After not encountering a live audience since the pandemic struck in March 2020, David Christopher was eager to appear before the 35 guests onboard with Cape Water Tours for an estuarine ecology-themed boat tour of the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal.
Christopher, the marine education specialist with the Delaware Sea Grant College Program at the University of Delaware, brought a variety of wetland plants, marsh soils, oysters, mussels and a fish tank as well as water-quality instruments to keep participants informed and entertained.
The ecotourism trip, sponsored by the University of Delaware’s Sustainable Coastal Communities Initiative, was Cape Water Tours’ maiden voyage departing from the Grove Park Canal Dock, which opened in early June to allow public access to the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal. Construction of the dock, located behind the Rehoboth Beach Museum at 511 Rehoboth Ave. in Rehoboth Beach, was more than 10 years in the making. The project was undertaken by the nonprofit Lewes-Rehoboth Canal Improvement Association.
Ed Lewandowski, coordinator of UD/SCCI and an LRCIA board member, said he was pleased with the inaugural trip and its goals were satisfied. “LRCIA wanted to demonstrate how Grove Park dock can support local ecotourism, so this sponsored trip was a wonderful way to help accomplish our mission. Even with the state’s COVID restrictions still in place, everyone onboard seemed very engaged. Delaware Sea Grant does a great job educating young and old about our coastal environment, and participants walked away with a new appreciation and understanding about their role in caring for this important ecosystem. It is clear to me and many others that regularly scheduled tours from Grove Park dock could enjoy tremendous success,” he said.
Pat Coluzzi, association board president and a City of Rehoboth commissioner, said she was not going to miss the first tour leaving from Grove Park Canal Dock; she brought friends as well as a bottle of Prosecco to celebrate. “Grove Park dock was a labor of love for LRCIA, and we’re just so excited to finally see Cape Water Tours providing this type of canal experience while creating memories for the families onboard,” she said. Joining Coluzzi were former Rehoboth Beach commissioners Lisa Schlosser and Steve Scheffer, who were both vocal supporters of the dock project. Schlosser enjoyed her first outing ever on the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal and said, “This is absolutely wonderful. I’ve been living here over 20 years, and I had no idea how beautiful this is!”
A second tour with Delaware Sea Grant, the Inland Bays Oyster Experience: Examining Local Shellfish Aquaculture, is scheduled for 10 to 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, Aug. 25, leaving from Grove Park Canal Dock. Delaware’s new shellfish aquaculture industry is off to a strong start, with both oysters and clams now being grown in the Inland Bays. This tour will feature a visit to one of the open-water shellfish lease areas where participants will have a chance to meet an oyster farmer and learn about the process of growing these tasty bivalves to maturity for the market. Dr. Ed Hale, associate professor and aquaculture/fisheries specialist with Delaware Sea Grant, will explain some of the ecological services provided by a robust aquaculture industry and share where the public can purchase locally produced oysters for their own enjoyment.
Dave Green, owner/operator of Cape Water Tours and Taxi, said he is excited about expanding his offerings to include trips at Grove Park Canal Dock. “We’ve been anxiously awaiting the opportunity to begin tours on the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal from this new launch site. We hope to eventually build a regular calendar of activities at Grove Park dock. Anyone interested should keep a close eye on our website to learn about new tours that are scheduled,” he said.
For more information or to reserve a seat, go to capewatertaxi.com.