Making a difference on a Maryland beach

Published on July 12th, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has touched us all, but in these challenging times comes opportunity. Rob Deane shares his story:


For the past few years I have been the Executive Director of one of the fastest growing sailing centers in the country, but then COVID-19 hit and tested our commitment and conviction. I lost my job, but more importantly, so many sailing outreach programs were lost.

My long time business partner, Nicole Sikowitz and I decided that we just couldn’t let the ball be dropped. Patrice Rickle, who sets the standard in the art of beginner sailing, and Evan Pinkett who helped me build our previous sailing center from the ground up, quickly joined us to establish The Chesapeake Experience.

Located on Hammerman Beach at Gunpowder Falls State Park, 30 minutes from Baltimore (MD), we are creating a new sailing center focused on innovation and rethinking what community sailing could be.

Our mission is simple – we want to get people on the water. The reason is that by being on and connected to the water, individuals develop their self-confidence, inner strength, determination, and resiliency. Our participants carry a new sense of self when going back to daily routines.

While at the Center, immersed in a diverse community on a beautiful beach, we all develop a better understanding of the environment and each other. We are a center grounded in diversity and inclusion with doors open to everyone.

However, opening doors isn’t enough. We have to pull people in. We are making a huge effort to break down barriers and make the water, boats, and sailing open to all. Many of our programs are designed to include groups that traditionally have not participated in sailing.

We develop partnerships, raise money, and organize volunteers to get homeless children, at risk youth, youth groups, scouts, and those in sober living out on the water. We have just established programs to get all of these groups involved in the marine trades, teaching boat and engine repair with the idea that we can create hope for successful futures.

We are facing challenging times. We think there’s is no better time than now to take even bigger steps to open our sport. There is a community on a beach in Maryland that is taking action to make a difference. Learn more at www.chesx.org.


Scuttlebutt is eager to share stories for how people have turned the challenges relating to COVID-19 into opportunities. And to stoke your interest, we will be randomly selecting submissions and awarding free stuff from the Scuttlebutt Store. Send to editor@sailingscuttlebutt.com.

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