Tow Boat Us Indian River Pulls Sailboat Maritime Off The Beach

tow boat us indian river, delaware, sussex county, cape henlopen state park, sailboat maritime, beached boat
Tow Boat US Indian River setting up to pull the sailboat Maritime off the beach.

By the time I got back down to the beach today, Captain Clarke Droney of Tow Boat US Indian River and his crew had a bridle on the sailboat. “Hey, are you down here yet? I am about to pull this sailboat off this beach in about twenty minutes, with the boat.” Luckily I was already in the park, I’ve never seen a boat pulled off a beach in person, I thought they were going to trailer it. I was looking forward to the trailer ordeal but pulling off with a boat sounded more exciting.

tow boat us indian river, delaware, sussex county, cape henlopen state park, sailboat maritime, beached boat
Captain Del Baker and Captain Jonathan Hastings (phone) coordinating with Captain Clarke Droney

Wait, your pulling it off with the boat? what happened to the trailer?”
“We have a trailer, but this will be much better for the boat. I just have to tow it to Lewes.”

Fish and wildlife, park rangers, Park maintenance crews were all standing by to watch Captain Clarke pull this sailboat off with the “big” boat.

tow boat us indian river, delaware, sussex county, cape henlopen state park, sailboat maritime, beached boat
Tow Boat US Indian River setting up to pull the sailboat Maritime off the beach.

He backs the boat into the surf as close as he can and Captain Fred Winward shoots a line with a buoy attached to it at the beach with a line launcher. The Tow Boat Us crew, Mark Droney, Captain Del Baker, and Captain Jonathan Hastings, scramble for the line and start pulling in the tow line. Captain Clarke hits the throttle and gets the boat out of the surf. That man can drive a boat. The boys get the tow line pulled in from the Tow Boat and head for the sailboat.

tow boat us indian river, delaware, sussex county, cape henlopen state park, sailboat maritime, beached boat
Tow Boat US Indian River setting up to pull the sailboat Maritime off the beach. Captain Del Baker sets a line

They placed a bridle over and around the bow of the boat to pull her out of the surf. The first attempt spins the boat, but the bridle pops loose. “There wasn’t any cleats to tie off easily in key areas we worked with what we had.”


The boys retrieve the bridle and get it reset. Captain Del climbs on the sailboat and resets the lines. The boys are ready to pull her again. Captain Clarke resets the boats position. He is on the phone with Jonathan talking about the angles they need to pull the boat. They are well oiled machine when it comes to boat retrievals and in this case it is very necessary. The surf is rough.

tow boat us indian river, delaware, sussex county, cape henlopen state park, sailboat maritime, beached boat
Captain Clarke Droney and Captain Fred Winward planning their approach to shoot the line launcher

The boys line up Captain Clarke and he starts to slowly put pressure on the sailboat. The waves are coming in fast, and the sets of “three” are decent sized, which is going to help. Every time a wave lifted the boat, Clarke could pull it forward a little more. He just kept on the pressure and let the waves do the work. The sailboat has a pretty big keel.

tow boat us indian river, delaware, sussex county, cape henlopen state park, sailboat maritime, beached boat
Getting the line set for the launched line

Once they clear the main surf wash area and start pulling the boat into the surf and waves that is where it gets tricky. You don’t want the boat to swamp and you certainly don’t want that bridle to pop off. Resetting that in t he waves would not be fun. Captain Clarke has the pressure on slow and the sailboat is slowly moving out to sea on its side. Pull too hard and she will swamp and make this ten times harder.

tow boat us indian river, delaware, sussex county, cape henlopen state park, sailboat maritime, beached boat
Captain Del Baker getting the line set.

A set of big waves is coming in and there is heavy pressure on the line. The sailboat lurches up form the bigger wave and pulls forward much faster this time. The next wave slams right into her full on and washes over the deck. The boat almost pops upright but that wave put on some pressure.

The water is shallow between the waves. The sailboat settles back onto the sand for a second. Then the third wave washes in and lifts the boat. She lurches forward and pops upright. She is floating and heading out to sea. Captain Clarke Droney crabbed her out of the surf.

tow boat us indian river, delaware, sussex county, cape henlopen state park, sailboat maritime, beached boat
Tow Boat US Indian River setting up to pull the sailboat Maritime off the beach.

They pulled up to her, reset the lines and headed to Lewes. Once they got to the inlet the boats had to be tied side by side to make it through the canal. I watched the boats come into the Roosevelt Inlet and headed to the marina to talk to Captain Clarke. The sailboat Maritime was pulled by the boat crane and Clarke was filling out paperwork. “Captain Buckey pulled this sailboat off a bar in the Lewes canal this morning about 5 AM. Then the boat went out of the Roosevelt inlet to head to Virginia. Afterwards he wound up on the beach.”

​No it didn’t cost thousands to do this, it was just like a pull off a sandbar.


Fish On!
Rich King

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tow boat us indian river, delaware, sussex county, cape henlopen state park, sailboat maritime, beached boat
Captain Del Baker helping guide the line to pull the sailboat Maritime
tow boat us indian river, delaware, sussex county, cape henlopen state park, sailboat maritime, beached boat
Tow Boat US Indian River setting up to pull the sailboat Maritime off the beach.
tow boat us indian river, delaware, sussex county, cape henlopen state park, sailboat maritime, beached boat
Tow Boat US Indian River setting up to pull the sailboat Maritime off the beach.
tow boat us indian river, delaware, sussex county, cape henlopen state park, sailboat maritime, beached boat
Resetting the bridle
tow boat us indian river, delaware, sussex county, cape henlopen state park, sailboat maritime, beached boat
resetting the bridle
tow boat us indian river, delaware, sussex county, cape henlopen state park, sailboat maritime, beached boat
The big wave that breaks her loose from the sand
tow boat us indian river, delaware, sussex county, cape henlopen state park, sailboat maritime, beached boat
The big wave that breaks her loose from the sand
tow boat us indian river, delaware, sussex county, cape henlopen state park, sailboat maritime, beached boat
The big wave that breaks her loose from the sand
tow boat us indian river, delaware, sussex county, cape henlopen state park, sailboat maritime, beached boat
Tow Boat US Indian River pulling the sailboat Maritime off the beach and heading to Lewes

tow boat us indian river, delaware, sussex county, cape henlopen state park, sailboat maritime, beached boat
Tow Boat US Indian River pulling the sailboat Maritime to Lewes
tow boat us indian river, delaware, sussex county, cape henlopen state park, sailboat maritime, beached boat
Tow Boat US Indian River pulling the sailboat Maritime to Lewes
tow boat us indian river, delaware, sussex county, cape henlopen state park, sailboat maritime, beached boat
Coming into Roosevelt inlet
tow boat us indian river, delaware, sussex county, cape henlopen state park, sailboat maritime, beached boat
Coming into Roosevelt inlet
tow boat us indian river, delaware, sussex county, cape henlopen state park, sailboat maritime, beached boat
Coming into Roosevelt inlet
tow boat us indian river, delaware, sussex county, cape henlopen state park, sailboat maritime, beached boat
Coming into the marina in Lewes
tow boat us indian river, delaware, sussex county, cape henlopen state park, sailboat maritime, beached boat
Getting the sailboat Maritime ready to pull with the boat lift.

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