Ted and his kayaking buddy, Barbara, try to get out on the Chesapeake Bay once a year. So we had been practicing wet exits in the quieter waters of a nearby reservoir and the Patuxent River, to prepare for any accidental boat tipping in what could be much rougher conditions on the bay.
Barbara is a wonderful friend, offering me the use of a spare kayak, paddles and life vest so that I can join them on their outings. She also generously picks us up in her vehicle and figures out how to get three kayaks transported, sometimes three atop a van and sometimes using two of the vehicles she and her husband have in their driveway.
Ted made sure I was outfitted with other gear, buying me a water pump a couple of weeks ago, and then just in time for this outing, a drybag and lanyard for keeping my eyeglasses safe in the water as an anniversary gift.
I was amazed how quickly we got into the rural areas beyond Washington, D.C., driving through farmland in a little over a half-hour from Takoma Park. We were at Pirates Cove in Galesville, MD, in just about an hour, with a widening river spread out in front of us, leading to the big bay.
We met Barbara’s sister who lives nearby and began paddling out among the moored yachts and sailboats, passing waterside mansions before we turned into a cove bordered only by a forest that is partly managed by the Smithsonian.
After some sedate paddling and watching osprey and a kingfisher skimming the water and diving for food, Ted, Barbara and I decided to venture out across the mouth of the river to reach the bay beyond.
It was thrilling paddling out among some racing sailboats and the occasional motorboat creating waves the kayaks would plough through with some bumps of the bow. It only took us a half-hour of hard paddling to reach the point we had had our eyes on, and from there we could look out to the Bay Bridge leading from Annapolis to the Eastern Shore and out to the Eastern Shore itself.
Ted told me about a potential future outing that could include camping on islands in the Bay. I’m hooked on this more adventuresome kayaking, which requires the technique of using core muscles so that the arms don’t get over-tired in paddling against the wind and through waves. And I was surprised at how sore and tired my legs were afterward from bracing against the inside of the boat.
We slowed down on the return paddle, enjoying the sailboats making their way back in and the cormorants, gulls and terns perched on wooden posts close into the harbor.
After getting the boats back on the cars and securing them, which is the most tedious part of each trip, we had our traditional slices of organic watermelon that Ted had on ice in a cooler. This time, Barbara took out a single birthday candle, lit it and stuck it in the melon to commemorate our anniversary. How sweet!
We finished this part of the day with beers (Ted and Barbara) and crab soup (me) at Thursdays, a restaurant on the water. We took seats on tall bar stools on the outside of the building and slid open the windows to speak to a bartender just inside, who took our orders and then quickly shut the windows again to keep in the air conditioning on this hot afternoon.
We watched as speedboats took off from the dock, glad that we had been out under much different conditions.