35th Sail

Greg and Leslie Galland of Williamsburg celebrated their wedding anniversary as a 35th sail by cruising in brisk winds on the York. The 29+ mph winds of the previous day died down to a manageable 12-15, but we still had to reef both sails.

35th SailWe got far enough down river to see a giant oil barge sitting empty with not one but two tugboats. Evidently it had already delivered some 50,000 barrels of fuel to the Colonial Pipeline at Yorktown (nee Refinery) and was waiting out the windstorm of recent days. Reports by the Coast Guard out of Hampton Roads put nighttime winds offshore at 25-35 mph with sea swell up to 23 feet. At that rate the empty barge would bob like a cork and play havoc with the towing tugs. The barge and tugs left late Tuesday afternoon once the seas had calmed offshore. Back here, the winds were still blowing 10 mph.

35th SailGreg did great on the helm and Leslie sat stoic. They have sailed extensively, though not recently. I piped up, “Now isn’t this better than golfing!” That proved awkward because Greg responded, “Well, I haven’t played in years, but I’m superintendent of the golf courses for Colonial Williamsburg.” Oops.

We got to talking about the Spotswood Golf Course, aka Golden Horseshoe. Colonial Williamsburg arranged the sale of the course to a developer who wants to build around 100 high-end homes on the site. Oldtimers and city folk objected because the Spotswood is a famous nine-holer that compliments the modern Green and Gold courses behind the Williamsburg Inn.

Greg said, “A big donor to Colonial Williamsburg has stepped up to buy it and save it from development. He’s putting together other donors and investors.”

I asked him if Augusta National in Georgia, home of The Masters, is the loveliest golf course in America. “Perhaps the most iconic, along with Pebble Beach, but there are some magnificent courses elsewhere in America.”

35th Sail

Back near the Coleman Bridge, we passed astern of the USCG Cutter Pompano, which was mysteriously anchored in a busy section of the river. I hailed it on Channel 16 to no avail. Someone said they only answer to Channel 13. I thought that odd but eventually got ahold of them to tell them how we were passing. Later we passed well off the bow. All of us wondered what they were doing just sitting there but had the presence of mind not to ask.

35th SailWe talked about the care and feeding of courses. “Here in Virginia, I deal with warm-weather grass for the fairways and cool-weather grass for the greens. Right now, my grasses are just waking up to Spring.”

So he must be a zealot at home with the lawn. “I’m terrible,” he laughed. “I leave it to Leslie, and she mows it as well. I don’t want to be that guy who has the perfect lawn and is pestered by the neighbors for how to get it that way.”

Women enjoy sailing today more than ever, and particularly their 35th sail. Couples get to enjoy a romantic getaway as they sit up on the bow for privacy, and Let’s Go Sail provides professional photos for free. First-time or skilled mariners are welcome to sail a modern-32-foot sailboat in a unique setting of wildlife and Fall foliage or Spring bloom. It makes for an extraordinary anniversary idea. 

35th SailNext day, on a whim, Vincent and Kayla Sherman of Suffolk took his mother Kimberly sailing on the York in brisk winds. He’s a general contractor house builder and had to take a call on the boat, which he explained later. “I’m starting this house with the rough driveway of stone to get the trucks and supplies on-site. They want me to install a culvert near the road, but I told them it’s a flat lot with no ditch to install a culvert. There’s just no need.” Vincent didn’t get it quite cleared up, but he was stoic and cheerful about the process. Anyone who’s built a house can relate to his situation.

Sailing from Alaska

35th SailLinda Randall returned for a reprise cruise, this time with her sister Teri from Alaska.

Teri said, “I’m from Sitka, a tourist location in the southeast part of the state. The population is 7,000, and when a cruise ship comes in it lets off up to 7,000 people at a time. It’s quite something.” Teri works in high-end retail, specializing in fossil bones from woolly mammoths. “We make jewelry mostly.”

35th SailI asked if she was living in the conditions of The Deadliest Catch television series. “No, that’s way out in the Berring Strait. Our temperatures only go down to the 20s in the winter and up to the 70s during the summer. We’re in what’s called a temperate rain forest, not to be confused with a tropical rain forest. I had to learn all this when I moved there.”

Winters are nonetheless severe. She’s gotten used to the extensive darkness but still has to endure wind and rain. “When it gets like that, I tend to travel south.” We sailed on a serene afternoon of mild temperatures and winds.

35th Sail

Dog Days

Under overcast skies and a soft breeze, Lillie Goodrich took five Gloucester friends sailing on the York River. Lillie spent 20+ years rescuing border collies who didn’t work out with their families. The dogs are cute, but they are bred for herding and thus need to stay very busy. They tend to nip at children and visitors, which discourages parents who in turn surrender them to rescuers. Today, Lillie has retired and has 17 similarly retired border collies on her large property where they can run free in their dotage.

Let’s Go Sail

Check rates and pick a day for a sailboat charter. Scroll down reviews on Trip Advisor. Go back to the home page of Williamsburg Charter Sails.   

 The best Williamsburg boat tour offers safe “social distance sailing” daily for up to 6 people. It’s an extraordinary experience for couples. Leave your worries behind. Enjoy the thrill of moving with the wind without a care in the world. Put life back on an even keel with a romantic experience for a birthday or anniversary. 3-hour sailboat cruise as a semi-private yachting charter lets you exhale and relax as you enjoy comfort, stability & speed.

More from the Captain...

Circumnavigation Sail

John Baker of nearby Gloucester and Joshu and Maryanne Gobrogge of Hancock MI joined up for an afternoon sailing lesson. Joshua has a small boat that he sails on a pond, while John is planning to circumnavigate the world. “Well, first I have to circumnavigate the Chesapeake Bay. I’ve always

Full Story >