The first thing I remember as I emerged from my sleep and opened my eyes in the predawn, was the wind. Inwardly, I groaned. This is what I had feared. And I knew that the wind was pushing the waves onto my little beach, which meant a tricky departure. I waited in my hanging tent for some additional time to pass, allowing brother sun to emerge and shed his light on my surroundings. I stretched out my muscles and especially my back. I then packed up everything in my camping area, and in two trips managed to get it all out next to the kayak, which had stayed above the high water mark overnight. As is now my habit, I checked the camping area twice to be sure I was leaving nothing behind. After packing almost everything into and on the kayak, I sat on some dry seaweed and had my bowl of cereal. As I looked out over the oncoming waves, a bald eagle flew over my head about 100 feet. I have seen quite a few of them during my time on the Bay. This one decided for whatever reason to entertain me as I ate. He did summersaults, wheelies, and other acrobatic maneuvers for a couple of minutes, until he flew away. I took that as a good omen to offset the challenging weather. I decided to pull the packed kayak over to the left into some weeds, where the waves were not so big. There I managed to get in and put on the spray skirt before a wave could fill the cockpit with water, and then I shoved off backwards, and we were on our way.
I resumed our northwesterly direction up into the North River, finding myself in very shallow water, with the strong wind and waves giving me some real challenges. I passed a number of houses on my right, with their docks sticking out into the river. My original plan was to paddle well up the river until the shoreline turned west, allowing me to follow it until the southwest wind and waves would allow me to cross with relative ease, but as I proceeded along, I felt the force of the waves ease, and decided to shoot across 2/3 rds to my target. The crossing was a little more than a mile, and as I proceeded I noticed that there were larger waves coming straight up the river that I had not noticed when I made the decision to cross. I again used the technique of going exactly straight across the direction of the waves, and watched them closely as I paddled with strong power strokes, using occasional bracing srtokes to keep upright. I took advantage of the situation to resume saying the Rosary out loud, which is what I always do when things get a bit dicey. I was soon through the deeper water, and could tell when I was again in shallower depths, and headed to a beach to relax and appreciate the successful crossing. It was very calm on this side of the river, and I took a picture which looked like the river was a calm lake – very deceiving!
The next river to cross was Ware River, on the other side of Ware Neck Point. As I rounded that point, I was back in the wind and waves, moving again in the northwest direction. The chart was very misleading, as most of this river was very shallow. I decided to attempt an earlier crossing than originally planned, and follow the shallows as far across as I could, then came down to a sand bar called Windmill Point, where I had a quick lunch and took another picture of Katie sitting on the sand. I realized with concern that if she started off without me, she would sail quickly by herself across much of what I had paddled that day, so I immediately rigged up a safely line to be sure that I was connected to her while paddling. There are almost no limits to what you can worry about on this voyage. At the same time, I had to appreciate the amazing amount of distance I had come in just 24 hours. I could see before me, the very long stretch of woods far in the distance, from way over on my left, to across the beginning of Mobjack Bay way to my right. And in the process, I had crossed 3 meaningful rivers. That helped pick up my spirits, and allowed me to resume the journey with a little bit of extra energy.
It was 3 more miles to the next river, the Severn, which runs out of the west, and as I came around Crab Neck, the wind really was strong in my face, forcing me to put a great deal of effort into each stroke. Most of the northern part of the river was again very shallow, making progress quite difficult. I decided to take the chance to go across, first heading towards a marker southwest of me, and once reaching that point, then heading east with the wind. That tactic worked like a charm, and I relaxed as I went with the wind and waves towards the next point that lead me to go southeast down Guinea Neck. This area was full of marshes and nooks and crannies. I crossed over a number of coves, and used my GPS to find the water trail past Big Island, where I found myself looking at the big York River. While tired, I was elated that I would make it to my destination well before nightfall, which is good because I had consumed virtually all of my water during the day.
Two miles later, I turned up Perrin River, and looked for the marina where the moving truck was due to pick me up. However, after I got out of the kayak, I learned that I still had two more miles to go. I could not believe that I had made that mistake. I called the marina I was supposed to be at, and they told me they had no food there, nor was there anywhere I could put up my tent and stay overnight. And the Crown Pointe Marina, where I found myself, had a nice stand of trees right there. I just did not want to get back in that kayak and paddle another two miles into the wind and deal with any more waves. As I wrestled with what to do, I made an effort to calm myself down, and just let what will be will be. The Lord will show me the way. Just then, a SUV pulled up, and a man got out. I went over and introduced myself, gave him my card and told him about my dilemma. He was one of the boat owners, and called himself “homeless” and “disabled”. Kenny and his wife Claudia lived full time on a one galley boat in a slip in the water in front of his car. He gave me some of his good water, and he told me that there should be no problem my staying overnight in the woods. He was having some people over later for dinner, but he said he had something special for me. He rummaged through the back of the truck, and pulled out a cooked crab. He said, “Here, have some of these crabs”. I took it from his hand, and was at a loss for words, as I could not figure out how I was going to eat it. I declined more crabs, which surprised him, and then walked over to a picnic table. There I called Brian H at the moving company, and left a message that I wanted to change the pick-up point for tomorrow. I just hoped this would all work out.
Kenny told me not to pull any of my camping gear out of the kayak, as there was a local man working on a fishing boat within sight, and he was watching me with a suspicious eye and furthermore, he knew the owners of the marina. I followed his advice, and just sat there at the table, eating the crab (delicious), disposing of the shells in the water, and making phone calls. The suspicious man came over to look down at the kayak, which was 100 yards away, talking to some of Kenny’s guests. I could not make out what was being discussed, but eventually, the man left in his red truck and I felt things were turning my way. I unloaded the kayak, standing in the muck, throwing each item up on to the bank. I quickly put everything in my two mesh bags, so it would look orderly for any boat owner driving by, then went across to another part of the marina that had a boat ramp, put $10 in the fee box, and carted Katie around back to the boat owners building, which housed the bathrooms and shower facilities. I brought over the bags, so everything was nice and neat, and out of sight, but ready for the pickup tomorrow.
Just then, Kenny’s guest came over and introduced himself. Billy C. was also a boat owner, with his crabbing boat next to Kenny’s. He was amazed at what I was attempting to do, and he said he would be honored to have me as his guest, and to use the facilities. He gave me the necessary code to get in. He then told me that his wife had brought some chicken, and they would be pleased to let me have some. Wow, this was getting better and better! I quickly put up my tent among the mosquitoes and then joined my new friends. They let me join them – Billy’s son was also there, and I entertained them with stories from my walk many years ago. After two pieces of chicken, and as darkness was coming, I excused myself to take a shower and get changed. By the time I got out, all was quiet at the Kenny’s boat, and Billy and his family had left. I went to bed, having heard from Brian that the change of pickup location was no problem. There was a deep sense of both relief that my time on the Chesapeake Bay was over, and one of accomplishment for having paddled a total of around 192 miles, including the 23.4 miles this day. I rated the day a 3, notwithstanding the difficult wind/wave conditions. And tomorrow, I would start my way down to Portsmouth VA for a few days of R&R, and to get ready for the next set of adventures with the start of Mile 0 on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW).