An Annapolis man is poised to make the first known attempt to travel the entire length of the Chesapeake Bay on a standup paddleboard.
Paddleboard and Bay enthusiast Chris Hopkinson, with Chris Norman joining him much of the way, will launch from Concord Point Lighthouse, in Havre de Grace, on September 18th and seek to reach Cape Henry Lighthouse, in Virginia Beach, just eight days later.
Including five port stops in Maryland (Fort Smallwood Park in Pasadena, City Dock Annapolis, Chesapeake Beach, Cove Point Light Station in Lusby, and Point Lookout Lighthouse in Lexington Park) and three in Virginia (Hughlett Point Natural Area Preserve in Kilmarnock, New Port Comfort Lighthouse in Port Haywood, and Old Point Comfort Lighthouse in Fort Monroe), Wilkinson will paddle roughly 240 total miles.
Why, you might ask.
For the challenge and sense of personal accomplishment, yes, but primarily to raise awareness of and funds to support the Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP), a 26-year-old nonprofit that works to restore the Bay’s oyster population through actions including oyster restoration, shell recycling, aquaculture, monitoring, and outreach and education.
“I think most people don’t know what oysters actually do other than serve as a good appetizer,” says Hopkinson.
That was true for him until he discovered the shellfish’s importance to the Bay while replicating an ORP video of oysters filtering water in an aquarium tank for his daughter’s elementary school science fair project. He decided he wanted to do something to support their–and therefore the Bay’s–health.
A few years later, Hopkinson reached out to ORP with the “crazy idea” of paddling the Chesapeake for its benefit. After its initial shock, ORP realized how serious he was and decided to accept the offer and lend its full support to the pursuit.
“We were automatically drawn to this campaign because it was fun, novel and completely different, which is what we aim for here at ORP,” says Karis King, ORP spokeswoman. “We want to truly engage people and make oyster education, awareness and action interesting while setting real, tangible goals. This checks all those boxes.”
Hopkinson will support this mission by participating in outreach events this summer, inviting the public to paddle with him on individual legs of the trip, and promoting ORP at each port stop.
Chesapeake Bay Media is proud to sign on as media sponsor for the Bay Paddle, and will follow along with Hopkinson’s journey.
The public can learn more about the Bay Paddle and oysters, donate to ORP, and, in the near future, purchase official Bay Paddle-branded clothing and swag at www.BayPaddle.org.