Once a year I make a “boy’s retreat” and head off to do something insane…it keeps you young!  For the seventh year in a row, I have returned to the Eastern shore of Maryland to participate in the Wye Island Regatta:


This is a 13 mile race circumnavigating Wye Island utilizing any “human powered form of aquatic transport.”  My weapon of choice each year is a kayak.

Traditions are stubborn things and so the day prior to the actual race, our group engages in an insane contest of kayak paddling and mountain bike racing.  This year’s paddling took place in the Blackwater Preserve:

blackwater_ali_2005147It’s called “Blackwater,” because, well, the water is really black!  Centuries of decay of vegetation has left the water coal black.  I am not exaggerating to say that you can’t see your paddle with a deep stroke!  This is an extraordinary place, the “Everglades of the Mid Atlantic.”  During the course of our paddle, we spied at least eight bald eagles.  Here’s a link to the webcam of one of the bald eagle families that lives in Blackwater.

The boats we used this year had a slightly higher freeboard than years gone by, which was a bit problematic in the steady 10-15 knot winds we experienced the first day and the 15-20 knot gusts on race day.  With the wind directly astern or straight on the bow, you could make good time.  Put it 5-10 degrees off the stern and the boat wanted to weathercock into the wind.  Straightline paddling was not much of an option – I was just glad there were no Park Rangers around to pull me for suspicion of DUI!

The wind made our 25-mile mountain bike race fun too.  There’s nothing like going full out in a big gear and feeling like you are maybe, maybe doing 5 miles per hour!

All in all, it was a fabulous, refreshing trip.  Here are a couple of shots from area:

Action shot from first day:


The view from Shorter’s Wharf in Blackwater: