Paddlers navigate the length of the Chesapeake Bay to raise money for conservation efforts

Accomack County

CAPE CHARLES, Va. (WAVY) — Dozens of paddlers will be making their way down the Chesapeake Bay by board, kayak or canoe on Friday morning.

Some have already put in nearly 200 miles over the last week, all to bring attention to the beauty of the bay and what needs to be done to keep it that way.  

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Chris Hopkinson of Annapolis, Maryland became the first person to paddle the entire length of the bay last year, raising $190,000 for conservation efforts along the way.  

“It was really challenging but it was also really, really fun,” Hopkinson said. “And exciting for me to see the bay the way that I did, remote parts of the bay that were just spectacular that I would have never seen otherwise.”  

The idea caught on, and this year nearly 100 people formed teams to paddle in relays or solo. 

“People really got behind the cause,” Hopkinson said. “It’s not a race, there’s no prizes. […] It’s all about doing whatever we can to protect the bay.” 

Participants include the first person to ever surfski the length of the bay, and the first woman to complete the stretch on a standup paddleboard. 

Hopkinson and route organizers asked each to contribute $1,000, which will go to the Oyster Recovery Partnership and the Chesapeake Conservancy. 

“If we have more oysters in the bay, it would be a lot cleaner,” Hopkinson said. 

Hopkinson added the Chesapeake Conservancy as a beneficiary this year because he hopes to recognize the bay as a national recreation area that would allow others to experience it the way he did. 

“The paddle [could] be like the Appalachian Trail,” he said. “If you want to come out and paddle the bay, you can come out and do it whenever you want over however many days or weeks or months.” 

The last of paddlers will conclude their journey Saturday at Fisherman’s Island, where the bay meets the Atlantic Ocean.  

To learn more about Bay Paddle, click here.  

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