MD - Kent Island - 2002/08/19



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Lower half - 20.3 miles - From Matapeake just south of the Bay Bridge to Thompson Creek




By Hank McComas

We left Julio's apartment in White Marsh at 7:45 AM and went south on I-95, through Baltimore, and onto I-97 to Annapolis. Soon we were high over the Chesapeake Bay on the bridge connecting the Western shore across the narrowest section of the entire 200 mile length of the bay. It is only a little over 4 miles across to Kent Island, todays destination for an 20 mile paddle. Our plan was to meet Joel at the intersection of Route 50 and Route 8 and drop a car off at Romancoke then load all three kayaks onto Julio's sturdy truck rack and launch on the northern tip of Kent, paddling back to the other car. Then, retrieving the truck from the northern launch site, Julio and I would load the last two boats in Romancoke and be off across the bridge once more.






As we crossed the bridge, we could clearly see that the marine forecast for north winds 10 knots was holding true. The lines of small waves passing under the bridge 125 feet below seemed as but ripples. Arriving at the prearranged gas station location 10 minutes early, we found Joel already there. He had arrived over an hour earlier and had already scouted the territory on the north end of the island. It seemed to him that there was not really any place to leave a vehicle up there. So we grabbed our maps and rearranged our plan for the day. We would leave one car at the county ramp at Thompson's Creek and launch from Matapeake State park on the west side of Kent Island and paddle south along the shore, turn north again around Bloody Point lighthouse and up to Thompson's creek to our awaiting vehicle. The winds were forecast to turn to southerlies by afternoon. With luck we could have favorable winds in both directions. Our first move however was to obtain a ramp use day permit for our two vehicles. Queen Anne county has a nearly unworkable permit policy of either a $25.00 yearly use fee or a $5.00 per day fee. This fee applies whether you use the ramp or not and whether you have a trailer of not. Consider it a parking fee. The unworkable part is that the permits are sold in certain stores in Queen Anne county. Some sites are listed on a sign at each ramp. They include Annapolis, hardly convenient, Centerville and a bunch of other equally inconvenient payment locations.

Joel knew of a store just a few miles from our meeting point. If he had not we would have wasted a large amount of time trying to locate a payment location or just taken a chance on the huge fee for using the ramp without paying. We dropped Joel's car at the ramp on Thompson's creek and drove the 15 minutes over to Matapeake Park. There we learned that we not only needed the permit but needed to put $3.00 in an envelope and display yet another permit in the windshield. It would be much better if all ramps and all fees were paid by the envelope payment station for daily fees. Get it together Queen Anne.


The ramp at Matapeake empties into a large enclosed breakwater that would be very helpful in stronger wind wave conditions. The current was favorable at about 1 knot. The current along Kent island is higher than at many places in the Bay as the water squeezes through the restriction between Kent Island and the western shore. Still the tidal currents in the Bay seldom get above 2.5 knots anywhere and here is no exception. However it is better to time your trip so the current assists your paddling.

We paddled out past the concrete bulkheads of the boat ramp and turned our bows south along the linear coast of Kent island. The banks showed signs of erosion from the constant wave action with bright orange-brown soil sloping steeply to the high water mark and small rocky beaches present only at low tide. Significant development has taken place along these banks and any open shoreline was in the processed of being colonized by large vacation homes. The few unblemished stretches recorded on our maps were already hearing the whine of circular saws and the retort of nail guns as one after another 6 bedroom monsters claimed the green space.

We paddled steadily as Bloody Point lighthouse appeared out of the typical late summer haze. Leaning south with large cracks in the iron plates forming the circular rusted caissons of this once proud old structure, it now supports only osprey nests and a cold high tech automated solar power Cyclops that warns ships of the presence of the southern tip of Kent Island. With current GPS technologies, few have need for even that service.

Rounding the lighthouse, we headed back to the tip of Kent Island and landed on a small beach for lunch. Biting flies attacking our ankles made for a hasty retreat into the water. So we stood in calf deep water, eating our food and drinking as much water as we could hold. The breeze had waned to 5 mph on our trip down the coast and, with it dead behind us, we had no relative breeze what so ever. We dunked our hats into the bay waters, but at 84 degrees C, its relief was brief. Holding on to one another's bow, we also dunked our entire torso into the water for a longer cooling off spell.

Finished recharging our biological batteries, we got in and headed north just as the now calm winds began to pick up out of the South. It looked is if we would have those fair winds in both directions - an almost unheard of condition for us. The southern tip of Kent Island up to Romancoke is also lined with large homes guarded by rip-rap and creosote bulkheads. However as you enter Thompson's Creek, the development recedes and some semblance of natural shoreline can be seen. Many crab boats at anchored along the creek up to the ramp. The many large apartment complexes at the head of Thompson's Creek foreshadow the highly developed Route 50 corridor. We reached our vehicle, shuttled off to Julio's truck, retrieved our boats and were soon headed back over the Chesapeake Bay bridge. Now the ripples were headed the other way just as we were. The evening sun cast a golden pattern of light on the large trusses of the suspension bridge as we ended our paddle and headed home.


William Claiborne and the Kent Island Rebellion


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