Dozens of Dolphins near Goodwin Islands at Sunset

They were too fast for my camera, but magical, nonetheless. Dozens of dolphins circled around our 3 kayaks as they hunted their dinner. Combined with the dramatic sunset and gentle waves pushing us home, it was a joyful 8.8 miles out of Back Creek Park in Seaford, VA.

Canoeing Shenandoah River

We escaped the oppressive heat and humidity of Tidewater, VA with a 3-day stay at Shenandoah River State Park. Highly recommend it! VA state parks are national favorites and this one is especially scenic and well maintained. Our camp cabin had a ceiling fan and electrical outlets, so we were saved the hassle of setting up a tent in summer sun. It was warm, but pleasant, especially with the chilly river nearby to dip in.

I’m usually a flat water or surf kayaker, so the canoe was a new experience for me. Glad I was with an experienced canoeist who read the river rocks and currents well. Class I and II rapids made it fun and interesting. Front Royal Outdoors took us to a put-in 12 miles south of the Bentonville boat ramp, where we took out. The water volume was a little low, but we only had to push ourselves off the rocks a couple of times. Very pretty mountain and river views. It was a weekday, so we had the river almost to ourselves, except for one set of canoe campers learning the river. FRO does a great job with the logistics and debriefing the route. They put us in a top-end fiberglass canoe. Good equipment always makes the outing more enjoyable. I recommend them!

Huntington Park to Lions Bridge, Newport News, VA

Being ever watchful of a potential thunderstorm, we three paddling buddies set out after work from Huntington Park to enjoy a few miles upriver and back in time to enjoy the sunset. This public boat ramp has a small beach to one side that makes it easy to launch kayaks out of the way of power boats. If you’re hungry, the Crab Shack on the James is nearby.

Mucky Ramp at Ancarrow’s Landing, Richmond, VA

Already in Richmond for a family birthday party, we thought we’d put in nearby for a couple of hours of touring on a sunny day. We don’t recommend this location because

  1. The boat ramp was very muddy even at high tide – not sure a power boat trailer could avoid getting stuck. I think it would be almost impossible to manage at low tide with a kayak.
  2. The area around Rockett’s Landing is better enjoyed from the bike path. From the water the feeling is very industrial, with warnings not to dredge or anchor due to the underwater petroleum pipelines. The only wildlife we saw were speed boaters showing no concern for the effect of their wake on paddlers and a few hawks circling overhead. It was a chance to paddle in the sunshine, but one of several locations above the James River falls would probably have been much more enjoyable.

SUP at Jamestown Beach, VA

Enjoyed time on my stand up paddleboard on completely smooth water with a fabulous sunset. This was the best SUP session I’ve ever had in 3 years of paddling it, but beware: conditions are rarely this calm at Jamestown. I got lucky.

Dodging Potential Storms on Poquoson River

Hampton Roads Kayakers meet up group kept careful watch on the weather radar, because thunderstorms were happening about 20 miles on each side of us. We still managed to get a nice 5 mile paddle surrounded by many jumping fish, herons, egrets, and gulls. The full moon hid behind a cloud bank, but we’ll probably be back to witness it next month.

Sunset Paddle on Warwick River

The Warwick River, easily accessible from the Denbigh Boulevard public boat ramp with ample free parking, is a protected and quiet place to paddle on weeknights after work in Newport News, VA. We saw only one powerboat with a wakeboarder and a fisherman returning to the ramp in his jon boat during our 2-hour paddle.

Wildlife sightings included heron and gulls. The sunset is the attraction here.

Circumnavigating Gordon Island

8 paddlers from the Virginia Paddling meet-up group enjoyed a hot day on Gordon Creek. We saw powerboats on the Chickahominy River, a few other paddlers, some heron, geese, and ducks. We were disappointed by no eagle, otter, or turtle sightings, but it was midday and hot, so we were not at all surprised by the lack of critters stirring about.

Sarah’s Creek and Gloucester Point

Fun paddle on Sunday with the Virginia Paddlers kayak group. We put in at Gloucester point, went up and down Sarah’s Creek, then out around the point to the bay. The river was like glass on the way out, and then the wind kicked up, giving is some wave action to ride back to the bridge.

Paddleboarding at Hatteras, NC

We camped at Frisco Campground (NPS) on Hatteras Island. The ocean side was too rough and cold for paddle-boarding, but we enjoyed driving on the beach and flying kites. Luckily, the water in shallower Currituck Sound was much warmer, so we didn’t really need our wetsuits and had fun on our SUPs. We saw some small skates and big turtles swimming below and around us.

Update on 8/19/19: I later learned that the very vocal bird that kept us awake all night was a Whippoorwill. Take earplugs, or this is what you’ll hear all night long – they are relentless: https://youtu.be/jIxfVSS_65o