My wife and I are thinking of a Spring trip to Chesapeake Bay area for a paddling vacation. We’re looking at camping in Crisfield, exploring James Island State Park and the area south of that. Or possibly the Blackwater National Wildlife refuge. We’d even consider the 5 mile crossing to Smith Island and spending the night on the island. (I thought I saw there is a B&B there.) But the crossing worries us, would we be crossing a shipping lane?
Is this a good plan or are we missing “better” places?
Ok, I used to live north and west of your proposed area on the South River. I often paddled the South River and Annapolis area and even made the 20 mile round trip from my dock on Glebe Bay to Kent Island, which included a 5+ mile crossing of the Bay through what most assuredly is the main shipping lane. I am a capable open water paddler and liked to paddle my WTS Tempest at a speed of about 4 mph. That said, I never had a problem with ships. They are easy to spot and they do not make sudden moves and are easily predictable. And, they were not all that numerous when I lived there 12 years ago. Just remember, they ALWAYS have right of way! On my hundreds of paddles, I never had any close calls and, indeed, rarely shared the same 2 mile area with a big boat. Only once in three years did I encounter fog, paddling nearly year round 3-4 times a week. Now, having just told you how relatively safe the crossing is, I advise against it. I have read your comments on your paddling preferences (slow and involving lots of nature studies) and can assure you, that ain’t yer cup o’ tea. Long, boring slog with almost no visible sea life (I never saw a ray, much less a dolphin). The Bay’s water is a boring and off-putting brown. The wind shifts often and is always bearing against you. That shouldn’t be true, but it is! So, paddle and enjoy, just skip the crossing.