Friday, July 17, 2015

Kayaking Janes Island Part 3: The Brown Trail

Setting out to paddle the longest of the water trails at Janes Island. This trail goes around the entire Island. Wednesday was a very calm day and although it looks overcast it was not. It was just very humid. So we set out to attempt the brown trail which is about 12 miles and goes completely around Janes Island. Yes I know there was a water spot on my lens...

There is a modest amount of traffic on Daugherty Creek Canal, mostly crab boats. 

Leaving Daugherty Canal we enter the Crisfield harbor.

Russ and Mark paddling on the calm waters. The water was calm and at times like glass. There was very little wind so paddling was very easy. My elbow however still gave me some difficultly.

Such calm conditions.

Condos in Crisfield. 

We saw Bald Eagles. My Olympus TG4 waterproof camera is not great for these kinds of shots but you can tell it is a Bald Eagle.

There was this chimney thing which we paddled over to explore and to take a break before heading around the point to the open waters of Tangier Sound and around Janes Island. I later found that this was part of an old fish factory that had was built at Old House Cove by Dennis and Milligan in 1871 and was eventually run out of business as regulations and the 1929 crash and subsequent depression took it's toll on the fishing industry. We decided to go take a closer look.

Once at the beach we didn't want to battle our way through the green heads, the brush and poison ivy to see what the chimney thing was.

It was such a calm and tranquil day but here is one big problem when there is no wind. No wind means lots of green heads. Green heads are large flies with green heads that leave a nasty bite. They love marshes and they love to swarm you. They are slow moving so when they bite you you are sure to be able to swat them and kill them. Their bite can often draw blood and leave nasty welts. Even Deep Woods Off won't stop them from attacking.

We spent about 15 minutes walking the beach, stretching our legs and backs before the big paddle on Tangier Sound.

Another view of the chimney and those are some sort of concrete boxes. I do not know exactly what they are but I assume they may have been some sort of holding tanks for the fish.

The red boat is mine. The orange one is Robs.


We we discussed the wisdom of continuing around the Island on Tangier Sound. It is a long paddle at this point and my elbow was not 100% but I was holding up ok. Russell's boat is not the best for this kind of trip and he was starting to tire. We decided to push on and if worse came to worse we could get to the yellow trail and head back from where we had been on the beach the day before, if we could find it!

We set off but Russell did have a hard time keeping up with us so it was slow going.

As we got further around the Island it became clear that we would be wise to find the beach that lead to the yellow trail. We managed to find it easily. We just looked for the beach where the driftwood tree that I photographed Mark, Russ and Rob the day before. and we found it at about the 7 nautical mile mark on the brown trail. Rob's expensive waterproof GPS unit decided to no longer be waterproof and started acting up a little before that point so the distance may not be accurate. It was more than 5.5 nautical miles but less than 8. 

Once we found the beach we had to portage the kayaks the short distance across to the other side and launch onto the yellow trail and head back to the docks.

This is not good paddling Rob was trying to wash the nasty muck off his feet.

We did get back to the docks in a short time after that. It was a great paddle and while we were disappointed we didn't complete the brown trail we were happy with what we did accomplish.

This is the map of our route. The total miles we paddled was 8.51.

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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Kayaking Janes Island Part 2: Chincoteague/Assateague Side Trip

Continuing with images from our 4 day mini-vacation at Janes Island MD. After our first paddle on the yellow trail we took a drive over to Chincoteague and Assateague Islands Wildlife Preserve in Virginia. Chincoteague Island is a very quaint place and the Wildlife Preserve itself is a gem. We only made a quick car tour of it as it was late in the day. We decided that we will return for a longer stay some time in the future. Chincoteague is well known for it's wild ponies. We only saw a few off the highway and they were at a great distance down in a marsh so I didn't manage any photos of them, however just as they came into view the song that started to play on the radio was The Stones "Wild Horses"! I kid you not! (All images were shot with an Olympus TG4.)

Of course me being a lighthouse addict I just had to stop at Assateague Light! It is quite a lovely lighthouse and it is still a working navigational maintained by the US Coast Guard. It was past 3PM when we got there so it was not open to the public when we were there so we didn't climb it. I have seen that you can tour the Island Refuge by kayak so it would be wonderful see it from the water when we get back there.

The beaches are so lovely!

Being still "off season" and so late in the day, the beaches were pretty empty.

The sand was that lovely soft sand which is such a pleasure to walk on in bare feet.

Chincoteague is well known for it's Wild Ponies but these "Chincoteague Ducks" are well known, well loved and protected in the local community. Not to mention just adorable!

They put on a little parade for us.

The babies are quite grown now but still cute.

Papa duck stops traffic so they can cross. It was so funny to watch.

Papa stayed there until the last ones were safely across the street. Some of the people in their vehicles were not so happy to see them as they had to wait quite a long time for them to all finish crossing. It is a serious offense to not stop for the ducks. The people of Chincoteague take protecting their ducks very seriously! 

The wharf in downtown Chincoteague. Such a quant place!

Another view of the waterfront.

Get that fire going Rob!

After our little side trip to Chincoteague and Assateague we headed back to our cabin in Janes Island to roast hot-dogs over an open fire and make s'mores. I have hot-dogs maybe once a year so that was it for me. I've never had s'mores before oddly enough. I'm not a fan of marshmallows and while they were very tasty one was enough for me! It was just wonderful to spend a quiet evening sitting around the open fire on the water's edge watching the fireflies in the marsh across Daugherty creek canal.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Kayaking at Janes Island State Park in Maryland

These images are all from our four day mini-vacation/kayaking trip to Janes Island Sate Park in Maryland with a side trip to Chincoteague and Assateague Virginia. We went with two of the boys, Rob and Russ. Jon didn't feel like going with us for this trip. We left Monday morning and got home Thursday afternoon. It was a lovely break for us. All of the images were taken with my new Olympus TG4 waterproof camera. It is a nice compact waterproof camera that I can take out on the water with me and not have to worry about. Not the best quality images but they are definitely passable.

This is our little cabin in the woods and that is our kayak trailer. The cabin was quite "rustic".

Rob and Mark bringing in some firewood onto the porch. We planned to use the firepit for roasting some hotdogs and making s'mores at some point during our trip.

This is the dock area of Janes Island State Park. This is where we launch our kayaks.

At the park you can always rent kayaks if you do not have your own.

Another view from the docks.

We came here to kayak the water trails. This is looking west toward the start of the yellow trail.

This is looking south toward the town of Crisfield MD.

Looking straight across from the docks is the start of the Yellow trail. All the water trails can be reached via the yellow trail to the red trail. We decided to take the yellow and red trails since high tide was very early in the morning and those trails are navigable even at low tide.

 Russ is ready to head out.

Rob on the yellow trail.

An Osprey sitting atop a pole on the yellow trail. The Olympus TG4 is not great for wildlife shots but since it is waterproof and lightweight when kayaking it is the perfect companion.

After a couple of miles paddling we reached the beach on Janes Island. We stopped here to stretch our legs and explore a little.

We hiked over to the Tangier Sound side of the Island. The brown trail goes entirely around the island and is about 12 miles. We hope to attempt that one tomorrow if the wind is calm. The wind was pretty strong today so taking the yellow trail was challenge enough especially since I've been suffering a sore elbow.

The beach on Tangier Sound is lovely. There was no one else around.

Looking back toward the dunes.

Some driftwood. This driftwood photo will come in handy in next weeks blog entry.

Time to get ready to leave the beach and continue on the yellow trail to pick up the red trail. My kayak is the red one.

Rafting up to consult the map of the trails.

Russ turned out to be the best navigator. He has an uncanny sense of direction and is just good at it.

Still consulting the map. Russ of course was right all

This is the track for the yellow and red trail that we took on the first Janes Island paddle Tuesday. It was approximately 4.42 Nautical Miles. Map courtesy of Google Earth.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Kayaking to The Graveyard of Ships - Staten Island NY

Last summer Rob and I went with a group of NJ kayakers to the "Graveyard of Ships" on the Arthur Kill in Staten Island. We launched from the Woodbridge NJ Public Dock and paddled across the shipping lane and then headed north to the Staten Island location. The "Graveyard" is a salvage yard for old ships. At one time not so long ago there were hundreds of old rusting hulks there. They have been working hard to clean it up.  After Super Storm Sandy there are not many left there. 

This is one of the larger remains that still stands tall in the water. There is much debris under the water and that makes for a somewhat dangerous situation. You have to be very careful navigating this area. Glass boats are not a good idea here, plastic boats are much better.

After exploring some of the wrecks we paddled over to the now closed Arthur Kill Landfill which no longer stinks...thank goodness...for a lunch/snack break. I still wouldn't swim here.

After the break we paddled back across to the NJ side and back toward the Woodbridge Dock.

This is an old Staten Island Ferry wreck that is sitting on the Jersey side. Not sure why it is there. The Perth Amboy fire boat was there. 

It turned out they like us were just there checking it out. There is what appears to be an Osprey nest up in the "crows nest" on the Ferry.

Some of the braver, or crazier of us went onto the old rusted hulk to get a better look. Most of us were perfectly happy just to paddle around her and explore from a safe distance.

That's my oldest son Rob checking it out from the water.

One last look before we head back to the dock. It was a wonderful day but I am not sure if I will do it again. The water is not that clean here although it is much better than it used to be. I wouldn't want to capsize here!

This trip is not for the feint of heart. It's a large tidal river and conditions can be rough although that day could not have been nicer. This is also a very busy shipping lane with huge tankers that navigate up and down the river. Those ships cast huge wakes and can easily capsize an inexperienced kayaker so it is important to have reliable skills and it is wise to go with a large group so you are more visible. You must be able to keep up with the group as well so longer faster boats are a good idea here. This was a very quiet weekend with very little traffic on the river. We only dealt with the wake of a large tug that day. You also have to watch where you paddle so as not to paddle into restricted areas. There are many petroleum product tank farms here which are very restricted for obvious reasons so you must keep your distance.

All the above images were shot with my iPhone 5s with various settings so I am not posting the EXIF data. I cannot change those settings anyway so they are whatever the phone chose.