The only thing that could be heard was the sound of the waves breaking close to the shore and the screech of seagulls overhead.
"It's really tranquil out here," Betsy Kramer, of North Cape May, said between paddle strokes.
Kramer was finishing up an hourlong kayak trip that started at Higbee Beach in Cape May, looped around the failed World War I experiment - the sunken, concrete S.S. Atlantus - off Sunset Beach, and back to Higbee Beach.
The trip, what Kramer would call a "paddle," is the type of event that is organized by the Lower Township Kayaking Club. The club, which boasts more than 60 participants, began a year ago after longtime kayaker Mark Lovell organized a third annual kayak rally on the Delaware Bay in North Cape May.
"It's a great way to bring people together who have a common interest in the outdoors," said Kramer, who, along with fellow kayaker Marie Catanese, has been essential in getting the club off the ground. "It's a great place to commune with the water and the sun."
The club is not open only to experienced paddlers, nor is it exclusive to members. Cape May summer resident Ted Schnitzler became involved with the club after he paddled across the path of some racers participating in the rally that Lovell organized.
"I started paddling towards the others, and they asked me if I was in the race. I said, 'Sure!'" Schnitzler said. At the time, he was paddling a sluggish boat that looked like a huge banana, he said.
The club also participates in non-paddle events on land. Kramer said the members try to meet up and support the Cape May Brewing Company as well as local restaurants and other club members. She said that the kayak crew frequently supports fellow kayaker and musician Syd Kelly when she plays local gigs.
The membership of the kayak club is far-reaching and diverse. Kramer said that Lower Township Mayor Michael Beck is a member, as well as a few council members and retirees, including a retired police officer from Philadelphia.
"Whoever has a beating heart and a couple of arms and legs, we try to get to kayak with us," said Kramer, who outside of kayaking is an interior designer.
The group has plans to organize a Halloween outing as well as to support an upcoming dragon boat race sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Cape May on Sept. 28. Some kayakers are looking to race, but, at the very least, they plan on volunteering to help out at the event.
"Selfishly, it's a great way to have friends that get together and just enjoy life and have new experiences," Kramer said.
The group also has frequent open paddles that are well-attended and are advertised on their Facebook group page, Lower Township Kayaking Club.
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