Busy Sail

Busy SailBusy SailBusy Sail

Busy Sail

A quiet July morning led us to motoring under the Coleman Bridge to see two Navy warships in port at the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station. I pointed out the tubes between two square tents where the Tomahawk missiles fire. Their range is 2,000 miles, sufficient to bomb Iraq and Afghanistan from the Mediterranean Sea during our two most recent wars. 

Busy SailThen we flew a new spinnaker, my third in 30 years. Very crisp, with bright red and blue colors. The spin was a first as well for Nanci Bond and Ellen Jaronczyk, who have sailed every July on the 18th for the past 8-10 years. They commemorate their husbands’ mutual birthdays and names – Bob. With us was a couple from Southern Maryland celebrating their tenth anniversary. As if to mark the occasion, we saw dolphins on the west side of the bridge, which is quite unusual.

Weather Sail

In one of the greater ironies of the season, a meteorologist took his wife sailing – and it rained.

Weather SailGerry Mulvey forecasts for private companies such as Lockheed-Martin. Why them? “Because they shoot stuff through the clouds and want to know what’s up there,” he responded with good-natured Irish humor. As we set sail, an ominous cloud arose over Yorktown. “It might rain shortly, perhaps for an hour.” Sure enough, it did but only for a few minutes. He predicted rain from another cloud because it had a kilometer of water up there.

He was disdainful of TV weathercasters. “Very few are professional meteorologists with degree credentials. Some of them are just reading off a script from data provided by the National Weather System.” What about the Weather Channel and Jim Cantore? “He’s the real deal, but don’t pay any attention to his sound-over of the local forecast. Those numbers are based on models and are usually wrong.”

Weather SailJust then, someone else spotted fins in the water. At first I thought it was dolphins, but it turned out to be a skate – three actually. Everyone was mesmerized.

Weather SailGerry explained a phenomenon that no else has. The tide at Yorktown is fully one hour later than at Gloucester Point just across the water. “Sure, that’s from saltwater intrusion. Fresh water is on top and saltwater is on the bottom because it’s heavier. At Yorktown, there’s a greater flow of river water that forces the saltwater deeper.” He paused and added reflectively, “There are a lot of forces out there.”

Shoreline Sailing

A family relocating from New York to metro Richmond went sailing with their small dog for the first time. Tom Fiorello sweeps for metal objects from the Civil War along the shoreline of the James River.

Shoreline Sailing“I’ve found three cannonballs and a shovel full of bullets all in one place,” he said as his son-in-law Derek helmed in light winds. Derek has gone hunting in the woods at night for relics, and he carries a .38 pistol for protection. “There are coyotes out there, and seeing one was the scariest moment of my life.”

Among boats they’ve seen on the James are a pontoon boat as a golf cart vendor. “They sell everything,” Tom recounted. “Natchos, ice cream, ice, drinks. It’s amazing.” Derek once saw an amazing collision. “A bass boat racing back to get the fish weighed ran into a cigar boat doing 50 mph easily. They hit head-on and shot up straight into the air. It was awful.”

Sailing for Schools

Sailing for SchoolsIn the afternoon, the Henn family of Baltimore picked up an offshore breeze that enabled us to fly the new spinnaker. Julie Henn has served seven years on the Baltimore County School Board, once as president and vice president.

“We have 12 members, and they rotate pretty quickly every four years due to burnout. Gov. Larry Hogan helped me get elected. We have 111,000 students across 173 schools. Around 50 percent are minority, so there are significant challenges. The worst was two years under Covid, when academic standards fell. Toward the end of Covid we had a ransom-ware attack the very night of a School Board meeting. They didn’t demand any money, but it took months to restore everything in the system. I’ve gone through four superintendents, the first of whom went to jail. Our budget is $1 billion. After this, I’ve been asked to run for Baltimore County Council.”

Covid Sailing

Covid SailingA Northern Virginia couple celebrated their anniversary by sailing on a magnificent morning with the winds picking up to 10 mph.

Arthur Runno just sold his company, which provided medical staffing to the government and businesses. “We got in on the ground floor by helping the government during Ebola threat and then got bigger during Zita. When Covid came along, they needed us desperately. I remember telling them that I wouldn’t go to China unless they paid us up front, thinking that would slow the deal. Within 45 minutes, the money was wired to our bank, so I had to go.

Covid Sailing“Yes, the Chinese started it in Wuhan, and yes they tried to cover it up. I was there, I know from what they told me in private conversations. Here I am with no medical background, advising the White House. I worked with Dr. Fauci, didn’t like him much. By the time the company was sold, we had 630 workers. Many of them were hiring for the FBI and others such as intelligence.”

Back on the water, Arthur served in the Navy on submarines and surface ships. “I was Officer of the Deck one night on the frigate when we hit a whale. I ordered all engines stopped to see what happened. We could see blood on the boat but not the whale.”

 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. 

Close Sail

Close SailMy competitor Alliance II has a new boat that appeared to be too tall to make the 60-foot clearance of the Coleman Bridge. I took pictures from afar to gain a better perspective, and it appears the mast has about 6-10 inches — or more if it stays in the slot where the bridge swings open.

Closer Sail 

Mark and Wanda Meinschein celebrated their 40th anniversary by sailing the York in light breezes on a warm day. People tend to recall their worst experiences, and he lived up to the task.

Closer Sail“When we were kids, my cousin and I took our Boston Whaler motorboat out to see the QE2 come into Baltimore on the Chesapeake Bay. We didn’t get close to any danger of being hit, but we forgot to take into consideration the wake. It hit us so hard that we hung onto the steel railing crossbar on the Whaler and ripped it right out of the flooring.”

His daughter Amanda reminded him of another family story. “That was not as bad as the time I set my dad’s hair on fire. He was working under the hood of our car when he asked me to accelerate while he checked the carburetor. Being a kid, I floored it. That created a small explosion that set his hair afire. He was not happy.”

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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