Sunday, October 19, 2014

Circumnavigating Chincoteague

Yesterday I kayaked completely around Chincoteague Island with my boat, Maybell High Tide, and my friend Josh, in a Coastal Kayak. It was a paddle between 18 and 20 miles.

moon jelly
This has been a dream of mine since I moved here and I am so grateful I was able to accomplish it. The conditions were in our favor until the wind shifted and picked up significantly, leaving us silent, forcing all energy on not stopping, for if we did, we would immediately blow backwards. We were chased by dogs in the water, took two out of boat breaks, one restful, one sinking in mud being bitten by fish and snails. Flew by more than half of the island in 4 hours and took 5 and a half hours more to finish.
Good morning!

The last 10 miles were met with challenge, we gave it hell, dug deep and eventually found the humor in it. We did it.

 -Caroline 10/18/14

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Love October Paddling (possibly the very most!)

There's not a month between March and December that I don't really, really enjoy kayaking (or doing anything at all, for that matter) on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. That said, I LOVE OCTOBER THE MOST!!! For one thing, there are monarch butterflies everywhere. The Shore, particularly the southern tip, is a major stop on their migration from Canada to Mexico. If you catch the day just right, the marsh is golden with butterfly wings! I haven't caught that day yet this year, but it's been over a week since I've seen less than five in a day...six yesterday between Cape Charles and Nassawadox Creek.

nice October day off Church Creek

Of course, the weather is fantastic for paddling. The water is still relatively warm, and the air is clear and crisp. The cordgrass is starting to yellow, the succulent glasswort is taking on a bright red, and the leaves on the deciduous trees of the maritime forest are beginning to turn among the needles of the loblollies. And the birds! This peninsula is a popular stopover for all kinds of species traveling along the Atlantic Flyway, one of the chief reasons The Nature Conservancy has taken such a keen interest in this area, known as the Virginia Coast Reserve. The loons and grebes will be arriving soon, the terns and ibis are still hanging out, and the curlews and gnatcatchers are stopping through. No wonder the Eastern Shore Birding & Wildlife Festival is held in Cape Charles every year in October!
loads of belted kingfishers back here!

I'd go on, but then I'd still be sitting in the shop at this computer instead of getting out and paddling the marsh again!


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Family Bonding with Your Guide

No matter where you go or for how long of a paddle, if you're on one of my tours, we will be making at least a little bit of a bond. It's nearly impossible, when I'm out in the marsh, guiding my group through the winding creeks toward the middle of nowhere, for me not to feel a connection between us.

I recently had a particularly gratifying early morning Half Day Paddle with a mother and her 19 year old son out of the Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. The Half Day and Full Day tours give me an opportunity to really get to know my guests...and teach them everything I can think of. (Don't get me wrong. The Two Hour is fantastic for that, as well!) We went out just before high tide, and Michele and I got a kick out of watching Dylan explore every little side creek we passed. He got pretty far up into a couple and even found us a short cut back from the spot on the western side of the marsh where we were watching the bald eagles in the trees. All the while, of course, surrounded by periwinkle snails clinging to the tops of the cordgrass blades.

No need to wonder whether these two had a good time!
We had a nice long stop on Raccoon Island, and the look on their faces when I pulled cold bottles of water of out my kayak hatch was classic! After our refresher and some hermit crab observation, we went back to the boats for the open water portion of our adventure. And that's when I really got to experience the dynamic between mother and son! They were joking back and forth and quizzing each other on things we had seen already (including their first ever glossy ibis sighting), and I thought, "Kayakers really are my people." At the end of our four hour expedition, we were all ready for lunch and feeling about as happy as we could be about our time together in the wild. We had hugs by the water and assured each other that we would see each other again.

I'm sure I'm off to guide another family soon, but this one, and each one, nestles into a special place in my heart.

-Margaret 7/10/14

Monday, June 23, 2014

Paddling into Summer

Summer is officially here! Well technically it was here 2 days ago, but lets not focus on that. My summer began with an awesome group of 4 paddling in the Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. This trip, while being the first of the summer, also held another first. It was the first time I had someone flip their kayak twice! Now I don't want you to have the impression that it was because this particular person wasn't a skilled kayaker. One the contrary! He paddled very well. What caused him to get wet was his wanting to make sure his wife was okay. In the process of turning his head around to see where she was, he lost his balance and can figure it out. I guess we can say that instead of being head over heels in love he is head under water in love with his wife! But in all seriousness, I had a blast on the water with Jim, Barbara, Dave and Kris. While the paddling was more difficult than usual due to the wind and the current, we were still able to share some laughs and see some awesome wildlife. I know that so far this year I have been lucky to have some great folks come paddling with me and I know my fellow guides have had a ton of fun as well. We will see what the rest of the summer holds!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Fun of a Full Day Paddle

Had a great Full Day Paddle out of the Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge the other day! My folks weren't into an open water crossing, so we started off by really exploring the salt marsh in down a couple little creeks that I don't usually get to explore on the shorter trips. We had a nice stop for lunch (courtesy of the Cape Charles Coffee House) on nearby
Kim & Alan explore the marsh
Raccoon Island where we watched sharks making baby sharks off the western tip of the island. Swung by a wild clam bed I know of for a little "catch and release" clam digging and had the pleasure of watching a Black Skimmer glide along a tidal pool on the mud flat as we cooled ourselves in the creek. Lots of American Oystercatchers, Terns, and Osprey, as well as a handful of Bald Eagles. Even caught a glimpse of a Tricolored Heron in flight and a few Diamondback Terrapins sunning themselves on the banks. Love this job!
-Margaret 6/12/14

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Kid in All of Us

There’s just something about pirates. Whether it’s Hollywood’s Pirates of the Caribbean or The Goonies, pirates bring out the kid in all of us. After all, who wouldn’t want to go on a treasure hunt for gold, jump off of the plank, or show off all the fancy sailing lingo like yawl, spinnaker, transom, grommet, or halyard. If you don’t know what those words mean, don’t worry-neither do I. Ask our friends onboard the Lynx and they will surely give you a great answer that may or may not go over your head.

On Monday, the employees of SouthEast Expeditions had the privilege of sailing from Norfolk to the Cape Charles Harbor on the Lynx, a 122-foot Baltimore Clipper. The ride across the beautiful Chesapeake Bay gave us the opportunity to see the Eastern Shore in a whole new light; what appeared to be a smudge on the horizon became more and more like our home as we sailed towards the Harbor. The Bay seemed infinite and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel rose on our right like a towering roller coaster staring down at its anxious riders. Onboard, we learned how the original Lynx was instrumental in defending American freedom by blockading U.S. ports and evading the British naval fleet.

The Lynx is currently docked at the Cape Charles harbor in preparation for the third annual Tall Ships Festival. Stop by this Thursday-Sunday and tour the Lynx, Kalmar Nyckel, Serenity, and the Apostle. There will also be music, food, art vendors, a pirate costume contest, parade, and cannon and pistol demonstrations. For this weekend, it’s completely acceptable to be a little kid again because well…pirates and big ships.


Friday, June 6, 2014

Coming for the Tall Ships? Stay for the Kayaking!

One of the most appealing parts of living on the Eastern Shore is the slow paced, relaxed nature of the place. But don’t let that fool you into thinking there’s nothing to do here! Coming up on the 14th and 15th of June, the Tall Ships are coming to Cape Charles. Dress like a pirate, book a sunset sail, tour the decks, or show up for the cannon demonstration! The Tall Ships are a great reason to come to Cape Charles. And I know all too well that once you get here, you’ll find plenty of reasons to stay.

Here are two of my favorites:

Our 2 hour tours through the Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge—this trip is great for the young and old, as well as new and experience paddlers. Join one of our knowledgeable guides as you weave through the salt marsh and learn something new about this wonderful place. From sky-high osprey to eye-level periwinkle snails, to blue crab beneath your boat, this trip is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.

Our Kayak Winery tour is the first (and the best) in the world! You will truly experience the heart of the Eastern Shore as you paddle from a waterman’s wharf to a beautiful vineyard—one that’s been a part of a working farm for nearly 400 years. After a lovely paddle along Church Creek, take a short but scenic stroll into Chatham Vineyards tasting room where you can sip award-winning wine while you investigate the very room it was made in.

I have been working with SouthEast for a little over a year now, and I can honestly say I have yet to have a kayaking experience I didn’t enjoy. It’s a remarkable place to live, and we love sharing it with you!