Bucaneer Sail

Eight years ago, I took Lewis and Paula Volk of Kansas out sailing for their first big cruise. They returned this year with another couple and told a fascinating story.

Buccaneer Sail“We were looking to buy a bigger motorboat than the one we had. But the deal went sideways with the broker, and then we went sailing with you on a bitter cold day in March. I thought, ‘This is better’ and got hooked on sailing.” Paula interjected, “And you can have a conversation.”

Today, Lewis is getting ready for his third Nationals competition in the 18-foot Buccaneer class. “The Nationals are being held next month in Niantic, Connecticut. They have 17 entries so far, and we had 23 in Michigan last year. Before that, we had 30 entries in Solomons Island, Maryland.

“The Buccaneer is a tiller boat that’s faster than a Thistle and has its own spinnaker rig.” We drifted in very light winds as the conversation drifted toward racing rules and protocols. “I’m still learning, but I know that if there’s a lot of hollering at the mark that it will be an exciting turn.” Everyone laughed.

Long Island Sail

Long Island SailChelsea Taranovich took her husband Paul and her parents sailing on a windy day, unusual for August. Paul had no trouble casting off as he holds an unlimited 3rd Engineer USCG license that he earned at a maritime academy on Long Island. “The program ran four years and let me get my license with 380 days on the water for the prior three years. Working offline would take 1,080 days on the water.”

“I worked on some pretty big diesel engines, some with shafts as long as six feet,” he said. Now he’s a civilian engineer working a Navy contract at nearby Cheatham Annex.

Long Island SailingWe talked about the USNS Zeus, the cable-layer that works the North Atlantic. “They’re replacing cable that has been snipped,” he offered, “not just worn out.” He added, “Of course, we snip the Russians’ cable as well.” He said that while working on the Zeus and other intel ships, no one can use their cell phones or gadgets that might interfere with signals. Eventually I sent the young couple up to the bow for some quiet time.

Long Island SailingSteve Taranovich was thinking about getting back into sailing, having owned a 32 C&C on Long Island. “I can’t believe there are so few boats out here,” he marveled. “Huntington Harbor is a madhouse during the summer, with boaters ignoring the rules and all common sense. I used to sail in the Wednesday night beer can races, which were full of craziness at the marks.”

Fishing Sail

Katrina Goodwine drove from metro Richmond to take her family sailing in light breezes and cooler temps. She mentioned that her brother Troy was itching to fish instead. He recounted several different types he has caught.

Fishing Sail

“Mostly on the James River,” he said. “We like to fish off the James River pier, the one in Newport News that used to be the old road across the river. It’s the longest fishing pier in Virginia.”

I asked about his biggest catch, and he was ready. “A 30-inch rockfish, off the pier. That’s not very big, I realize, but it was on the line in the middle of the night. I was sitting there with the pole in the water, dreaming about Maria Carey, when I heard the tinkling of the little bells on the line. I jumped awake and wondered whose line that was, and it was mine!”

His worst storm? “I was out in the Bay with Daddy when a storm came up. The waves were big and the rain came down and I was scared. Then we saw a guy in a johnboat with his yellow slicker. He was headed out into the storm instead of back to shore, like he had a death wish.”

Restaurant Sail

Restaurant Sail

The winds picked up in the afternoon as a family from Delaware enjoyed their first sail. Dustin Van Dyke runs the Olive Garden in Dover.

Restaurant Sail“No, I don’t have any trouble hiring or keeping people. The company is very big on treating employees with respect, listening to them. We used to run an Olive Garden in Utah. I was offered Minnesota but turned it down. I started as a server 15 years ago, and now here I am.

“We have 900 restaurants. About five went out permanently during Covid, the rest all came back. When I started out, it took 20 minutes to get a dinner order out and now it takes 12. Lunch used to take 10 minutes and now it’s 5. People just don’t want to wait. We cut the menu by 30% after Covid to make things more efficient. The top seller: Chicken cacciatore. But my favorite is chicken parmesan.”

Clown Sail

The Volk party had a flat day, so next day I took Lewis and his in-law Daryl Raithel on a make-up sail. The winds were a steady 15 mph out of the northeast, so we zoomed out to Goodwin Island in 3-foot seas. It was a blast.

Clown SailDaryl was along for the ride, since Lewis was the big sailor. Turns out Daryl is the mayor of small town in Missouri where no one else wanted the job. “I get calls where someone complains that the next-door dog shit in his driveway. ‘Well, did you talk to Joe?’ I asked. Of course not.”

Clown SailLewis showed me a photo of him racing in the Buccaneer 18. Daryl also raised money for his local Catholic church. “I’m a farmer and I dress up as a rodeo clown to run the annual Cow Bingo. We lay out a grid in a meadow with numbers in the squares. We sell the squares for $20, and if a cow craps in one of them you win $200. You laugh, but it raises $5,000.” Only in America.

Joining us on the wicked sail was Chri Robinson of Los Angeles and his childhood friend Audrey Bauer, who lives in Henrico. “Our parents were best friends,” she said, “and we grew up together.”

Clown SailChris went on to join the Navy and work with submarines. The Big Storm Story: “My friend was on a diesel sub in a storm where the waves rose 100 feet. The sub was submerged to ride it out, but the swells were so great that a deep trough exposed the sub and lifted it up. It rose up and surfed the wave down to the next swell.

“In Connecticut, I was with an expert sailor on the Thames. I had no idea what I was doing. When he said to ease the main, I did the wrong thing and dropped the main. We were skidding downriver in the current toward the USS Scorpion when the crew hollered at us to move away.”

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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