Paddle boarder rallying for clean water at the Baltimore Floatilla

1st Annual Baltimore Floatilla

This past Saturday (June 11th) was the 1st Annual Baltimore Floatilla for a Healthy Harbor. The event’s mission is to raise awareness of the need to clean up Baltimore’s harbor, which is currently plagued by pollution, garbage, and sewage.  A large contributor to the harbor’s pollution is the city’s aging, failing infrastructure, which has many old sewage pipes that seep raw sewage into the harbor.

Baltimore Harbor Pollution

Trash and debris floating in Baltimore’s harbor after a rainstorm.

It is no secret that the harbor’s water is polluted, as locals often joke about the toxicity of the waters.  I had several onlookers from waterfront marinas that we passed joke about the water quality, and how my skin must be burning off from the water splashing on me.  On more than one occasion, I have heard people joke about how falling into the harbor’s water would mean instantaneous death, yet Baltimore is hoping to clean up the water quality so much so that the harbor will be swimmable by 2020.  Sadly, during my 5 mile paddle on my SUP, I saw more trash and debris than sea life. It is worth noting, however, that the water clarity was very good, and I could spot trash floating several feet below the water’s surface.

Baltimore Floatilla

Selfie with the other paddlers of the Baltimore Floatilla. Check out Mr. Trash Wheel photo bombing us in the background! He’s such a prankster!

231 paddlers converged on Canton Waterfront Park to launch their kayaks, SUPs, canoes, and dragonboats to begin their 5 mile paddle.  Paddlers paraded along the waterfront Promenade that outlines and connects Canton, Fells Point, Harbor East and the Inner Harbor waterfronts.  Participants gathered at the rally point, the Maryland Science Center, and raised their voices and banners in support of a cleaner, healthier harbor.

There were many creative (and hilarious) banners and props that were attached to vessels or hoisted into the air in support of the Healthy Harbor initiative.  There was a great turn out from many local activists and organizations, including:

Mr. Trash Wheel
Blue Water Baltimore
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation
Ultimate Watersports
Baltimore Recreation and Parks
Parks & People Foundation
Chesapeake Kayak Adventures
Waters Edge Kayak Club
The National Aquarium
Baltimore Dragon Boat Club
Canton Kayak Club
Outdoor Afro
Eastern Watersports

After the long paddle, attendees headed back to Canton Waterfront for comradery, refreshments, a delicious lunch, and wonderful entertainment courtesy of Tongue and Cheek jazz band.  The event was an overall success, gathering media attention, social media buzz and applause from tourists and onlookers.   Hopefully next year the event will be an even bigger success, and we will finally be able to take pride in our harbor’s healthy waters.

Baltimore Floatilla Band

The Tongue and Cheek jazz band at the Baltimore Floatilla after party.


Check out a short Youtube video of the Baltimore Floatilla that I made using my GoPro Hero 3+.  Unfortunately, my camera started acting up at the rally point, so I only captured the first part of the event, and not the whole rally.  Not to worry, though, as you can also view video from the actual rally on The Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Healthy Harbor’s facebook pages!



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