By Cindy Hoffman, Staff Writer
(April 6, 2023) Ocean Pines has 10 miles of water trails that are readily accessible from the community. Laura Scharle, who lives in the Pines, is familiar with every one of them.
She created an interactive map of these trails for Ocean Pines, which sits on the website at https://www.oceanpines. org/web/pages/kayaks-canoes-sup.
The site provides a map of all of the trails, along with information about skill level required to navigate them, potential hazards, photos, wildlife viewing opportunities and nearby amenities. There is also a list of boat launches in the community.
It’s almost time to get on the water, so Scharle hosted a seminar on Tuesday to teach people about safety, share tips on kayaking and inform paddlers of the great online resources for Ocean Pines and the surrounding region.
Scharle takes safety seriously.
She warned paddlers to not be fooled by an early 85 degree day.
“If the water temperature is below 60 degrees, do not go,” she said.
“The water does not get to 60 degrees until early May.”
“If you fall out of your kayak and you are not wearing cold water gear, you can go into cold shock. If you are in a remote area, you could be in huge trouble,” Scharle said.
Scharle said a person only has about 10 minutes to get to safety in cold water.
She also cautioned paddlers about the wind.
“Wind can kick up in this area. Don’t go out if winds are over 10 knots,” Scharle said.
She recommends checking the National Weather Service marine forecast.
The Coast Guard requires paddlers to have a whistle and a personal floatation device on board. She recommends all paddlers also bring a cell phone in a zip lock or dry bag, closed-toe shoes, and a water bottle. For long trips, snacks, a first aid kit, sunscreen, a change of clothes, and a handheld VHF radio are advisable, she said.
Scharle provided bright orange stickers to everyone who attended the event. The stickers are to be placed on the kayak, SUP or canoe, with the owner’s name, address and phone number on it. The stickers come in handy should a paddler become separated from the boat. If your boat is found occupied, its owner can be contacted to retrieve the boat, or in the event of an emergency, a search can commence.
She also strongly recommends anyone going out on the water to have a float plan that identifies the route and return time and to share it with someone responsible.
Scharle recommends that paddlers always go out with a partner, especially if venturing into open waters. Other boaters can spot kayakers better in groups than paddling solo.
Scharle is a certified American Canoe Association instructor. She worked at the Delaware Seashore State Park for 17 years so she knows more than the Ocean Pines water trails. She recommends checking out other paddling and nature trails available throughout the Delmarva region. From her many adventures, she created https://www.delmarvatrailsandwaterways.com.
“I knew I wanted to connect people to public lands,” said Scharle.
She continues her own adventures every day. Her goal is to kayak the whole peninsula before she dies. That’s 650 miles. She blogs about her many adventures and provides helpful resources including links to tides, the Weather Channel, NOAA, Geo Tracking App. and Google Earth at https://laurapaddlesdelmarva.com