200-mile Chesapeake Bay paddle board journey benefits oyster recovery, bay health

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Posted at 6:59 AM, Aug 27, 2021

Chris Hopkinson was tossed off his paddle board more times than he could count.

But each time, he got back up, and on September 26, 2020, he completed the 200-mile journey from Havre de Grace, Maryland to the Atlantic Ocean.

"Once it was all over, you kind of look back and realize how special of an experience it was," Hopkinson told News 3 of his eight-day paddle board journey; a trip in support of oyster recovery in the bay.

Hopkinson raised $190,000, and when you consider just $10 puts 1,000 oysters back into the bay...that's a lot of oysters and much cleaner water. One oyster filters up to 50 gallons of water each day.

This year, Hopkinson is back for Bay Paddle 2021 and he's bringing 100 people with him.

"Three are doing the whole thing on their own and then the rest are on relay teams," he said.

The group took off Friday morning from Havre de Grace, Maryland and is expected to take the same route Hopkinson did last year. The first day is 34 miles, and Hopkinson says it's going to be a test.

"When you're trekking 34 miles or 200 miles, the weather is going to be different every day. Most of the folks are well prepared. They've been paddling all summer, paddling the bay. We just have no idea what it's going to be like," he said.

Hopkinson will join the paddlers in the water and at times offer support from land. The journey is scheduled to finish on September 3 in the Atlantic Ocean near Northampton County's Fisherman's Island.

Bay Paddle has a $200,000 fundraising goal in support of the Oyster Recovery Partnership and the Chesapeake Conservancy.

"More than anything, it is super unique to paddle the length of the Chesapeake Bay so all these paddlers are going to experience that. It's not something you can really replicate or find anywhere else," Hopkinson said.

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