MD - Janes Island to Shelltown - 2007/09/23 - 20.1 miles



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Janes Island has a number of marked water trails through the marsh near Crisfield. But there also a number of longer trips that can be made from the state park to launch areas on the Pocomoke River that are short distances from the park.







I went to Janes Island as part of a week long trip to the Eastern Shore. I have been here several times before. It is a pleasant place to paddle and can offer up some good fishing too. We caught quite a few croakers in the spring. This time we got nothing except an undersized flounder. With the fishing looking bleak I decided to do a little more paddling. I have paddled all the water trails in the park. They are short marked trails through the marsh and out to the beaches on the west side of Janes Island. But been there done that. I had also paddled almost all the length of the Pocomoke River, from the cypress filled swamp at its head to the winding lily pad filled marshes of its lower reaches.
But I hadn't paddled in Pocomoke Sound or the last few miles of the Pocomoke itself. I had someone who could come pick me up at the end of the paddle so this was the perfect opportunity to fill this gap.

There are several launch sites on the lower Pocomoke and Pocomoke sound. These include Rumbly Point, Shelltown, Cedar Wharf and Rehobeth. From the launch at Janes Island, these provide trip mileages of approximately 15, 20, 25 and 30 miles. With a north wind of 15 knots and a late start in the morning, I chose the 20 mile trip to Shelltown.




By 9:00 A.M. I was underway, paddling down the canal from Janes Island State Park. The breeze pushed me along swiftly as I paddled south toward Crisfield following the Channel markers. The skyline of Crisfield has changed markedly over the past five years as decrepit abandoned seafood packing houses have been replaced by multi-story nearly empty condominium units and completely empty marina slips. Seems the building boom here has run hard into the housing recession.

It took about 40 minutes to paddle down to the harbor where I turned a little more to the east to follow the shore toward the natural cut through the marsh that would empty out into Pocomoke Sound. I picked up the green channel marker at the entrance of the cut, made easy by the people in a small boat fishing at the entrance into the marsh. I stopped on a small beach for a brief stretch before continuing through the marsh which had a surprising amount of boat traffic for being fairly late in the season.




Once through the marsh I turned to the Northeast into the teeth of what was now a full on headwind. My speed which had been greatly enhanced by the downwind assistance which I had enjoyed up to now fell to near 1 knot and the shore seemed to creep by. I headed for the point across Ape Hole Creek where there was a large sandy beach. It had taken me only an hour twenty to make it from the campground to the sound, about 7 miles. It took an hour to make the 1.5 miles to the point. I was happy to get out and take a short break. I was beginning to worry whether I would make the time I had set for pickup at Shelltown. Although my course would gradually bend to be due east, the wind which had been predicted to blow from the north all day had veered more and more to the east as the day progressed.



This was a good spot for lunch so I pulled out my meager repast and started in. Few flies and no mosquitos was a pleasant treat for this place as both can be horrendous during mid summer. But now that cooler weather had set in, they would be less and less of a problem. The marsh had taken on the russet and yellow look of early fall, a sharp contrast to the bright lime green of early spring.

Back in the kayak I paddled along the undeveloped coast of Pocomoke Sound. Across the 5 miles of the sound lay the low lying town of Saxis, Virginia. A paddle ending there would be another possible interesting trip, but it is a long way by car (nearly 100 miles) from Janes Island to Saxis versus a short way by kayak. My chosen destination was only 20 road miles from the park for a twenty mile paddle, a much better ratio.

There are a couple of creeks that head up into the marsh between Ape Hole Creek and the Pocomoke. They would make interesting paddles from the Rumbles Point launch site which I was approaching. I thought I would have been able to see it from my kayak but I didn't. After I got back home I looked the site up on Google Earth and could see that it was a little way up a winding creek right at the point. I had been within 100 yards of it and didn't realize it was there.




I continued along the shore. The easterly headwind gave up and went back into the north, behind the lee shore, and diminished in strength. It would not be a factor the rest of the day. I came to a marked channel in a dredged canal that shortens the distance between the Pocomoke River and the sound. I paddled against the two knot current to break out into the marsh lined river on the other side. I started up the river and, in a few miles, came to the little town of Shelltown. There I found a small launch ramp with a very nice sand beach drifted up against the bulkhead. The beach was very steep, perfect for loading and launching. Just after I arrived precisely at the pickup time, my ride arrived. I loaded up the kayak and gear and headed out.
If you are visiting Janes Island and have some extra time, the Pocomoke Sound and River give you some other paddling options with easy logistics and a pleasant long days paddle.

After Janes Island we went to Shad Landing on the Pocomoke. I had been here a couple of time before also and there are trip reports from a few years back on the site for here also. We had better luck fishing cathching some blue gills and bass, but not quite as good as last year. There is a nice kayak trail here; a very short paddle around the island on Corkers Creek, one of the most beautiful paddles in the Chesapeake Bay. It's especially good in the fall when the leaves are turnng color. I took a video of us going down the creek in the fishing boat.

The next day I went on another short paddle up the Pocomoke for a couple hours and got this video of paddling in another little side creek. Make sure you get to paddle here at least once. It's a corker! Hah!

From there we went up to Assateague. The Federal park was full but there were many sites available at the State park. In fact we almost had the place to ourselves. I went out with the kayak and launched into some dumping shore break. The wind was blowing 10 to 15 from the south and the waves were coming into the beach at a 45 degree angle. The surf was breaking in a very confined area. I went out for a few runs They were short and ran almost all the way into the beach where the shore break resumed. The rides were poor and I didn't even turn on my camera. I gave up soon and came back into the beach. While getting out of the kayak on the steeply sloping beach I got caught by a strong backwash and started to get pulled out into the dumping surf line. I tried to get out before getting washed all the way back into the soup, but I fell out onto the sand and then got my foot trapped in the cockpit as the next wave came in. My knee took a good twist as the wave pushed the kayak back up the beach. I heard something pop in my fully bent knee and felt pain. I hobbled with my boat back to camp and there it stayed. I sure am jealous of those Pacific Ocean kayak surfers who get 14 seconds before each wave rolling into mostly nice shallow sloping beaches with gently spilling waves. Here there is another wave coming in every 4 or 5 seconds and there is very little time to do anything before the next wave is on you.

Now I am recovering with a severly sprained ACL. So I am missing some great kayaking weather in mid fall as I sit on the couch with an ice pack on my knee and nibble ibuprofen. So there may not be too many new adventures for awhile. Perhaps I will be inspired to write up some old ones. Or maybe some of you will write up one of your trips and send it in.


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