The Bay Paddle is an epic, 200+ mile journey by standup paddleboard to raise awareness and funds for oyster recovery. You can help by donating $10, which plants 1,000 oysters back into Bay waters. DONATE HERE or text BAYPADDLE to 44-321.
33 miles complete / 240 total planned miles
$133,516 raised / $200,000
13.3 oysters raised / 20 million
“I learned there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead, some come from behind! But I’ve brought a big (paddle) and I’m ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me” - Dr. Seuss
(As noted by Bay Paddle partner Bryan Kent Gomes, Educational Director, ClearSharkH2O)
Today was a bit of a roller coaster ride - yes, I mean that in the most literal way possible!
The pomp and circumstance of the launch press conference was a nice way to kick off the event and recognize all the partners and sponsors that are making this Bay Paddle possible! Thank you to all sponsors, partners, and donors! We couldn't do this without your support!
After we headed out onto the Bay from Havre de Grace we experienced some serious winds blowing us east. This forced a route change from our original plan to travel down the western side of the Bay. We are now planning to travel south by way of the eastern shore where there is more protection from the wind. If there's one thing to know about being on the water, it's that you're at the mercy of mother nature. We're adapting as we go. We'll keep sharing updates here and you can follow us on the MapMyTracks app.
We found ourselves in a massive SAV (submerged aquatic vegetation) field about an hour into the paddle. These areas are known as the “susquehanna flats” and are big magnets for winter waterfowl (and therefore hunters) on this portion of the Bay. The grass fields were like the eye of a hurricane - everything seems calm but it's not. The heavy grass acted as a buffer from the 2-3 foot swells but it was also extremely difficult to paddle through - with paddles, rudders, and skegs getting “mucked up” and slowing us down!
On the other side of the flats, the wave chop picked up and my kayak began taking on water in the rolling surf! I had to get out of the water for a spell - Chris stayed mostly on course.
A couple of hours later - after his lunch break and having fallen in approximately 20 times from the rough seas - he was beginning to show signs of hypothermia and we got him out of the water for a clothes change and brief warm up on the support boat.
HUGE shout out to all the support boats that kept both Chris Hopkinson and I safe - much appreciated!
We got out of the water around 4 PM at Gratitude Marina in Rock Hall, MD.
FOR THE MIND
Water Quality Data: Turbidity = 37 cm, pH = 7.8, Salinity = 19 PPT (that seemed high for Rock Hall), Temperature 22C (72F for the non scientist)
Wildlife Sightings: Bald eagles, jellyfish, cormorants, big rockfish in “the flats” - and a TowBoatUSA co-pilot dog named Diesel ;)
Bay Trash: A few dead rockfish - with the big chop the water wasn’t easily scanned
INTERESTING BAY FACTS
Havre de Grace is named after the French city Le Havre which translates to “Harbor of Grace”
According to Wikipedia’s article on Havre de Grace, MD, “The early (1800s) industry of Havre deGrace included oyster and crab harvesting. Products were shipped to markets along the East Coast and up the Susquehanna river… Havre de Grace was known for duck hunting and was a seasonal destination for hunters. They stayed at the town hotels and hired local guides to escort them hunting on the river and along the bay. Local artisans became known for their high-quality decoy making, which is honored in the Decoy Museum of the city.”
Also from Wikipedia, “ConcordPoint Light overlooks the point where the Susquehanna River flows into theChesapeake Bay, an area of increasing navigational traffic at the time it was constructed in 1827. It is the northernmost lighthouse on the Chesapeake Bay.”
If there is any city in the Bay with an oyster history, it's Baltimore! The Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s On the Water exhibit webpage explains, “By the 1840s, oyster canning was an established industry in Baltimore. The oyster beds nearby, and the city’s growing population of workers and rail connections, made Baltimore the center of canning in the country. By 1870, there were more than 100 packing houses inthe city.”
Baltimore’s Museum of Industry is in the building originally occupied by Platt and Company, an oyster, fruit, and vegetable cannery which opened in 1865. An exhibit on oyster canning is part of their permanent collection. The museum is currently closed due to COVID restrictions, but - once it opens - is well worth the visit to learn more!
Baltimore introduced oysters to the interior of the country with the invention of refrigerated boxcars.
It was also Baltimore where massive piles of oyster shells were created as oysters were processed and canned. Today, ORP’s Shell Recycling Alliance works to collect shells from restaurants, public drop sites, and oyster festivals to reuse in our oyster restoration work!
The Bay Paddle and crew will pick up at Rock Hall and, depending on the wind, plan to shoot through Kent Narrows to finish at Kent Point Marina. The plans are totally weather dependent and may change as conditions present. Stay tuned!