The Bay Paddle has raised 17.6 million of the 20 million oyster goal. DONATE NOW to help: or text BAYPADDLE to 44-321.

“Dare to dream big dreams. For those are the ones that have the power to push your whole world forward.” - Ralph Marston

DAY 9 RECAP: September 26, 2020

Cape Charles, VA to the ATLANTIC OCEAN!

The Bay Paddle is an epic, 200+ mile journey by standup paddleboard to raise awareness and funds for Oyster Recovery Partnership. You can help by donating $10, which plants 1,000 oysters back into Bay waters. DONATE HERE or text BAYPADDLE to 44-321.


203 miles complete / 203 total miles
(21 miles today)

$176,113 raised / $200,000

17.6 million oysters raised / 20 million - DONATE NOW


ClearSharkH2O logo
(As noted by Bay Paddle partner Bryan Kent Gomes, Educational Director, ClearSharkH2O)
  • Today we headed out from Cape Charles beach front. We had some surprise visitors at the beach, Allison Albert Guercio from ORP and her husband, to deliver some Flying Dog beverages (for support boats and for us to enjoy at the finish line) and moral support .
  • Chris and I headed out across harbor/channel and were again fortunate to have Milford joining us to paddle for the final day.
  • We spent first couple hours fighting some wind but it wasn’t too bad. Eventually we arrived at “The Ghost Fleet at Kiptopeke”. These are 10 or so concrete WWII ships that have been intentionally sunk off the shore in front of the state park to create breakwater.
  • It turns out to be so much more - and is habitat to a large colony of pelicans on the top, and oysters on the hull at the waterline.
  • Being a bird nerd I was loving this spot - it was my high of the day ... until later on!  I took a lot of pictures and video here and could have stayed longer - but we had an ocean to get to ;)
  • About an hour after that we saw a bunch of people at an overlook from the land very close to the beginning of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. We couldn’t tell who it was ... but they had pom poms and signs - it was folks from ORP and ClearSharkH2O welcoming us towards the finish!  It was great to see them all and talk briefly.
  • Then someone spotted a dolphin fin about quarter mile out and I jumped in my kayak and fired up the GoPro. At this point my arms were comfortably numb so an extra mile trying to hang with some “charismatic megafauna” was SOOO worth it!  So the GoPro footage will be released at a later date (need to convert micro SD technology) but let’s just say I got some decent footage.
  • Then I saw Milford and Chris leave our group on the beach so I paddled the angle to rejoin them. Then - all of a sudden - it was dolphins in the channel by the Fisherman’s Island bridge doing full jumps and breaches out of the water 👀  I really couldn’t believe what I was seeing - in the last hour of the last day we had this EPIC encounter - me, Chris and Milford all had them swimming so close to our crafts.  
  • I fell a little behind at this point as I couldn’t stop following the dolphins (who were going the opposite way).  Now our support boats had moved out past the Bridge/Tunnel into the Atlantic to create a “finish line” on the line of demarcation between the Chesapeake and Atlantic. And, as it should, as we paddled the last half mile out into the ocean the waves got big and rough and it was such an exhilarating experience. What a way to finish this journey!  
  • As we all eventually got to the finish line all 3 support boats honked their horns loudly and Chris, Milford and I huddled up on the water to thank and congratulate each other. It was quite a moment 🥳.
Chris Hopkinson, Bryan Kent Gomes (ClearSharkH2O) and Dr. Milford Marchant, Jr. at the Atlantic Ocean - the finish line of the Bay Paddle
  • We then got shuttles back to Cape Charles by boat and when we arrived dockside we were greeted by team ORP and team ClearSharkH2O for a small “closing ceremony” with champagne, flying dog beer, flower leis and engraved compass paper weights.
  • It was a very nice touch and I expressed my sincere gratitude to all the people behind the scenes that allowed Chris and I to be able to do what we did over these 9 days!  I then took my final water samples, for some food and called it a night!
  • Wind was blowing moderately and in our faces most of the day. The waves were small ... until the last mile heading into the ocean. And the weather was cloudy with a little rain during our "closing ceremonies" in Cape Charles.


  • Water Quality Data at Cape Charles Marina: Turbidity = 218cm (this was literally off the chart as I had my line marked up to 100cm) impressive visibility which a guess is related to the heavy tidal flush of water being that close to the Atlantic, pH = 8.2, Salinity = 26PPT (17 miles from ocean) Temperature = 21C (70F)
  • Wildlife sightings: Pelicans, cormorants, gulls, terns, great blue heron. New species: bottlenose dolphins!


  • In 1607, 104 English men and boys arrived in North America to start a settlement. On May 13 they picked Jamestown, Virginia for their settlement, which was named after their King, James I. The settlement became the first permanent English settlement in North America. Learn more.
  • Fishermen’s Lsland, located at the tip of the Delmarva Peninsula, is one of the most important avian migration funnels in North America. Each fall, like colorful clockwork, the refuge is the scene of a spectacular drama as millions of songbirds and monarch butterflies and thousands of raptors converge on their voyage south. Favorable weather patterns push migrating species through the area in waves. Clouds of tree swallows swirl overhead and flame orange and black-winged monarch butterflies float aloft. Protected habitats such as these provide critical stopover areas where birds and butterflies can rest and feed before resuming their arduous journey. Learn more.
  • The Chesapeake Bay Bridge–Tunnel (CBBT) is a 17.6-mile bridge–tunnel crossing at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, the Hampton Roads harbor, and nearby mouths of the James and Elizabeth Rivers in Virginia. The construction was accomplished under the severe conditions imposed by nor'easters, hurricanes, and the unpredictable Atlantic Ocean. During the Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962, much of the partially completed work and a major piece of custom-built equipment, a pile driver barge called "The Big D", were destroyed. Seven workers were killed at various times during the construction. In April 1964, 42 months after construction began, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge–Tunnel opened to traffic and the ferry service discontinued. As of May 2018 the Chesapeake Bay Bridge–Tunnel has been crossed by more than 130 million vehicles. (Source: Wikipedia)


  • In the Lower York River, Virginia oyster restoration partners plan to build 200 acres of healthy reefs. At the start of 2020, there were 165 acres remaining to restore. The York River is especially interesting as the science team needed to plan around multiple historic shipwrecks! Learn more in the 2019 Virginia Oyster Restoration Update.
  • The Lafayette River was the first in Virginia to be restored toward the @ChesBayProgram's 10 tributaries by 2025 goal. it was completed in 2018 and includes 80 acres of healthy oyster reefs. Learn more in this article from Chesapeake Bay Magazine.
  • In the Lynnhaven River, the team plans to have 152 healthy acres of oyster reef. As of the start of the year, 47 acres remained toward that goal. Learn more.

Chris and BKG celebrate the completion of the Bay Paddle on Sept. 26, 2020 in Cape Charles, VA

The Bay Paddle has raised 17.6 million of the 20 million oyster goal. DONATE NOW to help: or text BAYPADDLE to 44-321.

$10 plants 1,000 oysters

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