The Paddlers
Paddle Across the Bay 2003
William G. McArthur, July 20, 2003

    We were not able to make a crossing in 2002 because of bad conditions each time we scheduled the trip. This year we had another weather cancellation on June 22. Mother Nature did her best to make up for it by providing one beautiful day for this paddle. Three of us, Joe Link, Bruce Jenkins, and I took the 7:30 AM ferry to Delaware with my long-suffering wife, Cathy, driving our Jeep. Bruce had just paddled around Manhattan Island on Friday, Joe had run a five mile footrace on Saturday, and I had spent some time gumming zwieback crackers at the Villas Senior Center, as we each prepared for the event in our own ways. This was my seventh, Joe's sixth, and Bruce's second crossing. The best part of the ferry ride was that, compared with Joe and Bruce, I seem like such a moderate guy; I like it when Cathy gets that idea reinforced. Joe was talking about marathons and Bruce was talking about climbing Mt. Washington in February; geez, sometimes I sleep through the whole night without getting up to go to the bathroom. 

   A near crisis occurred when we got the kayaks unloaded at the Lewes Town Beach. A young man jumped into my kayak and kicked sand all over the cockpit that I had so carefully hosed out yesterday afternoon. I was going to travel to fist city with the lad, but then I remembered how ferocious those three-year olds can be and let him go. The silver lining to the almost violence was that my pulse rate was elevated like I had just seen Cameron Diaz's old photos; I was raring to go! We launched at 9:21 AM, nine minutes ahead of schedule. As we started our journey, I felt safe in the knowledge that if I ran out of steam, Joe and Bruce could easily tow me across without slowing down. 

   The water was beautifully clear and undulated with a gentle swell; a slight breeze in our faces kept us cool for the first half. We took our usual couple of quick water stops, but mostly kept paddling an even pace. Our average speed was 4.2 mph for the first half, but improved to an overall 4.6 mph as the current picked up during the second half. We landed at Pinewood Road after paddling 18.7 miles in 4 hours. Cathy and Joe's wife, Maria, formed a small but boisterous welcoming committee on the beach. Joe did his patented pee-roll as he disembarked; the only roll of the day for us.

   I am thankful that I had the opportunity to do another great crossing with such good companions.

(Click for the trip announcement)

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