Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Drysuit--Ocean Rodeo Soul

[Eventually this grew into a full-length article in Good Old Boat Magazine, September 2016. I tested the drysuit against cold water immersion suits by, among other things, floating the midst of ice for hours. They really do make winter paddling pleasant.]

It's about the details. The Ocean Rodeo Soul ticks all of the right buttons for me:
  • Attached feet.
  • Attached hood and jacket.
  • Suspenders keep the pants up when the neck is open.
  • Standby mode that allows better ventilation (see animation, below).
  • Durable.I'm going on 3 years now, kayaking and sailing in foul weather.

The sizes are athletic. I'm 5'7" and 165 pounds, and the medium just clears the hips and shoulders, with suitable underlayers.

A dry suit helps a lot. A bit of a struggle, worming the arms in and fitting all the seals, but...

ultimately well worth the struggle.

Extended transoms for boarding are nice...

and the after-paddle swim makes it perfect (the water is 36F). Just testing out the suit, but swimming was actually pleasant.

Very cool... figuratively speaking. Flotation is so good that a PFD is really quite redundant. Do keep a PFD on board.

It's rather neat to realize that when paddling in freezing conditions, I'm more comfortable that the folks watching from shore.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Smithsonian Institue Environmental Research Center--Rhode River

The Rhode River is certainly not off the beaten track--on any nice weekend expect about 30 boats overnight and 2-3 times that during the day. But head behind Big Island, into the tributary and wetlands monitored by the Smithsonian Institute, and suddenly you are a different place. The occasional water skier or PWC may zip by, but mostly they stay out in the main course, where their friends can see them... I guess. On a weekday generally you will see no one at all. In cooler weather, solitude is certain, just a fraction of a mile from some of the busiest sailing waters on earth. Weird.

You can paddle up to the visitors center, about a mile up the creek, by passing through the narrow opening in the fish-counting dam, a ramshackle breast of wood and plastic mesh, with a now-dysfunctional gate wide enough to pass a kayak and fish, of course.

If your boat is shallow draft, anything less than 4 feet, you can anchor behind the island in about 6 feet of water. The holding ground is variable and not always as good as north of the island, but it is well protected and there is little drag into.

Smith Cove, Little Choptank River


The farther you head up the little Choptank River, the less populous it becomes. By the time you reach Smith Cove, houses are sparse, and the houses that remain are of human size rather than mansion size. I suppose I have nothing against mansions, but their jarring the look at and seem out of place in the natural environment.  Moreover, the trip up the little Choptank, quietly motoring east of green ATN 13 is worth the time for its own reasons. This areas visited by too many cruisers, and I think you like it that way.

The not convoluted and mysterious like the Taylor Island Wildlife Refuge, it's quiet, the ground is firm enough to allow brief walks ashore a few places, and a few bald eagles could be seen in the trees.


Only one local chose to visit. We dismissed him with extreme prejudice.

The holding ground is only average, but the river a small at this point in well protected from all directions. The Cove itself is too shallow, with 5 feet carrying only a few hundred yards inside. But I experienced 15 to 20 not winds from a couple of directions, and the waves were trivial.

Periwinkle Soup

The northwest Indians said the "ocean rolls out the dinner table twice a day," observing that with each low tide an edible bounty was uncovered, free for the picking. For the kayaker, it's even simpler than that, with periwinkles presented at eye level at every turn. They're small size will make you work for your meal, but they're tasty, fresh, free, and just begging investigation.

I'm sure you can Google up 20 better recipes, but this is an easy one I always have the stuff for on board. Given the choice, potatoes and a chowder approach is better, and linguini is very nice.

  1. Collect a lot. Select the largest, about one cup/serving.
  2. Check that they are alive when you get back to the kitchen. Just spread them out thin in some seawater and watch for movement. Takes only a few minutes. Chop vegetables while you wait.
  3. Chop about 1/3 onion per serving. Season with cumin, pepper, curry, and ginger. I add 1/4 of the "chicken" flavor packet. Or what every you like.
  4. Boil the periwinkles in the shell for 5 minutes.
  5. Some say pick out the meat, but I find a nut cracker is faster. A water rinse (stir or shake the bowl) separates the shell bits that you missed.
  6. Simmer meat, vegetables and seasonings for 20 minutes.
  7. Add raman noodles for the last 3 minutes. 
Yummy, rather like mussels.  All summer I seem to bring food home from cruises, finding a good portion of what I eat.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Warehouse Creek

Much of Kent Island is over-developed and crowded, due to it's proximity to the Bay Bridge. However, branching east of Cox creek is wide, marsh-boardered Warehouse creek, with only a few houses at the mouth and at the head, and a lot of solitude in between.

The beaches are silty rather than sandy (south shore has wadeable areas) of SAV (submerged aquatic vegetation), but at least they are firm, and if you step out to look at something, you won't sink in up to your knees. But mostly it's a quiet place, with a few fisherman, a few sailboats anchored near the mouth (few go up very far), and bigger fish chasing little fish.

Near the head is a small public landing, protected by a stupidly high fee for nothing more than gravel lot and a short board walk. On the other hand, if you land with an unregistered kayak, I think there is nothing to fear.

A few hundred yard walk east (pleasant) on the road will take you to route 8, and a few hundred yards south on route 8 (unpleasant) will take you to the entrance to Matapeake Park, an unremarkable park on the bay with a ramp, pier, swimming beach, and a club house often rented for weddings.


Warehouse creek carries 7-foot depths until the final split about 1/2-mile from the head, though there are a few lumps in the channel that may reduce it to 6 feet without local knowledge. The holding is good in firm mud.

rev. 2-18-2016. I liked it so much I returned in the spring. Miles of unspoiled, uninhabited shoreline.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Deep Cove Creek

 Broad Water Cheek center, Deep Cove Creek right
 A few miles north of Deale, MD, just northeast of  Broad Water Creek on the western shore is an unimportant break in the coastline. A small marsh-lined creek, just navigable by runabouts, winders inland through marsh for a fraction of a mile before broadening into a beautiful pond. One afternoon, sailing alone without really enough wind to sail I decided to stop and explore, and was greeted by a pair of bald eagles; enough for the spot to make my list of places to take folks.

It's a small area, with a few tiny beaches on the south side protected by a small breakwater. Turtles nest on the beach; leave them alone.

 There is a shallow indent in the coast here, running north, but don't mistake this for an area where you can tuck in and anchor; it's less than 4 feet for 1/4-mile. However, the holding ground is excellent (a firm sand/silt mix) and in settled weather it is perfectly practical to anchor in the open for a while. There is kayaking all along this stretch of coast, but the closest approaches to shore are west of the creek.

The pond, looking towards the Chesapeake

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Janes Island

One of the largest marsh areas  in the Chesapeake Bay, I'll be returning again and again, for there is much I have not seen. The town of Chrisfield isn't much to visit, not to my tastes, but there are a few restaurants and the marina has a nice pool.

 Normally--always--I'm quiet in the marsh, but on this occasion I lost all track of time, realized I was late for dinner, and had to scoot. My faithful 3.5hp 2-stroke will plane very nicely if the dingy is light and well-trimmed.

Because of extensive shallow water, anchoring a cruising boat neat the island is basically impractical unless your draft is quite shallow in which case there are a number of nice coves. For the rest of us, the Summers Cove marina makes a good staging ground, just a fraction of a mile from the park. You will nearly pass the marina entrance before it is clearly visible. Just keep an eye to the right for the obvious opening.

I don't know how to communicate silence in a photograph. Nothing but a light hiss of the wind in the reeds.

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