • Hope Island in Skagit Bay
  • Watmough Bay on Lopez Island
  • Cypress Head on Cypress Island
  • Eagle Harbor on Cypress Island
  • James Island
  • Matia Island

View Gunkholes In The Salish Sea in a larger map

Please Give Book Feedback

This short field guide was written by a boater and lover of the San Juan Islands for other boaters and lovers of the San Juan Islands. I would very much like to get your feedback to learn how to make the book better. In May 2013, my wife and I will be setting off in the Rock ‘n Row and we’ll be documenting our adventures cruising around the islands on this blog. We plan to write one or two more field guides like this one. We’d like to tailor it to provide the most value for its readers.

Here are a few topics that we’d like to get feedback on. Please leave your response in the comments below:

  • Should we continue with the booklet format (5 to 8 locations, around 50 pages) for the second book, or should we write a bigger book with more locations (150 pages, 15 to 24 locations)?

    The advantage of smaller books is that I can publish them faster and sell them for a lower price. This also allows readers to buy the books covering their locations of interest without needing to pay for locations in other books that do not interest them.

  • Where should we go and what areas should we cover this summer?

    Gunkholing in the San Juan Islands

    Gunkholing in the Salish Sea. Available in both Kindle and print formats.

    The reason I’m writing these books is to share the beauty of the San Juan Islands and equip boaters to plan out a fun and safe visit. What areas of the San Juan Islands and Puget Sound are underrepresented in field guides today? What areas would you like to see me cover? My dream is to write several guides, and do such a good job that I’ll be able to afford to do it full time.

  • In this book I really tried to go into depth on each location, instead of trying to cover several locations (breadth) with only minimal information. Should I continue this format?

    There are many different types of people who recreate in the San Juan Islands. This book focuses primarily on the boater, but it also includes information for kayakers, hikers, foragers, hunters, and divers, as well as boaters which include fisherman, sailors, and cruisers. What are your interests in the San Juan Islands? Leave a comment below to let me know what type of person is reading my book.

Related posts:

Embracing Minimalism
Man Overboard!
As Good As It Gets?
11 Responses to “Gunkholing in the Salish Sea”
  1. Pam says:

    Hi Chris, I thought I posted a comment here the other day, so if this is a duplicate, I apologize.

    Dave & I enjoyed your guide and look forward to using it practically next summer! It appears from some of your pictures that you have a dog onboard. We will have our dog with us as well. I know there is a bit of privately owned land in the islands where it’s not cool to take your dog ashore. It would be helpful to have a guide to anchorages that are dog friendly.

    Thanks for the great website!

    • Hi Pam!

      That is great feedback! Thank you for that.

      I do have a dog, and we do take her everywhere we go. All the locations in the book are dog friendly to my knowledge (on a leash) except for Matia. Matia has a delicate ecosystem and there are signs directing visors to not let dogs go past the toilet area.

      I will make an effort to note dog friendly and unfriendly areas in my future guides. I’m planning to update both the print and kindle book this summer with additional information like this.

      I’ll admit that I tend to break the rules a lot. My dog is half blue-healer, very smart, and very well trained. I don’t allow her to chase wildlife, which is the primary concern of the wildlife department to my knowledge. I also pick up her poop, which I know is a concern as well.

      I’m a firm believer in civil disobedience, if the person is willing to learn *why* the law was created and act according to their own conscience.

      What’s your opinon?

      • john rybczyk says:

        We have three dogs, however, I strictly obey the rules with regards to dogs. No dogs allowed…I don’t bring them. Dogs on leash…I leash them. You may, in fact, have the smartest and best trained dog in the world, but if others see you with your dog off leash, in a leash-only area, then they will follow suit. And they won’t have the smartest and best trained dog (because you do) and they likely don’t have the second best dog either. I’ve been bitten by dogs that “don’t bite”, I’ve seen “well trained” dogs go after all manner of wildlife and I’ve seen unleashed dogs in leash-only areas running completely amuck. Everybody claims to have the best, most special, and well behaved dog in the world. News flash…they don’t.

  2. Pam says:

    Excellent! That will be a help. We too try to leave a light “paw print”.

    As to civil disobedience, as a CPA I tend more towards “creative compliance”. Keeps me and my clients out of harms way ;- )

  3. Scott says:

    Found the book in one breath, bought it in the next. GREAT find! Nicely done!! I’ve lived onboard various boats and other things: 29′ Cascade in Portland; 18′ West Wight potter in the Sacramento Delta; a Basque sheepherder wagon for three years in Utah . . . but I missed the water, and I’m shopping again . . . maybe 26-28 feet this time. Foraging . . . yeah. Thank you for your book. As to format, I’d maybe make it a little bigger than the first, but do keep the strategy – foraging, fishing, etc self sufficiency . . . Maybe one day soon will see ‘out there.’ Keep up the good work. Scott

  4. TC says:

    A couple suggestions:

    1. Keep the pamphlet format, at least for now. A book might come later.
    2. Go places where Waggoner and company doesn’t, those places are well covered.
    3. Recommend organizing around a body of water, as a boat would travel. So if I find myself in San Juan Channel or Lopez Sound, I pull out the appropriate pamphlet and my options are laid out.

  5. Michelle says:

    Just thought l would shoot you a note, great vid on Watmough bay however, it is pronounced, wat mo, the ough is just like in dough, as in pizza dough.

    Michelle Watmough-Argue

  6. Tyke Thompsen says:

    What are typical outlets for your books? I’m from Eastern Washington but my boat is in Anacortes. So if I could find a book in Skagit/Snohomish Counties somewhere, that would be great. Thanks for keeping the website as well.

    • Chris says:

      Thanks for the interest, Tyke. I self publish through Amazon Kindle. My Gunkholing book is available to order as a printed copy, but my Tiny Floating Homes book is only available on Kindle.

      • Tyke says:

        Thanks. Just made my order.

      • Tyke Thompsen says:

        Just got and read Gunkholing the Salish Seas. Love the “out of the way” aspect the most. I don’t do well in big crowds! One question. What’s the difference in how you fish for greenling as opposed to ling cod? Thanks and keep the books coming.

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