“We went offshore in New Jersey looking for bait fish,” said Colleen McGowan while taking her children for a sailing lesson on the York River. Hers is the first of several bizarre boating tales this season encountered by Let’s Go Sail.
“We ran into a crowd of fish so great that it felt like there were more fish than water. So it was easy to scoop up the bait. Suddenly a whale came up out of the water, the size of my boat. It scared us all to death. I had a newbie on board and I think he crapped in his pants.”
Justin Connolly lives up the Hudson River in Newburgh, New York. “I have a 28 Donzi that can get up to 55 mph. It takes at least an hour and a half to drive the Palisades Parkway into New York City from my house, but I can make it in 40 minutes to South Street Seaport. They charge $50 an hour to park there. And my gas mileage is terrible at 55 mph.”
Hurricane Sandy sunk Colleen McGowan’s boat and did terrible damage to her marina. “Our dock master was trying to clean up the marina and wanted to get rid of a 34-foot sailboat that was okay but the guy simply walked away. He was way behind on the marina dock fees. The dock master told my friend Fred, ‘This sailboat cost $150,000 new and I’ll give it away for $6,000.’ Fred went right out and got hold of $6,000 and bought the boat. Years later the original owner showed up. He lost out because of marina salvage laws. Fred sailed that boat to Florida.”
Weaving Along the Mississippi
Boaters make great comrades, but so do neighbors. Jo Anne and Tom Bell live near Great Bridge in Norfolk and vacationed in Chattanooga. They took a dinner cruise on the Mississippi and found a comrade.
“We went up to the bridge of the riverboat. The captain of the boat turned out to be from Great Bridge,” Tom said while sailing off Yorktown. “We talked about neighbors and friends when suddenly he asked, ‘Would you like to take the wheel?’ Well, I don’t have a captain’s license but I have a Virginia boater’s license. They’re not the same, but I said sure.
“Only it wasn’t a wheel, it was a joystick. I tried my best and got the gist of it, but it was very sensitive. Someone came up from below decks and asked what was going on. Dinner guests were throwing up below.” Jo Anne interjected, “He was weaving back and forth across the Mississippi, turning the riverboat this way and that. Yet the captain was okay with Tom driving.” Tom added, “The joystick was very tricky.”
Later along the Mississippi, Jo Anne recalled, “These dinner guests were very devout Christians. We passed by a boat full of college kids who were drinking. They were totally naked and mooned us. The Christians were horrified. That was the funniest thing of the entire trip.”
“I fell off a sailboat once,” said Korine Arseneau’s mother Kathy while sailing with the family on the York River. “I was a teenager out with other friends on the St. Cloud River. I was sunbathing in my bikini on the bow when my boyfriend turned the boat and I slipped into the water. We were close enough to shore that I could swim. I’m a good swimmer and it wasn’t rocky, so I swam until I could walk in. I just sat there on the shore waiting for them. They eventually came back for me. I didn’t date him anymore.”
Let’s Go Sail, to Reminisce
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