(paddled May 17 – forgot to publish the post until today, July 19)
The Chesapeake Bay is finally above 60 degrees F so I felt comfortable logging some miles for the first time in 2021. I did paddle once already this season on Nassawango Creek with my sister a few weeks ago, but this was the first official trip for the blog this year.
And today was ANOTHER FIRST. It was the first time I hit the water since landing some contract work that actually PAYS ME to go kayaking and write about it! On March 1 of this year, I landed a sweet side-hustle doing some marketing for Virginia Water Trails. The contract is a year long and I’ll be running their facebook, instagram, writing blog posts, and a few other odds and ends. I still can’t quite believe I’ve turned my hobby/passion into a legit source of income (not legit enough to leave my job with Delaware, hah)!
And WOW what an adventure this trip was for my first blog-worthy paddle! I started my day by leaving the house at 6 a.m. and arriving at Hacksneck Landing (a place only suitable for launching car-top vessels) by 7:30. The weather was absolutely perfect. Clear skies, 60 degrees, and calm winds.
Right as I was about to launch, this sweet dog came to wish me farewell! Hacksneck Landing is right adjacent to a working waterfront area and I believe the dog belonged to the watermen there.
The tide was definitely on the lower side, although I never actually look at any tide charts before planning this trip. And since the tide was low, it was fun to explore some of the exposed shoals in this area, something you don’t see in other areas of the Chesapeake. There were tons of sandy beaches to explore along the coast of the mainland, and there were also some sand bars and sandy islands to explore, not far from the mainland. Check out some of my views:
As if the scenery around me wasn’t enough to keep me happy, as I approached the mouth of Pungoteague Creek, a pretty sweet thing happened. DOLPHINS. Like a whole pod of them. As I was heading north, I started to spot them coming in from the west. Not a ton of them, but probably… 2-3 dozen? As I got closer, I started hearing them come up for air all around me! The wind was pretty calm so it was really easy to hear them. The only other time I’ve been THAT close to dolphins was on our honeymoon in Edisto, SC. One of them breached the surface only 10-15 feet from my kayak! But dang it’s hard to get photos or video of dolphins; you just never know where they’re going to come up for air next. And it was interesting as they seemed to split up a little bit. About half of them headed eastward, and another headed north, and at one point there were dolphins on all sides of me! It was so freakin’ cool!!!
Once I passed the pod and came down off my high from that whole experience, I decided to take a slight detour and paddle a narrow creek that is a recommended water trail on the Virginia Water Trails website. As soon as I entered the creek, a HUGE oyster farm and working waterfront came into view. This operation was enormous! Bigger than anything I’d ever seen while on the water before! I briefly spoke to one of the guys working and he explained the difference between the two types of oyster cages they have. One was the typical “cage” that I’ve seen before, but the other was a network of black, floating, plastic contraptions. He said oysters were growing inside, but the the black plastic material keeps the worms from getting into the oysters. He said worms have destroyed up to 15% of their harvest in previous years. Then he explained that some of the oysters were going to straight to local restaurants, and other were going to wholesale. Very cool. I’m so glad I stopped to ask. I typically would’ve been too shy to bother them, but I’ve learned a lot about aquaculture and the oyster industry in Virginia lately, so I couldn’t NOT ask!
Once I got out of the creek and turned north, the wind was coming at me out of the northwest (could’ve sworn the forecast said ESE – why does this ALWAYS happen to me?). I paddled by more and more sandy beaches, and finally took a turn east to get to Broadway Landing. The cove in front of the landing was large and VERY shallow. I did have to get out twice to haul my kayak over a mudflat. Once I got on land, the sun was high and the view was beautiful.
Now you’re probably wondering how I got back to my car, 8.5 miles later. Typically I would have brought my bike and did the whole drop off kayak, switcharoo to the bike crap, but not this time! I recently heard about a new local business on the shore called “Wave Riders”. They’re like a private version of door dash and uber. So the day before I reserved a shuttle to come pick me up! Jahiem arrived right on time, helped me load my kayak on top of his car, and drove me the 16 miles back to my car in Hacksneck – and saved me from biking 15 miles! I’ll definitely be using them again for future paddling trips!
And as always, here’s the path I took: