Sailing with Sturgeon
The Hasz family was fully aware of the need for lifejackets because the waters of the York River are still cold. Tamara and Eric Hasz were in Williamsburg from Northern Wisconsin, where they live near Lake Winnebago. “It’s 30 miles long and 10 miles wide, but only 15 feet deep,” Eric said. They took their three sons sailing while visiting Williamsburg en route to Washington.
“Do you remember the movie ‘Grumpy Old Men’?” Tamara asked. “It was based in Minnesota but it was filmed at Lake Winnebago. For ice fishing, they cut out a four-foot hold with a chainsaw and spear sturgeon from the edge of the ice.” Eric stood up and demonstrated. “They stand there and throw the spear from above to get them.” Tamara said, “Some of the sturgeon are as big as you are.”
“People drive their cars out onto the ice, and they drag a shanty out to use for shelter while fishing. You can even get a pizza home delivered, since the shanties have address numbers. People drop old Christmas trees to mark the route and to alert others to ruts and holes. The ice is anywhere from eight inches to two feet thick.”
“It’s crazy,” Eric added. “I wouldn’t go out on it.”
Come Spring, the ice warms up and creates what is called the Ice Shove. “As it breaks up, the ice expands and moves onto the coastline,” she said. “It encroaches on peoples’ yard as much as 30 feet or more. Local ordinances require that houses are built at least 75 feet back from the shore to allow for the Ice Shove.”
Just then, we sailed past the Naval Weapons Station, where our attention was diverted to a partially visible submarine and next to it a large transport ship. It turned out to be the USS Whidbey Island, a dock transport that can deploy an entire battalion of Marines with all their gear and armaments.
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