Nice Sail Today

Lars S. Mulford (
Fri, 21 May 1999 20:07:12 -0400

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
West Wight Potter Website at URL
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
East Coasties and Web Gang:

Today, I took Kathryn (10) and Rachel (6) for a sail on "Aqua". We
launched from the head of Rehoboth Bay and sailed the length of the bay,
through the straits, and into Indian River Bay to have a picnic on
Middle Island. It was great!

Shortly after launch, the winds steadied a bit (but light) and we
cruised south, averaging 4.25 knots with a surge every now and again to
5 knots. We were only 20 minutes into the roughly 6 mile sail to Middle
Island when the waters 50yds off the port bow exploded with activity. A
small pod of Harbor Porpoise were chasing a school of baitfish and the
school surfaced and began leaping clear of the water. The porpoises
followed suit, completely ignoring us and making runs on the baitfish
with great zeal. It was fascinating to watch them torpedo through the
water just below the surface, turning and jinking to follow the schools
of baitfish... Best of all, we had th camcorder with us and caught most
of it on film! We have seen the porpoise in the bay often, but they are
reclusive and almost never linger on the surface.. This behavior was
something we hadn't seen in Harbor Porpoise.. their behavior was more
dolphin-like in nature.. The Bottlenose Dolphin in the area are always
visible as they cavort and play on the surface, and also make a great
deal of hubbub when they feed.. But the porpoise are always reclusive
in comparison... We felt blessed to have seen this.

We sailed on with steady winds, needing only minor corrections here and
there. This gave us time to really film our surroundings and pay
attention to many things.. We saw Horseshoe Crabs of every size, Common
Skates, and the like. While noticing these things, the winds began to
pick up and we now began to average around 5.10 knots. As we passed
through the straits (and the rougher water that exists there) the winds
were funneled and we took off like a rocket, the boat accelerating in
very startling manner. The girls held on while I steadied "Aqua" and we
briefly zoomed up to 6.35 knots and held it over 6 knots for the
duration of our time in the straits.

Once clear of the straits and past other islands, Middle Island came
into view and we were able to steer straight for it and land without
incident. We had built up so much speed that I reduced sail and played
it out before our approach so we could come in under 3 knots. We landed
smoothly and the girls unloaded and gawked at the occupants of Middle
Island. All around us were cranes of every size, egrets, plovers, and
other interesting birds. We whippped out the camcorder again and began
recording. There were also very nice shell selections on the eastern
side of the island; the girls took full advantage of this after lunch.
But for the time, we were content to sit on our lifejackets and a piece
of gnarly driftwood, break bread together, and enjoy the view of both
bays and the waters all about us.

Too soon, it was time to depart Middle Island, as the afternoon was
growing long. The winds had picked up substantially and I told the
girls that this would be a much quicker ride back to our launching point
than the trip from there to Middle Island (which took about 1.5 hours).
Under reduced sail, I cleared the island and steered us through the
straits, which had now become very rough because of impending tidal
action and the wind blowing across the bay, piling the water up. Under
reduced sail, we averaged well over 5 knots. Once we reentered Rehoboth
Bay proper, we let all canvas fly and we began to fly! The winds were
whipping all around us (but in very cool ways, were blowing to keep the
chop down) and we averaged 7.60 knots on the trip home. The girls were
shouting and singing in sheer exuberence, and I found myself laughing
and hollering with them, getting caught up in the moment. It was such a

The launching point came into view and I reduced sail. We landed on the
beach beside the launching point with about 4.5 knots still indicated;
this helped to push the boat up for me! The girls disembarked and
decided it was time to lay out in the sun on their towels and listen to
the radio. While they were enjoying themselves, I turned the boat
around and ran it for a quick sail, solely for speed. Once clear of the
launching area, I let all canvas fly and the boat accelerated so hard
that I nearly rolled off the tramp.. I got myself situated in the
cockpit and trimmed up for speed. With two windsurfers pacing & keeping
me company, we rolled up to 12.25 knots before the winds began to get
fluky and I turned back for home. They steadied somewhat and I averaged
7.75 knots back to the launching site. As I approached the beach beside
the launching site, I decided to let it fly and see how far we could
move up the beach. We hit a sandbar that is approximately 100 yards off
the beach at around 8.50 knots, cleaving it neatly without losing any
speed. When it shallowed up, I still had 7.75 knots indicated. We
beached completely out of the water, much to Kathryn and Rachel's
delight! (When they saw me coming in hot, they began jumping up and
down, hooting and hollering, and I have to admit that I fed off of

The sailing portion of the day was over, but the nice thing about having
moments like that with your children is that the magic continues. It
continues when you get home and they excitedly tell their friends on the
phone about the day, recapping it all while you are in earshot... It
continues when over dinner, they retell it to each other.. and.... It
continues when you tuck them in for bed and they hold and hug you just a
moment longer than usual and tell you.... thanks Dad for the sail.

What do you say?

You hold them a moment longer than usual as well, and you say "you're

And when their lights are out and they are fast asleep, you peek in on
them and tell them...

"No my child, thank you."

"Sea" ya!

--Lars S. Mulford, President East Coast Potter Association (ECPA) Come visit us at "Forgive, and live. Life is worth the challenge of living." --LSSM s/v Aqua (sailing the greater Chesapeake region)