This trip was my fifth time across the Delaware Bay in a kayak. The conditions and the current were the best that I've experienced in this event. It was a gorgeous day without much humidity, heat, or wind. The Bay was beautiful with gentle swells and clear water. For the first time, we could see all the way across the Bay as we paddled. Joe Link and I have now crossed the Bay together four times and this was the least demanding physically.
Joe drove his truck around the Bay, leaving at 4 AM. I loaded my kayak on my Jeep and headed for the ferry terminal at 6:20 AM. My wife Cathy and I were in line when the sun rose. Seven of the ten paddlers who crossed the Bay were waiting to board the ferry with their kayaks when we arrived. Al Ambler, who crossed the Bay with us last year, drove directly to the town beach at Lewes, DE for the launch. Our party of kayaks and kayakers made quite a sight on the ferry. Many of our fellow passengers took pictures of the interesting spectacle. The ferry staff were very friendly and cooperative in dealing with the kayaks. Cathy and I drove to Lewes town beach while some of the other paddlers looked for the shortest walk to the beach. Fred Sobotincic, who crossed the Bay with us last year, simply wheeled his kayak down the highway to the town beach and almost beat Cathy and I there. We had advertised that we would be trying to launch on time and we almost made it as we hit the water at 9:06 AM. There was a small group of spectators on the beach to see us off on our journey. The paddlers were:
We headed into some small swells as we paddled toward the first waypoint, the ice breakers. I noticed right away that I had placed the waypoint on the ferry side of the ice breakers rather than the west side and so I decided to use a visual heading for the first leg of the trip. The group strung out a bit as expected as smaller groups formed around a comfortable common paddling speed. It was very soon evident that there were more than the usual Sunday's light number of ships heading into and out of the shipping channel to our north. Unfortunately, near the mouth of the Bay, the large, fast-moving ships are not restricted to a narrow channel as they are farther up the Bay. At one point, a ship seemed to be heading south right at us, so I hailed the ship on my marine radio and, perhaps coincidently, the ship did a U-turn. I had equipped my kayak with a radar reflector for the trip so that ships' radars would be able to "see" us. Once we got past the shipping traffic, the trip got more relaxed. We were close to the ferry lane, so we could watch the parade of ferries as they traversed a similar route. Joe mentioned that we could just follow the ferries, but I pointed out that only he could keep up with one. The current was in our favor, but was light due the neap tides produced by the half-moon. The lead kayaker (guess who?) landed at Town Bank after 4 hours and 5 minutes of paddling, followed* shortly by the other veteran Bay Crossers and a rookie (pics: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5). A while later, the other paddlers landed, each having completed a memorable paddle. Joe and Maria Link graciously hosted a post-crossing BBQ during the afternoon. A faithful throng of Joe's fans* had met him on the beach earlier with the annual sign of praise. It was a beautiful day.
- Al Ambler (2nd crossing)
- Darren Caffery (1st crossing)
- Eric Fleming (1st crossing)
- Bruce Jenkins (1st crossing)
- Bob Keith (2nd crossing)
- Joe Link (4th crossing)
- Bill McArthur (5th crossing)
- Don McConaghy (1st crossing)
- Mark Rogers (1st crossing)
- Fred Sobotincic (2nd crossing)
(Click for the trip announcement)
*Photo generously provided by Ken Stroud