Members of US Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 66 participated in the inaugural Islander Regatta sponsored by the Mathews Outdoor Club on Saturday, June 25. Coxswain Ray Procopio with crew members Matt Smith and Mike Moore provided regatta safety zone support around the paddlers with their facility, Auxiliary 25258, alerting other boaters at times, to lower their speed and give way to the paddlers and kayakers.
Along with chase boat support from Ron Love, Jacob Love, Allen Ward, and Warner Ward, the USCG Auxiliary crew followed the kayakers up the Bay side of Gwynn’s Island and also provided a radio watch for the paddlers with 30 minute communications with Coast Guard Station Milford Haven in case of an emergency throughout the event. The Auxiliary crew also tested radio communications in preparation for future events, using Family Radio Service (FRS) radios. They were able to stay with the regatta until called away late in the event to assist stranded boaters at another location.
The participants crossed Milford Haven channel between the Gwynn’s Island Bridge and the Hole in the Wall channel to Chesapeake Bay. Along with the chase boats, they followed the kayakers up the Bay side of Gwynn’s Island and also provided a radio watch for the paddlers with 30 minute communications with Coast Guard Station Milford Haven in case of an emergency throughout the event.
Several area paddlers aged 13 to 72 participated in the Islander Regatta – 16 of whom completed the entire 9+ mile circumnavigation of Gwynn’s Island. This event was named for its host venue: The Islander Hotel, which is currently closed for renovations. Several event participants remembered enjoying the Islander back in its heyday, before the storm damage from Hurricane Isabel forced its closure.
MOC President Christine Johnson partnered with local entrepreneur, Will Berg of Farm Boards and with Debbie Gibson, co-owner of The Islander Hotel to organize the Islander Regatta.
“It was quite amazing to see the months of planning and coordination come together for this event – and we are extremely grateful for the support of the Auxiliary and our volunteer boaters,” noted Johnson. “All of our paddlers & support crew knew this was a test run for a much larger event, which is slated for next year – so they were able to provide input on how to improve for 2023.”