August 8, 2009 by Bethany
We are in Raleigh taking a break right now, which was much needed and is being fully enjoyed. Here’s how we got here:
Leaving Chincoteague Island, we planned on 4 days paddling to the end of the Eastern Shore. We were stocked up for cooking and wilderness life. The first day of paddling took us past Wallops Island where there is a NASA Flight Facility! It was really cool to see from the water… and learning from our NJ Military Tresspassing Event, we steered clear. The paddle was uneventful until we reached the inlet between Wallops and Metompkin Island. The tide was going out at such a ferocious rate that once we passed the opening we were sometimes paddling zero miles an hour, while paddling with all our strength. It was nuts. We stopped for a break, to wait for the tide to switch. A few hours later, we got back into our boats and paddled another 5 miles as the sun set, until we ran aground, in the marked boat channel. There was no water at all in the boat channel. This is not a typical occurrence to say the least. We called it a day and slept on the island, next to the dry channel.
The following morning, we awoke at high tide to no water in the boat channel. Not good. We were looking at a 300 yard boat drag, through marshy muddy dampy land. Also not Good. We avoided and brainstormed and tried to out think ourselves to any possible alternative option, excluding dragging the boats across the island to the ocean, since the weather was bad for ocean paddling. After about an hour of avoiding, we got off our fannies and began the horrible drag towards the where the channel had water again. Needless to say, it was a nightmare and took us over an hour. Then… we got to start the paddling portion of our day, which simply put, stank. It seemed that no matter what time of day it was, we were constantly paddling against the current, as well as the wind, which was around 15 with gusts to 20 knots. Never ending. We until 4:30pm, when we landed on Cedar Island. We took a look at our blackberry and saw an email, with an offer for a place to stay, also with an offer to pick us up in Wachapreague, just across the bay from where we were. We took them up on the offer immediately, and paddled across, against strong currents, wind chop, and our better judgment. It was worth it.
We met Bob at the boat ramp of Capt Zeds Bait Tackle & Marina, who drove us to his vacation home where we met his wife Melody, thier WWOOF Roe, (organic farm volunteer helper), and their two dogs. They are organic farmers on a little farm called “Copper Cricket” and let me tell you… the food we enjoyed at their home was out of this world. That night we had some deer venison and it was the best meat Dan and I have ever eaten in our lives. I cant really remember anything else about the evening other than taking a shower and getting into a bed that was one of the most comfortable experiences of my life.
The next morning we got on the water late. It was our fault completely since we indulged in sleeping in a bit and going out for breakfast with Melody and Bob at the Captain’s Deck. We got on the water around 10am and were met with 20-25 knot winds right out the gate, and they continued for the duration of our paddle. It was almost unbearable for me. I was in tears. Dan was tough and encouraging but I simply could not make any headway for a lot of the day. Six hours after we left Wachapreague, we landed in Quinby, just 5 miles south of our put in for the day. extremeley discouraging and hard to swallow. We met a minnow fisherman who helped us pass the time with countless stories about sharks, (which did NOT cheer me up). He was nice and really interesting. Melody came to pick us up and we enjoyed a fabulous dinner once again at their home.
The next morning, not wanting to have a repeat of the day before, we got up really early, all ready to go. Dan looked at the weather, which was horrible again and Melody offered to let us take a rest day. We decided that was a phenomenal idea and we both went back to bed… until noon. Obviously a rest day was much needed. After we awoke from our exhaustion, we enjoyed some homemade turkey BBQ with down home, NC made, VINEGAR BASED BBQ sauce. Phenomenal. Then we went out to the garden and met Cricket and his wife. We helped them make Tomato Stands until the thunderstorm broke out… and then we ate. We ate until we went to bed. It was fabulous.
The following morning, Melody took us to Quinby and waved us goodbye. We were headed to Cricket’s cousin Tad’s house, on Webb’s island. The wind and current were at it again, but since it was only blowing 15, we felt like it was no big deal. Isnt that funny? We paddled 10 hours to arrive at Webb’s Island near 6:30 in the evening. This is where we met “Spider” Webb. We had been told of “Spider” and his excentricities but its a whole other thing to meet the man. We landed at the docks of the island and he walked up, obviously courious as to who we were and what were doing on his island. Tad, the person we were planning on meeting, was already gone for the evening, completely unaware that we were coming since no one was able to get in touch with him. Since it was his yard we were planning on camping in, Spider offered to let us stay in HIS yard since “you probably dont want to stay overe there and take the chance of waking up to a shotgun pointed in your tent since he dont know youre comin’.” Thats all i needed to hear. We walked over to Spider’s yard and entered through the gates of his home. On the fence there were handmade signs stating:
“Anyone found here at night will be found here in the morning.”
“I don’t dial 911” – below this sign was a mounted hand gun
“The Sherrif of Webb’s Island”- describing the handmade guard statue, dressed in fatigues, sitting on the fence, holding a shotgun
“Don’t Bother Running, You’ll Only Die Tired.”
“The home of Spider Webb” -next to a large spider webb, complete with black widow spider
Needless to say, it was a BIT unnerving. Spider turned out to be a really nice guy, just really not into tresspassing. Good thing he gave us the “ok” right? We set up our tent and slept good, and were able to get an early morning start on our paddle to Oyster, VA.
The paddle to Oyster was uneventful thankfully. We had to deal with more south winds and bad currents, but we were getting used to having bad paddling days and simply wanted to get to our destination. Oyster doesnt have much. There is a public boat launch, which is usually not the best place to leave our boats overnight, so we headed over to R & C Seafood. There we met Chuck, who owns the place. He let us keep our boats there for the next two night, researched hotel rates for us, and took us to the best place for the best price, the Rittenhouse Motor Lodge. We stayed there two nights, taking a well deserved, however close together, rest break for a day. Chuck and his wife even had us over to his house for dinner where we enjoyed steamed clams, boiled shimp, grilled corn, and burgers. Thank you SO much.
After our rest break, Chuck picked us up at the Rittenhouse Motor Lodge on his way to work the next morning. The night before, he had called his friend Karl and set up a place for us to stay near “the cut” so that we would be set up well to paddle across the Chesapeake the following day. He also called his friend Tommy, telling him to be on the lookout for us and to help us out if we needed it. Talk about taking care of us… thanks Chuck.
We paddled away from oyster heading to our place to stay for the night and faced our toughest paddle yet. The wind was ROARING and we we paddling around 1 mph the whole day. 8 hours, 8 miles, 20 min of rest total. It felt like we were on a water treadmill and we would NEVER make our destination. There’s not much to say about it other than that it was a nightmare and Dan towed me for over an hour to keep me from going backwards. Horrible.
We got to our destination, which was a secret treasure that we will try and keep secret for Karl and his family. Tommy met us there with his friend Carlyle and helped us get started there and showed us around. Then we ate dinner, talked about how awful the past week and a half had been, talked about how sore and tired i was, remembered that Dan’s mom was only 2 hours away in Kitty Hawk, and decided to call her, get a ride, and take a rest break the following day. It was actually a really hard decision. We had been planning to take a good rest break once we got to NC but the prospect of 5 more days of paddling was too much for us to take at the time, and we just needed to come home for a little while. Three months of traveling deserves a little rest.
We slept well, got up, paddled to the nearest boat launch and waited for Dan’s mom and little bros to come to our rescue. Seeing them pull in the parking lot was a feeling that i will never forget. Complete and Total Relief.
We’ve been home for a week now and probably will be for another week. We are taking GOOD care of our bodies and seeing all the people we love. Its a wonderful thing.
Next stop, Virginia Beach and on to Key West.