laura paddles delmarva

Circumnavigating 650+ miles of Delmarva's shorelines

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Crocheron to Wingate

I went on another solo kayak/bike adventure on July 29. The theme of yesterday’s paddle was NAVIGATION FAILURE. No matter how skilled I get in kayaking and spending time on the water, I still get disoriented and can’t always match up what’s on the map to what I’m actually seeing!

Looking at this map, I think it’s pretty obvious that I made an error. My plan was to paddle directly (as possible) from Crocheron to Wingate, but when I rounded the tip of the little peninsula, the water got pretty choppy and I was unable to take my phone out and check the GPS to make sure I was headed in the right direction, but seriously, how hard could it be? I decided to wing it. And you want to know what’s funny about winging it?  The tiny “town” of Wingate is not pronounced win-gate, as it would appear. The locals pronounce it as WING-IT. Well clearly my attempt to wing it led me astray and when I was finally able to stop paddling in the choppy water and pull out my phone, I realized I had paddled a good 1-2 miles out of my way. And not only is that frustrating, but it was also incredibly difficult paddling across that stretch from Crocheron to the tip of Hooper’s Island. I literally yelled at myself and may have dropped a few 4-letter words. I was already exhausted and realizing I just added 2 miles to my trip was soul-crushing.

But I did it.  I survived, and I was never in any danger.  Just tired.

Other than my failure to navigate, it really was a pleasant paddle.  I started the day super early (got up at 5:00) and drove Wingate, which felt like the end of the earth – do people really live down here?! When I got to Wingate I unloaded my bike at the public landing and locked it to a telephone pole (they have phones and electricity all the way down here?!).  I then continued down the road about another 4.5 miles to the boat ramp in Crocheron and set out on the water.

Once I corrected my navigation mistake, I completed my 11.2 mile journey back to the landing in Wingate (which should have only been 9.5 miles). I paddled up to the ramp which had a boat on a trailer just sitting on the ramp, a few feet from the water, with no driver in the truck. There was still plenty of room for me to use the ramp and get out, but the driver’s side door was hanging open and I could hear the truck dinging like the keys were in the ignition. What really made it challenging was getting out in a NASTY ramp.  Grass clippings and fish carcasses were clogging up the waterway – so much that it was difficult to paddle the last few feet to the ramp. So gross.

As I picked up my kayak and carried it up out of the way of the ramp, the owner of the boat and truck came out of the fish house that was next to the ramp.

“You by yourself?” he asked, in his THICK Dorchester County accent.


“Gotta be careful out there.”

I smiled, and was tempted to be like “Yes, it’s cool, dude, really. I am a certified kayak instructor, I used to have my 6-pack captain’s license, and I have a bilge pump, paddle float, PFD, VHF radio, cell phone with GPS, a float plan left with my husband, extra water, extra snacks, a first aid kit, and even a headlamp.”  But I didn’t say all that.  Just, “thanks, I know.”

I gathered a few valuables (cell phone, radio, wallet) in my bag and then hopped on my bike and pedaled the 4.5 miles back to the Crocheron landing. From there I loaded up my bike, drove back to Wingate, and loaded up my kayak.

This time the waterman offered to help me load my kayak and I was tempted to say “dude, you think I’d drive to the end of the earth to paddle 11 miles with all the proper safety precautions and equipment, and not be able to load my kayak on top of my car?!”  But I didn’t.  Just, “no thanks, I’ve done this before!”

Aaanndddd I don’t have any photos of this trip.  My camera had some issues and I wasn’t able to transfer the photos to the laptop.  Dang it!  Here’s the only photo that I have, since I took this with my phone when I got home.  However it IS my favorite photo of the day – first time I used the roof rack and bike rack at the same time!