Although I’ve often remarked about how much I enjoy the white stuff of winter, the time for snow has pretty much come and gone. Now, I’m eagerly looking forward to the warmer days ahead.
I know I’m not the only Southern Marylander who thinks February drags on for what feel like a lot more than a mere 28 days. Or 29, as it happens to be a leap year this year.
Already I have seen a few signals from Mother Nature that change is a’coming. Crocuses have bloomed, daffodils are sprouted tall and ready to bloom and leaves are budding on tree branches. A few people have sent me photos of daffodils already in bloom, but I haven’t yet seen one with my own eyes. I imagine I’ll have that pleasure in just a few days.
My kids love to spend time outside, no matter the season and spring beckons to them like a siren to a land-lost sailor. They are ready to embark on all their warm weather exploits, and kayaking is at the top of that list.
A few years ago, we bought a small flotilla of kayaks from a nice lady who was moving to the midwest and couldn’t bring her kayaks with her.
I found her ad on Craigslist, and the deal was just too good to pass up. It was a very steep discount compared to buying them new.
Among the kayaks we purchased from her was a tandem, which is ideal for kayaking with a child. Another one has a clear plastic bottom which provides a great perspective on nature as you paddle along. She even delivered all of them to our house. I think she was pleased to know that a bunch of kids would be making good use of those kayaks.
My kids have gained a lot of experience with kayaks thanks to some great outdoors-oriented summer camps such as Bunky’s Fishing Camp and the various Greenwell State Park camps. So, as soon as we had our very own kayaks, they were off to the races. Now that the days are longer and the sun a little brighter, they’ve been asking when they can get out on the water again.
If you’re a seasoned kayaker, you might venture out on the water during the cold months. That is, if you’ve taken the proper precautions to do so safely.
Of course, a personal flotation device is a must. You’ll definitely want it outfitted with a whistle and a light just in case the unexpected happens. You might also want to invest in a good drysuit that will keep you warm if you find yourself immersed in near freezing water.
Of course, it’s always a good idea to kayak with a buddy. And you should give your float plan to one or two folks who can alert authorities if you don’t check in at your appointed return time.
My kids are going to have to wait a little while longer before they can venture out on the Patuxent River. When the water is 47-degrees, it doesn’t take long for tragedy to strike.
While the older ones are experienced swimmers, the water is still too frigid to unleash them all on the river. But somewhere in early May the water temperature will get into the low 60s. That will be the green light for when I’ll feel that it’s safe enough for them to paddle around on their own.
If 2020 is the year you want to give kayaking a try, I’ve got a suggestion. It takes a significant investment to buy your own kayak and equipment (even if you buy yours off Craigslist). What if you could get an introductory kayak lesson, borrow all the necessary equipment, and take a guided tour of an exceptional underwater historical site for $75 or less?
Well, you can, just by registering on the Charles County Recreation and Parks website. On Sundays from May through October, an experienced and knowledgeable guide will be leading kayak tours of the recently-designated Mallows Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
You’ll tour the “Ghost Fleet,” the submerged remains of over 100 wooden steamships that were scuttled to a watery grave at the bottom of the Potomac River. You can choose from either a three-hour tour in the morning ($75) or a 1 1/2-hour tour in the afternoon ($49). No matter what time you go, you’re sure to enjoy close encounters with the ships and plenty of beautiful views of the scenery and abundant wildlife.
I’ve been to the sanctuary several times and have never been disappointed. It’s a great spot to appreciate ospreys hunting over the water.
The tours are open to participants ages 8 and older. Participants 8 to 17 must be accompanied by adults. Tandem kayaks will be used, and single folks or odd numbered parties will be paired with others.
For more information, go to www.charlescountyparks.com/recreation, highlight the parks header and click on “Kayak Tours”.