On the very first day of their vacation in Williamsburg, Sherri and Mike Hanley went sailing from Texas. They took their son and Mike’s mother out on the first breezy day in the previous four. The winds built from the east from zero to 10 mph as the crew learned to heel the boat and tack down the York River.
I’m a student of Lyndon Baines Johnson, and Barbara Hanley knew all about him. “You can make a very pleasant day trip by starting out at the University of Texas at Austin where the LBJ Library is located. Then you drive out to Johnson City to see where he grew up. Then finish by visiting the ranch, which was already open when Lady Bird was alive. Now the house is open as well. It makes for a lovely day.”
Barbara works at Austin Community College as the Nurse Re-Entry Coordinator. She still has her RN and MN degrees. “I have to be careful because I’m more accredited than my boss,” she joked.
Barbara asked what there was to see out on the river, and I told her about the occasional dolphin pods, oil barges anchored, Navy ships transiting, Coleman Bridge opening, and watermen fishing. Just as we rounding Red Day Mark 8, we saw a family of three Ospreys in their nest. Usually you can see one or the other but rarely with their new fledgling. We turned the boat around to take better pictures as a Coast Guard training ship passed by.
Mike observed that the statue of Lady Liberty that demarcates the Siege of Yorktown looked like the statue of Sam Houston that commemorates the Battle of San Jacinto. Sherri explained, “That was the battle that avenged Texas after the Mexicans whipped our ass at the Alamo. The way they give the tour at the Alamo, you’d never know we lost.” Mike added, “San Jacinto is where the phrase ‘Remember the Alamo!’ came from.”
Mike is an executive with the Boy Scouts of America, but his passion is the auction business that he and Sherri operate. “I was doing auctions on the side and we were dating. Sherri is a certified event planner and she saw right away how we could improve things.”
She added, “These tables need to go over here. That’s not the right color coordination, and so on. I’m competing against 13-year-old kids who took event planning in college, and they don’t know what they’re doing.”
They specialize in charity auctions, which I thought a narrow niche. But judging from their website, they’re loaded with work.
“I can auction cars, cattle and storage units, but they’re all specialties like charities. We work the crowd before the auction and deal with problems specific to charities. Some of these other auctioneers are trying to get into our business, but it’s different. For example, our audience is friendly with one another because they’re all involved in the same charity. But at a car auction, they’re all dealers and they hate each other.
“We caution against art auctions because they can be disappointing. At one auction we had a wonderful stained glass window created by a young artist. I only could get $300 for it, which was a shame. Yet an ordinary print drew $1,500 because it was signed by Major Applewhite, the famous UT quarterback. The young artist was crushed.”
I asked the size of a big auction. “I’ve done half a million dollars’ worth before a crowd of 5,000.”
Coming back to the marina, we saw a substantial motorboat that had just run aground after drifting outside the green day mark of the channel guiding Sara Creek. A friend told me, “He hit the sandbar just after high tide. He called the marina and they called yard but there was nothing that could be done since the tide had already turned. The next high tide is a little higher than this afternoon’s but it’s not until 10:36 tonight.”
The only thing worse than running aground is running aground at high tide. I should have recalled Barbara’s question earlier about what’s out here to see. There’s that.
Let’s Go Sail