Annapolis Trash Coalition Turns Paddleboarders into Creek Cleaners

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The Annapolis Trash Coalition shares their bounty after tackling Spa Creek (L to R): Peter Driscoll, Kevin Haigis, Paul Kelley (PK), Janice Fisher, John Bumper Moyer, and Richard Edwards. Photo credit: Richard Edwards

“Whoever picks up the most trash wins a Starbucks’ gift card,” said Richard Edwards, our trash pick-up leader at 8 AM on a recent Saturday at Capital SUP, a paddleboard rental shop in Annapolis. Richard is the creator of a Facebook group called Annapolis Trash Coalition, which has accumulated 157 members, and through his “trash posts,” he sets dates, times, and locations for members of the group to tackle an area for trash pick-up.

On this particular day, we embarked on the group’s first trash pick-up on the water. Our target was Spa Creek, and we were on stand up paddleboards. Richard coordinated the event with Capital SUP, which rented the boards at a reduced rate to our two members who needed them, and even better, Capital SUP donated their fees to the Spa Creek Conservancy. One of the owners of Capital SUP, Kevin Haigis, joined us on the trash pick-up and also provided how-to instructions to the two SUP newbies, John “Bumper” Moyer (Ward 8 Candidate for City Council) and Peter Driscol, who quickly developed their SUP legs, despite the slightly breezy morning. Rounding out our group of six was my husband, PK Kelley.

PK scanning the area for trash.  Photo Credit:Richard Edwards

We paddled down Spa Creek, moving into and out of smaller creeks, and as we went, I learned the names of various sites such as Acton Cove, Old Woman’s Cove, and Hawkins Cove. Additionally, as I listened to the purebred Annapolitans, Richard and Bumper, I learned about their youth and the nearby activities they had enjoyed as children. One story that stood out for me was about a friend’s dad’s pizza joint near the Maryland Avenue Naval Gate where they ate the world’s best pizza and watched the Three Stooges and the Little Rascals. Throughout all of this conversation, we picked up trash and maintained balance on our boards.

Kevin, digging deep for a trash item that has washed up ashore.  Photo credit:  Richard Edwards

It was truly a different perspective of Annapolis, seeing the land from the water, and identifying places I frequent. It was also peaceful moving along the water without a motor, listening to the sounds of nature and Annapolis waking up.

For the most part, there wasn’t much trash, and Spa Creek looked pretty good, but there were special spots where the trash settled and also spots where we had to go onshore. These were moments when I had a little adrenaline rush thinking that I was going to win the Starbucks’ gift card! We were also entertained by some of the stuff that we picked up. Our trash treasures included a soccer ball, a whiskey bottle, a flowerpot, boat upholstery, tennis balls, and lots of plastic stuff that would have stayed in the river and the Bay forever. I had started out gathering the trash with a miniature laundry basket tied to my waist, but the garbage bag on the bow soon became the collection method of choice, since it didn’t get in the way of my paddling.

PK broke from our group at Truxtun Park and lagged behind as we paddled around our last section, Hawkins Cove. But after that, we headed back to reconnect with him.  He had managed to double his garbage load with his cruise through Truxtun Park, and ended up with two full garbage bags. He told us that he had found both the garbage and the bag, but didn’t go into too much detail, nor did we ask.

Heading back to Capital SUP with our trash and passing the Dragon Boat on the way.  Photo Credit:  Richard Edwards

We quietly paddled back to our starting point, watching other SUPers and a group of kayakers. We landed with our garbage back at Capital SUP, where a paddle board yoga class was in progress. We photographed our bounty on the dock before we discarded it, and PK was declared the winner of our little competition. We all headed out to carpe diem, or what remained of it, anyway. In the car on the way home, PK mentioned to me in his foray into Truxtun Park, he had come across three other members of the Annapolis Trash Coalition, who were picking up land-based trash, and they were hauling some heavy bags up a hill.  PK kindly offered to relieve them of some of their burden. Ba da boom! Nevertheless, winning the competition was never the goal of the day. It was just a friendly competition, and we were all winners for cleaning up trash.

If you want to meet nice people, pick up trash, and help save the Bay, find the Annapolis Trash Coalition on Facebook, and join us for the next trash hook-up!

Janice Fisher is a lover of Annapolis and the environment. She lives in Hillsmere with her husband, PK, her daughter, Hannah and her bees.

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