First paddle of the season

Last year, I didn’t take my first paddle until early June, effectively missing out on a couple of months of nice paddling weather. One of my resolutions for 2024 was to get out paddling earlier in the spring, and I was able to make it happen yesterday morning. Spring paddling can be tricky, because while the air temperatures are warming up, the water temperatures tend to lag behind, which is often the reverse of what happens in the fall. When I’m looking to get out, I usually check the BLTM2 buoy to get a general sense for area water conditions. It’s located at the mouth of the Patapsco just north of Fort McHenry, and I’ve found it to be a fairly good gauge of whether the water will be warm enough for paddling in the various estuaries around Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County. Yesterday morning, the water temperature was just under 60ºF, and air temperature was in the low 40s, which was ideal, because it allowed me to dress appropriately for the water temperature without getting all hot and sweaty. I wore my wet suit with paddling jacket, paddling boots, paddling socks, and pogies attached to my paddle. It was my first time wearing the jacket and the boots. The boots (NRS brand) worked out well. They come up past my ankles, and I liked that the extra height kept water from washing inside while I was wading around the launch during put-in and take-out. They also have some fleecy insulation which kept my feet warm, and should work out nicely over a dry suit as well. I think I’ll probably save them for colder weather, and stick with my NRS Kickers or Vibram FiveFingers during the warm part of the season.

As for the paddle itself, I put in at Solley’s Cove Park and went into Tanyard Cove and back, for a total distance of about 3.5 miles. It was just far enough to get me warmed up for the season. I saw a bunch of deer swim across the water at one point, as well as a rather ill-tempered snapping turtle, and the highlight of the day was a bald eagle that had me wishing I had brought binoculars. I won’t forget them next time!