|By Julio Perez
The plans for this trip, like many, were lost to circumstances from the beginning. Hopes for an early Friday departure altered due to that nagging voice from within saying “I need to remain employed to feed my kayaking habit”. Ted, the official trip photographer and I managed to depart Baltimore only six hours after hoped for. The expected arrival at about 3:00PM became a reality about 9:00PM. The trip was uneventful and short.
Two and a half hours from northern Baltimore, the town of Dewey Beach is located at the northeast corner of Rehoboth Bay and six miles south of the better known town of Rehoboth Beach. Winter is a great time to travel the waters of the Delmarva beach region. Most of the shore towns businesses are closed except for services essential to the few that stay to winter there. The pace of life is near hibernation, the waterways are not choked with traffic, gas or oil slicks and the locals are more willing to take the time for idle chatter with visitors.
The return downriver was also peaceful and from the put in commenced the longer part of the trip to Rehoboth Bay and across to the town of Dewey Beach. Two miles from Rt. 24, the creek banks begun to diverge from <100 yards to about 1.5 miles where Love Creek spills into Rehoboth Bay. This is where civilizations encroachment was suddenly apparent. There were large housing developments on both sides and the Dewey Beach water tower could be seen in the distance. Still, after nearly two hours on the water we had not seen another boat, it felt like virginal exploration, or the fantasy anyway.
Our first journey out was on a bright , warm (62F) Saturday January 25 th. Good maps of the area are abundant and inexpensive so locating and arriving at a put in on Love Creek was a simple task. We chose to put in at a ramp on the south side of the Route 24 bridge and were on our way at 10:30AM. (There are ramps on both the north and south sides.) Paddling north, or upriver, for the 2 miles to shallow water was characterized by no river traffic, a mild current and scenes with few houses, much marsh and a variety of birds. Most memorable were scattered small flocks of Hooded Merganzer and a flight of snow geese that numbered in the thousands and was seen overhead for several minutes. The river bottom is silty and in several places it was easy to bury most of the length of my paddle blade in the muck.
The hunger and bladder alarms sounded as we rounded the Johnson Branch so there was a brief stop on a small marsh island in the bay. This is where I was inspired to contemplate the age old question “How does man pee in a dry suit without peeing in the dry suit”? Ted was kind enough to capture my image mid thought.
A waypoint was marked at the entrance to the Lewes Rehoboth Canal for the next trip. We crossed to the town of Dewey taking time to admire the frequent contrasts between housing developments and wide tracts of marsh and grassland. It is well into afternoon as we skirt the shore southward. Where we find those few sharing the water with us. Sailboarding and Kiteboarding seem to be very popular. 10-15 boarders are out enjoying the 15-20knot winds.
With about one hour of daylight left and intent on holding on to every minute the pace was a crawl for the last 2 miles. The sky begun the light show that the creek reflected like stained glass. During almost every trip there is a moment of acknowledgement that this experience is worth appreciating and better because it is shared. This was it.
Those same winds that plague our crossing of the middle bay. The east to west crossing is slowed by southwest winds that require deployment of my skeg, aggressive rudder use by Ted and frequent correcting strokes. It becomes an effort to stay close because the boats are effected so differently by the wind. This is where the hard work of the trip was done. It took one and a half hours of hard paddling to cross a three-mile bay. At mid crossing we decide to stop fighting it and allowed the wind to ferry us into the mouth of Love Creek.
Our take out was uneventful, the ride back to the condo in silence except for the redundant, wasn’t that great. To make it better we had a comfortable place to stay, reflect and relax before the next days journey.
This leisurely Sunday morning paddle lived up to expectations with appearances from Mergansers, Canada and Snow Geese, Swan, Grebe, Coot, Bufflehead, as well as small and large sandpipers, Red tail Hawk, Black Vulture and the usual heron, gulls and terns. At times it was hard to decide in which direction to look. For a paddler accustomed to 10-20+ mile outings, covering 5 miles in three and a half hours was not in the least boring. Most memorable was rounding the western end of Burton Island and being aware of a cacophony of indistinct character coming from across the water. It sounded as if there were a battle being waged on the far shore. As we got closer to the southern shore the noise was clearly the grating song of thousands of geese near the south shore. I had never heard nature so loud. The current sped us noticeably toward the canal that lead into the marina at the north of the inlet. We made the short (50 yd.) portage that completed the circumnavigation of Burton Island. Now more than two hours into a relaxed trip we cut the pace further and circle the cove adjacent to Rt1. Too quickly, we arrive at our put in. Beautiful day great paddle.
Sunday, January 26 was another miraculous day with temps in the 60’s light winds and clear skies. At the southwest corner of Rehoboth Bay is the Indian River Inlet. It is a narrow waterway connecting the Indian River and Rehoboth Bay to the Atlantic Ocean. The islands north of the inlet and just within the Indian River are part of the Delaware Seashore State Park.. These marshy islands create a luxurious habitat for a wide variety of wildlife. After many years of taking Delmarva for granted I noticed that many people in my travels that had this region in their intended travel lists because of it’s wildlife. Most impressive to me was the great variety of birds that regularly travel through. Although mid winter is not the best season for overall variety it is excellent for spotting different ducks.
Click here for C&D Canal Paddle Trip report
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