Kayaking the Sound: Key Pen resident reflects on beautiful journey


Danna Webster, KP News

About this time last year, Key Peninsula resident Voski Sprague was over halfway to achieving a major personal goal. A year later, she still marvels at the memories of that journey.

Voski Sprague in her kayak, named "My Turn." Photo courtesy of Sprague family

She planned to kayak Puget Sound from the Foss Waterway in Tacoma to North Bay above Vaughn. Sprague aimed to paddle 178 miles of shoreline in a beautiful natural wood Pygmy kayak, named “My Turn,” which she and her husband, Robert, built.

When asked why she set this goal, she answers, “Why not? I absolutely love the waters of South Sound and wondered just how much access I would have, using designated public access to get in and out of the water. There was neither timeline nor race except that I wanted to complete this before my next birthday.”

The journey began May 25 and finished Sept. 11, before her birthday.

Questions about public access were partially answered by the 10th trip on the water. At that time, she resorted to using Robert’s powerboat for transport to the start and stop locations because normal launching and haul-out maneuvers required a lot of trespassing otherwise.

She paddled a total of 56 hours and 45 minutes on 23 different trips around 11 islands and under 11 bridges. “Of course an exciting one was swiftly moving along the east side of the (Tacoma) Narrows when they were stringing the first cable up to the east tower,” she says. Each trip varied in time and distance. The shortest was one mile and the longest 14 miles. Her time on the water ranged from 20 minutes to four and a half hours.

Before setting out on the actual quest, Sprague took a trial trip and studied many charts, maps and Websites.

“First, I had determined, by taking a trial paddle trip, that I averaged a comfortable 3 mph… That determined how long it would take me to reach my destination so that I could be met.” The piece of raffia she used to measure distances is kept in the journal along with the notes and records she kept. “After each trip, I recorded actual information and wrote anecdotal notes, things I saw, features of the landscape, issues, lessons, things I want to visit, questions I have,” she says.

One of her questions asks, “Could the Mosquito Fleet landing sites be identified and marked to note the rich history of our South Sound?”

Another question wondered if communities could band together and make a difference about the problems of too little public access to the Puget Sound waterways in Pierce County.

Along the way, Sprague found wonderful sea life and special places that caused her to wish that more kids could get out on the water and appreciate the wonders she saw. She formed serious concerns over her observations of large drains emptying into the Sound, and the speed of powerboats at the mouth of Foss Waterway.

The realization of her goal and meeting the challenges of the journey with strength and resolve inspired this lesson from her meditations, “A pledge: I am blessed to be on our South Puget Sound waters! I will care and nurture it so that my grandchildren might have such adventures.”