Great paddling day-trip to Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge

AL DEMANY CHIMAN at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge

I had been scoping a day-trip paddle to Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake, for a year and half, but I had never managed to get it to work. Until Friday. I loaded AL DEMANY CHIMAN and headed out to the cute village of Queenstown, MD, on the south bank of the Chester River. Putting in by the town dock, I headed out of the little harbor and lined up the 2nm passage to the Refuge. The Refuge is an island – barely – around which the Chester River sweeps in a big U. There was little wind and not much boat traffic, so it was smooth and quiet.

Once across, I headed around the southern end and meandered along the western side. It was mixed marsh and short beaches for most of the way, sometimes augmented with rip-rap. I saw a number of bald eagles, a couple of adorable little sandpipers, and the usual blue herons. Occasionally I crossed large schools of small fish.

After lunch at the spot above, I passed through the narrows at the north end of the island. This passage was no problem for Al DEMANY CHIMAN or a kayak, but I wouldn’t want to draw much more.

Bridge over the narrows

The eastern side was also lovely marsh, extending further from the woods on this side. There were also more inlets on this side and no rip-rap. I turned up one cow-nosed stingray, but less other animal life until heading back across the Chester, where there were further fish schools.

All told, it was a great paddle. I calculated it was about 13nm and I was paddling for about 5 hours, putting me right on my past cruising speed of roughly 2.5kts. I need more of these…

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