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CBF Member Rows for Clean Water

James Caple on the boat 'Pura Vida' during training row in Plymouth, Devon, UK. Sept. 2008

When James Caple sent us an e-mail about his upcoming Chesapeake Bay Challenge, we were honored he selected the Chesapeake Bay Foundation fight for clean water as a focal point for his message of "raising awareness for the ecological concerns of the Chesapeake Bay and surrounding watershed regions." His challenge starts tomorrow, September 18. We're happy to share his story with you here.

By James Caple of Falls Church, VA

For me, there seems to be a strange, ethereal connection between Cornwall, UK, and Ocean Rowing. About a year ago, I set off for the Cornish Coast to look at ocean rowing boats and to partake in a training ocean row sponsored by Woodvale Challenge Events in Plymouth. My intent at the time was to investigate the possibility of becoming a participant in an Ocean Rowing Race. This year, I've set my sites on rowing across the Chesapeake Bay—well, half way across anyway. On September 18th, I will launch from Reedville, VA, and row out to Tangier Island where I plan to hang out for a couple of nights. I then plan to row back into Reedville early Sunday afternoon. The synchronistic Cornish connection with this particular row is that after Captain John Smith first documented the existence of Tangier Island in 1608, settlers arrived there from Cornwall, England, nearly 12 years later. 

Another aspect of this particular row is my desire to raise awareness for the importance of the Bay and the surrounding watershed regions. As a competitive rower, I row on number of different bodies of water, including the Potomac, Occoquan, Charles, and sometimes the Schuykill, rivers. Rowers and paddlers get a good feel for the ecological state of the waters they workout and play on probably better than most people—they are closer to the water than regular boaters, and they move slower through their environment, which helps to increase awareness about smaller details around them. During my morning workouts, I've noticed that there is some great wildlife on the Potomac river; I've also noticed that the water can smell and look quite awe full at times due to sewage and other pollution being put in the water. This is a big reason that I'd like my row out to Tangier Island and back be about raising awareness for the ecological concerns of the Chesapeake Bay and surrounding watershed regions. September 19th is also the Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup Day, so it's a great weekend to get out and do something positive for our aquatic environments.

Smith Point Marina in Reedville, VA, and Alexandria Community Rowing have been invaluable partners in helping me implement this row, as have Allison Caple, John Clayborne, Alan Weatherley, and Brian Schexnayder.

So here's to Cornwall, Tangier Island, Ocean Rowing and the preservation and renewal of our pristine natural resources.

You can track my progress this weekend on my blog at:

James Caple

Boaters for the Bay Logo If you're a boater, rower, sailor, or angler and you want to show your support for a clean Bay, we invite you to join James as a CBF Boater for the Bay. Just go to for more information.


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