Arnold resident Chris Hopkinson reached the Atlantic at 2:40 p.m. Saturday, finishing a nine-day journey down the Chesapeake’s Eastern Shore by paddleboard to raise money for the Oyster Recovery Partnership.
The endeavor has brought in $177,000 so far, which the partnership can use to plant new oysters in the bay. Hopkinson has praised the ecological value of the bivalves, which filter the water they live in.
Fundraising connected to the paddle will continue, Hopkinson said, even though the 203-mile journey is complete. He said the first day was the hardest; cold temperatures caused him to experience symptoms of hypothermia, and he faced two and three foot swells.
Environmental educator Brian Gomes followed Hopkinson by kayak and wrote about the journey in an online blog. They were challenged by wind, sunburn, muscle pain and Gomes lost a favorite hat; they also saw dolphins, pelicans, menhaden and terrapins, he wrote.
They passed through the Kent Narrows, stopped at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Karen Noonan Memorial Environmental Education Center near Bishops Head and paddled through the empty concrete ships that form a breakwater at Kiptopeke in Virginia.
Hopkinson said the trip down the Honga River to the Noonan Center was beautiful, and because the center is far away from sources of light they could stargaze that night, and watched the International Space Station pass overhead.
With the help of a doctor, Hopkinson used techniques like compression boots and intravenous fluids to recover after paddling, as well as magnesium and cannabidiol cream.
He spent between seven and nine hours a day paddling, and traveled an average of 22 miles a day. He said his legs were hardest hit, as they are used to paddle as well as to balance the board.
Hopkinson said he hasn’t been back on the water since finishing the trip, but he thinks he’ll be out again in October. And the fundraising effort will continue with the release of a documentary film tied to the trip and apparel sales on the horizon. The goal is to raise $200,000.