The Anacostia River in Summer
by Laszlo Morocz
visit Laszlo's webpage

The Anacostia river is a slightly flawed gem hidden in the Washington DC metro area. Less than 9 miles long from its Maryland headwaters to where it joins up with the Potomac in southwest DC, parts are polluted with run down waterfront. Other parts are being cleaned up and restored. In the 1990's 20 million dollars was invested in cleaning up the Bladensburg waterfront. This included a garbage skimmer, the building of a marina and park and measures to improve the water quality. These have succeeded to the point where the upper Anacostia is coming back to life. The number of fish species is increasing. Waterfowl, including species on the top of the food chain such as kingfisher, heron and osprey, are now a routine sight. Turtles, watersnakes and frogs make up the visible reptile and amphibian contingent. Beaver and muskrat also put in an appearance.

Johncanoe is a Cheap Canoe that I built last year. Launch and trials were at the Bladensburg Marina. After our solo shakedowns, my wife and I piled in with some minimal boating gear to see how it worked as a 2-person boat. It worked very well. We started at the marina, went downriver about 1 mile towards Washington and then upriver again until the water got too shallow to navigate. Although the freeboard was the lowest either of us had ever seen, the boat handled the wind/tidal ripples and even a gentle motorboat wake encounter with no problems. So 2-person cruising is a definite possibility in a Cheap Canoe.

The Bladensburg Marina is located at the Bladensburg Waterfront Park. There are rental canoes and rowboats, guided pontoon-boat birdwatching tours, a fishing pier and a free boat ramp.

The riverbank south of the marina is wooded. When in leaf, it's hard to believe that there's a major metropolitan area just on the other side (at least until you get to the freeway bridges).

North of the marina the woods give way to flat ground covered with reeds and grass. These are the Anacostia's headwaters. Johncanoe had no seats at this point, but the front occupant did have a fully-automatic, self-adjusting lumbar support. This picture also answers the question, "Can the Cheap Canoe hold 2 adults?"

Here we're doing our log impression (paddles out of the water, no talking) and drifting toward a Great Blue Heron. It may be a stealthboat, but he's getting suspicious.

Too close and he's off...