euryhaline paddler

exploring the shorelines of Delmarva via kayak


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George’s Island to Queen’s Sound

It’s been exactly one year (to the day!) since I completed the first leg of my overall goal.  After today’s leg, I’ve paddled just over 66 miles in 20 hours and 18 minutes.  I’m just about 10% complete (don’t forget the overall goal is to paddle around the entire Delmarva peninsula).  Today I paddled from George’s Island landing in Stockton, MD to Queen’s Sound landing which is along the Chincoteague causeway.  My first border crossing!  And another cool thing – I finished the first leg on June 24 last year at Queens Sound (but I obviously came from the opposite direction this time).  None of these coincidences were planned either.  I just realized as I was looking at my records a few minutes ago.

IMAG1227I drove to George’s Island landing, just east of the tiny town of Stockton.  This landing is probably the most gorgeous landing I’ve seen yet.  I love driving down a back road, usually wooded with a house here and there, and then all of a sudden, the landscape opens up and you’re right on the waterfront.  This landing overlooks Chincoteague Bay, Assateague Island way off in the distance, and a few islands (I’m thinking one of them was George’s Island at one point).  Before I took off, I snapped a few photos at the landing, just because this spot was so… the word enchanting comes to mind, but I feel like a nerd using that word.  But whatever, it was enchanting.  There was a man fishing from the bulkhead that even tried to convince me to buy the house that was right on the water.  Tempting at $200k but probably not the best investment with the increase in strong storms we’ve been seeing.

The first 7 miles of this 8.6-mile trip were lovely.  Even though I was paddling directly into the wind, it was pretty easy.  Much easier than yesterday’s paddle when I was paddling into the wind at an angle the whole time.  I took a quick break on a spit of land near Greenbackville, and another break at the Captain’s Cove development.  Brian was going to pick me up when he was done work so I sent him a text to let him know I’d be at the landing in about an hour and a half.

The last stretch of the paddle was tough.  Not as rough as yesterday’s paddle, but it was definitely not as lovely as the first couple miles of this trip.  I took my time paddling into the wind, careful not to wear myself out.  I was only moving at about 2.5 mph, but I was making headway and feeling pretty good.  It wasn’t until I had about a mile left that I hit a shallow spot.  So shallow that it turned into a mud flat.  Ugh, portage.  It was nice to give my arms a break and use some other muscles, but holy cow, trudging through the mud and dragging my kayak behind me was way more exhausting that paddling against the wind!

I did however get to see some cool stuff in the water.  Lots of crabs (thank goodness for my closed-toe Tevas), anemones, and a terrapin!  Since the water was so shallow and I was not in my kayak, she was easy to spot and easy to grab!  I kept her just long enough to snap a photo and let her continue on her way.  This sort of cheered me up and made me stop bitching at the mud flat for a few minutes.

FINALLY I got into water that was deep enough to paddle again!  The last mile or so was exhausting, but I finally made it under the Chincoteague bridge and completed the paddle at the boat ramp at Queen’s Sound landing.  I wish I had more pictures to share with this post, but somehow I deleted all but one of them.  None of them were life-changing, earth-shattering shots, but it would have been cool to show some of the sights and the terrapin!

Take a look at my path.  If you zoom in enough on the section between the causeway and Captain’s Cove, you’ll see the line is not as smooth.  This is where I had to portage across the mudflat.  Not fun 😦


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Guardshore to Saxis

I have to say that after this paddle, I am extremely happy to be on solid ground again.  The weather forecast said winds were out of the south at 10 mph.  It was more like out of the southwest at 20 mph.  My arms feel like Jell-o, I’m sure my shoulders will be sore tomorrow, and I can feel phantom waves when I close my eyes.  On the bright side, I feel extremely accomplished after battling the wind and waves for just over 9 miles!

Brian paddled near Deal Island yesterday when I was at work and caught 4 good sized speckled trout.  Because the fishing was good and I wanted to complete another leg, we decided to head to the same general area, only this time a little further south from where he had fished.  He dropped me off at Guardshore landing, just outside Bloxom, VA.  I like this area a lot because of how remote it is (although not having a cell phone signal is a little disconcerting).  For 90% of the trip I did not pass one house, boat, power line, or really any sign of life — no birds, no turtles, no jumping fish — just marsh grass and waves.  Lots of waves.  It was so choppy that I was getting a little seasick.  Plus it didn’t help that Brian wanted to fly through all the back roads to get there and I was already feeling slightly carsick.  Ugh.

With a slight threat of thunderstorms, I didn’t want to mosey around in the marsh and explore much.  I was pretty set on paddling a straight shot, getting a workout, and getting off the water before any afternoon storms started to brew.

Here’s the path I took; notice the long straight-aways across open water – not my favorite type of paddling, but good exercise:

I did take a break about half way through the paddle, just to get off the water and cut down on my nausea.  I even portaged across the marsh a little ways, just to continue the journey but savor a few moments on land.

I took a video to show the choppiness, but I’m not sure it really does a justice.  Either that or I’m just a wimp.

Choppy Chesapeake from Laura Baldwin on Vimeo.

 

I was pretty stoked when I was entering a small creek and getting out of open water.  I could also see some houses in the town of Saxis so I was relieved that the worst was behind me.  Or so I thought.  For whatever reason, paddling in that creek was probably the most difficult paddling I have ever done.  It was like the wind was being funneled through the creek which made it nearly impossible for me to make any headway.  I was literally grunting and yelling out in pain as I paddled against the current.  In the middle of my little temper tantrum though, a sign of life — a family in a small boat, setting out a trot line.  I can’t imagine what they thought of me if they heard me over their little motor, but they just smiled and waved, and I did the same.

I finally rounded the last bend and came up to the town of Saxis.  It is a teeny tiny waterman’s town in the middle of nowhere.  I love these little desolate Chesapeake towns.  It’s like rewinding 50 years and you can just feel that Chesapeake culture by looking at the town and the landscape.  I can’t really explain it, but I’m sure some people would concur that there is just something special about them.

I wasn’t quite finished the trip though because I told Brian I would meet him at the end of Saxis Road, which was just around the bend and then another half mile or so.  At least, according to the map on my phone.  As I passed the last little crabhouse, Brian pulled up in his car and honked at me.  I figured he was just waving and saying he saw me, he was off the water, and he’d meet me at the end of Saxis Road.  The last mile of the trip was very rough, but actually really fun.  The wind was at my back and I was able to ride several waves as they pushed me towards the end.

Then the phone rings.  It’s Brian: “Where are you?! I thought you were getting out at the landing! I pointed to the landing when I saw you, where did you go?!”  Umm… to the end of Saxis Road, like I told you to begin with.  “You passed the end of Saxis Road!  That’s where I saw you!  Where am I supposed to pick you up now?”  Umm… no I didn’t pass the landing.  My GPS says it’s right around the corner from where I am now.  You’re supposed to meet me there.  “I don’t understand where you are! Why did you keep going?  Do you want me to leave Saxis?  Because I’m leaving Saxis now.”  This argument went on for a few minutes.  I finally hung up and finished the trip.  Turns out, there is no public landing where I finished.  After a little more confusion, Brian found me and I was able to find a spot to get out near his car.  It was definitely no boat ramp or kayak launch, but it worked.

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Can you see his kayak on top of his car between the grasses?

Once I was on dry land and about to collapse with fatigue, the argument continued.  Turns out, my map had road names that did not match the road signs.  So what we thought was a miscommunication was really an error on the map.  Frustrating.  But don’t worry, even after a stupid argument, the wedding is still on 🙂

Oh, and when we got home, we saw that there was a small craft advisory in effect.  Oops.