Dolphins in the Chesapeake (South River)

I was out on the South River near Quiet Waters Park in my WR18 when I noticed a crowd of power boats near the south bank. New boats would show up and slow down to idle. Then, I noticed spouts in the center of the area. It was a pod of dolphins. I paddled closer to see them better, but they were keeping their distance from the idling propellers (smart). So I headed over to the north bank and waited, making like a drifting log.

Eventually it happened. I heard a splash as a body broke the surface, then the sound of venting through a blowhole and saw the first dolphin approaching. Soon they were on all sides of me. The largest group that I saw was 8. Many moved individually. The closest approach was less than 20 feet. I saw a couple of shallow jumps and one kept slapping the water with its tail (very loud). The pod extended, as far as I could tell, over 1/2 a mile with at least 20 members, probably more. They appeared to be moving after fish and were being followed by a few gulls.

We moved together for 3 miles or so, all the way out to Thomas Point where they swam out into the Bay in the direction of Poplar Island. One of the best moments was while I was being a log and a mother and juvenile pair passed some 20 feet away. She would surface first, followed almost immediately by a smaller version of herself that appeared to be attached to her side. The little one's spout was quite dainty.

I figure that between the wood, fiberglass, epoxy, paint, varnish, sandpaper, etc. I spent north of $1500 building my kayak. Yesterday it suddenly became worth every penny and more. It's a quiet magic carpet that let me share the water with wild sea creatures who were comfortable enough with the lack of noise, pollution and meat choppers that they let me see aspects of their lives that I've never seen except on nature shows. Anyone who's on the fence about building one, my recommendation is to do it. You'll experience things you've never experienced before.


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RE: Dolphins in the Chesapeake (South River)

Holler (of joy) per dollar, smiles per miles, fun per ton, adventure per debenture, any way you want to measure it, "Believe me, my young friend," quoth Water Rat to Mole in Kenneth Grahame's Wind in the Willows, "there is nothing—absolute nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."

Small boats make big adventures.


P.S.  Great story, Laszlo, and thanks for posting.

RE: Dolphins in the Chesapeake (South River)

Great story Lazlo!  Glad to hear that you are enjoying that beautiful WR.   

RE: Dolphins in the Chesapeake (South River)

   Somewhere, alone in a dark garden shed, your Wood Duck is weeping.

RE: Dolphins in the Chesapeake (South River)

Worry not, WD lovers. The old faithful boat is not forgotten. It is currently sitting inside the house in a brightly-lit room waiting for its turn in the shop to get revarnished and its bottom refurbished (there's a kitchen cabinet repair ahead in the line). After that, it will resume its role as my main boat for exploring wild rice marshes and narrow creeks.

It is my primary birdwatcher, fishing and picnic boat. It also has the important role of being the boat for spousal trips. My tiny wife can outrun me in her CH16LT when I go out with her in the WD12 and she wants to keep it that way :-)

Besides, if you ever want to see true comedy, watch someone who has taken an 18-ft sea kayak up a narrow twisty creek trying to get out again. Thw WD12 is in no danger of abandonment.



RE: Dolphins in the Chesapeake (South River)

   Where do I find the WR 18 on the CLC website?

RE: Dolphins in the Chesapeake (South River)

Unfortunately, you don't. The West River 18 was discontinued in the early 2010's, possibly 2012. I bought a kit in 2010 which then lived in my basement until I started building it in 2019. Between COVID and other things I didn't get it finished until this May and launched it at BLBF. That's why I have what could be the oldest new CLC boat, or newest old CLC boat, depending on how you want to look at it.

It's a multi-chine design, very fast and stable even though it's just 22" wide. It's a real shame that they discontinued it, but the market had moved on.

Because nothing ever really disappears from the internet, there are still some links and a video floating around, if you're interested.

WoodenBoat Magazine listing

CLC's wooden parts only kit description

Video on YouTube



RE: Dolphins in the Chesapeake (South River)

   Cool - I lived on a boat on the S. River from 1976 to 1986 - don't recall ever hearing of dolphins in the river back then - are they seen frequently now? I live in San Diego now and we see dolphins all the time - and sometimes migrating gray whales too - and the kayak is by far the best way to see them. Went on a whale watching boat tour one time - it was like watching the whales on TV, they were so far away.

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