This September, a man from Arnold plans to travel from Havre De Grace to Virginia Beach –– the entire length of the Chesapeake Bay –– by stand-up paddleboard to encourage people to donate to the Oyster Recovery Partnership so more bivalves can be planted in the bay.
Chris Hopkinson has been paddleboarding about six years, and said the plan to paddle the Chesapeake has been in the works for more than two years. He approached the Oyster Recovery Partnership with the idea of using the trip to raise money.
The trip has been planned for a time when the Oyster Recovery Partnership’s major in-person fundraisers have been postponed because of coronavirus –– a fundraiser with hundreds in attendance isn’t possible because large gatherings are banned to protect public health.
“The bay paddle is a way to fill that void,” spokeswoman Karis King said. “A COVID-safe way to fundraise.”
ORP has planted more than 8 billion oysters in the bay, which provide habitat for other creatures and also filter nitrogen out of the water, which they use to grow.
Hopkinson is in the midst of a 22-week training regimen to prepare for the journey. He will launch from Havre de Grace Sept. 18, and plans on paddling nine hours a day until he has reached Virginia Beach, where his journey should end Sept. 26.
Hopkinson is traveling down the Western Shore of the Chesapeake, and while he plans to stay close to shore that won’t be possible as he paddles past the mouths of the more than a dozen rivers.
“It’s like going horizontal across a wind tunnel,” he said.
He said he will know he is almost done when he hits the Potomac River –– its mouth is 10 miles wide, he said, but once he is past that it is relatively easier paddling.
He isn’t camping along the way and will be able to stay at home in Arnold with his family some nights.
He said he wants to use the trip as a draw to encourage people to donate to support ORP’s work. More oysters in the bay means a healthier bay, he said. The fundraising goal is $200,000. As of July 31, $54,000 had been raised according to the fundraiser’s website.
He will be filmed during the trip, and will also wear a camera to give people a paddler’s eye view of the bay. He wants to show off the environment as well as historical places of importance along the bay, including Annapolis and Naval Station Norfolk. There could also be an opportunity to take kids on a virtual field trip through the trip, he said.