Two couples who had never met enjoyed a warm, sunny breeze on the York River as part of their Williamsburg vacation adventure. Shirley Patrick of Washington DC brought her beau James Artis after having ridden a horse for the first time at a stables in Toano. “I enjoyed it,” she said. “The horse was gentle and the trail was lovely. It was just us.” Another attraction comes to town.
Susan and Bill Mathon came from Raymond, Maine, north of Portland. He’s a painter who works new housing and the occasional flip job. Once out on the water, Susan harked back to her childhood when she saw an oyster man dredging in the river.
“I used to catch lobsters with my dad as a child. We’d go out every day if we could. We’d drop 250 traps on a single run and come back later to pick up all 250 traps. These were long lines since we were out in the Atlantic. Sometimes we’d trap off Deer Isle where the water was shallower. You have to throw back the females, that’s the law.”
The consensus among all four was that restaurants everywhere tend to overcook lobster. Susan said, “I haven’t had such good lobster since I was a kid, but I didn’t know any better back then.”
Susan and Bill were reluctant to go up on the bow, although he stayed there a while when he cast us off from the dock. Later she and Shirley sat up there together. Bill recalled his hesitancy. “We had friends in Maine who took us out on their cigarette boat, and we made the mistake of sitting up on the bow. We were going so fast that we almost got thrown off. Had to hang on for dear life.” James joked, “Were you smuggling cigarettes?” Bill rejoined, “No. We were smuggling sodas across the lake.”
Bill and Susan are perfectly comfortable in Maine despite the harsh winters. “Our family is there, our work is there, and our friends as well. We’re here on our spring break because there’s a lull between jobs. Many of the big highways are posted ‘Closed’ this week as the spring thaw makes them vulnerable to getting torn up by big trucks. So we came to Williamsburg instead.”
A mile off to the southwest, I spotted a cruise ship departing Yorktown after an overnight stay. I radioed the captain of my intentions crossing the York and he appreciated that. What looked like a collision course was in fact a deviation for me to take his stern, and I reiterated that message over marine radio. He thanked me and picked up speed.
By sheer coincidence, Bill and James came from Jehovah’s Witness families. But that’s another story.
Raynie Carson and her beau Michael Holcomb drove down from Southern Maryland for the day so she could give him a sailing trip for his birthday. It was a first for both of them.
Michael sported an Orioles shirt and hat as Rod Stewart’s “Some Guys Have all the Luck” played on Spotify. I told him of the time I saw the O’s play their last game at Memorial Stadium in 1991, where a rookie by the name of Wilson Alverez threw a no-hitter in only his second start in the Major League. Afterward, stadium played that song on the PA, to great effect.
Michael recalled, “My father, my grandfather and various uncles and I got to see Hideo Nomo of the Red Sox throw a no-hitter against the O’s. That was really sweet because my grandfather had been following the Red Sox since the 1930s. The O’s fans were great. After 8 and a third innings, they were rooting for Nomo to get the no-hitter.”
Michael caught on to the wind’s effect and did a commendable job on the helm. He picked up the informal lesson by learning the three reaches and achieving speed with heeling. “I’ve always dreamed of sailing to Smith Island someday from Solomons. I came to live in Maryland from New York, where I used to fish with my grandfather whenever possible.”
Raynie works in health foods and nutrition, which helped Michael lose a lot of weight. “I went from 250 pounds to 185,” he said proudly. I asked what the worst thing is to eat and she quickly said Pop Tarts. “It’s nothing but chemicals. What you want to eat is fruit and vegetables. And frozen vegetables can be better than fresh unless you grow them yourselves. That’s because vegetables that are even a day old have less nutrition than frozen because they got frozen immediately after they were picked.”
She cautioned people not to get discouraged. “Whatever the diet you’re on, you’re going to fall off occasionally. Diets are designed for 90% successful participation and 10% failure. Even if you’re 80/20, you’re still participating 80% of the time. Okay, you had a slice of pizza. Do better the next time.”
Amazingly, Raynie has five children, “four boys and a girl,” and Michael has five more, “four girls and a boy.” They live down the street from each other and everyone gets along well. They went below for her to give him his birthday present, and I sent them up to the bow so we could sail under the Coleman Bridge and see a Navy ship docked at Yorktown Naval Weapons Station. It was a unique birthday sail for both of them. I gave them my card, good for a discount at the marina restaurant where they headed for crab cakes.
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Six med students from VCU got to see two extremes of boat sizes while sailing on the York River
Capt Bill ODonovan
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