August 22: Coles Point Marina to Coan River Marina
Day 07 - Eagles, Osprey and Herons, oh my!
Wow, it’s already Day 7 of the Island to Island Journey with Whit and Joe and to say the least, these guys are tired. Their daily routine thus far is getting up by 4 in the morning (can you do that?), breaking down camp, dragging the kayaks to their launching point, re-packing their gear appropriately and setting off into the dawn light for a two-digit mileage paddle.
“You get up and the first thing you do is listen to the wind, waves and check the sky,” Joe told me. Every paddle is highly dependent on the day’s weather. Earlier this week, they were hit with some big storms, but other than that, they both assured me that they have been more than lucky with the weather.
When they finally reach their destination, the protocol is to eat, set-up camp and take a much deserved nap. After that, there’s plenty of fun time to fish and swim before going down for an early bedtime by 9pm.
But before they hit the sack, they always have time to squeeze in a phone call with me. This time the phone was handed to Joe, the Sycamore Island Caretaker, and he had some great anecdotes. Last night, during their leisure time at Coles Point Marina, Joe caught five fish! He has to look up what they are, but describes that they are about sunfish-size. Rad. This morning, Jupiter, Venus and Mars were really bright in the sky – great omen before a long paddle (16.5 miles in total). Other than seeing beautiful celestials, a notable part of their journey is the silence. If you grew up in the DC metro area, this is not a gift you’re granted with often.
“It’s surprisingly quiet during the week. Sometimes you’ll get working boats, setting up crab traps or once in a while, an Air Force jet will shoot over. But otherwise, all we hear are osprey and eagles. There’s no road traffic,” Joe described. At the Day 1 launch at Fletcher’s Cove, Joe told me that he was most looking forward to the solitude and remoteness the trip had to offer; the chance to just take it all in and realize that “life is bigger than you are.” He’s getting that full force now.
After witnessing a Great Blue Heron catch an eel, having a “weird” encounter with an unidentified fish surfacing and staring a Joe and diving away in the middle of the Yeocomico River and scratching their heads over all the working corn farms they saw along the river, Whit and Joe reached Coles Point Marina to be welcomed by the nicest set of folks they have met so far. Staff at the marina offered them their car to use! As generous as that was, Whit and Joe have been experiencing a bit of culture shock, coming from the silence of the river back to populated areas with things like…grocery stores.
“You spend seven days on the river, when you get in a grocery store, you want to buy everything, but on the other hand don't want to get anything and conform to the convenience,” Joe said.
I have been fascinated by all of the stories Whit and Joe have told me. They’re exhausted, but they’re getting stronger day-by-day as their kayaks get lighter. I ask that you help boost their morale by giving them feedback on our Twitter feed and Facebook wall. They’d appreciate it!
But what’s the point of their journey? I have had a lot of folks ask me that question. The simple answer, other than for FUN, is for the river. Whit and Joe are not only setting out on a journey to solidify their connection with the Potomac, but they’re also opening a window for you to look through to experience the river for yourself; to experience her wildness, her mystery, her covered wounds.
Knowledge is power and we believe that people who have a personal investment in the river (which is everyone in this region) are more willing to protect it and bring light to the issues that it faces. Whit and Joe are paddling each mile, documenting and reporting their sightings, telling stories of the Potomac’s history and flagging hot spots that you should be aware of on the river. Island to Island is for YOU. So sit, relax and enjoy the Potomac at your fingertips. Then ask, what can I do to preserve such a great resource?
Want more from Joe? Follow his Caretaker’s log.