Two couples from Delaware enjoyed an exciting sail in brisk winds on the York River with their grown children. Jeff and Barbara Wesson are from Georgetown, and Brenda and Al Ebert are from Bowers. The Eberts live within view of the Delaware Bay and are used to high winds and waves.
>Bowers is a small fishing village that has been protected from commercial exploitation in the 21st century.
“We are water people,” Al explained. “We grew up on the water and are an avid fishing family. I spent seven years as a young man working as a deck hand on a commercial boat for Capt. Jack Donovan. He and his son would go out and fish for anything. They were great at finding trout. There’s an art to finding fish, let me tell you.”
“One time we were coming back into port when Capt. Jack threw a dock line to shore. The line accidentally formed into a half-hitch and wound around his finger. When it went taught it cut his finger clean right off. I saw it!”
“Capt. Jack was crazy. He’d throw these giant nets over the side and we’d have to drag them in with hundreds of fish caught. I used to hope there were no fish that day. ‘Pull the net in, boy! Pull harder!’ It was killing me. ‘Shut up and pull the net in!’ We all got cold and wet on his 21-foot boat. Now I look back and I know I’d never give up that experience on the water. It was something.”
Our experience on this day was to get out of the east fetch of 20 mph winds and go under the Coleman Bridge to a more protected area of the river. While cruising upriver the sun came out and I saw a long horizontal glint on the horizon, at the pier of the Naval Weapons Station Yorktown. It was a Navy submarine, nearly invisible except for the conning tower. A patrol boat maneuvered back and forth to ward off any rubberneckers. The sub was in port reloading missiles.
Al’s best fishing story? “I took my three girls out for their first time fishing. I put the bait on their lines and all of a sudden they were pulling in perch faster than I could redo their hooks. Jennifer caught a doubleheader, two fish on one hook. They caught 74 perch in an hour and wanted to throw them back. I said, ‘Nothing doing. You can take them down to Billy’s dock and sell them for a dollar apiece.’ And they did. That set the standard for fishing for them. It was never that good again as it was that first time.”
Back under the bridge, we saw what looked like a bird flying close to the water. It was a guy kite surfing, balanced on his board while flying 20 mph along the waves. The entire day was exhilarating.
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