Daily stats Start: 4:45 AM - Manasaquan, NJ Finish: 12:00 Noon - Sandy Hook, NJ Time: 7:15 Daily dist: 27 miles Total dist: 3500+ miles Companions: None Weather: Beautiful 80 deg, sunny skies, SW tail wind 5-10 mph Notes: My last full day on the Atlantic leg of the trip.
Me with Kurt, Kris, and Kirsten
Me with Ron who pulled me in from the rain.
Throughout this trip I’ve benefited from the kindness and generosity of hundreds of people such that I can only hope to enjoy a full lifetime of paying it all forward to others.Today, my last full day on the Atlantic leg of my journey, I once again was dealt a fortunate hand of pure luck by way of four great people that made my night much more enjoyable than it would have been.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been setting up a visit with Ron Rauffer and his kids Kris, Kurt, and Kirsten in Atlantic Heights one of the last towns before crossing over to New York.It is a long story (that I will more fully explain later) but because of tides, weather, and other logistics I had decided to not stay with the family.Instead, they were going to come out to the end of Sandy Hook to visit me where I was going to camp (a little illegally) in order to get a jump on the crossing to NYC tomorrow. That was until a series of large thunderstorms lined up to the west and started a stately march toward the coast.
At five in the evening, after a long day of baking in the blazing hot sun, I heard thunder and crawled out from under the sun shade I’d built to see the tall thunder clouds on their way in. I secured everything in the Ikkuma and pulled it way up onto the dunes then walked two miles around the point to get to some sort of shelter to avoid the brunt of the storm.My plan was to wait it out then go back and set up camp in what I hoped was the calm after the storm.At that same time Ron and the kids were on their way out to visit me.However, before they came, Ron called and asked what they could bring me from Burger King and ask if I wouldn’t still take them up on their offer to stay with them considering the weather.I wasn’t too thrilled with the prospect of leaving my boat unguarded (but at least well hidden) on the beach but they did manage to talk me into at least going into town to have dinner with them while the storm passed.
The storm did pass but a quick check of the weather revealed a couple more storms as well as off and on showers in store for the rest of the night.So, believing that no sane person would be playing around in the dunes, in the rain, and after park hours, it was decided that I’d spend the night on Ron’s comfy and cozy couch rather than in the rain alone on the sand dune.Tomorrow right when it opens at 5:00 AM Ron is going to give me a ride back out to the park where I will hop in my kayak and hopefully catch a three hour window in the weather to cross the bay and finally arrive in New York City!
Daily stats Start: 7:00 AM - Barnegat Light, NJ (Teare’s house) Finish: 2:45 PM - Manasquan Inlet, NJ (Treasure Island) Time: 7:45 Daily dist: 22 miles Total dist: 3500+ miles Companions: Patrick and John from the Jersey Shore Sea Kayak Association Weather: NW wind 10-15 mph 80 degrees mostly clear Notes: My last day on the Intracoastal Waterway it’s all outside to New York now.
Meeting people along the way was one of the goals of this trip and today I got plenty of that. Being a beautiful Sunday of Memorial Day weekend the waterway was jamb packed with boats of all sizes. It was a zoo out there to say the least. But beyond saying hello to dozens of people enjoying a day of fishing I managed to cross paths with a few different families during the day.
After starting the day with an awesome French Toast breakfast with Bernice and Paul Teare, I got on the water by 7:00 AM a little later than normal. That would have been welcome news to Patrick and John from the Jersey Shore Sea Kayak Association. Those two guys got up extra early and were on the water looking for me by 6:00 AM. Patrick is an avid kayaker who lives in Seaside Park which is one of the Jersey Shore towns I was to paddle by today. He convinced his friend John who’s visiting from out of town to get up and try to find me in the morning. They had looked at the blog to learn where I spent the night and looked at my last several launch times to try to figure out when and where they might be able to catch me coming by. Little did they know that a half dozen slices of French Toast would get me on the water a little later than normal and a wind out of the NW would have me paddling toward the far shore to get out of the wind. Somehow the trip magic prevailed and they managed to find the preverbal “needle in a haystack” and caught up with me by about 10:00 AM.
John and Patrick who joined me on the water for a couple hours today
I was paddling along listening to my head phones when I thought I heard my name come through the left ear bud. After tapping my ear to figure out what I was hearing I realized that it had come from behind me so I turned and there was a huge Seda Tango tandem kayak sprinting to catch up with me. I stopped to let them catch up and they asked if I was indeed the Jake they were looking for. After a couple quick handshakes and a bit of a break we continued on to the north back to where they had started earlier in the morning. When we arrived back at their put in it didn’t take much arm twisting to get me to take a bit of a break and walk a half block off the bay to Pat’s house where an ice cold Coke was to be found in the fridge. After a nice break and a good visit I walked back to the beach and continued on in the now even busier holiday boat traffic.
John and Patrick signing the Ikkuma
Yesterday, while we toured the town, Paul and I caught rumor that the Point Pleasant Canal at the top of the bay may not be open to kayakers. We contacted the Coast Guard and asked if kayaks were allowed to which they answered a simple and short…yes. Well apparently the Coast Guard doesn’t talk to the State Police around here. When I came cruising down the canal on a fast moving ebb tide enjoying a bouncy ride on the many boat wakes crashing off the sea walls that line the canal, a state trooper stopped me and asked where I came from. I answered quite simply and quiet honestly…Saint Louis Missouri. He shot me a look that can only come from someone that has worked a busy shift on a long hot day. He then said “You know kayaks aren’t allowed on this canal.” Now trying to slow myself by back paddling into the rushing water I tried to explain that I’d called the Coast Guard last night and they said it was OK. Not wanting to fuss and knowing that I was only a few hundred yards from the end of the canal he told me to just get going. Another brush with the law…
Not exactly the remote and empty islands I enjoyed in Florida in January
Once I hit the end of the canal I dodged heavy boat traffic and made my way to “Treasure Island”. I’d learned about the island from Pat who had called a friend to verify that I may be able to camp on it for the night. Camping isn’t necessarily allowed but that rule is apparently overlooked. The island is very popular with boaters and when I arrived it was crawling with people and almost surrounded by anchored out boats. If this was to be home for the night I had a few hours to kill before everyone left and I could set up my tent without attracting too much attention. So I set about on a walk around the small island to see what was there (ie. Check out the girls in the bikinis). Along the way I saw a guy roasting hot dogs using a technique I had never seen before. I asked if I could take a picture of his operation and the next thing I knew I was feasting on hot dogs and being led on a tour of the island by his son.
Liam showing off his dad's interesting hot dog cooking technique
Seven year old Liam showed me his favorite spots which included the clay beach where they find clay to make stuff, the climbing wall (old concrete shore protection), the mote (a tidal pond), and the trees (an area of several trees that have fallen onto the beach due to erosion of the island. Liam couldn’t decide which was his very favorite spot he says he pretty much likes the whole island. Apparently his family comes here almost every weekend in the summer months. It is certainly a heaven for kids to play on. After eating still more hot dogs and a few roasted marshmallows it was time for the family to go. I bid farewell but before they left Liam presented me with a hand formed piece of pottery that he had made.
Liam's good luck gift
Now I’m just getting caught up on the blog while I wait for the sun to set before I set up the tent and call it a night. Tomorrow (Monday) will bring a 24 mile run up the outside to and around Sandy Hook which is the northern tip of the Jersey Shore. From there it’s on to New York Tuesday morning.
Daily stats Start: 6:30 AM- Beach Haven, NJ Finish: 11:00 AM - Barnegat, NJ Time: 4:30 Daily dist: 20 miles Total dist: 3550 miles Companions: None Weather: Rain and east wind 5-10+ but partly sunny by noon Notes: A short day of paddling followed by a tour of the town and wonderful visit with fantastic people. Paul and Bernice Teare
The Barnegat Lighthouse
This morning at about 2:00 AM I woke to the sound of rain falling on my tent. It’s a great tent and very dry in the rain so I just snuggled back in to enjoy a couple more hours of sleep. When I woke again at 5:00 and it was still raining I knew I’d probably have to break camp between showers which was the case and is always an interesting process. It rained on and off until about 10:00 yet holiday weekend boaters were already out in droves. The traffic was no worry as I was able to cruise close to the shore and enjoy watching docks and weekend homes pass by. Along the way I saw several sleepy eyed kids pulling up their crab traps, first thing in the morning, to see what may have crawled in overnight.
By 11:00 twenty short miles after I got started I paddled right up to the vacation home of Paul and Bernice Teare in Barnegat, NJ. Paul and Bernice are the parents of Brian who is a co-worker of my friend Neil down in Miami. You gotta love how connections through friends can help you find a nice place to stay and wonderful people to visit on a trip like this.
Paul and Bernice Teare
After finally meeting the people who so graciously offered up hospitality to a person they didn’t even know, I was directed toward the first hot shower I’d seen in ten days. It was terrific. Afterward we had lunch and then Paul showed me around the island (at least the quieter north end of it). We visited the light house which, from the top of the 217 steps that wound up the inside, offered a great view of the bays and marshes I’d been paddling through that morning.
From the lighthouse we went to the old one room school that’s been converted to a historical museum to see the original Fresnel lens that used to be in the lighthouse. When the folks there learned about my trip they were quite impressed and put my name in the daily log as a “celebrity” visitor. One of the museum guides suggested we stop by a gentleman’s house on the way home to see the wooden kayak he had built. We indeed did stop and met Merrill Thin who showed us the beautiful cedar wood strip kayak he’d built over the fall and winter.
We ended our tour back at the house where we enjoyed great conversation and a wonderful pork loin dinner prepared by Bernice.
The Teares Jersey Shore vacation home
Looking south from the lighthouse over the bay and marshes I've been paddling.
Daily stats Start: 6:00 AM - Ocean City, NJ Finish: 1:00 PM - near Beach Haven, NJ Time: 7:00 hours Daily dist: 23 miles Total dist: 3500+ miles Companions: None Weather: Pleasant, partly cloudy - 70 deg. - east wind 5-10+ Notes: A shorter than normal day that almost became a longer than normal day.
The small 'KAYAKS' sign that directed me out of the wind and into Bay Cats kayak rentals yesterday.
Today was the first of five, shorter than average, days that are to come between Ocean City, NJ and New York. By the number and location of available places to camp or stay and the nature of the route I‘ve chosen, my normal eight hour thirty miles per day routine won’t work in this area. After grinding out several longer than normal days over the last week I can’t say I mind taking it easy a bit. When I got on the water this morning and bid the Bay Cats’ dock farewell I was happy to only have 22 miles and about six hours of paddling to do before I could sit back and relax a bit.
Along the way today I thoroughly enjoyed paddling the ICW. The route alternated between winding through miles and miles of bright green marsh grass and along residential areas built up with homes and boat docks. At one point the route ran through a narrow canal in the town of Ventnor City with houses on both sides built on stilts right at the water’s edge. It was in that canal that I came across three members of the Viking Rowing Club based out of Ventnor City. Shari was in a single and Barry and Jim where in a double. They had passed me but stopped to chat a bit and to suggest that I stop by their boat house and consider taking up rowing. As nice as that sounded, I explained that I was just passing through on my way north. Of course an explanation of my trip followed and the three were as impressed with my travels as I was with their boat house when I turned the corner a mile further and saw the beautiful wood shingled building. Barry actually owns a home right on the canal and keeps a dragon boat tied up there. It belongs to an organization that is using it as a re-habilitation activity (physical and mental) for breast cancer survivors. Barry joked that the thing that convinced him to house the boat was the prospect of having 80 women coming by all the time to use it.
L to R - Shari, Barry, and Jim from the Viking Rowing Club in Ventnor, NJ
Past Ventnor the ICW route ran right behind Atlantic City and from the water I could see all of the famous casinos including the Trump Plaza, The Tropicana, the Hilton and others. It was an imposing skyline (the biggest I’d seen since Fort Lauderdale) which surprisingly contained a half dozen giant electric windmills.
Giant windmills added to the Atlantic City skyline
The day was going well and I was feeling great and having fun seeing all the sights. You can only imagine my dismay when I arrived at my destination at 11:30 this morning and found the entire beach and dune area posted with dozens of signs of all shapes and sizes all saying “keep out” in a variety of ways. It’s bird nesting season and the state is doing what it can to keep people off the beaches to not disturb the birds while they do what it is that they do. Unfortunately for me all of the other high and dry land along the New Jersey shore has a house or road on it.
One of dozens of signs barring me from the beach. I can't wait to go duck hunting with my brother Aaron next fall.
Not being able to camp where I’d planned I paddled on a mile further to the next beach only to find more of the same type of signs. A quick study of my maps revealed no promising places to camp between those beaches and my next contact’s house twenty miles to the north. Which was supposed to be tomorrow’s stop. That house belongs to the parents of the friend of my friend Neil down in Ft. Lauderdale. [Thank heaven for friends like Neil and all the other family and friends back home that are working their contacts to find me help when I need it.] I tried to call Neil to see if he could get word to my hosts that I was on my way up tonight rather than tomorrow afternoon. Of course Neil was away from his phone so I was a little stuck. I really didn’t want to grind out another five hours of paddling to surprise a pair of folks that are really still strangers to me. With not a lot of options, other than waiting eight hours till sunset and setting up camp in the dark I figured I’d start paddling north and see if I could catch Neil and get the word out as I went.
The twenty miles I had to cover really isn’t that far, only 4-5 hours of paddling at my normal pace. However, after doing 22 already and paddling into a strong ebb (outgoing) tidal flow I knew I was in for a long, long afternoon. Just as I was about to hunker down and just grind it out I looked across the river and there in the distance the yellow glimmer of sand caught my eye amongst miles of green marsh grass. With nothing to loose I paddled over and to my delight I discovered a tiny spit of high and dry sand just big enough for me, my tent, and my boat. Best of all there was no sign on it saying I couldn’t be there and no nesting birds besides. I quickly landed and left a message with Neil that I was going to stick with Plan A and camp down here for the night.
Daily stats Start: 6:30 AM - Avalon, NJ Finish: 11:30 AM - Ocean City, NJ Time: 5:00 Daily dist: 16 miles Total dist: 3500+ miles Companions: None Weather: Big head winds out of the NE, cloudy and chilly in the AM but nice later Notes: Got a lucky break and a great place to camp
My early starts lately (typ. 5:30 AM launch times) are designed to help me try to get as many miles in as I can before the wind builds. This morning at 4:00 AM I woke to the sound of my tent snapping in the wind. I’d already lost the race with the wind so I rolled back over and got another hour of sleep. My plan for the day was to put in about 32 miles to try to reach some spoil islands behind Atlantic City. The wind and tides had other plans for me.
Thankful that I was on the inside (rather than the more windy open coast) and still able to make some headway against the wind I slogged along for four and a half hours. Just as I came under the bridge in Ocean City I was faced with a long open bay with the channel markers leading me straight into the building wind along very choppy waves being pushed up by the opposing forces of the ebb tide and wind. At least at this moment I did have the tide at my back, but the thought in the back of my mind was that once I passed the inlet four sloppy miles ahead I’d be paddling upstream and into the wind along the river channel on the other side. At that point I was soaked from getting splashed by numerous waves breaking on my bow so I pulled into a small private slipway to pull on my jacket and check my maps. While I was there I drew the attention of a woman that was staying in one of the nearby houses and she asked if she could help me with anything. I said no, then jokingly said I did need to know where a camp spot was about four hours ahead. She suggested that I talk to the gentleman that runs the kayak outfit just down the way. I thanked her and paddled on into the wind thinking that if I did find the kayak place I may just stop in and see if the people there did know of any camp sites.
Bay Cats kayak and sail rental store from the water
Sure enough a half mile away I came upon a sign hand painted on the side of a dock in four inch white letters “Kayaks” and an arrow pointing right. There to the right was a perfect low floating dock set up for kayaks and a small kayak shop above on the dock. Figuring it would be a good idea to get some local knowledge I tide my kayak to the dock grabbed my maps and walked up to the store. Adorned in my full splash soaked paddling getup, I approached the owner with map case in hand. He said “can I help you?” and I simply said yes a woman down the way said you’d be a good person to talk to about camp spots in New Jersey. He simply said, “Sure you can put your tent on the dock… there is no hot shower but the hose is there and the bathrooms are over there. My name is Don.” That was it, no questions about who I was or anything else, he simply just offered up a place to stay. At that point I was still tired from the day before and the previous six days of paddling, I simply said “My name is Jake and I‘m paddling around the Eastern United States… thank you very much.” Sometimes you just don’t need to say much I guess.
After getting cleaned up I chatted with Don a bit and walked into town to check things out. Just like Ocean City, MD Ocean City, NJ is set up to cater to beach going tourists. In Ocean City you will find a giant octopus strangling a small shed at the mini gulf Corse along side numerous junk food shops and stores selling “I (heart) Ocean City“ T shirts.
Icecream cone on the boardwalk
When I'd had enough carnival type food to feed an army. I returned to Don’s shop in time to visit a bit more before he left for the day. Aside from a few years spent in Wyoming, Ron has been selling and sailing Hobie catamarans from this location since 1974. He got started in kayaks quite a while ago as well and now runs tours on the bay in addition to rentals from his dock.
My North Face Minibus tent staked out with buckets of water
Now knowing how challenging camping can be in this region I took the time to get the next five days all planned out, including places to stay, tides, weather, etc. It’s a rare moment that I have than much planned out and I’m going to enjoy not having to do that kind of work every evening.
It was a great day that ran much longer than I expected. I'm already dozing off so I'm going to make this post quick then get to bed for some much needed rest. I'll fill in the gaps tomorrow.
The ferry that would eventually take Rick and Hank back across the bay. Mid crossing in stil mirror smooth water
I got a very early start and paddled down the beach a couple miles to catch up with Rick and Hank who drove down from the Baltimore area to do the crossing of the Delaware Bay with me. The weather was good as you could imagine and we made it nearly all the way across the bay on almost mirror smooth water. We arrived on the New Jersey side by about 10:00 then paddled another five miles up the East shore and came in the Cape May inlet. From there Rick and Hank paddled south down a canal to catch a ferry back across the bay. Meanwhile I turned and paddled north in search of high ground on which to camp and to put a few more miles in. The least I can say is that the search for high camp-able land was a bit of a challenge but came out good in the end.
Daily stats Start: 5:30 AM - Lewes, DE Finish: 6:00 PM - Avalon, NJ Time: 12:30 Daily dist: 40 miles Total dist: 3500 miles Companions: Rick and Hank for the Delaware Bay crossing Weather: Flat calm and beautiful most of the day Notes: Finding camp spots proved to be challenging on the inside ICW
Today started out as well as I could have ever hoped then ended up becoming quite a long day. Sticking to an early morning routine I was up and on the water by 5:30 AM. From my camp site I paddled two miles east along the shore to where two friends (Rick and Hank) were planning on meeting me. They had driven down from the Baltimore area last night and stayed in a motel room. Having missed the message Rick left on my cell phone Monday night about their plan, I missed the chance to stay with them rather than in my tent. The camp spot I found was so beautiful I’d be crazy to say I was disappointed though.
Sunrise viewed from camp smooth water
Even though they live on the east coast, I know Rick and Hank from San Diego. They were out there a couple years ago with another gentleman named Joel to do a month long trip on the Sea of Cortez. I gave them, three kayaks, and all their gear a ride from Aqua Adventures across the border to San Filepe where they started their trip south along the eastern edge of Baja. Interestingly I ran into Joel when I paddled into Key Largo way back in February. Today, about 1500 miles of paddling later, I met the other two of the “Three Amigos” in Delaware.
Hank taking a break mid crossing
The big plan (that we finally sorted out last night) was for me to catch up with the guys in the morning and do the Delaware Bay crossing with them. They would then catch the ferry back across the bay to their car and return home while I continued on. Right on schedule I spotted the guys carrying their kayaks to the water and a few minutes later we all launched into the glassy smooth water of the Delaware Bay. We enjoyed the great weather and smooth water as we paddled toward the lighthouse on the New Jersey side of the bay. I’ve crossed quite a few state lines on this trip but somehow my arrival in New Jersey was special. I think it’s because it was the first state that was separated by a significant boundary (15 miles of open water) so it truly seemed like I was arriving at a different place. The rest of the day proved that was true in more ways than one.
We reached the Jersey Shore by about 10:30 then continued up the outer coast to the Cape May inlet. There we came inside and after getting chased off a marked beach by the police, we parted ways. They paddled south down a canal to the other side of the island to catch the ferry back to Delaware and (after filling my water bags at a fuel dock/bait shop) I paddled north on the New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway (NJICW) in search of a place to camp about twelve miles ahead.
Rick in the marina where we parted ways
Upon finding the beach I had highlighted on my map as a potential camp spot I also found dozens of signs that read “Keep out bird nesting area”. Not wanting to ruffle any feathers (ha ha) I pressed on toward another suspicious looking island indicated on my map that I had also highlighted. Along the way I came upon a spoil island that I hadn’t noticed on the map which would have made a decent camp. Being a bit greedy, and not adhering to my rule about not passing up good camps, I pressed on. I truly thought that if I was finding high ground that wasn’t shown on my map then the high ground that was must be even better. Boy was I wrong. An hour or so later I came upon the spot I thought would work only to find a tiny grass and bird covered lump in the marsh grass that I wasn’t quite desperate enough to make work. So I pressed on a little further still to the last spot I had circled on my map the night before. Thankfully, after 12 hours of paddling, I found high ground. The island was full of several birds but I managed to find a high spot big enough for my boat and tent that kept me far enough from the birds to not disturb them too much. The island was barely above high water and when large boats would pass their wake would come uncomfortably close to my tent. By then I was so tired that I didn’t mind and the spot proved to be quite comfortable.
The day’s adventure taught me a valuable lesson about the spoil islands and topography of New Jersey. While it’s actually a more scenic place to paddle than I expected, it’s going to require more planning than I’ve had to do in the past months. It’s due to the fact that the spoil islands are either overgrown with vegetation or are posted bird sanctuaries where I can’t legally land. The wing it and figure it out as you go approach just won’t work around here. Lesson learned.
Daily stats Start: 5:30 AM- Ocean City, MD Finish: 3:00 PM - Lewes, DE Time: 9:30 Hours Daily dist: 32 miles Total dist: 3000+ miles Companions: None Weather: NE wind 10 mph high in mid 70’s mostly clear (nice) Notes: Made much better time on the inside today than I did on the outside yesterday. Nice to be able to hide from the wind.
Today I got smart and ran up the sheltered inside bays and canals rather than spend another long day beating against the wind and waves. Consequently my mileage went way up over yesterday and I had a great time putting in the miles. One very important link in my route today was the Assawoman canal just north of Ocean City. On my charts it shows that it was only a foot and a half deep in 1977 (old charts I guess). Being that shallow I wasn’t sure the canal would be passable. Thankfully I was able to call my brother Luke the other day and he checked into it for me and learned that it is presently being dredged. He also read some blog posts from people that said they’d run the four mile canal on jet skis and in shallow draft pontoon boats. With that info I was feeling good about giving it a try. When I got to the jet ski rental place yesterday I asked them about the canal and they said it was indeed passable for something like a kayak.
Calm water through a tunnel of trees on the Assawoman Canal
I got a very early start in order to catch the strong incoming tide flow and made good time despite the NE headwind that hadn’t stopped blowing since Sunday. A few hours into the day I crossed the state line and added Delaware to the rapidly growing list of states I’ve paddled in. An hour or so later I found the entrance to the Assawoman canal and started a four mile long run through what turned out to be one of the prettiest bits of water I’ve seen over the last several days. The mixed pine and hardwood trees touched over head creating a tunnel of green. The air smelled like pine mixed with very fragrant flowers and animals of all sorts darted in and out of the woods. Paddling the very narrow canal was like being encapsulated in nature along a man made ditch. The dredging operation Luke had read about on line was indeed going on and the dredge had to actually stop and loosen one of it’s control cables to let me pass, the canal was that narrow.
The dredge had to stop to let me pass.
From the Assawoman canal I continued north across a couple more open bays then finished the day out by running the eight mile long Lewes and Rehoboth canal. By sheer luck of timing I ended up with a nice outgoing tide pushing me all the way out the inlet in Lewes to a beach on the southern edge of the Delaware Bay. As I sat in my tent watching the car ferries come and go across the bay I remembered that this was the first place I ever saw the ocean. It was on a family trip to Washington DC over 22 years ago. We had driven up to New Jersey to see one of my dad’s old Vietnam buddies and took the scenic route back across the Delaware on a ferry and on to Rehoboth Beach. I don’t remember much about the experience except trying to body surf the large jelly fish filled waves that were coming in that day. My brothers and I would get a short ride then get wiped out and rolled in to the beach in the dumping surf. We’d be stung up from the jelly fish and had sand forced into places it doesn’t belong but we were so excited to be “swimming” in salty water we’d just shake out the sand tough out the sings and go right back out for more.
I played 'Leap Frog' with this boat on the ICW all the way across North Carolina. Today i passed it up for the last time in it's home port of Lewes, DE
Daily stats Start: 6:00 AM- State line on Assateague Island, MD Finish: 2:00 PM - Ocean City, MD Time: 8:00 Hours Daily dist: 20 miles Total dist: 3200+ miles Companions: None Weather: 10+ mph head wind, fog sun then fog then less fog then more fog… Notes: A long day for not much mileage. I normally do 20miles in five hours
Today was challenging from the start. At 4:30 AM my internal alarm clock went off and I woke to the walls of my tent already shaking in the wind. Apparently the 5-10 mph winds that had been predicted had grown and got an early start. After loading the boat and strapping or tying down anything that could be swept off the boat I launched through the surf and paddled swiftly out past the breakers. I then turned the Ikkuma 90 degrees left and paddled north into the fog.
Sky water and fog...didn't I use this picture yesterday... If you look closely you can see a whale doing a back flip
Fog and persistent head winds were the name of the game. Eighteen miles of sloppy water and wind separated me from the Ocean City inlet where I had planned to spend the second half of the day paddling on the inside. If I’d been able to maintain my normal pace there would have been hopes of crossing into Delaware before the day was done. This would have set a new (one state in one day) record for the trip. However, Mother Nature had other plans. The 10 mph head wind I started out with built throughout the morning to a 10-15 mph head wind and worked against me like I couldn’t believe. My normal pace would have put me to Ocean city by 11:00 AM when that time came I fired up my GPS (seems how I couldn’t see land to tell where I was) and realized that I still had at least two hours to go. Quickly I had to start coming up with an alternative plan for where to spend the night, because at that rate I’d never make it to where I’d planned.
Thankfully after coming into the dicy Ocean City inlet against a monster outgoing tide I spotted very camp-able sand shore on the south side of the inlet. With that matter taken care of I decided that I’d paddled far enough for the day. Especially considering the very long days of paddling I had over the last two days. Seems how camping was figured out I decided to land in town and see if I could check things out. Luck was with me and the jet ski rental place just inside the inlet had a nice sand beach that they let me land on and leave the Ikkuma while I walked into town. They were also nice enough to let me hang up my tent and rain fly to dry while I was playing around.
Jet skis are normally a kayaer's enemy but these guys were great
It was a bit of a culture shock to say the least going from quiet sandy islands shrouded in fog to full on carnival boardwalk blitz. But that’s what Ocean City, MD is all about. A wide boardwalk (with actual boards) lined on both sides with T-shirt shops, candy stores, funnel cake stands, and even a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not complete with a giant animatronic shark jutting from the wall. I tracked down the caramel corn stand that the guys from the jet ski place recommended
Yes, I have seen sharks on this trip...huge ones.
While I munched on the carmel corn I went in search of something more substantial for lunch and when I saw a sign for Calzones I figured that'd be perfect. So I wandered into Caruso Pizza and Subs ordered my calzone and sat down at a table next to an outlet so I could charge up my computer. The owner of the store, Scott Bruning, noticed the “Aqua Adventures” sticker on my computer which was spread out on the table in front of me and asked me about it. I told him about the store and about this trip. The next thing I knew I became a ten minute celebrity in the store. Scott introduced just about everyone that came in, as well as all the staff, to the kayak guy who’s paddling around the country. I was happy that the trip made an impression on Scott and many of the others in the store. Before I could leave Scott hooked me up with two sandwiches for the road as well as a Caruso Pizza T-shirt and bumper stickers for my boat.
Me with the crew at Caruso - left to right Rob, Vance,Shannon, Mathew, and Scott Bruning
Back at the jet ski place the guys working on the docks had become increasingly interested in what I was up to and had several questions for me when I returned. They all signed the boat and posed for a quick snap shot before I shoved off to paddle across the channel to tonight’s camp. It was a frustrating day to start but I’m glad I got slowed down and took the opportunity to see a place I would have normally just passed by.