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Paddle to Big Island

YRSCB group

Shannon Alexander

Big Island Map
Map Image: Bay Country Kayaking

Big Island Paddle, July 17, 2015

YRSCB members met in Hayes, VA on July 17 on a relatively cool and non-humid summer day. The group, led by their enthusiastic guide, Shannon Alexander of Bay Country Kayaking, assembled at the tip of Guinea to paddle around Big Island which is located between the mouth of the York River and Mobjack Bay.

Fortunately there was little wind since this was an open water area but just enough to keep away any pesky bugs. At our first rest stop overlooking Big Island we noticed a rather large flock of osprey circling and flying the way vultures circle and thought it was somewhat unusual.

Shannon took us through a marsh cut-through and there were so many periwinkles (Littorina littorea) living on the grasses. We rounded the bend toward less protected water and were glad that it was a calm day. As lunchtime approached, we headed for a nice beach to pull up the kayaks, rest, and take in some refreshments. We noticed a pound-net in front of the beach area and then realized why all the osprey were circling. It was their buffet! So many birds were diving in and taking fish for their own lunches!

As we re-boarded, regrouped and headed back, a fishing boat pulled up to harvest from the pound net. Such a beautiful old-style looking boat. At the top of the island, a heron was kind enough to pose for several photos before squawking and flying off.

The weary group of ladies made it around the island and back to the landing. For many of us not used to paddling, this trip was just the right amount of time for a great adventure without totally wearing us out! We highly recommend Shannon Alexander and Bay Country Kayaking! Shannon has bounds of energy yet makes sure she keeps everyone at a good pace so the group stays together.

“An absolutely gorgeous day on the river with marvelous folks and a super guide. Couldn’t have gotten more perfect. It’s experiences like this that make you appreciate how lucky we are to have these amazing resources available to us and how important it is to protect them.” ~ Page Hutchinson, Watershed Education and Outreach, VA Project WET Coordinator, Dept. of Environmental Quality

"It was a great day and a great group of people! Shannon was a wonderful guide providing information about the natural and cultural history of the area. We got to see and experience some of Gloucester’s most valuable assets along one of our established blueways - beautiful marshes, bays and shoreline habitats, abundant natural resources and watermen working off a classic Chesapeake Bay dead rise boat! It was fun being a tourist in my own backyard." ~Anne Ducey-Ortiz, AICP, CZA, Director, Gloucester County Department of Planning and Zoning

Click on each photo to enlarge. A photo gallery from Shannon Alexander, Bay Country Kayaking, can be found toward the bottom of the page at this link.

Examining the water Paddle group en route flotilla
island in view first rest stop through the grass follow the leader
lots of periwinkles beautiful day to paddle taking in the sights enthusiastic paddler
trusty guide island view island view 2 fishermen at pound net
heron heron 2 heron 3 osprey with fish
kayaking kayak smile wading to get a better look water perspective






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