A US Navy Support cargo ship pulled into Yorktown Naval Weapons Station and left just a few days later. USNS Medgar Evers is 689 feet long and has a crew of 123 civilians and 36 Navy personnel, some of whom deal with two helicopters on board. The cargo hold can take 783,000 cubic feet. It is one of the largest ships that routinely visit NWS, it remains one big ship.
Boat Fire at Yard
A large motorboat caught fire the night of Sept 18 at boatyard of York River Yacht Haven, leaving the 55-foot vessel with heavy damage. In a Facebook post around 9 p.m., Abingdon Volunteer Fire and Rescue said they had knocked down the bulk of the fire. Photos from the scene show the flames in the aft of the vessel, and don’t show any significant damage to other boats. Sebastian Manzulera, who lives on his boat down the hill, noticed the flames and rushed to the hill above the yard. He unplugged a nearby electric extension cord and used a fire extinguisher until Abington arrived. Three engines responded along with York County’s Marine 1 while training on the York River at that hour of the night. The cause of the fire might be electrical. It was definitely not lightning. Update: Sebastian said later that he suspected spontaneous combustion. The woman on board had been varnishing topside and left a rag in the corner. Still a big ship to catch fire.
In two cruises on one day, we celebrated two wedding anniversaries and one birthday. The winds were light and the conversation lively. We sailed under the Coleman Bridge and near a Navy patrol boat protecting the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station.
Kyle Doniff and Kyra Quijano of Leesburg VA celebrated their sixth anniversary by cruising the York on a lovely sunny day. They work for Sleep Number mattress company in sales management. Kyra is quite the adventure junky. “I’ve skydived several times and enjoy the adrenaline rush it gives. We rappelled in Mexico, about 50 feet in short bursts. I wouldn’t bungy jump because that seems too stressful on the back. And I love roller coasters. My goal now is to go squirrel-suit flying off a mountain.” Kyle said he hasn’t been able to find that online, and it didn’t sound like he was trying too hard.” That sounds more exciting than sailing a big ship.
Jeanne Kushabar celebrated her birthday by sailing with a couple in the afternoon. She recalled an offshore race earlier this year on George Jones’ 42 C&C that later got fried by lightening. “We were 50 miles offshore when we saw this black wall of water coming across the water. The lightening against the background was spectacular. Then it hit, hard. Later we had a second storm, and finally in the afternoon a third storm. That was the worst since it hit hard and fast. I went below and they buttoned up the hatch to keep water out. I was the only one with a lifejacket. The wind was so great that it slapped the mainsail down on the water (at 90 degrees). The jib filled with water, which led to a lot of yelling to release the jib sheet. But of course it was under tremendous strain. ‘Cut it with a knife!” someone yelled. Oh my God, it was such fun out there!”
An Army couple just back from several years deployed in Germany gathered their grown children and mates from as far away as Atlanta to sail the York River in a mild wind. Melanie and Bob Leon just moved to their new house in nearby Newport News so he can commute to Ft. Eustis. One First Lieutenant son-in-law is about to make Captain.
Bob took the helm and immediately recalled his tour on the Lehigh University sailing team. “I had no idea what I was doing. The skipper told me to sit right there (pointing beside him), which I did. We came in second and went on to race in the NCAA regionals in Annapolis. Lehigh didn’t have many good teams at the time. Our second-place showing in Annapolis made us the best team of fall sports that year, and the captain went on to join the America’s Cup team. Now show me what to do here.”
The Leons were fiercely proud of their children’s success, including daughter Casey. Bob said, “She became the first woman commissioned in the Army Infantry.” Casey interjected, “Dad, we had a class of ten women.” “Yes, but you ranked first in the class.” Today Casey operates in a unit with Bradley fighting vehicles. She was commissioned in 2016 and in 2019 a woman colleague became the first commander of an Infantry Division.
Back to Bob. “So, you’re a captain. My wife and I got married on a boat. Now tell me. The captain of the boat died and the boat got scuttled. And the priest who married us left the priesthood and got married himself. So tell me, am I legally married?” Laughter all around.
Let’s Go Sail Past a Big Ship
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A 689-foot dry cargo ship transited the Coleman Bridge en route from Yorktown Naval Weapons Station. Other items include a boat fire and cruises by couples and families.
Capt Bill ODonovan
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