Re: Artic Haw Trip Report

Posted by Tim on May 27, 2004

I finished my AH in early April and have been out on a half a dozen trips on the Chesapeake Bay and tidal Potomac. Areas I have paddled cover St George�s Island, Eastern Neck Island, James Islands, Allen�s Fresh, Blackwater River, and Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge. The Hawk handles as advertised. I don�t have a GPS but I estimate with my meager paddling skills it comfortably cruises at 4 MPH. I haven�t been in any heavy seas yet but it easily handles 2 foot waves and chop. The only drawback is the extra time it takes to launch and load. You know the drill. Inquiring minds want to know. Is that mahogany? Did you make that? How long did it take? Enough tech talk, lets get to the paddling.

The Chesapeake is a beautiful place to paddle, full of wildlife. I�ve been fortunate to see bald eagles on every trip and even found an aerie with parent and young adult on one paddle. Other birds include the every present great blue herons and cormorants along with mute swans, ospreys, loons, and assorted ducks and gulls.

Another common companion that has accompanied me on every outing has been the now-you-see-me now-you-don�t diamondback terrapin. These inquisitive creatures must have great vision. They have the uncanny habit of popping their heads up out of the water from 20 to 40 yards away to check you out. Once they determine you can see them, they become very shy and head for the bottom. To get close once I spot one, I stop paddling and become motionless, drifting in quietly. On one paddle break I found a newly hatched terrapin on a sand beach. The shell was a little larger than a quarter but perfect in every detail.

Now that the water is warming up the bay�s most famous residents, the blue crabs have become more numerous. I have seen them swimming with the current as I paddle thorough the shallow waters. Hopefully these early signs are a harbinger of good times to come. The blue crab population has been down in recent years and could use a strong rebound. I understand that on full moons in the summer, the crabs head to shallow water grass beds to molt. Hopefully I will be able to witness this event on future paddles.

So far, mammal sightings have been sporadic, consisting of muskrats and deer. Even fellow homo sapiens have been rare. I�ve only seen a handful of kayakers this spring. The bay is a big place, easy for one to find some solitude.

In Response to: FINALLY A TRIP REPORT by Petewp on May 27, 2004