Wednesday, June 05, 2024

Mallows Bay

On June 2, a friend (Renee) and I went kayaking in Mallows Bay.  Located on the Potomac River, Mallows Bay is 30 miles downstream from Washington DC. It is home to the Ghost Fleet, the largest collection of historic shipwrecks in the Western Hemisphere. Parts of the ships are sticking out of the water and you can paddle around them in a kayak or canoe. We took a 2-hour guided kayak tour with Charles County Parks and Recreation.

It was a beautiful day to kayak.

The Ghost Fleet is a collection of about 100 wooden steamships built to be used in the first world war. They were part of a huge shipbuilding campaign. The war ended before the ships could be put into service. Nobody wanted the obsolete ships, so they were brought to Mallows Bay, burned and salvaged for metal. Many, many more ships have been sunk in Mallows Bay, including some dating back to the Civil War. The Accomac was the last ship added (in 1973) and the only that rises high enough in the water to look like a ship. 

The Accomac is the only ship visible above the water.

In 2015, Mallows Bay was listed as an archaeological and historic district on the National Register of Historic Places. It was declared a National Marine Sanctuary in 2019. A century of natural processes has turned the ships into ecologically valuable habits for animals and plants. So, what was once a military boondoggle is now a treasured natural (and national) resource and great place to visit. 

Here you can see remnants of a ship.

Paddling Mallows Bay with my friend was fun. When you stopped paddling, the waters continued to move the kayak along. You had to be careful about playing "bumper cars" with the other kayakers. The waters were particularly choppy when we returned to shore. Paddling wasn't very conductive to picture-taking. While the Ghost Fleet has turned into a wildlife sanctuary, we didn't see any during our time out in the bay, though there were bald eagles in the air. We also didn't paddle very far into the bay where most of the ships are. It's probably not safe to take kayaks out that far, certainly not inexperienced kayakers.

A gorgeous day

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