Anchors Away II

A few hours after the USS Paul Hamilton left the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station, the USS Carney followed through the Coleman Bridge. This photo perfectly captures the Yorktown Victory Monument between the Carney’s two towers. Both guided missile cruisers were the first Navy ships in nearly two months, and both spent a week in port loading/unloading Tomahawk missiles and other weapons.

Anchors Away II

Spinnaker I

Spinnaker IDoug Drummond returned from last week for his second sailing lesson. The winds were light enough to fly the new spinnaker for the first time this season. We have to have a following downwind no stronger than 8 mph. It helps to have an energetic crew with some experience on the helm. Doug ran the wheel while I took former sailor Steve Reep up to the bow to hoist the spinn.

Last CallDoug used to sail a 2-foot Catalina in Alaska, of all places. “The water was cold, of course, but things were complicated by tides running 23 feet, three times a day.” His wife Judy added, “Alaska is not for indoor people. The weather gets to 45 below zero and total darkness in winter.”

Doug added, “The boating season runs just 90 days, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and with plenty of daylight for nearly 20 hours a day. Before and after that, forget it.”

They got to talking about fishing. “I once caught a 100-lb. halibut. They get heavier with age, and this one was probably 30 years old. More than 80 percent of it is meat. They’re bottom fish, and the offshore charter runs 400 to 600 feet deep. It takes a 4-lb. sinker just to get the hook down there. We use herring because Alaska has a law against using live bait.”

Spinnaker IThe couple was visiting Williamsburg with their fifth-wheel RV, en route to New England and then Michigan. Spinnaker IThey brought their two dogs along, and they did fine. They have since moved to Florida. “That’s a 5,000-mile trip, and it took four trips to move everything from Alaska to Florida including five vehicles. We have to get back for hurricane season to make sure everything doesn’t get blown away.”

Spinnaker I

In the afternoon, Mahogany and Spence Goodman from Richmond sailed by themselves and spent more than an hour on the bow in a romantic setting. Women enjoy sailing today more than ever, and particularly a romantic cruise.

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.

Russian Sailors

On a breezy Spring morning, a Russian couple showed up to celebrate a unique event. Natalya Dvorson said, “I am from St. Petersburg, he is from Moscow. We came to Williamsburg from Rockville MD for his son’s graduation yesterday from the College of William & Mary. He majored in biology and will go on to law school. For us, this is a weekend getaway for his birthday, and next we’re going to Virginia Beach.”

Russian SailorsHer beau Andrey Ivanov has lived in the US since 1998. He’s an official with US Aid and has traveled the world. “I usually take a trip out of the country for my birthday, or at least somewhere, but this time we had the graduation. Next month I’m going to Alaska to go salmon fishing. They swim upstream for only two weeks of the year. It’s on my bucket list.”

Was sailing on the list? He hesitated and smiled ruefully. “No,” he said from behind the helm. “When I was a boy, I went sailing on a yacht with my father. We were on the Baltic Sea and went out in a big wind. I remember the boat rocking back and forth. I could go below and see the water through the cabin window.

Russian Sailors“Then the wind died, and we were stranded — without an engine. We had to stay out there for the night and didn’t get back until the next day. My mother was on shore, frantic. She thought we had died. We hadn’t.”

He changed the subject slightly. “A friend of ours in Miami has big yacht that he needed to bring up here, up the coast for many days. He took the two daughters and wife out, and they lasted one day. They said, ‘Forget this, nothing to do, boring. No internet! We can rent a car instead and meet you there.'”

As we tacked downriver, Natayla preferred sitting on the high side of the boat since we were heeling 15 degrees in a good breeze. “The only sailing I have done was in the Bahamas. I was lying down nice and flat when suddenly the boat tilted. Next thing you know, I’m in the water and had to be rescued.”

We ultimately tacked to achieve a beam reach all the way home. She was much more comfortable.

Russian Sailors

World Sailors

World SailorsA few days later we encountered three couples with extraordinary sailing skills. Kevin Worrall was a Brit who served the oil and gas industry all over the world, including in Kuwait. “We had a jet ski there and zoomed all over the Persian Gulf. It was very hot, and got to 62 C once, which was a record (143.6 F). You had to run to your car to get the air-con turned on.”

Kevin met his wife Thelma when he was in the Royal Navy and she was in the Royal Air Force. He turned to his civilian friends and said, “These people, they were reprobates.” Everyone laughed. Stephen and Jackie Hopkins are celebrating their 40th next year. When Stephen took the catbird seat, he quipped, “Gee, if I hadn’t gotten married, I could have done this instead.”

World SailorsThelma said a friend of hers developed cancer and decided with her husband that life is too short. “They sold everything and bought a boat and moved onto it. The sailed the world for seven years before it became too much to handle.”

I corrected Kevin that he wasn’t on the Yorktown River but the York River. I asked if there was one in York, England. “You’d think so, but no. There’s a river that runs through York, but it’s called the Use. More like a canal actually.”

Last CallIn the afternoon, two couples with racing experience on Lake Michigan took over. We tacked down river and flew the spinnaker home, coming within 10 feet of the north shoal while traversing 5 feet of depth. Close call, and although quietly slow it was extreme sailing.

We also encountered a US Coast Guard training boat, with the MOB dummy lounging on the gunwale. Real MOBs are not as brightly dressed, to be sure.


World Sailors

Cortney and Julian Holder visited Williamsburg from Ashburn in Northern Virginia, and they took an afternoon to go sailing for the first time. She struggled with the helm’s tenderness and took a gust hard, but she eventually caught on. Fluky and changing winds made it more of a challenge.

Anchors AwayWe got to talking about Julian and the Army, where he is a major in the Space Corps. He went to the US Military Academy at West Point and is coming up on his 20th class reunion. He didn’t think West Point was an overriding factor in promotion through the ranks. Who you served with and who you know matters a lot. Or as Cortney put it succinctly: “A good lawyer knows the law. A great lawyer knows the judge.”

Let’s Go Sail

Check Couples and Family 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 and speed.

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