MD - Gratitude - 2009/06/05 - 10.8 miles



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Gratitude is a quiet protected harbor filled with yachts of Pennsylvanian owners. It makes a nice quiet paddle with a little wild marsh at the end of Swan Creek for variety.







After nearly a full week of rain it was an opportunity to paddle in the sunshine. At least that was the forcast. But as usual the met boys were a little off. The morning was overcast solidly. With hopes of an improvement later in the day, we took off for Rock Hall and the tiny town of Gratitude just on the east side of that town. We arrived at the beach where parking is free and garbage and a port a pot is provided by the town government. A small set of waves from a passing motoryacht broke through the opening in the protective T-groin jetties. With a southern exposure to the large opening of the Chester River, there is often a chop impinging on this shore. In the distance we could see the north end of Kent Island and the unmistakeable Bay Bridge. We prepped the boats and launched off the sandy shore in knww deep water.




We paddled west to the harbor entrance. With a good weather forecast for this first weekend in June, pleasure yacht were streaming out of the harbor like pearls on a necklace. We picked stayed close to the shore to stay out of the channel. We passed along the marinas, a forest of clanging aluminum masts. Care was necessary to pick out the ones moving out of that forest that would soon apppear abruptl from between one of the many docks. I noticed that most of the yachts had a home port in Pennsylvania. Many of the newer larger ones had for sale signs on them, another casulaty of the finance and bank deleveraging I suppose. Near one marina, i saw something I have never seen in almost sixty years on the Chesapeake Bay - someone running a trot line (crabbing) with a sailboat.


After a tour of the harbor we headed up Swan Creek - the major tributary into the harbor. There are several new houses on the banks since I was here last - five years ago. But it is still mostly open with a few patches of unbroken forest reaching to the shoreline.




Swan Creek twisted a few times until a very shallow open bay suddenly contracts to about a 10 meter stream. Unlike most marsh areas the deeper water in this littel ebay is on the inside of the curve, a fact that we did not discover until the return trip.




Once the creek gets narrow the depth increases dramatically and it continues for about a mile until the creek is not more than one boat length wide. Then it travels through a culvert under Swan Creek road. Our trip had reached its farthest point and we turned around and retraced our steps back. The sun had come out finally and the temperature rose as predicted. It was a pleasant trip paddling back to the beach against the steady stream of returning day sailers. We practiced bracing in the shallow basin inside the jetties where an error would not cause any undue grief. After loading up we headed over to Rock Hall harbor to get a burger. The lttle restaurant right next to the ramp sells a great crab cake sandwich ($15.00), but I stuck with the burger which was good if expensive. At $9.00 it seemed a little unnecessary to charge 50 cents for a slice of onion.


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