On the Water And In The Woods

Sea kayaking, sailing, and lightweight backpacking in the-Chesapeake Bay, Mid-Atlantic region

Sunday, July 15, 2007


Friday night the Saturday forecast called for winds 0-5 out of the west, changing to 5-10 out of the W changing to S. My favorite paddling partner had a business committment, so I was on my own. I took my state atlas off the shelf, and looked to see what areas where not yet colored in, which is how I mark where I have paddled. I found a likely looking spot of about 15 miles of bay coastline and checked the tides. There would be a hight tide at the northern third of the area by 10 am, and a low at the southern end by 3 pm. There was a launch point at the bottom of the top third of the area. So the plan was get up early, launch, paddle north to catch the top third on a slightly incoming tide, turn around and do the whole area southward. Arriving at the southern limit of the 15 mile stretch I would convert to sail and sail back to the launch on the south wind and rising tide.

I was on the water by 7 AM, paddling my Pisces (17'x24") loaded with sail rig, lunch, and about 1.5 gallons of water. I headed north using my greenland paddle, but at the top end of the area I turned around and switched to the borrowed single blade I have been using (see my 5/30/07 post). I paddled south to the southern limit.

A trick I have discovered to keep up my pace is to customize one of the screens on my Sportrak GPS. I set part of the screen to show my average speed for the trip so far. Under this, I set it to show my current speed. Then I tell myself not to let my current speed drop below the average speed of the trip. If you think about this, you'll realize what happens. Let's just say you don't slow down. By this time I had logged about 21 miles on the trip. I beached and ate lunch for 15 minutes, then back in the boat. I was still feeling pretty good, and the wind hadn't materialized so I started single blading north. At 26 miles, not much wind and I was setting my sights on a 30 mile paddling day. Still feeling ok. At 34 miles, I was on a mission. I got back up to the launch point, kept going north several miles, side tripped to a tidal creek, then back out onto the bay and ended up back at the dock 11 hours 52 mines after my start and with 40.48 miles on the GPS (later verified by software and chart at home). And I was still feeling pretty decent, like after about a 20 some mile day.

Now I know that there area people out there who do much more than that in a single day. In fact, that individual just completed a circumnavigation of Calvert County this weekend, a distance of 80 - 90 NM in 34 hours and 45 minutes, including sleeping for a few hours. My previous best daily distance by paddle has been 28 miles, and my best day distance for a paddle/sail combination is 32.8 miles. So doing 40 miles is a personal best.

An elderly couple was taking their powerboat out at the launch when I got back. The lady asked me if I had paddled all the way down to the mouth of the creek. I told her I had just done 40 miles. "Oh my God!" she said. :)