Sam Scovill was among the students in the 16th annual fall sailing class offered by the Williamsburg Area Learning Tree through Williamsburg Charter Sails. Students typically come to class with little experience, but not so here.

Classy sailors take to the water“Last week I helped a guy bring his 50-foot sailboat down from Annapolis to Hampton. I hadn’t sailed in years, but a friend introduced us because the guy wanted to test his single-handled skills. We stopped at St. Michael’s, Solomons and Deltaville, anchoring out. After Hurricane Matthew the winds were blowing hard out of the north, so we sailed downwind nearly all the way. It was pretty choppy even for a 50-foot boat.

“I used to have a 41-foot sailboat in San Francisco Bay. The tides ran to eight feet twice a day and my marina had to withstand 40 mph winds. So you had to time it just right to go in and out, usually at mean low tide or mean high tide when the water was momentarily slack.”

Classy sailors take to the waterJust then three eagles showed up, high in the sky. Sam said they were two parents and a fledgling. Then he got back to his story.

“That wasn’t as bad as the 1989 tsunami after the Japanese earthquake. I had a 33-foot fishing boat at Brookings marina in Coos Bay. It was attached to a floating dock and went up and down in quick succession. I just had $5,000 worth of work done on the bow. A 100-foot boat broke loose and was banging around into all the other boats. Sure enough, it ruined my new bow. FEMA didn’t cover it and neither did my insurance, so I had to spend another $5,000 out of pocket. I think it took only a day for the tsunami to travel 6,000 miles. You can see video of the Brookings tsunami on You Tube.”Old Salt

Classy sailors take to the waterAnother crew member in the WALT class was Grayson Williams, 87, and his wife Ulku Nori. “She kept chasing me and I kept running. I finally told her I was going away on a cruise in Alaska. She asked if she could go. Sure. We got married on the top of Mt. Juno.”

Someone asked if Grayson was comfortable on the helm, and I started to think about the time he flipped a small boat in the James River as a boy. He was stranded all night long. “Comfortable?” he asked cheerily. “I’ve been sailing for mClassy sailors take to the waterore than 70 years.”

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