Boaters celebrate holiday on bay Launch: For many throughout the region, Memorial Day weekend marked the first chance to put their boats in the water this year.


Arnold and June Sussman had spent nearly five harrowing days battling choppy Atlantic waters bringing their shiny new 45-foot Sea Ray Sundancer powerboat up from Florida, but as they sat relaxing at an Annapolis dock yesterday, their faces were as calm as the still marina waters.

"It was a bummer of a trip," said Arnold Sussman, a retired podiatrist and Bethesda resident. "But it's gorgeous out here. It's just too lovely a weekend not to be out."

A few boat slips down, John Daly and Barbara Callahan couldn't help but share the sentiment, even though they had spent much of the morning in the bright sun scrubbing the deck and mast of the Zephyr, their 36-foot S2 sailboat.

"Its going to be great," said Daly, as the Burtonsville couple prepared to sail to Rock Hall in Kent County for crabs. "There's not much wind right now, but it'll pick up after lunch. We went out yesterday, too. We didn't care if we just motored out and sat, we were going out."

At the 236-slip Mears Marina off Back Creek near Annapolis and countless others throughout the region yesterday, thousands of boaters celebrated the long, lazy Memorial Day weekend on the water, enjoying their vessels, the Chesapeake Bay, each other, and weather as lovely as a Monet painting.

For many, like Pat and Cathy McGowan and children Andy, Colleen and Julie, the three-day kickoff to summer 1998 marked their first chance to put their boats in the water this year.

"The children really like it," Cathy McGowan said, while applying suntan lotion to her children aboard the couple's 27-foot sailboat. "It's just so relaxing."

Day in Annapolis

The Philadelphia family, who manage to get out on their boat about twice a month on average, had spent part of the previous two days in Annapolis touring the Naval Academy and eating crabs.

As they slowly pulled out of Mears with their sails down, a small outboard motor whirring as the boat cut through the serene blue-green water toward the Bay Bridge, the McGowans gathered on The Traveler's deck, looking forward to the swim and the party that would end their holiday.

Unlike the McGowans, not everyone felt the need to explore or go anywhere.

Some, like Adrien and Ginny Robichaud, were content to sit on their 36-foot powerboat, read a newspaper and drink coffee, listen to the ducks and the rhythmic clang of halyards and riggings banging on masts, and make plans for shopping and dinner.

"This is our escape," said Ginny Robichaud, a hospital administrator from Delaware, aboard the Jersey Girl. "And this weather feels like a gift. The Memorial Day weekend tends to be kind of fluky, but there's always something to do in Annapolis.

"And besides, the only way to truly appreciate the Chesapeake is by being out on the water. We love it."

The Robichauds, members of the Sassafras River Yacht Club, intend to make the three-hour voyage, together with their two cats, back to the Sassafras to dock their boat later today. Weather permitting, they will plan another outing for next weekend.

Booked since April

Even those who don't own boats found a way to appreciate the Chesapeake.

At AYS Charters on Edgewood Road in Annapolis, water lovers forked over hundreds of dollars to rent yachts over the long weekend. Even with the chance of poor weather, the company's 28 boats had been booked since early April, said Jill Timmons, an AYS charter coordinator.

But not everyone was able to get out on the water.

Cheryl Phelps, rear commodore of the Glenmar Sailing Association, had planned to join a weekend boat party on Swan Creek, near Rock Hall, but her boat, a 36-foot, double-masted Allied Princess, developed engine trouble.

"I'm itching to get out, even if the boat's only partially fixed, so that I can go for a spin," she said. "You don't get many nice three-day weekends during the summer. There's Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day. So you have to take advantage of them."

Pub Date: 5/25/98

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