From the beginning of April to now we have had a 10% increase in pages viewed. It means traffic is up. Over time we generally have slower period off season than during the sailing season in the northern hemisphere (more people and a large US component). We are going into the sailing season now and traffic is up from that as well as a general growth. So we really are growing fast since Andy has kicked things up a few notches technology wise. We actually have not declined at any point just the rate of growth.
There is a practical limit to the portal page since it is by definition a single
page view. Making it a bit bigger really won't get to what you want. A chronological view might be more what you want but as you note you need to dig into the sections to see more detail.
You can set the number of threads to see per page and I think this may help you even though it seems to indicate it's only messages per thread page. I just changed mine and it went up.
Number of posts per page can be set to 40 and the thread cutoff age setting to all will show more threads on the portal page if you don't already have these settings. More than that and it is getting into a large download for the first web page and we really have to watch that limit too. We really don't want a huge portal.
It does not do a few things I would like to see and that is use page activity and other factors to decide what gets portal page billing. Right now it's all pages based on the last x number of messages. A thread can not be in more than one slot but each hit raises it up to the top where it starts to fall.
Try some of these settings to see if you like them better. A few of the options are relatively new since you have been a member
a while you may not have noticed them.
From the control panel
edit your settings. You can see the above items may be defaulted to something else. If you have a fast connection then having everything on wide open is fine, but if you want to be more selective to use less bandwidth you may want to try them out.