Three months is a long time to work on one small project, in this case it was ‘carving’ my third Greenland Style Paddle, but it’s not done yet. I only spent sporadic days working, it wasn’t three months full-time! I did my first rough sanding on it the middle of last week, then put on two coats of Watco Danish Oil. it was time to take it out for its first serious paddle.
It’s been a couple of years since I was in Chestertown, MD, but this time I wanted to explore the town by from the waterfront. So I loaded the kayak, and the new paddle and headed across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge for the Eastern Shore, not the south end where most vacationers head for, but I headed to the north. Google maps didn’t offer any help finding a public kayak launch site, neither was Paddling.net. there are none. The I picked was to the south, at Quaker Neck, lots further than I’d expected. checking the map on my iPhone it looked close. There is a closer launch site up-river, next time I’ll start there.
Back to the day’s outing. I launched on the sand/gravel beach then headed up-river toward Chestertown with a slight breeze, and small Cu (Cumulus) clouds overhead – a fantastic day to paddle. Ok, I was on a test paddle with the new GSP. Two coats of Danish Oil is not enough. Danish oil is a mixture of oil and varnish – darned little varnish. The result was that the water wetted the wood and raised the grain. Woodworkers will understand immediately. Even though I’d sanded it with 320 grit (extra find) sandpaper, the paddle immediately became rough. I expected that. The other thing I found was that I had not rounded the loom (center section where I held the paddle). My feel in the shop was that it would be comfortable, but once I was on the water, and using it for a while it became immediately obvious that it was lacking in comfort – not bad, but noticeable.
Since the day was great I continued upriver till I discovered a creek coming in from the left, or should I day port (I was in a boat). I paddled up that creek to where it expanded into a ‘bay’ about the size of a couple of football fields. Even though i was paddling slow and quietly I spooked about 8 Great Blue Herons. On the lake near home they are quite territorial and chase off any other heron that even comes close.
Returning to the river after I turned upstream again, hugging the shore. When I came upon a Day Marker I detoured to see its number – 27. Then I checked my map to see how far I was. I should have checked what maps I had with me. The first marker that showed on my map was “37A”. That’s when I realized I had started lots further downriver than I thought – and my goal was a bit unrealistic. But I paddled on for another quarter-hour or so.
Then the wind picked up. I’m not good at guessing the wind but definitely stronger than “Light and variable”. So I eased more toward shore, paddling about where my paddle would randomly touch bottom, about a foot to foot-and-a-half deep. I turned back and keeping close to shore kept me in calmer water and closer to more of the wildlife that inhabited the marshes. I was almost always within sight of Osprey. One pair passed close by, the leader had a fish in its talons, the second was trying to grab it. I lost sight of that food fight as they passed over the marsh.
The wind helped me along back to the launch site where I met a commercial crabber. His catch of Blue Crabs ,  for the day was only 2 Bushels, normally he could expect to catch 6 Bushels, or even more. This year’s crabbing is really bad. He said that in good times crabs sell for about $65/Bushel, now with the low catch they fetch $185/Bushel. Even at that price he is barely breaking even – it cost him about $60 for a day’s gas in his boat. As we talked I found out that I was only about a third of the way to Chestertown, it was about anothere 4 miles from where I turned around. He was out in deep water as saw me turn.
Oh, the Paddle! After a little more work on the loom (the center or handle) and more sanding it took a coat of Varnish. After that one is dry – a couple more coats and it will be ready for another test paddle.