laura paddles delmarva

exploring the shorelines of Delmarva via kayak

Neavitt to Tilghman Island

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Yesterday, August 17, I had the day off, the weather was BEAUTIFUL and perfect for kayaking, so I paddled from Neavitt, MD to Tilghman Island, MD – 10 miles.  There was a small chance of afternoon thunderstorms so Brian dropped Patrick off at daycare so I could get a super early start – 5:30 a.m.!  I packed up everything the night before – kayak, bike, breakfast for the road, lunch for the paddle, water, and all my kayak accessory crap – and hit the road by 5:45.

I arrived Neavitt Landing around 7:45 where I dropped off my kayak and locked it to a sign post. From there I drove to Back Creek Park at Tilghman Island where I parked the car, hopped on my bike, and started the 17 mile bike ride back to Neavitt. I am NOT a strong bicyclist at all, and was sort of dreading this 17 mile journey and feeling a bit daunted by the idea of paddling 10 miles after biking that far. But I told myself the night before that I was up to the challenge, and what better conditions to do it in – 70 degrees in the morning and light, almost calm, winds.

The ride was not as brutal as I was imagining.  It was definitely a challenge for me, but I only took one break about half way, and completed it in about an hour and a half.  If any half-decent cyclists are reading this, you’re probably rolling your eyes at me, but seriously, I suck at riding a bike! Trust me – my husband concurs 🙂

IMG_20200817_094227032_HDRI swapped my bike for my kayak and locked my bike to the sign post. I hit the water a little before 10:00. Some much more experienced cyclists were enjoying the view from the landing and wished me a nice paddle, and we both commented on what beautiful weather it was for both kayaking and biking. As I rounded the southern point of Neavitt, I looked across the water at Tilghman Island and thought – yikes, that looks really, REALLY far away! After about a minute of paddling around the corner, more land came into view and I realized what I had been paddling towards was Cambridge! Yikes! Good thing I only paddled a minute in that direction before realizing that was the wrong direction! The actual Tilghman Island looked waaayyyyy closer and much more doable. I’ve said this in many posts before, but DANG do I get disoriented on the water sometimes! Thank goodness for GPS and my awesome GeoTracker app, or I would’ve had to hitchhike from Cambridge to Tilghman. In the middle of a pandemic.

As I started to head across the 2 miles of open water, I was mentally preparing myself to deal with the watermen boat traffic. This is heavy watermen country and they STRESS ME OUT when I’m paddling near them. Checking their pots, or focusing on their trot lines, makes them seem unaware of where their boat is headed and if any kayakers are nearby. They also tend to erratically switch direction which makes paddling near them even more stressful. But I get it – I’m the crazy one out here, paddling alone across open water with a bunch of work boats in the vicinity. I’m in their territory, so to speak, so I’m mostly responsible for my own safety. Luckily, this trip across open water was less stressful than some other trips I’ve done. Fewer boats and none that got super close to me, so all was well. Once I got across the 2 miles, I could stay close to the shoreline for the rest of the journey, away from the work boats.

Although I’m pretty familiar with the Tilghman area since I worked in Tilghman and ran a boat to Poplar Island every day for 2+ years, I was excited to see the southern tip of Tilghman. I never actually took a boat out in that direction, and I was interested in seeing the famous “Black Walnut Point Inn,” a seemingly mysterious B&B that you can’t see from the main road and has a gated driveway so you can’t just go see it while exploring Tilghman.

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Black Walnut Point Inn

Well, I was highly disappointed by Black Walnut. I was expecting some grandiose, luxurious, old farmhouse with beautifully landscaped gardens and space to hold large, fancy weddings. Incorrect. Not even close. While it was cute, and I would still be interested in staying there one day, it was not at all what I imagined. The house seemed a bit more modern than I imagined, definitely way smaller, and honestly there seemed to be too much random “junk” in the yard that was not kept up super well. It also had some random trailer/cabin looking things that didn’t have the homiest feeling in the world.

Anyway, enough about Black Walnut, I then rounded the point and paddled straight up along the shoreline to Knapps Narrows. I was pretty beat after a 17 mile bike ride and 9 miles of paddling, so the last mile or so was definitely challenging, particularly since I haven’t done a great deal of long distance paddling this season (yet).

Now 6 years ago, I paddled from the other direction (from Claiborne) and planned to end at Back Creek Park, but I couldn’t quite find the water access point at the park, so I ended at the Knapps Narrow Inn instead, which it right next door to the park. I chose to end at the inn again so I could officially “connect the dots” on my overall map. I never got approval from the staff at the inn to get out here, but nobody onsite seemed to question or care that I did.  Once I got out, I left my kayak on the edge of the water, walked to my car, and drove around to the inn and loaded up.  I then headed back to inspect this Back Creek Park to try and find the kayak launch it was supposed to have. Turns out there is one, but it’s a good 1000 ft from the parking area – way too far to carry a kayak – and it’s down some stone steps and there’s almost zero beach to launch from at the bottom of the steps and it’s all overgrown with phragmites. It’s a terrible spot for a kayak launch in my opinion!

Overall it was a challenging, yet enjoyable day.  Here’s the path I took:

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