Yesterday’s paddle was simply a warm-up for today! Today was also much more enjoyable than yesterday. I started out at South Point Road Landing (which is off 611, the road that takes you to Assateague). Brian dropped me off around 10:00 and I was to meet him near the Route 50 bridge where he would be tautog fishing all day.
The first 2 miles were a little rough. Although I had a nice tail wind (12 mpg SSE), it tossed me around quite a bit. If it was summer time, I would have had fun riding the small waves and being rocked around. However, the threat of capsizing and hypothermia freaked me out a bit so I decided to paddle close to the shoreline. However, after about 2 miles I rounded a small point of marshland and the wind seemed to be affecting me much less.
Once the wind died down I was able to relax and enjoy my surroundings a little bit more. Here’s a quick recap of the wildlife I spotted today: horned grebe, brant, bufflehead, canada goose, pony, common loon, ghost crab, green crab, and various gulls and shellfish.
After crossing under the Assateague bridge, I pulled up to an old state-owned boat launch. This particular launch has a crabbing pier that we used to go to when my family vacationed to this area when I was a kid. I even remember a time when I was about 10, we were all crabbing off this pier when some girl asked my Dad if she could borrow his pliers. Or maybe a knife, I don’t know. Of course he said yes, she took them, and then proceeded to throw them in the water. Yeah, not a great story, but for some reason that story stuck with me.
I took a break to stretch my legs and wandered into the Assateague welcome center which is new and really fancy. Almost too fancy. It’s a park people, not a museum. But don’t worry, I won’t use this blog to express my feelings about the National Park Service….
After a quick snack I made a bee-line to the island. I headed straight towards a large sand over-wash that looked like it could’ve happened during Hurricane Sandy. I am always fascinated with barrier island migration, plus a fresh over-wash makes the perfect kayak landing! I was tempted to take a long walk on the beach but low tide wasn’t too far off and I wanted to reach my destination before the tide changed. I just wandered around for a few minutes, took a few pictures, and continued on.
As I pushed northward, I had to stop and be a complete tourist because, well, PONIES!! Yes, I stopped to look at the ponies. I even snapped a few photos. Ugh, I was being the exact person I complain about in the summer. At least I wasn’t stopping any traffic!
After another mile or so the water began to get really shallow. Like 4 inches shallow. I really wanted to paddle along the shoreline of Assateague but that was not going to happen. Even after I altered my course slightly to the west, it continued to be shallow. So shallow that I came to an island that was surrounded by a giant mud flat. I was starting to get warn out and I really didn’t feel like paddling around it so that called for another portage adventure. Luckily the mud was pretty hard and it was pretty easy to walk across, dragging my kayak and all my gear behind me, but anyhow, I was quite winded by the time I reached the other side. I’d say it was at least 100 yards (but I’m a really bad judge of distance).
I stuck close to the marked channel for the last stretch of this trip. I didn’t spend much time sightseeing as I was getting close to the tide change and I didn’t want to get stuck paddling against the incoming tide. I could not however, miss the incredibly gaudy and huge houses along the shoreline. At first when I see these houses I think “wow, I wonder what these people do for a living that they can afford that” and then I quickly think “really? do you really need a house that looks like a castle with palm trees? palm trees in Maryland? really?”
I was always a bit nervous about paddling near an inlet so I took my time and stayed focused on boat traffic as I passed by the Ocean City Inlet. It wasn’t bad. I’m glad that I paddled this stretch in the off-season though. I can’t image what it would have been like at the height of the season. Although I’ve driven over the Route 50 bridge and visited the amusement parks at the boardwalk many times, it was weird to see it all from this angle. This will probably be the only time I take pictures of roller coasters and ferris wheels from my kayak!
I concluded my 11 mile journey at the Homer Gudelsky Park, or as the locals call it, “Stinky Beach”. It was perfect timing because Brian was running out of bait and was just about finished fishing for the day. Here he is, my knight in shining armor. Or more like, my silly fisherman in tacky yellow plastic! And it was the perfect end to my day because he caught dinner! A 17″ tautog 🙂
And here it is! Check out my path: