30 days, 50 islands

By PHILIP EIL  |  July 11, 2013

AMONG THE RUINS on Walker Island.


Just because Operation Landfall is mostly confined to Narragansett Bay doesn’t make the trip risk-free, Wolfskehl says.

“I’ve sailed enough to have people die on the boats that I’ve been on. I’ve sailed enough to know that the ocean is not to be messed with.

 “Storms can come up,” he continues. “Tides are strong. . .The fog can roll in and it can be like you’re inside of a ping pong ball real quick. It can be a scary, scary place.”

And it’s not just the sailing that’s potentially treacherous. As the month wears on — and as the duo hops from Aquidneck to Beef to Cedar to Cornelius to Despair, Goat, Goose, Gould, Patience, Potato, Rose, and Whortleberry Islands, among others — the men will ratchet up the gastronomical stakes of their journey. For one week, they plan on shifting entirely to the “Narragansett Bay Diet,” subsisting entirely off crabs, sea lettuce, stripers, clams, and anything else they can pluck and pick out of the water.

Then, as the month draws to a close, for their very last landfall, they plan on hitting Twin Island, the little tuft of rock and land near Providence’s iconic upright train bridge. (For commuters, that’s the small island visible off of the North Side of the Washington Bridge on I-195.)

Once the trip ends, Gracer and Wolfskehl hope Operation Landfall will live on in the form of slideshows at schools and libraries. And recent experience suggests that the rhythms of bobbing and pitching on the water will linger in their bones.

One of the aspects of the trip that he’s enjoyed most so far, Gracer says as he ambles along on the beach of Walker Island, is something he noticed when he went back his family after a series of Operation Landfall outings. (Landfall isn’t a pure endurance test; both men have spent weekends back on land.) It was during one of those visits, Gracer says, that “I could feel for hours after I got home the sensation that my body was still rocking.”

You can follow Operational Landfall at facebook.com/pages/Operation-Landfall/156691607824555?fref=ts. You can track their fundraising progress and make a donation via: fundrazr.com/campaigns/4Tfn4.


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