The Largest Fleet of Ghost Ships in the Western Hemisphere Is an Hour Outside of DC

And you can kayak through them. Here’s how.

Ghost Fleet Mallows Bay
Mallows Bay is known for a collection of more than 200 boats

Fall is just around the corner, which means it’s time to find some spooky autumnal shit to partake in. We see your IT: Chapter 2 tickets and raise you a morning kayak paddle through a fleet of ghost ships that met their watery grave just an hour from DC, in Mallows Bay.

The Experience

Hosted by Atlantic Kayak Company (AKC), an adventure kayaking business in Charles County, Maryland, this paddle will have you exploring the largest concentration of shipwrecks in the Western Hemisphere, otherwise known as the Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay. 

If by some chance you’ve never kayaked before, you can rest easy knowing that they start the experience with a quick kayak tutorial. Afterward, get ready to hit the water for two hours of floating through the hulking ghost vessels, the bows of which still peek out of the waters of the bay. You’ll also get a history lesson and visit a series of nature refuge areas inhabited by beavers, osprey and bald eagles. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) named Mallows Bay an official national marine sanctuary this July — the first such area to be designated since 2000. 

History of the Bay

Mallows Bay is known for a collection of more than 200 boats, which include vessels from the 18th century as well as wooden steamships built in response to the threat of WWI German U-boats that were sinking ships in the Atlantic. It was a total rush job, and the ships never actually saw action during the war. Ultimately, their construction reflects a massive national wartime industry that “drove the expansion and economic development of communities and related maritime service industries,” according to NOAA.

The fleet was later brought to the Potomac to be salvaged for scrap metal, but most of it was pretty much unusable and left to rot in the water. In the years since, nature has reclaimed them as habitats for local wildlife, which is what makes Mallows Bay such a great spot for wildlife spotting. 

You can sign up for the experience through AKC’s partnership with Airbnb and Atlas Obscura. A ticket will set you back $90, and the experience is offered on a monthly basis, with the next excursion coming up this Saturday, September 21. 

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