After a rainout one afternoon, a couple from Hampton went out for an evening sailing cruise to celebrate their anniversary. Kelly Anderson is in the Air Force at nearby Langley Air Force Base, where she works on the ground with the planes. Keisha Pexton is director of training at Newport News Shipbuilding.
Keisha said, “I have overall responsibility for all 28,000 employees except the Apprentice School. Everything from skills training to safety training to Covid training. In fact, if something goes wrong they usually blame it on training.” She was there years ago when a series of welds were found defective in numerous Navy ships. “They still lord that over us. If something goes wrong, they blame it on training.” She’s been there 20 years.
We got to talking about the skills needed to sail a boat, and I mentioned that blind people do extremely well because of their heightened senses. “Some of the best welders are deaf women,” Keisha said. “Women already have the capacity to concentrate better than men. And by being deaf, they aren’t distracted. They can weld the hell out of a boat.”
Kelley picked up the thread. “When I was in Oklahoma, I worked for a writer who was blind. Vance Trimble won the Pulitizer Prize for newspaper reporting, and I typed her material later in life.” I asked her about Tornado Alley, which starts in Oklahoma and moves north up the Mississippi Valley. “I’ve never seen a tornado,” she said quietly. Keisha gently prodded, “Because you were in the cellar?” “Yes, and we could hear the tornado above us. It was just terrible.”
Boaters at York River Yacht Haven leave all manner of used equipment for mariners to take as they need. We find dock line, furniture, dinnerware and more. As for these, go figure.
In related marina news, the long-awaited refurbishing of the poolhouse men’s room was finally completed. It follows by five years the rehab of the women’s room, which was complicated by tree roots growing through the sewer pipes.
The men’s room is distinguished with a nautical theme and elaborate tiling. I posted the photos on Facebook, which led one woman to reply, “Why do the men get deck chairs in the shower?” Again, go figure.
Father’s Day Cruise
Catryna Jackson of Norfolk surprised her Dad by taking him and her family on a Father’s Day Cruise. They got tied up in traffic on the south side, which led Richman Jackson to quip, “If I had known we were sailing I would have made sure we were on time.”
The last time Richman went sailing was with a racing team out of Hampton. “Everyone was nonplussed about it, but I really wanted to win. ‘Come on!’ Instead, we came in last. I didn’t run the wheel, like here. I was ballast. In fact, they told me, ‘Don’t touch anything unless we tell you.’ He did fabulously on the helm, tacking out on an 8 mph easterly in the bright sunshine after three rainy days. We got to run the spinnaker, a first for everyone. They marveled at the quietude of running downwind.
In the afternoon, W&M alumna Zarah Burstein took her parents and boyfriend out for a similar run on the easterlies. Her father Dennis took the helm like a pro and found a water-borne analogy from where they live in Arlington. “Did you know you can take a water taxi from Old Town Alexandria to a Nats game?” I had to process that, since Old Town is on the Potomac River while Nationals Stadium is on the Anacostia River. Now that I thought about it, a water taxi seemed like a great way to show up for the game.
Dennis proved adept on the wheel, having never done it before. “I sailed on a sailboard once. I did real good on land with the lesson, and I sailed it out far but couldn’t get back. Wound up swimming the entire thing back to shore. I’m a pretty good swimmer.” He estimated the distance at a half-mile or so.
Dennis teaches Phys Ed at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria. “It’s the largest high school in Virginia. The freshman class has 2,000 students on one campus, while the upper grades have 4,000 at the other campus. I don’t know how’ll they’ll restart school in the fall after the virus lockdown. Maybe go to class every other day. Who knows.”
Zarah and her boyfriend spent time on the bow, and later she posed on the bow as the most beautiful girl of the season. Way out in the York, we encountered a school of dolphins who played with the boat before moving on to bigger waters. A motorboat stopped as well to admire them.
On the way back, a US Navy guided missile destroyer made an unexpected arrival. The USS The Sullivans, named for the five brothers who died in World War II, was steaming well toward the USCG dock when we noticed it. Usually the ships arrive on Mondays instead of Sundays. Go figure.
A local family enjoyed a post-Father’s Day cruise on a hazy morning that turned into a bright day when the sun burned off the fog. Jim Saunders brought his wife and children as well as his parents. His dad said to me, “Just call us Jim and we’ll all respond.” Ten-year-old James was adorable, at once inquisitive and active. I put him to work turning the jib sheets and he did a good job. Their teenage daughter was a bit pouty to be cooped up with the family, but she cheered up when she and her mom took James up to the bow to hang out.
In the afternoon, a couple from Spotsylvania set out to learn as much as they could about sailing and buying a boat. We proceeded to tack out the York in rising winds as a storm line crossed well off in the distance. Before long, the storm caught up to as and we motored back. But they enjoyed the excerise. Dana Crelia wrote a sterling review overnight: “We absolutely enjoyed our tour out on the water with Captain Bill! He was so knowledgable and so willing to teach us about sailing. I would recommend any of his tours anytime. We look forward to future tours with him just for fun ;) A++++”
Let’s Go Sail
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A couple from Hampton celebrated their anniversary with an evening cruise on the York River.
Capt Bill ODonovan
Williamsburg Charter Sails / Let's Go Sail