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reserve kayak trip in the san juan islands

Meet Our Staff


San Juan Kayak Expeditions offers something no other sea kayak outfitter can: an owner/guide who has been leading multi-day sea kayak adventures in the San Juans for 36 years! Using his extensive experience and knowledge, Tim puts each of his carefully chosen guides through rigorous training and then an assistant-guide apprenticeship program. When they are ready to lead your trip, you can rest assured that they have a solid foundation of experience and knowledge to make your trip safe (all guides are CPR/first aid certified), educational and adventurous. Our guides are simply the very best!  Join us for our 36th season!   

Sally Thomsen  

Sally moved from one island to another.  Originally from Kent Island on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, San Juan Island became her home in 1997.  She  brings to SJKE a wealth of administrative and organizational skills honed over the last 15 years as Director of San Juan Island Park and Recreation.   She has paddled extensively in the San Juan Islands with husband Tim and recently completed an eight-day, 100 mile sea kayak Sally is ready to answer your calls!adventure in Baja’s Sea Of Cortez from Loreto to La Paz.

More than likely, it will be Sally who answers your phone calls or e-mails  processes your reservation in her patient and professional way and greets you at our kiosk.  She helps to make the company a leader in efficiency and customer service, and we couldn’t do without her!  Give her a call 360.378.4436 and let her help you with the logistics of making the most of your sea kayaking holiday.

“When I looked at the different websites, I liked what you had to say.  The real clincher, though, was the time you took to explain all the options and features you offer when I spoke to you on the phone….excellent customer service!  I really appreciated all the information and your grace in delivering it!  Thank you!”

John and Lorraine Doerr
Bainbridge Island, WA

Tim Thomsen

Tim has been a resident and avid kayaker in the San Juan Islands for thirty-eight years. He has owned and operated San Juan Kayak Expeditions for thirty-five years and has logged over 15,000 miles paddling in the San Juans!  He has personally guided over 450 three and four day sea kayaking expeditions!  His experience with orca whales in local waters is unmatched.  In addition to paddling in the San Juans, he led his own 6 day expeditions in Baja’s Sea of Cortez for thirteen winter seasons. Tim is also a sea kayak sail inventor and patent owner!

A Washington State native with a Bachelor of Science degree in horticulture from Washington State University, Tim speaks semi-fluent Spanish and plays classical guitar and alto recorder.  In the off-season Tim builds driftwood birdhouses and plays some serious table  tennis.  He has completed one marathon(one is enough!) and several triathlons. Tim is also a world traveler. He has spent past winters traveling and kayaking through diverse and exotic regions of the globe(Fiji, Mexico, New Zealand, Costa Rica).  His latest expedition was a three week exploration of Nicaragua and a 100 mile sea kayak trip in the Sea of Cortez with wife Sally.

“We just wanted to give you extra thanks for working so hard paddling so my wife could feel more secure and enjoy the beautiful scenery during the 3-day trip we took with you last week. Although neither of us was very experienced at kayaking or seamanship we felt safe paddling in the ocean under your experienced and observant leadership, and were very pleased with the individual attention you gave us. We’re glad we took this trip with you instead of the other tour operators. Best Regards and Happy Paddling!”

Jeff & Alicia Bastl
Chicago, Illinois

Will Owen 

Will OwenWill (25 yrs.) is a Pacific Northwest native and a senior at Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA with a major in marine biology.  His love of sea kayaking has taken him on week-long trips in Canada and Vancouver Island’s rugged west side Broken Group!  He is the only person I know who has paddled through and survived the infamous “Room of Doom” in Washington State’s violent Deception Pass on the northern tip of Whidbey Island!  Will has mastered five different Eskimo rolls in his single kayak and is always happy to demonstrate these techniques on the water.  He has also completed sea kayaking courses with a local branch of The Mountaineers!  He teaches sea kayaking courses locally and is Wilderness First Responder certified!

He has worked for two years as a veterinary assistant in Bellingham and has volunteered to work with youth and homeless folks in Chicago, Montana, New Orleans and the Czech Republic! Will’s technical expertise, easy-going and friendly nature and passion for the natural history of the San Juan Islands make him an integral part of our team!

“It was a pleasure paddling with you!  I enjoyed the “lessons” about bull kelp and paddling strokes!  I am impressed by your life story and inspired to stay on the water myself, as it brings me much comfort.  Thank you again for a memorable experience!  The trip was everything I imagined and more!”

Laura Mar
Cambridge, MA

“I just wanted to say thank you for such an amazing trip and experience.  My best friend Kelly and I both didn’t know what to expect and Will surpassed anything we could have asked for! He is an excellent guide and very knowledgeable and fun! Thank you so much for taking us out and making our vacation extra special and memorable! We cant wait to do it again!
Kelly Kennison
Tehachapi, CA

Ty Rilleau 

Ty-Rilleau (3)Ty (30 yrs.) has a long history on the water. He grew up kayaking in Cape Cod Bay, learned to kayak when he was seven years old and moved on to white water kayaking when he was 12. He competed at a national level in white water slalom, achieving 6th place at the Junior Olympics in 2001.  For several years, Ty kayaked to work and back while living on his sailboat.  He was a part of Adventure Quests development team for white water slalom racing and freestyle kayaking for many years.Though he has gained aptitude in many professional fields since then (cheese monger, donkey ranch guide and pedi-cab rider), every time he sits in a kayak, he is comforted to be in a place where he feels wholly competent. During recent work experiences in Southeast Alaska, he acquired a knowledge of the marvelous eco system in the Pacific Northwest with it’s exciting flora and fauna. Interpreting the surroundings for guests is always a high point in his day. It is his goal to help encourage others to feel comfortable in a kayak and out in nature.

Ty has bicycled from Seattle down the Baja Peninsula following the migration route of Gray Whales, led kayak trips in Southeast Alaska and traveled throughout Europe by bicycle and bus.

His passion is for sustainable transport, having an ecologically aware outlook on life and being a steward and a story teller about the natural history and lore of the San Juan Islands. He plays mandolin and Ukulele, and has a great interest in sea shanties.  Paddling with Ty is a rich and rewarding experience!

“We enjoyed our trip so much and this CD is our way of saying thank you! You’re one hell of a guide and a special person to us – we’re very glad to have shared the experience with you!”

Doug and Donna Fish
Sweet Home, OR

“I had a wonderful time on your trip! It was absolutely amazing! Your incredible knowledge and expertise, combined with a warm heart and a great sense of humor made this an experience I will never forget! Thank you!”

Audrey “Scotti” McGowan
Portland, OR

Tara Hartman

Tara Leads Another Great Multi-Day Trip!Tara (32 Yrs.) hails from northern Indiana where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies and Secondary Education from Goshen College.  She is also certified through the Whale Museum as a Salish Sea Marine naturalist.  She has led trips for us for three years and is excited to join us again after a year of guiding kayak tours on the gulf coast of Florida.  Tara brings a strong background in marine mammal research and science education.  She exudes a passion and knowledge for killer whales and the local marine ecosystem.   Tara is a pleasure to paddle with and all enjoy her wit, sincerity and pleasant demeanor.

Additionally Tara has paddled in the Florida Keys, the Boundary Waters of Minnesota and most  recently completed an epic, 8-day kayak trip in Baja’s  Sea of Cortez with owners Tim and Sally Thomsen. This 100 mile journey from Loreto to La Paz was on her bucket list, and she passed with flying colors!

“Thank you so much for giving me the most amazing kayak trip I may ever have!  You are an amazing guide!  You took the time to connect with each of us, and by doing so, made the trip a special experience! You gave me an adventure I can brag about for the rest of my life!”

Meghan Bell,
Seattle, WA

Brandon Hutchinson

Brandon Hard at Work!Brandon (23 yrs.) hails from Georgia and attended Georgia Southern University receiving his Bachelor of Science in recreation.  On campus he did a two-year stint as an adventure trip leader and campus recreation attendant.  He was a sea kayaking guide in Jackson Hole, Wyoming where he led day and multi-day trips in the lakes and rivers in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, while also leading caving, hiking and water rafting adventures.  Brandon has worked in Glenallen, Alaska for the Bureau of Land Management assessing trails, campsites and river corridors in a solo canoe and  to help determine recreation needs for the future.  He has worked with youth in low and high challenge courses and climbing walls.

Most recently Brandon worked as a river raft guide and maintenance staff member in Big Bend, Texas.

Brandon brings a strong science background and a sense of humor to his trips. He also possesses Wilderness First Responder, Adult CPR/AED, and Swift Water Rescue Technician certifications. He comes from a very musical background, and can play most instruments you can name!

In his own words, “I love guiding because it lets me expose people to the places that I love and care about. My goal is that by the end of a trip you will care just as much, and will have had a great time too!”  He, of course, dazzles all with his Georgia charm!

“What an incredible experience and once is a lifetime adventure!  Thank you so very much  for sharing your amazing self with our group.  Not only did you have the skills necessary to guide the trip, but you shared your own unique gifts to make everyone feel involved, cared for and necessary!  And then there were the delicious conversations, music, jokes and camaraderie – please keep making music and making the world a much better place with your intelligence, humor and leadership!”

Anne
Seattle, WA

Cole Wilson

Cole Leads an Adventure for San Juan Kayak ExpeditionsCole (23 yrs.) is soon to graduate from Georgia College in Milledgeville, GA where he studied outdoor education. Cole was born and raised on the Georgia-Florida line in the small town of Valdosta, Georgia.

His love for the outdoors was sparked when he traveled out West on a summer road trip with a group of friends and he returned, changed his major and hasn’t looked back. Cole was lead facilitator at the Outdoor Center at Georgia College where he did client intake and programming for local and corporate groups who came to the facility seeking team bonding and group development. Cole grew up canoeing and kayaking on the Suwannee River in Florida and has spent ample time on the eastern seaboard with notable expeditions in Charleston, South Carolina and Tybee Island in Savannah, Georgia. He is currently seeking his Level III ACA Instructor Certification and will complete the course in April of 2016. Cole is First Aid and CPR certified and holds a Wilderness First Aid certification.

In his free time he enjoys hiking with his dog, Molly, doing yoga and playing ultimate Frisbee. You can catch Cole cruising the roads on a bike on his off days!

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

 “I can’t tell you enough how wonderful the trip was for Amanda and me!  It is a wonderful place to visit, and your leadership made it into a truly unforgettable experience for us!  It was a real privilege to have you share your knowledge, experience and passion with us!  Our only regret was that the trip wasn’t longer!”

Robert and Amanda Sharpe,
Castro Valley, CA

“I just wanted to drop you a line to make sure you know how special our trip in the San Juans with you was! I had so many amazing moments – it has been very inspiring, and it is mostly due to your positive energy and enthusiasm for what you do – it is absolutely contagious! Thank you for leading us all in an experience that I’m sure we will all remember dearly for the rest of our lives!”

Emily La Shorne
Brooklyn, NY

Kevin Soper

 KevinKevin (32 yrs.) believes that “The first water you paddle runs through the rest of your life. It bubbles up in pools and eddies to remind you of who you are.”   Kevin is a northwest native born along the banks of the beautiful McKenzie River in Oregon.  He has lived a life filled with abundant adventure on the water. He has vast knowledge of local rivers and seas learned from years of white water rafting/kayaking, open water kayaking and fly-fish guiding. He has paddled and rafted the rivers and lakes of the Cascade and Rocky Mts., and kayaked coastal Pacific Ocean and Gulf of Mexico shores.

Kevin’s love for the San Juan’s began over a decade ago and, for the past four years, has called the islands his home.  With a passion for the water, cooking and good western hospitality you will be delighted with his wit and wisdom as he leads you on a sea kayaking adventure through the beautiful Salish Sea and San Juan Archipelago.

Kevin enjoys spending his free time volunteering in the local community, painting, hiking with his dog, and of course boating.

“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”   — Jacques Yves Cousteau

“I just wanted to say thanks again for a great trip. Learning to kayak, experiencing the moodiness and beauty of the islands from the best place imaginable (the kayak), seeing the sights/wildlife, all the laughs, the great camping food, the beautiful wake-up calls…all made for a fantastic, memorable time. You rock. Thanks!”

Kari Tweiten
St. Paul, MN

“We had a great time kayaking with you! Thank you for sharing your expertise and sense of fun with us.   I hope I can keep a little of your joy of life now that I’m back at my daily grind. You have a true gift for creating a sense of trust and community among perfect strangers. Good luck and light winds.”

Virginia Mohl
Red Lodge, MT

 I Can’t Resist, I am ready to book now!