Winter on the Water

       In our Chesapeake Bay communities, waterways are all around us. Streams lead to rivers which lead to the wide open Bay, and it’s only a short walk or drive to the closest shoreline. This proximity to tidal waters is part of why many of us choose to live here.

     In the warmer months, the water beckons us with boating, paddle sports, fishing and crabbing, and the ambiance of a waterfront restaurant. But in mid-January, the shoreline, still lovely to look at, can become a dangerous place.

      Last week, a seasoned boater lost his life in the water, just off the dock in the heart of the Eastport neighborhood. When it comes to wintertime water temperatures, tragedy can strike within minutes, or even seconds. The loss of this member of our community serves as a powerful reminder: cold water is far more dangerous than it looks.

      The risk gets even worse when we experience a spell of springlike weather in January. This past weekend, with temperatures soaring to a glorious 70 degrees, a Chesapeake Bay Media colleague’s 13-year-old son wanted to go kayaking on Black Walnut Creek. He got a hard “NO” from his mom and dad, despite the spring-like weather. Why? Because the water temperature was down near 49 degrees.

     The National Center for Cold Water Safety classifies water temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit as “very dangerous/ immediately life-threatening,” listing among its effects “total loss of breathing control,” and “maximum-intensity cold shock.”

     Among our downstairs office neighbors, the Annapolis School of Seamanship, there’s a practice of looking for a ladder every time you step onto a dock. Just in case you need one.

      Here at CBM’s Bay Weekly, we’re committed to bringing you the important news of our Chesapeake community. Sometimes, we hope rarely, that means reporting a sobering story to inspire folks to be extra-careful on boats in winter.

      We also strive to bring you key developments in the health and conservation of the Chesapeake Bay, along with cultural events that make the most of our unique region. We feature stories of individuals doing special things in their neighborhoods. And we hope to inspire you to do special things in your neighborhood.

     In the second Bay Weekly issue produced in CBM’s offices, a volunteer historian makes surprising discoveries about the origins of Calvert County’s earliest-built schools. An older adult takes full advantage of Anne Arundel County’s opportunities to audit college courses, picking up new skills post-retirement. An angler creates a memorable fishing experience for an eager European visitor—despite it being the middle of winter. And just in time for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on Monday, we connect you with ways to help others right inside your community and talk with experts who make a strong case for serving others to benefit your own mental health.

     As we put our focus on service to others, Bay Weekly—your community newspaper—aims to serve you, the readers, with the important issues, exciting happenings, and unique people found along our waterfront home.

Meg Walburn Viviano, CBM News Director