euryhaline paddler

exploring the shorelines of Delmarva via kayak


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Beach Plum Island to Lewes

Today, September 27, 2014, I paddled from Beach Plum Island to the Lewes Canalfront Park.  The distance was 3.5 miles but since I was going solo and biking between the start and finish would have been long and tricky, I decided to paddle an out-and-back, totaling 7 miles. Here’s the path I took:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI started the journey at the Lewes boat ramp, located at the end of Pilottown Road.  I had never been to this boat ramp and didn’t really have any expectations, but my god!  Soooo much parking!  I pulled up to the ramp, unloaded my gear, and then went to park my car.  The parking area for “single cars” (aka no boat trailer) was a tiny section in the back corner of the lot.  I almost felt like I didn’t belong there because there was so much parking for boat trailers.  As I was walking back to my kayak, a man stopped to say hello, and also complimented me on my kayak unloading skills.  He said he saw me and was going to walk over and offer to help, but realized “that girl knows what she is doing”.  Yup – that’s right :).

The tide was coming in so the first stretch was really easy.  I paddled to the north end of Beach Plum Island in probably 10-15 minutes.  The only challenge I had was dodging the fishing lines – there were probably a dozen people scattered along the bank fishing.  I wasn’t expecting this because I just thought everyone came to Beach Plum to fish the surf, not the back bay.  Although I suppose being that close to Roosevelt Inlet that some decent sized fish are in that water.

Once I got to the spot where I finished my last trip, I turned on my GPS to start tracking my path and I turned around and started heading back towards Lewes.  I was a bit nervous that this would be the most difficult part of the trip because I was going directly against the tide.  Surprisingly though, as long as I stayed close to the edges of the creek, it was pretty smooth sailing.

As I neared the Lewes boat ramp, I felt the need to hydrate so I grabbed for my water bottle.  Not there.  What?  I must have left it in the car.  Yeah that’s it.  Okay so once I get to the boat ramp, I’ll take a quick break and grab it from the car.  Wait.  No wait, I don’t remember putting it in the car this morning when I left the house.  Where the heck is my water bottle?  Oh.  Right.  Sitting on the kitchen counter.  Nice one, Laura.  I suppose it would have been worse had I left my paddle or something at home, but this was still quite frustrating.  No worries though – I can power through it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI then continued on passed the boat ramp and towards Roosevelt Inlet and Lewes.  Paddling passed inlets always makes me a little nervous because I never know what the currents and the tides are going to be like.  This inlet was just like Ocean City, Metompkin, Gargatha, and Wachapreague inlets – uneventful and easy to just cruise on by.

Because the tide was still coming in (I hoped to time it so that it was going out when I turned around at Canalfront park) I cruised passed the UD wind turbine, all the pretty houses and boats, as well as the Lewes Life-Saving Station and the Lightship Overfalls.  I’ve toured the inside of both of these places but it was cool to see them from the water.  I finally stopped as a “kayaks only” boat ramp, right next to the Overfalls.

I got out, stretched, ate a snack, turned off my GPS, and checked the time.  The tide was not supposed to change for another 45 minutes.  Ugh, not worth the wait, so I decided to head back and power through the incoming tide.  I could use the workout.

This time I hugged the east side of the canal which is mostly marsh grasses and again, as long as I stayed close to the shoreline, paddling against the tide was pretty darn easy.  However, as I passed the inlet for a second time, there were definitely some eddies and swirlyness going on that I didn’t feel the first time.  Not bad though – just had to push through it and as soon as I was passed the inlet, the tide simply carried me right back to the boat ramp.  Not a bad paddle for a beautiful Saturday morning (without drinking water, mind you)!


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Prime Hook Beach to Beach Plum Island

Today, September 22, I paddled my first portion of the Delaware Bayshore AND I completed another 100% solo trip (meaning there was no help from Brian or anyone else to shuttle me from one end to the other).

I packed up my little car last night: kayak on roof rack, bike disassembled and inside my tiny hatchback. I’m amazed that silly little car can transport multiple, oddly-shaped objects. It was a bit windy when I woke up but I decided not to let that get me down. I knew that the wind and the tide would both be in my favor. I drove to Prime Hook Beach first to unload my kayak (which I locked to a Prime Hook Wildlife Refuge sign). A couple of construction workers were working on some utility lines and looked at me like I was crazy and I was a little worried that they were going to stop me from leaving my kayak there. But then again, why would they care? If anything it would be the local residents that wouldn’t like it. I then drove down to Beach Plum Island at the south end of Broadkill Beach. Cute little spot – can’t believe I’ve worked for Parks on and off for 8 years and never went there until today.

Once I assembled my bike, I had to figure out how to deal with all my kayaking accessories. Paddle disassembled and in back pack (sticking out by 2 feet, mind you!), PFD clipped to the outside of my back pack, and lunch box over my shoulder. I probably looked pretty ridiculous, but it worked really well.
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Although I had to drive out to Route 1 to get here from Prime Hook Beach, Google Maps indicated that I would be able to ride my bike straight up the coast on some sandy-looking back roads.

Wrong. Google Maps you deceived me! Stupid rich gated properties threw a major wrench into my biking plans.

I then had to back track, access the beach at the public access point, and proceed to WALK my bike and all my gear up the beach. Not. Fun. 1.5 miles rolling my bike through sand. I’ll probably be feeling it in my legs tomorrow morning 😦

walking w/ my bike. and my guns (aka kayak paddle)

walking up the beach w/ my bike. and my guns (aka kayak paddle)

I finally made it back onto a road and only had about a mile until I reached my kayak. When I got there the construction guys were teasing me about how much they were going to sell my kayak for and then they were teasing each other about not helping me carry my boat down to the water (about 50 yards away from where I stowed it). Nobody actually came to help me but that’s okay because this was one of my “independent woman” kayak trips 🙂

I locked up my bike and they then said they were going to sell that instead of the kayak but I assured them my kayak was worth way more and they missed their chance to make some money!

my new construction friends

my new construction friends

As I was launching my kayak, a man drove by and told me not to blow away. Yikes. Should I really not be kayaking in this weather? It’s probably gusting to 20 mph. But then again, the wind was blowing at the exact angle and direction I needed to go. And if it got really bad, this water can’t be more than what, 2 feet deep? What’s the worst that can happen?

meh. not too rough. I can do this.

meh. not too rough. I can do this.

Sure enough, the wind (and tide!) carried me quickly and gracefully. So quickly and gracefully that I actually didn’t get as much of a work out as I had intended for the day. As always, I pulled my phone out to check Google Earth and make sure I was correctly navigating the marsh creeks and not getting lost.

Wrong. I was in the middle of a wide open little bay and Google said I was on land. Very, very wrong. Once again Google Maps, you have failed me.  I thought maybe my GPS was off a little, but NOTHING around me matched up with what it looked like on the map. I saw the wind turbine near Roosevelt Inlet off in the distance so I just started out in that general direction. I started to make out a shiny object way ahead which must by the bridge I needed to go under (Broadkill Beach Rd). I continued on, straight towards the shiny object (ooo… shiny object!). But shiny objects are notorious for distracting people and that’s EXACTLY what happened here! As I got closer to the shiny object, I realized I was going off course and the bridge I needed to go underneath was about 200 yards west of the said shiny object. Darn it.

No big deal though, I just had to alter my direction a tad and continue on. As I got closer and closer to the bridge though, I realized there was something blocking my path. Not sure what, but something. I then passed a sign that was facing the other direction. Once I got passed it, I realized it was a Prime Hook Refuge sign saying “Area beyond this sign CLOSED”. Well, not my fault there wasn’t one where I started. Not sure why it was closed but I got through safe and sound.  Then I turned my attention forward again and realize there was a dam?! Huh?? Luckily there was a small space for me to get out next to this so-called dam (whatever is was, maybe something to control the tide passing through?). I then just had to portage a few yards and I was able to launch on the other side of the strange structure and continue my journey underneath the bridge and on to the Broadkill River.

As soon as I joined up with the Broadkill, it was really smooth sailing. The wind and tide pushed me so well I barely had to paddle at all. I didn’t pass much on this stretch except marsh grass, the occasional blue heron, and this:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What the heck is this?! It looks like a giant should be doing a Mexican hat dance around it. Or better yet, it looks like it belongs at an amusement park in South Carolina!

I knew I was nearing the end of my journey because the wind turbine was much larger! I finally pulled up to a muddy spot on the west side of the Beach Plum parking area. Just a short walk up the path and I was back to my car 🙂

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Today’s paddle was 6.58 miles. Shorter than what I normally do, but not bad for a 100% solo day! Here’s the path I took: