Atlantic Kayaking

During a sea kayak course in Anglesey last September some e-mail addresses where exchanged. One thing leads to another. In June and July I coached at Atlantic Kayak Company on the East Coast of the United States.

Friday 30 May 2003
After standing in line at airport immigration for two and a half hours I have become immune to waiting lines. For the next two month I will live in a house boat in Piscataway Creek, a small bay off the Potomac opposite of Mt. Vernon in the state of Maryland. Mark warns me that it can become gruelling hot in the house boat when summer gets on its way.

Saturday 31 May
All classes are cancelled because of the weather forecast. My preparations for the navigation class are therefore shelved for a while. The automated voice of the weather radio speaks of severe thunderstorms and a chance for a tornado developing. This message automatically triggers follow-up information on what to do in case of a tornado: board-up doors and windows and go to the cellar; this is hard to accomplish in a house boat. In the afternoon Patty and I explore Piscataway Creek. Because Atlantic Kayak has 'all' brands and types of sea kayaks and paddles I try to test a different one every day. Today I start in a familiar sea kayak; the NDK Explorer and a Lendal Kinetic Touring straight shaft. Piscataway Creek has some resemblance to an area in the Netherlands, called 'de Biesbosch'; with its fallen trees, small side creeks, Canada geese, herons, two beaver lodges, red-winged blackbirds and at least fifteen Osprey sightings. The weather remains favourable. Only during dinner on the houseboat a thunderstorm passes by.

Sunday 1 June
Weather: NW 25 kn gusts 40 kn late morning and afternoon
I have a group of four people for a BCU 2-star training. But only Bill and Todd show-up. It turns out to be a day of 2/3-star in the shelter of the dock. In the evening Mark and I cross the Potomac to Mt. Vernon. Along the way we find out why it is that there are so many Osprey around. Every fixed beacon has a nest of these birds. We see one Osprey catch a fish and fly away with it. Today I paddle a Nigel Foster Legend with a Lendal Nordkapp modified crank shaft.

Monday 2 June
Today I have a day off. In the evening Mel has last minute clients for a Gangplank tour. Atlantic Kayak has a small dock in the Gangplank marina in the centre of Washington DC. From here guided tours go out on the Potomac. I follow Mel with my car through the centre of DC. Left and right I pass the historic buildings. I have been here in 1987 on my first US visit. I recognize most buildings, but I have yet to visit one of the museums. The tour reminds me somewhat of an Amsterdam canal tour, but than without the narrow canals. The two participants combine pleasure of sight seeing with a nice workout. We pass some buildings of over 150 years old. And nature reclaims urbanized areas. A few months ago the whole city was in turmoil on a felled cherry blossom tree in a park that is a major tourist attraction. After days of investigation and guarding, the offender, a beaver, was caught. But this 'arrest' did not prevent another tree to be felled a few days later by another beaver. For two whole weeks this issue kept the local news media and the citizens preoccupied. I paddled a Perception Carolina 14.5; a short poly-ethylene kayak with bulkheads and hatches and, for me, a terrible back band. After one hour I do not know how to sit anymore and I would feel my upper leg muscles for the following two days. The paddle is a Current Designs Cadence Aura of 220cm. This is the most common paddle that Atlantic Kayak has for its clients; some are 230 or 240 cm. The instructors use mainly paddles from Werner or Lendal. Of the Lendals they like the 215 cm with Kinetic Touring blades. And everyone here likes lightweight and therefore go for carbon.

Tuesday 3 June
Today is Mel's birthday. Patty informed me of this and I had to keep my mouth shut about the surprise party for some days now. I am already on my second car. I started my stay in an enormous Dodge van. Now I drive a Mitsu with a familiar manual gear. The traffic etiquette here is quite different from what I had experienced during earlier visits to the US. On the West Coast I remember very friendly drivers who rather yield than take the right of way. Here most are 'pirates'. I have to fight for every inch when I want to change lanes. By now I already have 'discovered' all exits of the 95, 495 and 395 (north, south, east and west) and have had a lot of practice in getting on and off the busy Capitol Beltway and the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge. Navigating my kayak is much easier than navigating my car.

Wednesday 4 June
My car has been 'stolen' again. Now I drive a Subaru. Wednesday evening is reserved for staff training. Judy, the owner of Atlantic Kayak, gives training to the guides. Most of the guides have worked here for a number of seasons already. Together with Patty I practice 3-star skills. She only paddles for a year now and already can do a 180 degrees bow rudder with a lot of edging in her Romany. We see a beaver and five deer, among which two calves.

Thursday 5 June
Tonight is demo evening. The entire staff is invited to try out as much different kayaks as possible and to write down their experiences. Many US designed kayaks have comfortable seats with high back rests. But these seats and back rests make skills like bracing and rolling more difficult. I have a positive experience with an Impex Currituck. The kayak handles familiar. I tried-out a number of kayaks from Current Designs. These kayaks are designed by Derek Hutchinson. The Andromeda handles very much like the P&H Sirius. There are many US details though. The positive aspect is the weight as the composite kayaks are vacuum bagged. The negative aspect at first glance seems to be the glued-in plastic bulkheads of which I do not know how shatter resistant they are. Some of the staff want to buy a new sea kayak. But after this demo evening their opinions of what is tippy has changed considerably.

Friday 6 June
Mark and Mel run a Coastal Kayaker Level-1 course. I assist and thus have my first experience with instructing 'the American way' (ACA) .There are not that many differences with the British (BCU) or even the Dutch Canoe Union (NKB). The most interesting part of the day is the paddle-float re-entry. At the basic level one is expected to do an unassisted rescue. Mark explains that the BCU does not teach the paddle-float re-entry. The BCU promotes kayaking in a group, in which case an assisted rescue, a T-rescue, is much more reliable. During the morning a student unintentionally capsizes and I automatically help this person back in the kayak in the Dutch way. The NKB still promotes the one drill of re-entering the cockpit in-between the kayaks. Because many paddlers in the Netherlands have a sea kayak with a small ocean cockpit, sometimes even with a knee tube, this makes perfect sense. But generally US kayaks have big keyhole cockpits. Entering from the back deck and twisting around in the seat may be even easier and also uses the same skills learned from the paddle-float re-entry. But the paddle-float re-entry is a slow rescue. Before the paddle-float is inflated and the paddle is secured under the bungee cords some minutes have passed. Furthermore there must be constant pressure on the paddle-float all through the rescue as not to capsize to the other side; known as a yellow rainbow as Mel explains. Back in the kayak the pumping out of the cockpit begins. The whole rescue takes a minimum of five minutes. The positive thing about this rescue is that attention is given to possible capsize and a way of re-entering the kayak. In rough water a paddle-float re-entry is very tricky or even impossible to pull off. It is not fair to compare the paddle-float re-entry to the re-entry-and-roll. The re-entry-and-roll is considered an advanced skill. The BCU requires a self-rescue at the 5-star level. Any method is allowed but in the rough waters the assessment is done only a re-entry-and-roll is reliable. Without knowing its limitation the paddle-float re-entry may give a false feeling of security. At least now I know why all US sea kayaks have bungee cords behind the cockpit; to secure the paddle for a paddle-float re-entry. Many US kayak designs; especially the poly-ethylene versions, have very few deck perimeter lines or use only bungee cords instead. These kayaks are a real pain in an assisted rescue or even for holding on to ones own kayak. And I am not too shy to say that therefore I deem those designs unsafe on any open water.

Saturday 7 June
Originally, a BCU 4-star training was scheduled at the ocean coast of Assateague Island. With only one participant the course is cancelled and also Mark immediately put on another course. At Piscataway Creek I help Myra. In the evening I paddle with Chris, Doug, Patty and Ian up Little Hunting Creek on the opposite side of the Potomac. I paddle a Current Designs Slipstream sea kayak with a carbon Werner Camano modified crank shaft paddle. Mel thinks of buying a new sea kayak. She asks my opinion about the Slipstream and I can only make her evaluations more difficult by saying that it paddles rather nicely.

Sunday 8 June
I am not scheduled for anything but Tracey insists I join her custom tour in the morning for a family of four. We see osprey, deer and bald eagles. In the afternoon I assist her with a group Girl Scouts of America who aim for their adventure badge. I explain the most effective way of stopping a kayak: capsizing. I and the kids have fun at it. Tracey knows how to handle this kind of group. Her new RomanyLV has returned from a week of guide training on the rough ocean coast in Maine with some scratches. Most owners of composite kayaks here are overly cautious in order to prevent any scratches to their kayak.

Monday 9 June
Today I assist Tracey with a trip for a whole class of the St. Thomas Moore School. The lunch break was planned at Mockley Point. With this horde of children an alternative beach is chosen because we do not want to disturb the nesting osprey there. Unfortunately it is a narrow beach and the water rises.

Tuesday 10 June
At last I find the time to rinse my paddling gear. It is very warm; a warning for what is about to come? Today Doug will be building a wooden kayak rack for on the floating dock. At some point I offer my help. Carrying the heavy Old Town Otters off the dock is already a major task. We are busy until 21:30 and with the fading light observe the result of our hard work. I am, I think acclimatized by know.

Wednesday 11 June
Another staff training. I run through the 3-star skills and find out that the BCU high support stroke might even be more difficult than the 'Dutch' high support stroke. According to the BCU the kayak needs to be off balance but there is no requirement for going with the ear in the water. But for a 'half' high support stroke more upper arm strength seems to be required and this aspect seems more dangerous during the learning stages than an extreme high support stroke. This is something to figure out in following sessions and classes. This evening I paddle a Valley Aquanaut with a standard Lendal Nordkapp straight shaft paddle. I cannot criticize the Aquanaut. All my rolls work in this sea kayak; the second kayak type in which I can pull this off.

Thursday 12 June
'7 AM dressed to paddle!' is the appointment Ian made with me to river paddle on the Potomac at Old Angler's Inn. Doug is there as well using his home-build classic C1. It has rained a lot this month and even in the last week. Today, the water level at Little Falls reads 6.35 ft. and 45000 cfs. Normal for this time of year would be 6200 cfs. I arrive already at 06:00, for this time I do not take any wrong exit. Other paddlers also cannot resist paddling before their workday begins. On this part the water levels are now high enough that even sea kayaks could practice in swift water and strong eddy lines. Doug complains about the lack of clearly defined eddies. Today, the eddies wander across the river. Our first try to get further upstream by getting to an eddy behind an island fails. Sweat is running from my forehead. The water is warmer than I anticipated and I am dressed to warmly. Ian and I climb over the island and a manageable eddy awaits us and we can paddle another distance upstream. Now we are at the play spot and I am already exhausted. I do not succeed in getting on the play wave. At one time I even have to roll which I only manage at the second try. My cockpit is filling up with water and while emptying the kayak I notice the drain plug has disappeared. Oops! I obviously did not check my equipment. Ian uses a rubber glove as a balloon and tapes that in the hole. Only at my fourth run I manage to get on the standing wave and from a distance it should appear that I am in full control. After this I start to get more and more tired and call it a day. But then I cannot resist following Ian in another rough patch. I use a little longer kayak than Ian does and I manage to gain enough speed to enter an upstream eddy. But this eddy is so strong that even with all out paddling I cannot prevent being sucked back into the main current. The eddy line is very rough and I capsize. After two failed rolls I am still in the rough and I decide to wait a while. Almost out of breath I try a third time and when that fails I bail out and I am flushed out of the rough patch. I am gasping for air and Doug is ready for the rescue, but stops short because we drift to another rock. In the following 'smooth' water I do a re-entry-and-roll and paddle to the shore with a half sunken kayak to empty it. Doug and Ian had not seen a re-entry-and-roll on white water before. I am still left with the frustration that my roll failed on the moment I needed it. I still have to mentally program myself to always use an extended paddle as a last resort. While catching eddies we return to the put-in. Here, Doug instructs us how to roll a C1 with a low brace manoeuvre. Getting in and out of a C1 is a challenge in itself. Rolling the C1 is very confusing for me. Totally worn-out I am typing this report in the Alexandria store.

Friday 13 June
Today, a BCU 3-star assessment is scheduled. There are two candidates. Alison already waits a year for the opportunity to do a 3-star assessment in this area. She paddles a 14' Carbon/Kevlar Impex Mystic sea kayak. Jessica appears with a 19'6" plywood Superior Kayaks Hawk SS sea kayak with matching Greenland paddle. A photo of this beautiful sea kayak will follow shortly I hope. I carefully explain how far I expect the high support strokes and sculling for support. I do not want to force them on the 'Dutch' norm with the ear in the water. They both then do this rather clumsy. If then both ask if they can do it their own way, they show extreme high support strokes and extreme sculling. Their level can be considered very high and on flat water (3-star) I think there is nothing more for them to learn.

Saturday 14 June
I assist Mark with an ACA Level-1 Coastal Kayaking course. The group consists of eleven participants. It is extremely warm in the bright sunlight. Even in my short neoprene it is almost unbearably warm. Today swimming trunks and t-shirt will do with the mandatory PFD. A spray deck is only welcome to prevent flooding the kayak when doing wet exercises. The water is so warm (25 degrees Celsius) that even these wet exercises do not provide too much refreshment. In the late afternoon the sky gets dark and after the first lightning strikes we rush ashore. Within fifteen minutes the thunderstorm with strong wind gusts rages above us. All kayaks are secured just in time. Because of the rain it cools down a little. Ian tells that near Great Falls on the Potomac a number of paddlers have been saved after a flash flood. The weather radio warns for flash floods in various areas. Because of the more than average rainfall in the past month the soil is saturated and every thunderstorm can create flash floods.

Sunday 15 June
Today, I assist Ian with a ACA Level-1 Coastal Kayaking course. The weather is perfect. At last there are 'normal' temperatures with an overcast sky. The group of ten is learning fast and at the end of the day some can even make a good high support stroke. There is a lot of swimming, because participants keep doing 'risky' exercises. Many T-rescues and, of course, the 'inevitable' paddle-float re-entry are the result.

Monday 16 June
From tomorrow I assist at leading a five-day Potomac river sojourn. This camping trip is very well organized with guides, interpretive programs, support truck, support boat, food, first-aid, etc. The daily distances are not that impressive, but the daily program schedule and the required organization around it are more than that. Ian has next week Monday and Tuesday off and maybe we can do some explorative paddling on the Atlantic coast.

Tuesday 17 June (Pohick Bay - Mason Neck; 7 mi)
Weather: 08:00: E 5-10 kn; waves < 1 ft.; chance of showers. 12:00: E 10-15 kn.
HW Gunston Cove: 10:47

Judy collects Tracey and me at Piscataway at 05:30. The '2003 Potomac River Sojourn' started last Saturday at Anacostia Park near the centre of DC. This multi-day trip is a annual event that gives attention to the environmental issues along the Potomac river. Twenty years ago the Potomac was still a very polluted river. Tracey, Todd and I are in charge on the water. Bob Murphy, Scott Meyer and Al Staats of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay are in charge on the land. Dave Kelsey is on the support vessel Crazy Loon. Last year ninety (!) paddlers attended. Judy is very cautious about safety and the health of the participants. This year has 'only' thirty participants on any day. Today we start at Pohick Bay. At 08:45 we set out with nineteen one and two-person boats of all shapes and sizes. We already arrive at 10:15 at Hallowing Pt., our intended lunch spot. Quickly a baseball game is started and, inevitable, a blade of Bob's spare paddle breaks. Last evening there was a lecture about the status of the river's Shad population. This type of fish is a kind of barometer for the water quality in the Potomac river. By the large numbers of osprey and bald eagles we see, the river seems quite healthy again. At 12:30 we leave again for the second part of the route to Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge. At 14:00 we are at High Pt. At 14:30 at Sandy Pt. At 15:20 we arrive at Mason Neck. Unfortunately it begins to rain. There is a shuttle back to Pohick Bay. My new tent is thoroughly tested in the continuous rain. Unfortunately the planned barbeque is cancelled and we take refuge under a wooden shelter. After dinner Don Chapelle talks and sings about the Chesapeake and it's tributaries. Later Cliff Fairweather arrives to talk about the owl population; appropriately in the pitch dark. This week I use a Valley Aquanaut and change between Lendal Kinetic Touring and Werner Kauai (?) paddles with a modified crank shaft. Both paddles are of carbon and I am very much spoiled here with all those lightweight paddles.

Wednesday 18 June (Mason Neck - Quantico; 9 mi)
Weather: 08:00: S 5-10 kn; waves flat; chance of showers and thunderstorms. 12:00: Variable 5-10 kn; waves flat.
HW Gunston Cove: 11:00

My tent proves to be waterproof and it even stops raining. Jess takes over from Todd. We start at 09:30 with fifteen boats in Mason Neck and cross Belmont Bay at the narrowest part. Midway we arrive at the channel markers. The red beacon has not (yet) been taken over by an osprey couple and I am encouraged to climb this beacon to make group photo's with everyone's camera. It is Dave's birthday and only now, in the deep channel, we succeed in luring him close to congratulate him with that. At 10:30 we are at Deephole Pt. The nautical chart shows a marsh at the west coast of Quantico Bay with a passage through it. The passage ends in a dense field of water plants. But we see herons, osprey, bald eagles and four water snakes that warm themselves on tree trunks on the water. From 12:20 tot 14:15 we lunch at Leesylvania State Park. The park ranger give us a tour of the centre. The whole area once was owned by the father of Robert E. Lee. The big breakfast and lunch sandwiches are heavy on my stomach. I change my Aquanaut for Jess's Hawk. I am leading from the front and I have to hold back not to go too quickly with this extremely fast sea kayak; despite the fact that I use the Greenland paddle that goes with it. The sea kayak paddles that well that I take my sleeping legs for granted. Just before landing at Quantico at 16:00 I take the time to practice some 'capsize manoeuvres'. With some pointers from Jess I manage to do a 'balance brace'. All rolls however appear much more difficult because of the different 'feel' that the sea kayak gives and the narrower blades of the Greenland paddle. Somehow I would think that it would have been easier with this sea kayak; there is still much to be learned. Quantico is a village that is totally enclosed by the biggest army base of the US Marines. The organization had arranged with the marina to camp there. But it appears now that the marina was not authorized to give that permission. By intervention of the Major himself we are now allowed to put our tents up in the city park. But not before the Major had finished his lengthy speech about everything we probably did not want to know about Quantico and it's 500 inhabitants. Because of the frequent rain and the high water levels, the beach is full with driftwood and litter. The litter is gathered and put into and next to the few litter bins around. It will probably fetch the local news when the garbage collectors conclude that paddlers leave enormous amounts of garbage behind... A fraction of the driftwood is collected for an evening camp fire. We have permission from the Major but we do not know if he has the authority. During the night it started to rain.

Thursday 19 June (Quantico - Camp Merrick; 13 mi)
Weer: 08:00: S 5-10 kn becoming light; waves < 1 ft.; showers and thunderstorms especially this morning.
HW Liverpool Pt.: 10:26

The morning starts with rain. Breakfast is a choice of four types of warm sandwiches: egg, egg/bacon, egg/turkey and 'combo'; a combination of the previous three. The composition of the group changes. Ian takes over from Tracey. Today we have ten boats on the water. During the trip there is daily contact with 'Alexandria store' to discuss the next leg of the trip. After such a contact, despite warnings for thunder storms, we leave at 08:45. The store had checked through the internet that at this moment there are no thunderstorms going our direction. We start the crossing of the Potomac and arrive at the opposite bank at 09:15. There is hardly any cargo traffic on the river. In earlier times Alexandria was an important port. Now there is only the occasional barge to and from sand collecting pits. The paper for the Alexandria newspaper is after it's take-over not transported via the river any more. During the rest of the trip I only occasionally see a barge transport or even recreational vessels. Furthermore the river is shoaling and very big ships cannot navigate on it anymore. From this point we see as many bald eagles as we see osprey. Almost every kilometre has a nest of these birds. I can only conclude that the bald eagle along the Potomac is as common as in Alaska, including the familiar screeching sounds they make. At 10:15 we are in Mallows Bay. Here is the result of a very strange part of US history. In a race to replace war losses to the merchant shipping fleet an enormous ship building operation was started near Quantico. But it was poorly managed and the ships were of a bad design as well. And when finally the first ships were finished the first world war had ended. The ships, unfinished or not, were kept afloat for a while at very high cost. Later they were sunken in Mallows Bay, and because they were an eye sore eventually burned down to the waterline. Despite this enormous 'white elephant' the US probably have learned a lot from this. In the second world war indeed more Liberty ships were build than the German navy could sink. What now remains is only the overgrown contours of ship wrecks with a lot of iron pegs and bands. I find it very 'tricky' to paddle here with all that submerged iron that can easily damage a glass fibre kayak. It has become very warm and that is a good excuse to do some wet exercises. Jess demonstrates some 'capsize manoeuvres'; a balance brace without using the paddle and some different Eskimo rolls. Ian and I will never catch-up this way. From 12:00 until 14:15 we have lunch in Wades Bay. A geologist tells us about the geology of the area. After that we go on a fossil hunt with the park ranger of Purse State Park. The initial excitement is quickly gone when it proves very easy to find fossilized shark teeth. At 14:40 we are at Smith Pt. At 16:30 we arrive at Camp Merrick. The evening program is contra dancing with Rakes & Roses; a traditional American dance on music, that to the ears of a foreigner like me, has something Irish about it.

Friday 20 June (Camp Merrick - Nanjemoy; 9 mi)
Weather: 08:00: N 5-10 kn; waves < 1 ft.; rain heavy at times, thunderstorms also possible.
HW Maryland Pt.: 10:30

At 10:00 we leave with thirteen boats from Camp Merrick. Despite the forecast, the weather looks quite nice. But the sky gets overcast quickly and the temperature drops noticeable. For the first time it is cold enough to wear neoprene. Originally we wanted to cross Nanjemoy Creek to visit a submerged aquatic vegetation project that Bob is involved with. Just by coincidence Jane lives nearby along the water. When the rain starts pouring at 12:30 and the wind does not allow for a crossing, we have lunch in her living room. At about 14:30 it stops raining and we paddle into Nanjemoy Creek. It is still ebbing and with a northerly wind against us we only progress slowly. The open canoes especially have a hard time. Mark paddles a one-person open canoe and has to work very hard to keep the canoe on course. Dave is signing off by VHF radio. His task is completed. The sun starts to shine again and we have a short break at Benny Gray Pt. Some of us paddle a little into Little Creek. Wearing my neoprene I soon get overheated but it is easy to cool down. At 17:00 we land at the Environmental Education Centre. With a camp fire and children around I get introduced to a typical American treat. A s'more is a heated marshmallow between two sweet Graham crackers with melted chocolate. Because of the rain the organizers have arranged for us to use cabins. But this night it would not rain. The evening programme passes us (Ian, Jess and I) by. We have to get the sea kayaks on the trailer. Tomorrow there is a short trip to Aqualand. I am tired and I do not join the visit to the observatory.

Saturday 21 June (Pope's Creek - Aqualand; 3 mi)
Weather: 08:00: NW 5-10 kn; waves < 1 ft.; scattered showers and thunderstorms, some storms could contain small hail.
HW Riverside: 11:00

At 10:30 we leave from Gilligan's Pier. There is a strong wind, already to the upper limit of the forecast. The already short trip is ended at Aqualand. There is even some surf and we land in the lee of a breakwater. The wind gets even stronger and is now at least force four. Here we finally have our barbeque. I think I have gained weight this week.

Sunday 22 June
I slept very well into the morning. I get some jealous looks of the instructors that are preparing at 08:00 for what promises to be another very busy day. In the afternoon I try out some new skills. Because I am struggling with the new skills there is a lot of splashing and still little skill involved. A few paddlers that leave the dock with rental kayaks inform if I in some trouble. In the evening (18:30) Patty, Bob, Valerie and I make a long trip downstream the Potomac until Marshall Hall. Valerie's parents gave her and her sister unpronounceable Dutch names. An average American cannot pronounce the name of 'Trijntje'. We are back at Piscataway Creek at 22:30. It appears that I will have another week trip ahead of me. This time it is the Patuxent river sojourn. This river flows into the famous Chesapeake Bay. The appointment with Ian is 'rescheduled' to next week. By now I have charts for the area around Fisherman's Island (12224). At first glance this area looks a little bit like the Dutch 'Waddenzee'; islands and tidal flats. Now I only have to find me some paddlers to accompany me on this.

Tuesday 24 June (Mt. Calvert - Patuxent River Park)
HW: 14:45
I take over from Judy. At the introduction it appears that there is another 'Dutch' person in our midst. Helena emigrated to the USA in 1967. We can communicate in Dutch. This trip is again organized by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay . In the morning we get onboard a motorboat for a cruise through Jug Bay Natural Area. And after that a nature hike. The park ranger explains that the natural vegetation of wild rice suffers very much from the grazing by resident geese. Now parts of the marsh are protected by a mesh wire. The resident geese are hunted. The geese that come here during their migration season do not create the same overgrazing problems. The park ranger goes full throttle through the small creeks but on the other hand I do not see any sign saying 'no wake zone'. We look at an osprey nest from close-by. It is difficult to imagine that about three hundred years ago these waters were frequented by ocean going ships transporting coffee. It is very warm and I can barely keep to my feet. The weather forecast for the week calls for 90 degrees Fahrenheit. For lunch we have to hike to the visitor centre. Along the way there is a mink burrow. Sometimes a mink races through the brush. Once I am on the water in my kayak I begin to acclimatize to the heat. Together with Tracey and Sue we keep our eyes on the thirty three boats that are on the water. Along the way we take frequent brakes to drink and to swim. When on shore Brooke, Lou, Al and Amy are responsible for safety. On arrival we get a hay ride to the Patuxent River Park campground. Here awaits us a cold shower. Despite the heat this is still something to get used to.

Wednesday 25 June (Patuxent River Park - King's Landing)
HW: 14:00
Every day has some changes to the group. Today we have twenty-four boats on the water. Tracey has a daily talk about safety. Today's issue is 'fungal' (I forgot the English word for it) infection. Tracey hilariously goes well into this matter. We lunch at 13:15. At 16:15 we arrive at King's Landing. In the evening the park ranger gives a lecture about the area's history. The history is rich on native Americans and slaves. Most river names have an native American origin. After that we are treated on a small Mummer's Play by a group of school children. A part of this is a contra dance. I now already know the basics of this dance.

Thursday 26 June (King's Landing - Benedict)
In the morning we help out on a school research programme. The main issue on both the Potomac river and this sojourn is all about the term 'SAV'; Submerged Aquatic Vegetation. Cases with water plants are put on the bottom of a floating case. In a 'convoy' I tow three of these floating cases, upside down as not to drag on the bottom. Regular checks should produce information on how well the plants grow on various locations. In our group DJ quickly takes the lead. At our destination the kids stand in the water and soon are knee deep in the mud. From now on the teacher looses control. There is panic as a water snake has made it's way into one of the open canoes. The teacher grabs the snake and she puts it overboard resulting in even more panic with the kids that stand in the water. The teacher carefully explains that there could be snakes anywhere and not just this one. Now Rick, an experienced open canoeist, takes charge. Together we give the kids pointers as how the cases should be positioned and held on the bottom by cinder blocks on ropes. And now we all hope that the research will produce usable data. The planting itself did not look particular scientific. By now we have build-up an enormous delay. The safety briefing by Tracey is today about 'trench feet'; always wet feet that start falling apart. We only leave by 13:30 with twenty-four boats and we still have to paddle a long way. Another delay factor is a journalist among us that makes interviews with some paddlers. At 16:45 we arrive at the Chalk Point Power Plant. This company is one of the sojourn sponsors and there is a tour of the plant. In the meantime Tracey, Lou, Al, Sue, the journalist and I paddle into Swanson Creek. Only at 18:00 we start on the last leg to Benedict where we arrive at 19:00. Some of us then still have to collect their car from King's Landing. We have dinner in a restaurant but go in two groups. I go with the second group. After dinner there is a coffee bar and a lecture by a 'waterman'; a crab fisher. We learn everything about crab fishing and a controversy about introducing a Russian crab species. That foreign species is supposed to be less vulnerable to a disease that prevents native crab species from flourishing and benefiting the crab fishing industry. Today there was an impossible full programme. On the positive side is that I still have energy despite the high temperatures.

Friday 27 June (Benedict - Patuxent Campsites)
Weather: W 5-10 kn becoming NW
HW: 14:00

The main thing today is our helping out at an oyster recovery program of the Oyster Recovery Partnership . We leave at 10:15 with twenty-nine boats and arrive at Trent Hall at 11:00. Here a motor vessel waits on us with a load of bags with young oysters that are bred on old oyster shells. In a marked area we empty the bags into the water. As a reward we get a cap. For me this is a welcome gift as I only have one other hat that gives that necessary protection from the sun. After a wonderful lunch (13:40) and some wet exercises to cool down we leave at 15:10. The water is now noticeable salt and I now feel very much to be sea kayaking. We cross the Patuxent river over to Sheridan Pt. After the crossing it is difficult to keep the group together. I paddle in front and have often to ask the other front paddlers to go slower. Sue calls me on the VHF radio. One of the paddlers in the back has suffered severe sunburn. What follows is an interesting experience on the reliance on communication technology. Apparently Dave on the support vessel cannot receive either me or Sue. I therefore have to paddle up to the Crazy Loon to tell him we have a problem. After a test transmission we still cannot communicate to Dave on the VHF. Tracey informs us that the weather radio warns for a severe thunderstorm that is coming our way. Now it is totally windless, the calm for the storm? I take the rest of the group to a beach just past Prison Point while Sue, Tracey and Dick take care of the sunburn victim with Dave. Once on shore I am called by Sue on the VHF. She and Dick make a quick crossing of the bay to check if there is a short portage possible that could bring us to our destination before the thunderstorm hits. She reports that there is no easy portage. During the communication to discuss if Sue and Dick should return, the battery of Sue's VHF starts to die. Her signal falters while transmitting and that makes spoken communication impossible. In the end we resort to a click communication. Sue can hear me all right and after a call to confirm with two click if she and Dick are safe on shore, I receive three clicks (?). After a second call for confirmation I receive two clicks. We assume both are safe on shore. The storm hits and in no-time the calm river has changed to rough white horses. We are on the lee shore. Tracy explains what to do when lightning strikes close-by. The thunder storm was with us within half an hour but has gone in another half hour. Still the communication with the Crazy Loon is difficult. From the campground we hear also 'Sojourn Support' calling. I replace my VHF battery just in case. After crossing Battle Creek we first run into Dick. After rounding the peninsula of Jack Bay we see Sue. At 17:30 we are at the campground in Jack Bay. I now have 'renewed' my healthy distrust of reliance on technology; in this case VHF radio. We have a crab cake dinner and unlimited amounts of strawberry cake. Unfortunately I have to leave tomorrow morning. The Patuxent is a beautiful river. Early in the morning Jess arrives and I take the Mitsu back to Piscataway.

Saturday 28 June
I run a BCU 2-star training for a group of six. Again it is impossible to keep the 2-star level separate of the 3-star level. Most of them have paddled for a year now and have done a previous course already.

Sunday 29 June
Today I run a BCU 2-star assessment for two candidates. At this level there is still room for improvement but most of their skills are already above 2-star. According to the BCU, the 2-star award is 'an improvement award that covers the basic flat water skills. The emphasis is on creating the desired movement of the boat through developing an understanding of cause and effect rather than concentrating on rigidly defined strokes.' Both candidates clearly show a good 2-star level. Ian picks me up at 19:30 for the four- hour drive to Kiptopeke State Park.

Monday 30 June (Fisherman's Island - Cape Charles)
Weather: Chesapeake Bay: SW 5-10 kn becoming SE; seas < 1 ft.
Weather: Ocean coast: SW 5-20 kn becoming S 10-15 kn; seas 2 to 3 ft.
HW Chesapeake Bay Bridge: 09:33

We launch at 10:35 from the Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge. This brings us to a channel of the Intracoastal Waterway. We paddle around Fisherman's Island and twice under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (11:20). We see many pelicans. We can play in a surf of 30 to 70 cm. It is not much, but it moves and it tastes salt. The weather is warm enough to go for a frequent 'swim'; rolling and sculling. We take a short break on a sand spit (12:30). Between the shallows we paddle to Smith Island. Here we hope to find a portage. Unfortunately it is near local low water when we arrive there at 14:00. Thick brush in low dunes prevent us even to investigate if the portage is theoretically possible. On the beach there is an skeleton of a giant sea turtle. At 14:35 we leave. The south entrance to the Chesapeake Bay is open to large expanses of water on three sides. At wind directions from north-east to north-west there should always be a spot with rough water or surf. Furthermore there are tidal flats, sand spits and beacons for interesting navigation. It looks a little bit like the 4-star opportunities we have at home near Den Helder. The flood has just started and already we paddle against a strong current in the channel. At 16:30 we are back at the put-in. The small channel through the marsh is fortunately also accessible near low water. We have a drink at the west-side of the peninsula at Sunset Beach. We decide to camp at Assategue State park. When we arrive there the State Park is full. But nearby Chincoteague National Park has free places. But that park is infested with mosquitoes. I only manage to deny the problem for a short while before I flee into the safety of my tent.

Tuesday 1 July (Sinepuxent Bay - Ocean City Inlet)
Weather: NE 5-10 kn
HW Ocean City: 09:25

Assategue Island is a barrier island. This low and very narrow island has hardly any dunes. We want to investigate Ocean City inlet. This inlet was created after a storm and afterwards was kept open artificially. Because the coastline is potentially 'boring' we decide to paddle from Sinepuxent Bay to Ocean City. We put-in at 10:05 on the west-side of the bridge that connects Assateague Island with the mainland. We paddle against a force four; definitively a stronger wind than forecasted. We have no charts and tidal current data of this area. High water at Ocean City is at 09:25. But with only this information any detailed planning is not possible. The bay is very shallow. At 12:15 we are at the concrete reinforced inlet. We have lunch until 12:45. On the beach I make a remarkable and unexpected discovery. There are many skeletons of horseshoe crabs. These rather large animals from prehistoric times have done something right; they have survived. I find three ones that are alive. On the beach they are very slow moving; four centimetres per minute. A narrow inlet and a springtide ebb should stir up the water a bit and maybe even create a tidal race. The expectations become a reality. We can play in a small tidal race. The big powerboats that pass through the inlet only make things better. Because there are even boats that are fishing in the middle of the channel (!?), I conclude that it is totally OK that we paddle and play here as well. At 13:45 we begin our way back. Naturally against the current. But at 15:30 we are back at the departure point. We discovered two 'hot-spots' this weekend. Even Ian has not been here before. The only drawback is the long driving distance. Doug would later explain that a little more to the north, at Indian River Inlet, there is a strong tidal current as well. Independence Day, 4th of July, is upcoming. All kayaks and staff are scheduled for kayak tours to watch the fireworks at different DC locations.

Friday 4 July (Independance Day)
This workday begins at 08:00. I assist Ian on a Level-1 Coastal Kayaker course. At 18:00 the preparations start for the fireworks tour. There are forty-four participants and Alan, Bob, Jess, Mel, Vicky and I are the guides. With all lights attached to the buoyancy aids the group looks like a bunch of fire flies. There is some haze and from the DC fireworks we can only see some reds. Fortunately nearby Mount Vernon offers enough to see. There is one 'swimmer' and at 23:00 everyone is back at the dock. My workday ends at midnight. When I ask my colleagues when they have time for lunch and dinner they reply with: "Granola bars!". Tonight there where fireworks tours at four different locations in and around DC.

Saturday 5 July
Another Level-1 Coastal Kayaker course. Now led by Marcus. After executing an unplanned T-rescue I notice I lost my plastic notebook. I forgot to tether it to the deck line. One of my most important pieces of gear lies now on the bottom of Piscataway Creek. It is extremely warm and sunny: sunscreen, drinks and swims.

Sunday 6 July
Today I have my biggest challenge as an instructor so far. Three candidates for a BCU 2-star course in the extreme heat. During the morning I already used up all my 'day ration' of drinking water. Ken is more enthusiastic than the combination of his current physical shape and current skill level allows him. But one aspect is rock-solid; his C-to-C movement. Before I have even started to explain about bracing he already manages to get himself out of extreme unbalances by using just body movement. That it not always works I am very willingly to forgive him. With a scoop rescue I get him back into his kayak. A bow rescue is the next challenge and we get that going. We take our time for the T-rescue. With a lot of effort on his part he succeeds. He makes a good 'self judgment'; he has not done anything about his physical shape in the last few years. Sue is talented as well; her automatic 'C-to-C' is obviously inherited. How to explain a low support stroke to her when she does not need the paddle to stay upright? With much of the attention going to Ken, Bob is bound to get too little attention. He paddles only a month, but then he paddles almost every day. He needs only half a word. In the afternoon Mel, Patty, Jess and I cool off in Piscataway Creek. In this high-energy company and Jess taking the lead some new challenges are met. Patty now knows that her flat-water roll is bomb-proof. Mel rolls for the first time on open water and perfect she does indeed. Of the list of thirty Inuit 'capsize manoeuvres' I can now check three new ones; still some odd twenty to go. Jess tries a 'no-hands roll'. With a loud bang she gets halfway... Ouch, that was a 'head-bang-on-the-deck-roll'. Dinner in the Thai restaurant rounds of a perfect day.

Tuesday 8 July
In the afternoon the P&H representative visits the Alexandria store with the new sea kayak design Bahiya. Does this design put an end to the reign of the Sirius? In the evening there is a house warming party at Ian's. He gives a slide show presentation about his impressive hike across the United States; 5300 miles between 12 April 1995 and 7 August 1997.

Wednesday 9 July
Finally I have all parts together for a new plastic note book. This one is not that neatly designed, but it will do the job and this version actually floats. In the afternoon Mike, Mel, David and I practice in Piscataway Creek. Mike and I would be giving and Eskimo rolling class, but because of a severe thunderstorm the session is cancelled. Mike's sea kayak is blown off the floating dock and has soon drifted away more than hundred metres before I can tow it back.

Thursday 10 July
Mark has injured his arm two weeks ago while lifting his sea kayak on his car. It appeared to heal well, but a medical check revealed that he tore a tendon. The recovery period is six weeks. His summer kayak season is more or less ruined. I get extremely busy as I have to take over all his classes. Thursday evening there is a boat control master class for three people from Finland and one from the USA. The Finns have a mission; they are training for a crossing between two islands. They don't take any chances. They are very motivated and train a lot. Again there is a threat of a thunderstorm, but near the dock I can finish the whole session before the thunderstorm finally starts.

Friday 11 July
I give a private lesson to someone that bought a Nigel Foster Silhouette. He ordered the sea kayak earlier this year after a demo day while the 'master' himself was present. The sea kayak is put into the water for the first time. I pick a Silhouette of the rack so that I can feel the same as he does. The combination of a round hull and a hard chine on all Nigel Foster sea kayaks give a very unique experience; perceived low initial stability. Giving a two hour lesson to a highly motivated person produces good results. High support strokes with the ear in the water and Eskimo rolling are the results. He uses the new Nigel Foster paddle. From only looking at the paddle it appears that the blades are quiet large. But the blades are shorter as well. Therefore the paddle paddles light and easy. He uses the rest of the day to go for a paddle and returns at 19:00. He rolls and is very satisfied about the paddling characteristics. The twenty-seven summer employees of an patent lawyer office have a moonlight tour. Vicky, Doug and I accompany the tour. The group gets it's money's worth. We have a nice sunset followed by a clear full moon.

Saturday 12 July
I improvise a sun-sheltered 'lecture room' on the grass at Piscataway Creek for a navigation class. In the morning there is theory and in the afternoon that was learned is put into practice. By coincidence the session on the water is very real. The wind already accounts for some drift. Even though the current is minimal I can already show the use of transits. The sandy beach at Mockley Pt. offers enough 'drawing board' to explain. In the evening I assist Patty with a custom tour at Alexandria for watching the local fireworks display. Unfortunately the weather ruins everything. A thunderstorm will pass right overhead. The tour is cancelled at 21:00 before even going on the water. A little while later we learn that the fireworks display is cancelled and is rescheduled for tomorrow evening. We have been busy all evening with 'zero' result. The 'frustration' is easily set aside when we have dinner at a Mexican restaurant at which I start suffering from hypothermia because of the air conditioning. Outside it rains heavily with a lot of thunder and lightning.

Sunday 13 July
Mark or Ian usually lead the course Coastal Kayaker Level-1. Now I am doing this alone. Fortunately I have seen Mark and Ian at work for a number of times now. The covered skills are not that different from the BCU. Except of course the paddle-float re-entry. I have a busy day on my own. My opinion about poly-ethylene kayaks gets that 'final' confirmation. In a plastic sea kayak a bulkhead is generally a ten centimetre thick block of foam that is glued-in. During Ernie's paddle-float re-entry something does not look right. His bow is rather submerged and he is not that of a heavy person. It is not quite a 'Cleopatra's needle' yet and I can still empty the kayak with a normal T-rescue. The foam block of the front bulkhead lies half loose in the cockpit area... This is a sea kayak from a well-known manufacturer with a famous name behind the scenes. I can only imagine that their poly-ethylene kayaks are intended for a different market than their high-end glass-fibre sea kayaks. I asked to have Monday and Tuesday off to go paddling on the coast again. But in this main season all the staff is scheduled for the whole of next week. Mel, Patty, Chris, David and I do some skills practice after work hours. Patty gets a crash course 'high support stroke with the ear in the water' and sculling for support to get on par with Mel again. After also Chris explains he thinks the 'Dutch' high support stroke is easier than the BCU high support stroke I now know for sure. Everything except an extreme high support stroke will have gravity working against you. I now even have a 'secret' pointer to make sculling for support even easier... But to find out you will have to attend the upcoming Peddelpraat or NKB-Vlieland sea instruction week that I will be attending. I can 'roll away' any frustrations that I might have accumulated today. Some newly learned skills start to groom in and become automatic. Dinner at the now familiar Thai.

Tuesday 15 July (Point Lookout - VirMar Beach; 13,4 nm)
Weather: Calm; waves < 1 foot
LW Point Lookout: 10:14
HW Point Lookout: 05:31

Patty and I leave at 07:00 for Point Lookout at the confluence of the Potomac with Chesapeake Bay. Mel generously let us use her SUV because it has two sets of kayak saddles. We start at the dock in Point Lookout State Park. For a change, during the week this is a 'no fee area'. At 09:20 we set off and I do not know yet what will be our destination. The weather forecast is for flat calm and a wave height of less than a foot. We decide to make a 6.7 nautical mile crossing of the Potomac in a southerly direction. The water is brackish. At 10:05 we arrive at the buoy RA-A and at 10:30 we are at GC-5. We paddle near slack and the current is minimal. We can paddle to the buoys on sight and transits do not show any drift. Chesapeake Bay here is about 14 nautical miles wide; east to west. But because this all is low lying land we do not get any glimpse of the far shore of the Bay. At 11:20 we land at VirMar beach. Here there are big houses with private beach access. We do not know if the beach itself is privately owned. But as usual the people that can afford to live here generally are not at home. There are no sign saying 'No Trespassing'. Patty hands out pita bread with hummus and crackers filled with peanut butter. At 12:40 we start heading back. We are startled by a ray with a span of at least one meter that slowly swims away from the surface. As a navigation practice I would like to hit Point Lookout beacon spot on. Therefore I choose an upstream course of 030 degrees. A half hour before the Point Lookout beacon I have to adjust to 040 degrees and for a short time even 060 degrees. Thus I reckon the current to be here at least 1 knot. We reach the beacon at 14:10 and after that also Point Lookout at 14:40. The beacon marks a shallow area up to Point Lookout. I can already recognize tidal ripples and with wind and waves there should be challenging conditions around here. At 14:55 we are back at the dock. Patty can log her first sea trip for her BCU 4-star assessment prerequisites. I learn through the television news that Europe is suffering from a heat wave. Here it is just above 30 degrees Celsius, rather cool for the time of year. I survive on the house boat.

Wednesday 16 July
Together with Mike I give an Eskimo rolling session to five people. I get to teach the three resolute 'Finns'. At the end of the session all three can roll. After a very short explanation two of them can do a re-entry-and-roll. Clearly they do not show an average learning curve.

Thursday 17 July
I am extremely busy today. From 12:00 to 14:00 a private lesson. Directly followed by another private lesson until 17:00. Nigel is originally from the UK and he explains that in the USA even he is sometimes teased about his English 'accent' (!?). He already has paddled on the sea for many years, but he would like to have his current level assessed in respect to BCU 3/4 star. Although private lessons are very rewarding they are strenuous as well. And I have to work again from 19:00 tot 21:00. Now for a re-entry-and-roll class. I make a joke by saying that if they already know how to roll I will be finished with them in fifteen minutes. But for both it is their first lesson on Eskimo rolling. They progress, but people with an 'average' learning curve need more than just one session. I have been standing in the water for almost the whole day.

Friday 18 July
Doug told me last evening that I would have a Level-1 Coastal Kayaker course today. Now it turns out that I will be running this on my own. The day starts by putting on my still wet paddling gear. Because of a threatening thunderstorm we stay close to the dock after lunch. There is no nice sandy beach nearby and I stand knee-deep in the mud explaining the high support stroke. Just when I am about to start with the paddle-float re-entry the thunderstorm hits. Nobody is in the water yet and we are quickly back on shore. The afternoon session is bound to be rescheduled, but at 15:30 the weather clears. We go back on the water to finish-up on the rescues. Another busy day with a lot of standing in the water. Another nice dinner at the Thai restaurant.

Saturday 19 July
I have six students for a BCU 2-star training. Because five of them have attended an ACA Level-1 Coastal Kayaker course before, the skill level is rather high. But the 'odd-one-out' pales all the others. She said that she had been in a kayak only once before on a tour. With the ease at which she learns all the skills close to perfection I can hardly believe that. Unfortunately she has to leave in the afternoon to take care of a domestic 'emergency' with her dog. I am standing in the water way too long and my foot soles are shrivelling up. I get an authority problem. After a unplanned capsize I want to take the opportunity to explain the T-rescue to the rest of the group. Only to find that after I have put that person back in his kayak the rest of the group have disappeared in the distance to have a close look at a great blue heron. A rather common bird around here like the bald eagle or osprey. The bird was obviously more important than the lesson.

Sunday 20 July
This is the busy season. Today a BCU 3-star training for six students. All have done a 2-star training and/or assessment before. The one person with the sea kayak that is easiest to edge just does not use this skill. I can spend all afternoon on edging, 'C-to-C', extreme low and high support strokes, sculling for support and Eskimo rolling. In short: all variants of the same body movement. I try to organize a BCU 4-star sea training / assessment. This morning it appeared that it just was not going to happen. This afternoon I have good hopes that I can pull it off after all. I now have four candidates for the assessment. With Marc and Mel we head for the Thai again. That is, when both have driven away with screeching tires, I have to call Mel to inform her that today I have no wheels. She returns to pick me up.

Friday 25 July
A power strokes session with the three Finns and Wil. The class is held at Dyke Marsh. Fortunately Tracey has a sunset tour and we can work together on the logistics, that is lifting the kayaks.

Saturday 26 July
A BCU 3-star assessment for Woody and Peter. I can only conclude that the candidates make my work as an assessor easy. Their skill level is very high and they are a good pass. In the evening Mel hosts a party for a 'leaving coach'. They gladly organize any party because generally by the end of the evening they are left with more beer and snacks than what they started with. The next party is already planned.

Sunday 27 July
I have a day off and I totally spend that day at Piscataway Creek helping out Myra. The next two days we will paddle on the sea and hopefully conditions are right for a BCU 4-star sea assessment on Tuesday. Patty, Ian, Mel and I drive in a two-car convoy to Kiptopeke State Park. At the junction of the 301 and 17 we have dinner. Unfortunately I have left my cherished Oyster Restoration Program cap there. At midnight we arrive at Kiptopeke State Park. Mike is staying at exactly the same camping spot that Ian and I stayed at a few weeks ago.

Monday 28 July (Fisherman's Island)
Originally Mel and Patty would do their BCU 3-star assessment on Saturday. But what can be expected during the main season, all the staff are fully scheduled on weekends. A solution is found to assess Mel and Patty in the morning. It is rather windy and I take shelter in the marsh area to get suitable 3-star conditions. Jess only learned that she was not scheduled today at the latest possible moment and she arrives at 12:30. We meet-up again with Ian and Mike at 13:30 on a beach at the end of the channel. They experienced good surf conditions in the morning. Unfortunately the wind died down and when we arrive the surf has gone. In some rough patches Mike and Jess do the 'required' 4-star skills. But without surf not much more can be done for 4-star. We discover a nice play spot under the pillars of Chesapeake Bridge Tunnel where the bridge connects to Fisherman's Island. A strong current, estimated to be three knots, results in a small tidal race. Surfing waves against a strong current is a skill to be learned but is also strenuous. We still have to paddle for a while and after a number of runs we continue the trip. We try to catch some surf side-on, but support strokes are hardly necessary. When we paddle towards a patch of water that looks like another tide-rip we see a group of dolphins. This is the last thing we expected to see. Although Neil, who lived here for a while, talked about this when he gave us information about paddling in this area. Over some shallows we can find some surf we can use to practice surfing. We see the dolphins turn around and make a circle. At 15:00 we have a short 'navigational' break at a sand bar. It is flooding and our sand bar slowly disappears. We see the dolphins again. Now they cruise at the surf line and one jumps clear out of the water. With all these distractions we only progress slowly and still have to paddle a considerable distance. At 16:30 the weather forecast gives weak variable winds for tomorrow. At 17:30 we are back at the departure point. We call Neil if he knows a restaurant. He again advises us very well. We have dinner at Stingray's. Ian and Patty return home because they have to work tomorrow. Brian had already left home and will be quite disappointed when he learns that the assessment might not be running. He tries to be assessed for BCU 4-star sea since 1999. Back on the campground we watch the sun set and when the thunderstorm hits we rush back to our tents. The thunderstorm is in my top three of severe thunderstorms.

Tuesday 29 July (Wachapreague Inlet)
I cannot guarantee anything today. The weather forecast is as such that there will be no surf whatsoever. With that information Jess leaves for home; too many other obligations to take care of. Brian, Mike and I drive to Wachapreague. I have to make this short because Mark and Mel take me to the airport. I write this on July 30 at about 15:45. In short, the wind was east force four. When we arrived at Wachapreague Inlet we found a confusing surf across a sand spit. Perfect conditions for BCU 4-star. The assessment is a go. Brian shows that he hasn't stood still in the past years and his confidence in rough water really shows. Apart from the surf I find enough 'roughness' to test the other 4-star stuff. Both passed. Everyone is happy, including me.

© A.M. Schoevers