The Launch
Paddle Across the Bay 2008
William G. McArthur, September 11, 2008

    This trip was supposed to be the Ultimate Doublecross, with paddlers Joe Link and Jim More in addition to me. We had originally scheduled the trip for Wednesday, August 27, but the weather dictated that the trip be postponed. On Wednesday, September 10, we looked carefully at the weather forecast and guessed that the predicted 10-15 knot east wind would stay on the low side and that the predicted 2 foot waves would be acceptable. So we decided to go, met around 6:00 AM and launched at 6:30 AM. The wind was calm and the bay was fairly smooth. For a while, as we paddled, conditions stayed good. We were making excellent time at a pace of 12-13 minute miles and having a good time chatting and looking at the early morning scenery. Gradually, the sea got bigger and we were in some 4-5 foot swells, but they weren't breaking. Then the waves got even bigger, the wind picked up, and the waves started to crest. The comfortable paddling became tedious as we had to continually study the waves which came from varying directions. Somehow, we were able to stay on course as we were battered. After we crossed the shipping channel, Joe's kayak got dumped by a rogue wave. Joe did a textbook wet exit and flipped his kayak. Bill grabbed his paddle and unsuccessfully chased after his encased glasses. Meanwhile, Jim performed an excellent aided rescue and soon Joe was back inside his kayak, pumping water out. We were five miles from our destination when the mishap occurred. The waves continued to be nasty all the way to our landing point. We didn't know it yet, but each of us had decided that we were not in favor of the return trip. We landed on the exact spot that we had planned after 18.8 miles and 4.5 hours, about the usual time for a bay crossing. Our route was almost perfectly as planned. My wife Cathy and Maria Link drove the support vehicle to meet us at our landing at Prime Hook Beach, DE. We told them that we were bailing out of the return trip and would have to load everything in and on the car and the five of us would have to drive to the ferry terminal in Lewes, DE. Our XTerra has never had even two kayaks on top, much less three, but Joe and Jim figured out how to do it (pics: 1,2). We actually made it on the 12:45 PM ferry for the ride back to Cape May. We noticed that the wind was even stronger and the waves were even higher and were glad that we made this a one way paddle this year. Joe and I met Jim More for the first time today and were quite impressed with him as a paddling mate. We hope to have Jim join us for future adventures. This was Jim's first crossing of the Delaware Bay, Joe's 10th, and my 11th.

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