Last Wednesday, while at work, I checked the NOAA marine forecast and realized “whoa, like, the Chesapeake is predicted to be flat calm? Topping out at 5 kt winds? Must. Go. Kayaking.” I STILL have vacation time to burn even after my 2-week staycation, so I figured, why not? I have a conference call at 3:00 but I’ll be home in time for that. Nothing else pressing at work. I submitted my leave request and my supervisor approved it no problem (I mean, he’s a surfer, he gets it when the conditions are just right!).
Back in August, when I was planning out future legs of this journey, I was totally perplexed by how I was going to paddle from Cambridge to the southern tip of that peninsula in Dorchester, Ragged Point. It’s a 23 mile stretch with no public landings or boat ramps anywhere along the way to break up the 23 miles. And I really have no interest in paddling 23 miles in one day. Nope.
And then that’s when I had a brilliant idea – AirBnB! I hopped on and started searching for waterfront properties for rent and I kid you not, I found a wonderful spot that was EXACTLY halfway between Camrbidge and Ragged Point. Like down to the 0.1 mile. I messaged the hosts, told them about what I was doing, why I wanted to launch at their house, and that I’d even pay a fee to launch, even if I didn’t book their (very adorable) guest house. Lisa promptly replied and was more than happy to let me launch there – for free! How perfect! I told her I didn’t have an exact date in mind, since I very carefully watch the weather forecast, and that whenever I chose to paddle, it wouldn’t be much notice. She said she understood and said that was totally fine.
So that was back in… mid-August when I made contact with her? And then on Wednesday last week I decided the conditions were just right to paddle that portion of the bay, so I sent Lisa a message on Wednesday morning. Within minutes she replied, said I was good to go, and that was that. I had a paddling plan for Thursday!
The AirBnB property is called “Happy Campers Farm” and I arrived there a little before 8:00 on Thursday morning. Here are some photos of their guest house:
You can check out their listing here: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/17871330?source_impression_id=p3_1601156285_DqF69C9bIcpSbPS%2B
After chatting with Lisa for a bit, I unloaded my kayak and drove down to the Ragged Point boat ramp. From there I unloaded my bike and rode back to Happy Campers Farm. I left my bike in their driveway and headed out on the water.
Almost immediately I encountered a common loon, first one I’ve seen this season! And the coolest part? It made a super loud tremolo call. If you don’t know what a loon sounds like, google/youtube it. It’s pretty recognizable. It’s also a common bird call you hear in movies, as well as in the intro of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse…….. #momlife.
It was pretty much overcast the entire time I was outside today, so non of my photos turned out super well, but the few that I did take, really seemed to capture the overall feeling of the day: quiet. The calm water was so calm it had an eerie feeling to it. And there were times I stopped paddling just to listen to the silence. There really weren’t even many boats to disrupt the peace. The silence was almost deafening at times.
Another notable thing on this trip was the huge number of eagles I saw! Sometimes I could spot up to a dozen of them at one time! I’ve seen plenty of eagles over the years and I don’t even really get excited to see them anymore, but I’m pretty sure this was the most I’ve seen on a kayak trip before (although I used to see 25+ circling around when I worked on Poplar Island).
As I rounded the second point and started headed SW, what little wind there was actually did help push me where I needed to go. As I paddled toward Ragged Point, it was so calm that I saw a few other kayakers (believe it or not, other kayaks is a rare sight for me), and a rowboat! A single man in what appear to be a rowboat that had a mast, but not sail. I stopped to wave, he waved back, but we weren’t close enough to talk. I was very curious though. Who just has a rowboat anymore? And he was headed out into the open bay?! Very interesting.
The last interesting wildlife sighting was fish. Giant, jumping needlefish! I tried to get a video, but failed in my attempt. But dude, these needlefish were at least 8 inches long and I saw one jump clear out of the water like 3 times! Who knew needlefish could jump?
Anyway, here’s the path I took. Gives you a good idea of where the AirBnB is located:
As I paddled up to the boat ramp, I was tired and ready to be done, but at the same time, I had a moment where I just wanted to stay on the water, because as soon as I packed up, I was headed back home and back to the real world. Plugging away at this kayaking goal seems silly at times, but it is a much needed escape from the noise and stresses of everyday life. The Baldwin side of my family is going through some pretty tough stuff lately, and being able to do something for me, if only for a few hours here and there, goes a long way in my well-being.
I started writing this blog post yesterday, and I am finishing it today. Between starting and finishing, we lost my grandfather. My Pop Pop was 92, and wow, what a legacy he’s leaving in my mind. Fell head over heels for my grandmother in high school, had a successful career working in the railroad industry, raised 4 successful boys, watched 8 grandchildren grow up, and even got to experience life as a great-grandfather to 2 great-grandsons. I was lucky enough to see him just a few short weeks ago when I showed him photos of Brian and I taking Patrick kayaking. He enjoyed the photos, but then very seriously told me, “don’t you be taking any chances with that boy!” It seems only fitting that the last piece of advice my Pop Pop gave me was somehow related to both parenting and kayaking in the same comment!