Welcome. We hope to provide a comprehensive source for sea kayak information, techniques, instruction and instructors, trip opportunities, trip planning, trip reports, weather, and community discussion, feedback and interactions with a focus on the Chesapeake Bay region of Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware.
Sunset off Hart Miller Island - Hank McComas
The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States and third largest in the world by area. It has more shoreline than any other estuary in the world.
An estuary is a body of water, open at one end to the ocean, in which salt water from the ocean mixes with freshwater draining from surrounding land. One hundred thousand streams and about 150 major rivers drain over 64,000 square miles of watershed in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, the District of Columbia and West Virginia. Nearly 16 million people live in the watershed. The Chesapeake Bay is nearly 200 miles long and varies from 3.4 miles to 35 miles across. It holds 18 trillion gallons of water. The average depth is 21 feet with a maximum depth of about 175 feet. Its surface area is 7000 square miles. There are 11,684 miles of shoreline, more than all of the West Coast of the United States.
US Water Sheds - NBC
Chesapeake Bay Watershed - NOAA
Did you know that the Chesapeake ay was created by a meteor? The original depression that would later form the bay was created by a large meteor some 35 million years ago. Rainforests ancient sea, ice ages set the scene for the Bay's creation. The Chesapeake Bay is the drowned river valley of the ancestor of the Susquehanna River. After the last ice age some 10000 years ago, the rising sea level began filling the valley until about 2000 years ago when the Bay assumed its current shape. ( Explore 40 million years of Bay history with three timelines. )
The Susquehanna River may be the largest river known to but few people who do not live near it. It is the sixteenth largest river by volume in the United States The Susquehanna river and its major tributary, the Juniata, drain 27,500 square miles of New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. Coursing down the southeastward slope of the Piedmont plateau from Otsego Lake, Cooperstown, New York, the Susquehanna runs 444 miles down the Eastern slope of the Appalachian mountains, the oldest mountain range in the world, to empty into the head of the Chesapeake Bay at Havre de Grace, Maryland. It delivers 50% of the fresh water to the entire Chesapeake Bay and dumps it load of sediment into a large shallow area known as the Susquehanna flats. Here the Bay waters are nearly fresh while at the other end near Norfolk, VA, the Bay waters match the salinity of the open ocean.
The ancient course of its waters can be traced underneath the modern surface of the Chesapeake bay as a deep channel hugging the Eastern Shore of the Bay. Joining with the waters of the Potomac and James rivers, it continued its flow between present day Cape Charles and Cape Henry and carved a channel down the continental slope with its sediment load (Norfolk Canyon, similar to the image at the right).
Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory
The Appalachians once formed the backbone of the single supercontinent called Pangea some 250 million years ago, before the movements of the great continental plates separated the dry land into the continents that we know today. The erosion process has ground down the Himalayan heights of these ancestral mountains to the gentle rolls of the Appalachian mountains we see today. The Appalachians run from Northern Georgia up through Canada and remnants continue on into continental Europe.
Geology Department - University Northern Arizona
Chesapeake Bay is a translation of the Powhatan Indian word "chesepiooc" which means "Great Shellfish Bays." When the first English settlers arrived in the Chesapeake Bay area and settled Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607, the Bay was a pristine, balanced ecosystem teeming with fish, oysters, crabs and waterfowl, and home to 13,000 to 14,000 Powhatans. The strain of development and the pressures of the burgeoning population have severly damaged the quality of the Bay water and reduced the once flourishing oyster, fish and crab harvests to fractions of their former bounty. Contrary to what most people believe, industry is not the primary threat but rather the day to day requirements of development, residential pollution, lawn and agricultural run-off and municipal sewage combining to overcome the natural restoration mechanisms of the Bay. Recent years have seen greatly reduced commercial catches of fish, the near end of oyster harvest, a moratorium on stripped bass and shad fishing and reductions and talk of moratoriums on crab harvests. Through increased private and governmental efforts, the alarming decline of water quality has been halted. Much depends on the restoration of the natural underwater aquatic grasses. These aquatic plants need a certain level of water quality to exist,. They then enhance the water quality and provide a vital habitat for many species and their young. Unfortunately, bringing the level of water quality up to where these vital grasses can survive has proved difficult.
De Bry Engraving
University of Virginia
In spite of the problems in restoring the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay, it is still a wonderful place to go kayaking. There is a lifetime of shoreline to explore. Unfortunately , only 2% of that shoreline is in the public trust, so long kayak trips are a challenge. Efforts to create Chesapeake Bay water trails have recently gained some traction after years of languish. The Chesapeake Gateways Network is working to identify, establish and promote sirte that provide access to the Bay and tell its story. The State of Maryland is sponsoring the "500 by '05" progam to create 500 miles of water trails by 2005. A large number of trails have already been established.
But most of the opportunities for kayaking the Chesapeake Bay depend on your own ingenuity. Hence, we hope that this site will motivate and help you to explore the Chesapeake Bay from the unique and intimate perspective of your kayak's cockpit. Good paddling to all.