MD - Patapsco River - 2001/10/27 - 18.0 Miles



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Bear Creek is a tributary of the Patapsco River just before the serious traffic of Baltimore Harbor really starts. Across the Potapsco is Curtis Bay where the largest coast guard station on the East Coast is located. Home to the repair dry docks for the Coast Guard, enhanced security in the wake of 911 almost gets us arrested.





Bear Creek Launch site
Bear Creek launch Site



Julio Perez and I got an idea to paddle in Baltimore harbor. We consulted the Maryland Ramps and Fishing Piers guide and saw that there were several facilities listed for the Bear Creek area. We arranged to meet each other at one of the sites for a paddle out of Bear Creek, across the Potapsco and up Curtis Creek on the south side of the outer regions of Baltimore Harbor.


Bear Creek launch regulations
Launch Ramp with regulations



We spent a lot of time checking these "launch" locations without having any success finding the ramps. Eventually we figured out that these were just fishing locations with no ramps available. Facilities available at each site are located in the tables along the borders of the map and had we paid attention to them we could easily have figured this out. With cell phones keeping the two of us in contact we finally settled on a launch site near the mouth of Bear Creek. The directions to this ramp are easy to miss as there are many unusual streets and high speed restricted access roads in this area.


Curtis Bay Coast Guard station
Curtis Bay Coast Guard station



We finally launched about 11:00 AM and paddled across the busy harbor, taking care to stay out of the way of the many powerboats speeding up and down the main channel of the harbor. There were few tankers moving this day and their wakes were actually smaller than those of some of the pleasure cruisers. The water was quite flat with almost no breeze as we entered the mouth of Curtis Bay.

The banks of Curtis Creek are all heavy industry until after the bridge carrying the Baltimore Beltway Interstate 695 spans the creek. Just past the bridge is the Curtis Bay Coast Guard station, the largest station on the east coast. Here is where all the larger Coast Guard ships are serviced. There are several Dry docks here and always a lot of interesting ship activity.


Cadet training ship
Three-Mast cadet ship in dry dock




At this time the Coast Guard Training ship, the three masted sailing ship, was in dry dock. I wanted to get a picture of the interesting boat so I paddled up to take a picture. My approach began to interest several posted sentries on the bridge of the cutter you see iin the picture above. As they glassed me from the bridge and began calling on the radio i decided that perhaps I would not get such a close picture after all. We paddled around to the other side of the drydock where there was a much better picture of the three master anyway.

After about 15 minutes from my first picture, we were approached by 4 Coast Guardsmen in a high speed tender with blue light flashing. Seems that sensitivity to security extended even to kayaks after the 9/11 incident of just 6 weeks ago and we were asked politely but firmly to remove ourselves from the area. We decided that this was a good spot to turn around and head back for the day. (Note: It is now the official policy that ALL vessels must maintain a 100 yard distance from any naval vessel. Fines and imprisonment are possiblities for violating this new regulation)


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EVEN THE BEST BOATERS CAN FIND THEMSELVES IN SERIOUS TROUBLE ON THE MILDEST OF DAYS ON THE WATER. PARTICIPATION IN THIS SPORT IS A STRENUOUS ACTIVITY. CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN BEFORE UNDERTAKING ANY SUCH ACTIVITY. PLEASE BE AWARE THAT EACH BOATER TAKES FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR HIS OR HER OWN SAFETY, AND IS TOTALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR ASSESSING THE DANGER LEVEL AND ACCEPTING THE CONSEQUENCES OF PARTICIPATING IN THIS SPORT.


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