Today I had a paddling buddy! It was the first time in (literally) years that I’ve had someone paddle one of these trips with me. And who better to paddle with me than my very own sister, Julia!
I certainly wouldn’t take just anyone to come paddling with me, but even though Julia isn’t a huge kayaker, she does some pretty bad ass things like mountain biking, skiing, backpacking, and paddleboarding. Coming to visit the east coast from her very active lifestyle in Colorado seemed like a no-brainer that she could handle paddling several miles with me.
Since Brian’s kayak is super heavy and rigged for fishing, it wasn’t the best option for Julia to paddle, so we decided to rent her a kayak. Shout-out to Burnham Outfitters in Onancock for providing exactly what she needed, and arranging to meet us at the rental shop before business hours!
We launched from Broadway Landing which is just south of Onancock. The landing is for car-top vessels only and had room for maybe 2 cars to park. We did have to drag our kayaks a ways down the trail to get to the waterfront, and along the way, I saw some of the biggest fiddlers crabs of my life! I mean GIANT fiddler crabs. They were more like cellist crabs! Sorry, Dad joke 🙂
We launched and headed straight to the first beach we saw along the south end of the Parkers Marsh Natural Area Preserve. After sitting on the beach and admiring the view, we continued around the bend and followed the west side of the island all the way to the northern tip. The wind was coming directly out of the south so we really cruised along quickly.
It was SO NICE to have a paddling buddy. Usually I think about paddling, what I’m doing, and my surroundings the whole time, but this time it was nice to catch up on life. Having conversations while paddling made the time go by so fast! Before I knew it, we had gone 3 miles. We stopped on a another beach to hang out for a bit, and then I pressed on to the northeast to “connect the dots” with a trip I completed back in 2015. Brian and I had rented a house for a long weekend on Crystal Beach back in the spring of 2015 with our friends Julia and Alex. Julia (friend Julia, not sister Julia) actually paddled a 9 mile trip with me that we arranged to end at the house we rented, so today I paddled back to that beach. Since it was private property, and a dog started yapping at me, I was on the beach for maybe a minute before I decided to head back. Julia (sister, not friend) was hanging out on the northern shoreline of Parkers Marsh while I paddled to Crystal Beach. Once she saw me returning, she launched into the creek behind the island where we then met up to paddle together again.
I really liked this trip because we were able to do a loop, rather than an “out-and-back.” As we headed back south, we were able to paddle through some narrow marsh creeks (out of the increasing winds), rather than returning the way we came, directly into the wind and open water. The creeks were so narrow, I had to pull out my GPS twice to make sure we were going the right way!
When we came out of the creek and reentered the bay, the wind was coming straight at us, at about 10 knots. I was mentally preparing to struggle, but it really wasn’t that bad! Julia kept up with me beautifully and we conquered the 2+ miles into the wind with little issue.
The tide had been coming in the entire time we were out on the water, so by the time we got back to the landing, I actually had a hard time finding the landing. The water had come up so far that it looked very different! Plus my car wasn’t exactly parked right next to the water, so there wasn’t much of a landmark to show us were to go. However once we did find the landing, we were able to paddle closer to the car than we would have several hour prior (since the tide came in so far, as it was a full moon).
My overall thoughts from this paddle: I love remote, sandy beaches, and I love having a paddling buddy more than I ever would have expected! Who wants to go kayaking with me now?!
A few more photos from today’s trip: