Big Winds

This year, April showers brought May winds. For several days, brisk blows of 15-20 mph buffeted the York River under heavy clouds.

The photo above illustrates the effect. My buddy Paul Schoch took his 45-foot boat Enso out to test a new headsail. He’s selling the boat to move up. There is something quite powerful about a blue boat.

At the moment I took this shot, a nuclear engineer from Jefferson Lab was helming Let’s Go Sail. Adam Grabowski was sharpening his skills to go sailing in Croatia on a 30-foot Bavarian. He said, “It has two wheels, which is ridiculous for a boat that size. Maybe it’s a 45.”

Big Winds

Adam held his own in 2-3-foot swells under steady 15 mph winds. He used to sail a double-ender in the Pacific, off Ventura CA. He sent me a photo, in which the most intimidating factor is the rocky coast.

Big Winds“When I took my qualifying lessons to sail, my instructor apprised me of a dubious distinction. He once managed to sink two boats in one day.”


“Yes. He had a towing service and was hooked up to a 27-foot Catalina that was somehow stranded out there. He set up the tow and proceeded along, only to discover something was amiss with the stern. It looked like it was too heavy in the water, suggesting it was sinking. So, he stopped the tow to check it out.

“That stopped the Catalina as well, and the water inside lurched forward to the bow. The bow suddenly went down and sunk straight away. He was astonished of course, only to realize that his tow line was now taught. And he couldn’t find his knife to cut it. The tow boat went down as well, but he managed to jump off.

“He waited for flotsam to rise to the surface and had to hang onto something for 12 hours until he was rescued. I thought to myself, maybe we should head back to the dock.”

Anniversary Sail

Anniversary SailRoger and Margaret Todd of Fredericksburg celebrated their 24th anniversary sailing with us on this same day, after visiting Williamsburg. He’s a Big Data expert with Amazon who previously traveled all over the world for the Federal government. He handled the helm as well as Adam.

“I love my job because I work with a wonderful team. I take the train to work and live only 5 minutes from the station. At Crystal City, the new East Coast HQ for Amazon, I walk 15 minutes to work. It’s wonderful.”

I pointed to Paul’s boat and explained that he’s retired Army Special Forces who now trains SEALS. Adam and Roger agreed on their challenge. “It takes a special person to do that, and that’s not me,” Adam freely admitted.

Roger agreed and added, “My three great-uncles and my grandfather all fought in World War II and came home. One great-uncle landed at Normandy and held on for the duration to Berlin. Another great-uncle flew gliders for D-Day. He got shot in the foot and never told anyone. The third ran a German POW camp.

“My grandfather fought in the Pacific. He was wounded and medivacked out on a Navy ship that eventually got sunk at sea. He survived and went back to fight. But he would never talk about any of it until years later when I was living with him. I didn’t have much of a father, so he raised me.”

In the background, the theme from “Band of Brothers” played on Spotify. Roger and I looked at each other and agreed, “They saved the world.”

Anniversary Sail

BVI Sailing

While visiting Williamsburg from metro New York City, the sisters of two fellows sent their husbands sailing on their own. Peter Shariff used to run Live at Lincoln Center for WNET, so he had a fine time helming the boat while conducting classical music on Spotify. His pal Michael Bathke recalled the time they all went sailing in the BVIs.

BVI Sail“We had a third couple with us. The guy was a stagehand, so we figured he knew his knots. We sailed a catamaran that was 46 feet long and 23 feet wide, a real challenge. My wife would rather take a stick in the eye than be near the water, but she was a good sport.

“Our dinghy was tied behind, and my wife was reading a book on the fantail as we left the mooring. Soon she looked out and said, ‘Oh look, there’s a dinghy out there just like ours. Wait. It is ours!’ The stagehand had tied the dinghy to the boat. We never let him forget that for the next 20 years.”

BVI Sail

For the second time in four days, World War II kin came up. Michael, said, “My dad and my uncles all served, mostly in Europe but my dad was in the Pacific with the Navy. He had his ship shot out from under him at Guadalcanal. They sent him to a base hospital and got him all glued back together. They sent him back to sea, where he got another ship shot out from under him, this time at Okinawa.

“He recovered and never suffered any ill effects from the war. But he had no love for the Japanese. Later on, I went to work for an insurance company that turned out to be owned by the Japanese. He all but disowned me, so I quit. Not only that, but I once owned a Japanese car, and it was a lemon. I bought it from this guy,” he said, pointing to Peter. We all laughed.

Big SailMichael thought of something else. “I used to work for General Motors in Detroit, at the GM Building on Woodward Avenue. Every now and then, someone would drive to work in his Japanese compact car. By the time he left for the day, his car was up on blocks in the parking lot, stripped of everything. The Teamsters and UAW frowned on Japanese cars.”

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.

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 and speed.

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