Wendy Mitman Clarke’s connection to the Chesapeake Bay began shortly after she was able to walk.
Her family trailered their 16-foot wooden boat from West Chester, Pennsylvania, to the rivers of Cecil and Kent counties in Maryland to play, swim, water-ski, and picnic. When she was about 8 years old, they bought a sailboat to keep on the Sassafras River in Georgetown on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
“Just about every weekend, I was down on the Sassafras, in my dinghy with my dog,” she said. “I’d always feel sad about leaving when the weekend was over.”
In 2008, Clarke and her husband, a lifelong sailor who works in the marine industry, fulfilled a dream of going sailing full-time and showing their young son and daughter a larger world. After four-and-a-half years, when their children were 16 and 13, they came back to land, settling just 28 miles from the Georgetown marina where she grew up sailing.
After a long career covering the Chesapeake Bay, both as a sailor and a chronicler of its environmental riches and challenges, Clarke has joined Maryland Sea Grant as a science writer and editor.
Clarke began her writing career at a daily newspaper in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and then at The Associated Press in northern New England. Most recently, she was director of communications for Washington College in Chestertown. She became familiar with Maryland Sea Grant’s work while working at the boating magazine Soundings, and then at Chesapeake Bay Magazine.
While at Washington College, Clarke began focusing her freelance writing on science because “it felt like the only way I could contribute to what I felt was the necessary education to people about climate change.”
She added: “We are a maritime nation, even though nobody remembers that. I feel that the Sea Grant College network is a connection to that history.”
In addition to her Sea Grant work, she is senior editor for Good Old Boat, a bi-monthly magazine. She’s also a published poet, and in 2017 her Bay-based novel Still Water Bending was published. Being on the Chesapeake—and writing about it—brings her full circle in her journey as a journalist, sailor, and mother.
“The Bay and the ocean are not separate. We are not our own entity. We are connected,” she said. “To me, the Bay has always been a doorway.”