Lumpy water

Hi all. Is the Chesapeake Bay considered lumpy water? Apparently paddle size matters?

That" bay "can go from glass smooth to deadly in minutes . Items for the worry list don’t start with the paddle size.


It can definitely make you seasick. And ditto what String said about worry list items. Wish I had known about ginger-as-seasick-prophylactic before I went.

Do not understand what paddle size would have to do with it. Kayak size yes, it is properly an area for a full out sea kayak rather than rec boats.

In addition to weather and I saw some wild storms in my years on the Bay, you have power boat traffic that treats you like target, moving ships which generate bow wakes upwards of 6 ft, strong tides and of course Chessie. By and large though it is safer to operate a kayak on the Bay than on your average midwestern lake judging by the number of people killed.

Is Chessie the local water monster?

Hi marquis. My experience is limited to the Upper Chesapeake Bay, from Sparrows Point to Conowingo Dam. Unless you have a 14 foot touring or sea kayak, do not venture beyond the point of land where the tributaries meet the bay. Knowing the wind direction and tide cycle is critical. When wind and tide are flowing together, the conditions change in an instant with a tide reversal. I don’t know your launch point, but if you look at a chart, I can give an example. I usually launch out of Dundee Creek. Within two miles, the waves change when it merges with the Gunpowder, then again as you pass Carroll Point, then again as you pass through Poole Island channel. Last week, there was chop past Carroll Point that became flat around Ricketts Point. Within 200 yards we were in 18 Inch waves and after 1/2 mile, they were 24 inches. I’ve gone out to Poole Island with calm tbe whole way, and other times with 12 inch waves on the way out, then turned around and within half an hour encountered 30 Inch chop. We recently has three days of south, southeast wind at 4 to 7 mph forcasted, but I knew it was higher by the white caps and catpaw ripples between the waves. That blows unobstructed from the ocean right up to Hammerman and the waves woukd make your mother weep if she saw what you were doing. Agree with other comments, especially Middle River, which is always choppy from heavy motor traffic. On the other hand, the middle channel can be soft rollers. It has to do with tide, wind direction, where shallows exist to create breakers, and where rivers converge. You mostly need a strong paddle; a 250 cm give nice leverage on sweep strokes to tame wind cooking. I’m presently 230 lbs using a 145 Tsunami and I like how it handles. When I was 265 lbs, it would take water with 30 inch waves, so I would go out in a 17.5 Tsunami. Someone on this forum explained max capacity and I learned that I was technically overloading the 14.5 at 265 lbs. Now I know. Be cautious and take a VHF with WX tuned to channel 02 and stay ahead of weather.

Yes Chessie. Probably dolphins, which are becoming so common, there is a website marking sightings.

Summer squalls come up the Bay from the SE. They create great fetch and can build some large waves. I grew up on the Bay, and my Dad was in the Navy. We ran in squalls, we ran across the Bay and we ran at night. It is as big as you want it to be.

Just to answer the original question, generally no, a larger paddle is not needed for lumpy water. Paddle size is more or less determined by your power and the distance you want to paddle.
Conditions can affect which blade shape you choose, but the size of the blade is not a primary consideration as you asses conditions.
So you more or less heard wrong, paddle size doesnt vary based on conditions. (that is, the condition one expects to see in a day or multi-day sea kayaking trip. Different paddling activities such as whitewater or sprint racing do benefit from large blades).

I paddle very rough water and have a small-to-medium size blade. It works great.

Ocean going ships have sunk on the Chesapeake in sudden storms. Due to the Chesapeake’s large surface area, considerable fetch, and relatively shallow depth over much of it, three foot or larger short period breaking waves are not uncommon on windy days. Sudden violent popup thunderstorms are possible in the summer.

Other times it can be as smooth as glass.

I hope the OP didn’t try to cross it in their Dick’s special.

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Jyak, Thanks for the info…. I experienced wind and currents today…. We have probably crossed paths,…. My go to spot is Dundee to Carrol Point and around that island then up the Gunpowder.

Not too many yaks go that direction. Never saw another past Carroll Point. An Aberdeen Police stopped my sister and her son in the Ricket Poole Channel. She’s 76, and wears a Mary Poppins looking hat and knit mittens. I gave her Sailing gloves -,didn’t like em. Yet she can go 25 miles, doesn’t quit, complains about the wind. Yet during those recent July days of a persistent, infernal S SE 10 mph winds,in 24-30 inch waves, 4 to 8 ft between crests. She maintained 4.2 mph into it for, what is it from Hammerman to Battery, 2 Mike’s. I was getting plumb-wored-out. But I wasn’t going to let a granny wear me down, no stirrer Bob. She’s good. But I badger her for not traveling a straight line, and she paddles with her biceps. Makes me mad because she can do it without proper form. She has a 140 Tsunami and a Werner Kalliste. And swings it at 79 rpm.

Competent paddlers don’t realize how much people with little boats, heavy paddles and bad form can do. You sparked a memory. I was goingvoutvon a Saturday afternoon. As you know, wind always perks up in the afternoon. A mile out I see paddle flashes hello. What’s this. Some ocean prowler. I close on them, faster than expected. Because they were working. They’re in SOT whales, grinning and happy as larks. Two ladies and a man in a odd size thigamajig, probably 11 feet. Raised my ire. Because I’m thinking. You better than me guy and gals.

What kind of boat to you float?

Don’t know your experience level, but if you paddle to Hammerman, you’ve experienced some nice wave action. Especially during July. Reviewed my post and you got everything you need if you feel comfortable. If you haven’t done as far as Poole, just turn back if you ever feel uncomfortable. I’ve never found the trip to get easier on the way back. Once you’re at the Poole south tip, about 84 degrees magnetic put you on Fairlee Creek. 3 miles. If you see a police boat or orange bouy at the channel, Aberdeen PG might be firing. They block the channel, but you can transit south of the island. I think Bush River closes to thru traffic. Been up Bush several times, but don’t feel like working around Aberdeen artillery testing. Thought they posted an VHF 16, but Aberdeen Police told me they announce on ch 68. I thought that was open, but he said its used by waterman running pots.

Be aware of the restrictions of paddling around Aberdeen or landing on a beach. They are deadly serious about security and rarely issue warnings. The restricted areas are monitored closely and the penalties can be very significant.

I was with a group supposedly led by a self-proclaimed expert in the region. When they headed for a beach in the restricted area, I warned them via VHF. They ignored me. I mutinied and led the people I knew to the Battery Islands. The group that landed on the beach were surrounded by military police minutes after landing. I don’t know what happened to them in the end as I never kayaked with them again.

The restricted areas are well marked in charts of the area. It’s true that temporary closures are announced an channel 68.

Rstevens15, very good advice. Military law enforcement officials are not ones to be truffles with. It is very hard to argue standing in front of a sign that says No Trespassing US Military Property - Unexploded Ordinance. You chose wisely. Whst did the do, take precautions - put their fingers in their ears and tiptoe. Interesting place with a wartime history. Heard stories of blocking large areas for long Range Ordinance problem is errant projectiles. They do find unexploded . . . Things. Most local know what the signs mean. One trip, we heard the booms. Probably at least 30 to 45 seconds later, bam and smoke plumes inland across from battery point. The water cops remembered us from probably 7 years ago. Monitor 68 VHF is what he told me.

Good story rstevens.

My personal fave in paddling with others was the time a highly rated coach was planning to have us practice rescues in the middle of a channel. It was in an area with a lot of little harbors so you really have to read the buoys closest to the land mass rather than the red right thing.

I was going to have to mutiny. But just as she started to tell the group to go a lobster boat came thru where she wanted people to be upside down.

Incidental. That’s federal court. The way it’s viewed - you endangered the lives of the officers who went to save you from being blown to cinders. The judgecwoll asknif you have a death wish or are all kayakers that stupid.

Not that many years ago the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren used to test fire large land based naval guns with the shells landing across the Potomac River from St. Clements Island. A section of the river was closed off and heavily patrolled leaving only a narrow channel where you could transit on the north side. Sounded like thunder you could hear miles away.

Now most of this kind of testing is done by computer simulation although some live fire testing is still done on the river. These days live testing of explosives is mostly done on the base itself.