Local sailor recounts harrowing solo journey

NEIGHBORS

July 21, 2000|By Peg Adamarczyk | Peg Adamarczyk,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

THE DAYS OF swashbuckling adventurers might be long gone, but the desire to challenge mind and body remains. For many of us, daily life can be a challenge. But some take up pursuits well beyond the ordinary.

Take local sailor Howard "Bud" Schindler, who challenged nature and has a tale to tell of his solo 26-day trip, exploring little-known nooks and tributaries of the Delaware and Chesapeake bays on his 22-foot Sailmaster, the "Sherry D."

He tells about it in a book, "Between 2 Bays and the Sea," published in December, that recounts his discoveries and the adventures experienced along the way.

Schindler, a longtime sailor who grew up along the shores of the Magothy River, was inspired to make the attempt after meeting Robert deGast at a lecture in 1977. DeGast was the first to solo-sail the Delmarva Peninsula using the Virginia inside passageway through the Atlantic coastline's barrier island marshes in 1974.

The boat deGast used was identical in style to the one Schindler and his wife, Sherry, had purchased in 1976. Bud Schindler also had a copy of deGast's book, "Western Wind, Eastern Shore," for inspiration and guidance.

But it took almost a decade before Schindler was free from his military career and could try to duplicate his mentor's feat.

He embarked on the adventure May 18, 1987, 13 years to the day after deGast's voyage. For the next 26 days, it was just Schindler sailing his beloved craft on the adventure of a lifetime.

He battled the Delmarva Peninsula's capricious winds, tides and currents, storms and a tornado.

"It had taken deGast 24 beautiful, clear sailing days. His trip was a piece of cake," Schindler said.

Whatever happened on Schindler's journey, he knew that he must navigate the marshes behind Ocean City and Assateague before early June or risk being eaten alive by the greenhead flies, mosquitoes and other biting bugs.

"I was confident in my boat and my sailing abilities, but if I did not get through those marshes in time, no amount of bug repellent could have saved me," he said.

No stranger to rough and sometimes dangerous duties during his Army career and as a volunteer with the Earthwatch Institute, a environmental group of scientists and researchers, Schindler got lost and ran aground during a tornado near Bloodsworth Island.

"That was probably the most terrifying and life-threatening moment," he said. "I sailed for 19 days in rough, stormy weather and tormenting seas with land in sight most of the time. It definitely was not the trip I had expected."

But confidence in his Sherry D helped him stay the course. "There was a time to take chances and a time to take cover. A time to be miserable and a time to feel good. To be logical was important. To be knowledgeable sometimes helped. To be humble always helped," he said.

Among the many things he encountered were the warmth and friendliness of people he met along the way and the pure joy of meeting the challenge and making it through.

A month before his solo voyage, he swam with millions of stingless jellyfish in a crocodile-infested lake on the island of Palau in the western Pacific, in search of the Earth's geologic past in a volunteer role with an Earthwatch research group.

"When I came back from Palau, I thought that I had done it all," Schindler said. "After my solo Delmarva voyage, I again thought that I had done it all; now I wonder have I really done it all?"

Schindler sits back in an easy chair, looking out over the Magothy and the berth where Sherry D rests. The sea is calling, and who knows when or where Schindler and Sherry D might travel next.

Schindler's book is available locally, for $14.95, at Angel's Market on Mountain Road and at Barnes & Noble in Annapolis.

Plenty of kicks in store

Soccer teams from across Maryland are expected in the area next month for the 13th annual preseason soccer tournament, sponsored by the Mountain Road Soccer Association.

The tournament is scheduled for Aug. 11-13 at local sites, including the Lake Shore Athletic Complex, Lake Shore Elementary School and Chesapeake Bay Middle School

Boys and girls teams in several age divisions will be playing in this year's tournament.

"Last year, more than 50 teams participated in the three-day event," said Deborah Conklin, tournament director. "We hope to surpass that number this year."

According to Conklin, teams can still sign up. The cost is $150 per team for players ages 10 to younger than 14, and $120 for teams with players ages 9 and younger. Compensation for referees is additional and must be paid at game time.

Information: 410-255-9083 or www.mrsoccer.com.

Youth baseball registration

Lake Shore Youth Baseball is accepting registration for a season of Sunday games from late August to mid-October.

The program is open to children ages 6 to 15.

Those who did not play in the 1999 season must present a birth certificate photocopy while registering.

The fee is $30 per player.

Information: Curt Tobias at 410-360-1906.

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