James Island Camping/Paddling
August 16, 2008

by Chip Walsh with pictures by members of the party
edited June 17, 2009

Paddlers/Craft:  Sea Kayaks: Andy Lee, Chip Walsh, Kara Brown, Randy Jackson, Greg Welker.  OC2:  Scott & Sherry Brody, Mark & Marty Walsh

Andy paddled out of Slaughter Creek and arrived on James Island about 8pm on Friday, August 16.  Chip and Kara launched at dusk from Taylors Island Family Campground.  It was a perfect weather, around eighty degrees, low humidity, clear sky, and just a stir of a breeze.  The full moon in the eastern sky made the island clearly visible, but made the 2-mile paddle out to the island a lot longer as we kept stopping to admire the scenic quality of the night..  We played around trying to take pictures, but it was next to impossible to keep the camera still for the long exposures.full moon  As soon as we rounded the southernmost edge of James Island we could see a fire on the beach of the middle island.  Andy had kept his word and had the fire lit and the beer on ice.

I don't recall runing into comb jellies before, and was awed by their phosphorescent characteristics.  At first I thought it was the reflection of the moon on my paddle blade, or a reflection from my running light that was catching my eye.  It wasn't until I saw them sparkling in the waves that lapped onto the beach at James Island that I realized the comb jellies were giving off their own bluish-neon light.  After dinner I stirred the water with my spoon and the jellies responded by turning on their neon.  This discovery made me realize that the flashes on my paddle blades were  phosphorescent releases from jellies I inadvertently stimulated with the blade.  I was astonished.  I've done a lot of night paddles but had never encountered these critters.

Kara and I set up tents, I had some dinner, and the three person population of James Island called it an early night and hit the sack.

My cell phone rang around 8a.m. Saturday morning.  It was Scott and Randy.  They were loading boats at TIFC.  I'd promised to go over, meet them and paddle out with them.  I layed in my tent for a while and thought about this.  By the time I got together and launched, they'd already be on the water.  And as soon as they paddled out of the Campground, they'd see the island, two miles to the north.  They'd be half way here by the time I met them.  If I didn't meet them, they'd just paddle the rest of the way.  I continued to think about this with my eyes closed... eventually roused myself, made some coffee, and walked over to the spit of sand on the south end of the island.  Randy, Scott and Sherry were about a quarter mile away.  Scott wagged his paddle in response to my wave, and they soon joined us on the island.

Paper was delivered for early beach readSherry brought the morning paper, so I joined her in their beach chairs and we read the paper and sipped coffee.  Oh, yes, James Island is quite the posh resort. 

Kara and I spent some time practicing wet exit and attempting reentry of her new Folbot Cooper.  The cockpit combing on the Cooper consists of two tubes within a velcro-fabric enclosure, and the tubes kind of prtrude on the front.  So the spray skirt hangs onto this assembly, too well Kara feared, and she was afraid she wouldn't be able to escape if she needed to.  We practiced, she had no trouble, and was even able to hang onto her paddle, which she seldom does when swimming out of her whitewater boat.  Reentry in that boat is difficult.  For starters, it didn't have floatation, and I sank it while trying to demonstrate.  I succeeded in gettng back into the Cooper, but it wasn't easy or pretty, and I think I dislodged the stern, deck tube from the Folbot's frame while I was doing it.  After watching me struggle, Kara allowed as how it wasn't happening and didn't even try.

Mark and Marty called from Cambridge.  Scott, Andy, and I launched and paddled to TIFC to meet them, finding Marty and a semi-loaded canoe, but Mark had gone back up the road for chicken necks.  For Mark and Marty this was their first camping trip out of a canoe.  While we waited for Mark to return I did some repacking, stuffing their sleeping bags inside dry bags, consolidating a few items and lowering the wind profile.  It must have been 4pm by the time we landed Mark on the Island. 

While we were out, Greg had arrived and was setting up his tent.  Greg also launched at Slaughter Creek, and he had than eschewed the direct, five-mile path to James Island, logging 29 miles poking into tributaries of the Little Choptank River.

Mark and Marty set up their tent and then launched into "Man vs. Wild" mode.  They did Bear Gryls imitations as they lined for crabs on the southern tip of the island.Crabs for dinner
  The population of crabs in the Bay is at an all time low, and while the action was slow, they did land enough to cook up a half dozen for dinner.

The remainder of the weekend was spent taking frequent paddle trips, crabbing forays, swims, and beaching breaks.  Folks packed up and headed home on Sunday according to their schedules.  Those who wanted to get stuck in traffic on the Bay Bridge left early.  I tarried until it was almost dark. 

A few additional pictures in the gallery below.

Andy knows how to kick back on an island.
Andy Lee knows how to camp
Mark and Marty Walsh prepare to paddle back to James Island. 
Walsh men prepare to paddle back to Taylors Island
Marty was a first time kayaker.  He immediately got the hang of it and seemed to like it pretty well.
Marty's first kayak paddle
Once you get out to a place, and when the weather is nice, why hurry to go home? 

This picture taken in response to comments from our early-rising friends on the lovely dawn sunrise.   Dawn is over rated.  Sunsets are lovely, too!
Dusk beats Dawn