Sunday, September 29, 2013

Little Assawoman Bay

This weekend our wonderful friends Gail and Chris invited us to spend the weekend at their camper at Tall Pines, near Rehoboth Beach, DE. The camper experience was interesting in itself; the last time I had stayed in any sort of RV was probably almost thirty years ago when CJ's family had one. It's kind of like a cruise ship cabin in that you've got this cute, efficient but definitely tight living quarters. It's also kind of like camping in that once you step outside your "cabin" you're at a camp site, complete with fire pit, screen room, etc. It was a perfect fall weekend - no bugs, but still warm enough to comfortably hang out outside.

Great Minds Think Alike
Gail's life and mine have been intertwining for about a million years and the two couples have known each other for quite some time. As you can see from the composite photo of our cars at left, we obviously share some common thought processes. Overall, it was a great weekend not just "4 2" but "4 4".

On Saturday Valerie and Gail headed for the outlet malls while Chris and I headed for the water. I had brought my boat with me (conveniently already on the car from Thursday night paddling). We drove down to Coastal Kayaks in Fenwick where Chris was able to rent. Since he hadn't had wet exit training they wouldn't give him a full decked boat but at least they gave him a fairly decent rec boat, a 14 ft Pungo.

They warned us that it was a little bit choppy out and truth be told, once we were out of the cove where we launched I was surprised that they were even renting that day. The conditions weren't a problem for me but the wind was blowing out of the north at 15-20 MPH which, given the shallow water of Assawoman Bay, was kicking up some decent waves and even some whitecaps. Chris and I headed north into the wind, and stayed pretty close to shore as we worked out way up to the top of the bay. I was a little worried about an inexperienced paddler in a rec boat in those conditions but Chris is a good athlete and had no problems throughout the trip.

In the marsh

We headed through the narrows between Miller Neck and Fenwick Island then spent some time exploring some marshes where we saw abundant herons, egrets, and cormorants. Paddling through a marsh involves twisty exploration of little passages, some of which dead-end and some of which take you into new areas - and you're never quite sure where you'll wind up. In this case, when we finally popped out of the marsh back into the bay we were considerably further north than where we had gone in.

We had the wind behind us on the way back and so it was a quick ride. I've already mentioned that Chris is a good athlete, but I think it was wind assist that allowed him to maintain 5 MPH in a rec boat with relatively effort :) A little under 7 miles all told, pretty good for a windy day.

As I was loading my stuff into the car at the end of our trip I felt the twenty dollar bill I keep stashed in my PFD for emergencies fly out. By the time the event registered and I reacted the wind had picked the bill up and taken it away - I didn't see it anywhere. "Well," I thought, "I hope some lucky person finds it." However, a minute or so later one of the people from the shop (might have been Mitch Mitchell himself) walked over and handed me the twenty - he had seen where it had gone and recovered it for me. I suppose that at that point I should have spent it on some tchotchke from the shop, but I just thanked him and packed it back away in the PFD. And now I feel guilty ...

Our track

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Galesville Park Exploration

On Sunday of Labor Day weekend Tall Tom and I decided to recreate a trip which had recently been written up on the CPA site by Lisa A. & Tom B. We launched out of Galesville in search of the little accesses to parks Lisa and Tom B. had cataloged.

Our track

As I have mentioned in the past, Tom is a bigger guy than I am - let's just say that if the Chesapeake Paddler's Association ever put on a play based on Harry Potter, it's clear who between the two of us would be cast as Hagrid and who as Dobby - and he initially set a fast pace, but we soon settled into a good rhythm.

We headed northeast into the West River out of Galesville, rounded the corner and headed due east across the north side of Shady Side. When we reached Curtis Point (the northeast corner of the Shady Side peninsula) we turned due south. At this point we were out of the river and into the Chesapeake Bay. There was a little bit more of a breeze in the bay (welcome on a hot summer day) but conditions were benign - no significant waves.  We paddled a little further south than Lisa and Tom's track before turning around because we wanted to get a view of the bay around the peninsula.

Tom - Chesapeake Bay at Jack Creek

On the way out we had been taking direct paths everywhere; on the way home we took a more meandering path, exploring into coves and creeks. We first poked into a little creek to explore Jack Creek Park. Then we explored the whole of Parish Creek, pausing at a little beach to stretch our legs. We found the shoreline of Shady Side Park, though it turned out to be an unimpressive, overgrown little stretch of land in what was otherwise a cove of work boats and marinas.

In Parish Creek
 From there we largely retraced our path back. As always, as we paddled we drooled over the waterfront homes. One had a big "For Sale" sign on the end of its pier and there was a family out there looking at it (Tom could tell they were house-hunters from the fact that they were holding the brochure). "How much are they asking?", he yelled. "Eight hundred ninety-five thousand," was the answer. Less than I would have expected for a bay-front house with a deep water dock. I subsequently looked the house up on Zillow - it has a pool too, and a 3/4 acre lot - though the house itself is not huge. Also, it's Shady Side, not Annapolis.

With a dash across the busy boat channel we made it safely back to Galesville. After a quick stop for pizza and to browse the offerings at West Marine we were homeward bound. Total trip length 10.4 miles.

[For those interested, the locale of this trip can be found on p.8 of NOAA Booklet Chart 12263]