People ask, “Are there things you don’t talk about onboard?” A family from Newtown CT took a sailing adventure along the York River on a sparkling spring afternoon. I didn’t mention the recent tragedy Sandy Hook Elementary.
“We sailed once before,” Chris Whorf mentioned brightly of he and his wife Maria Arnoldy. “It was a Hobie cat. I think we flipped.”
Maria took the helm and held fast all day for the lesson of a lifetime. She had a little trouble at first managing fluky winds of 8-12 mph, but she quickly adapted and learned to steer slightly upwind to mitigate the gusts. At first she was apprehensive about heeling but eventually relished tipping to 20 degress.
Chris recalled, “We have friends who sold everything and a took a Chi Hoi ketch on the slowest circumnavigation of the world. They had a great time crossing the Atlantic on one tack all the way. The Mediterranean was more difficult because of shifting winds and big waves. Unfortunately 9/11 happened and they had to reconsider. It was just too dangerous given the state of the world at that point.”
He continued, “We sailed with them here in this country, boarding in Camden and headed to Portland, Maine. That’s where I learned not to pee to windward. Stan was on the helm when he [pursing his lips] asked, ‘Chris, are you peeing in the wind?’”
Maria continued to excel on the helm as I let out the sails to spill wind. As the boat heeled to 20 degrees, Chris said, “Out in the big seas of the Atlantic with them, Stand went down below to read the charts. But he had to be careful not to get sick. Meanwhile, Maria was sitting there reading a book! I had to stand topside next to the mast with my eyes of the horizon to avoid getting sick. Maria by contrast crawled out to the bowsprit and bounded up and down 17 feet from the water. Our name is Arnoldy but we nicknamed her Maria Ironoldy.”
We talked about colleges as their high school son is looking now. I wondered if Connecticut lacks for state schools, and Chris agreed. Except for U-Conn and a few branch colleges, that’s it. Chris said, “I think that all of New England should throw in together for reciprocity across state lines for their state universities.” Good point. I just found out last month that Wisconsin and Michigan share admissions. Maria ignored us, focused solely on the wind and her speed.
Shesailed under the Coleman Bridge and up to Yorktown Naval Weapons Station to spot the USS Mesa Verdes. No one this year has learned faster under windy conditions.
Sailing from Philadelphia
An Indian family from suburban Philadelphia braved stiff winds that picked up late in the day to start their adventure for a Williamsburg vacation.
Gifta Xaviour said, “Everything I read said we must meet Capt. Bill and take his sailing charter.” I was surprised and flattered, so naturally I handed off the helm to her once we got the mainsail up (one reef).
Their teenage son Joshua used to sail small boats off Capt May NJ. “I would stretch out on the side with legs extended,” he said, motioning the trapeze effect. “We were with the Philadelphia Boys Choir on a trip.” He said there were about 120 boys and he sang for five years.
“He stayed with it through the eighth grade,” his mother explained. “There was a lot of travel involved, especially in the two months before Christmas.” Josh added, “I sang a lot with the Philly Pops and sang numerous ‘Nutcrackers.’
The couple is originally from Mumbai in the southern part of India. Albert said they go back every two years and their parents visit in between. “No, I don’t think we would move back. The boys really like it in this country and they’ll go to school here.” Josh is looking at Virginia Tech and Drexel for a possible major in architecture.
They got to see the architecture of the Coleman Bridge as we sailed there to find the lee shore with less wave action. For a foreign national, Albert has totally assimilated. He’s a diehard Eagles fan and knows the various quarterbacks in the NFC East. Imagine an American knowing that much detail about a pro soccer team in India.
I moved the boat to an ADA dock to facilitate the boarding of a blind woman eager to sail. Collin Bruce brought his wife Jacki from Williamsburg, where he works for Dominion Power. Winds were blowing to 15 mph, which had another couple somewhat apprehensive at first with the heeling. Jacki was serene throughout.
She said, “It’s quite different from the last time I sailed, when I could see. That was about 15 years ago. I can feel things on the boat like never before. Or I can see objects and contrast, but nothing else. I can watch TV if I know what the series is about. On ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ for example, I know the voices.” I asked if she’s impatient with whiners. “No, everyone has their cross to bear,” she replied cheerfully.
While viewing the Vepco tower at Yorktown, Collin said, “Two of three lines are shut down, and the only use the last one for peaking conditions. That one will probably shut down later this year now that Skiffe’s Creek is up online on the James River. There’s no timetable to take down Yorktown, though they began phasing it out years ago because of environmental concerns.
A couple from Port Matilda PA brought their son along for the ride. Jennifer Helfer is a surgeon who mastered the helm in brisk conditions. She found the sweet spot of 2-3 degrees between heeling and luffing when winds are 15 mph. Her husband Andrew recalled his boyhood fondly. “I grew up in Michigan but not around the water. In college, I got invited by a friend to join his family on a sailboat cruise in the upper Chesapeake Bay. We spent four days out there sailing, cooking out, swimming, and sailing in tranquility. One night we went bar-hopping in Annapolis since we had just turned 21.” He pondered the current scene. “It’s great to get in touch with nature and the elements.”
In the afternoon, a young couple from Idaho with three children took their first sail ever. Boyd Bandy said, “We’re from Idaho now, but I’ve lived in Utah and Montana. I flew C-130s in the Air National Guard, and now I’m grounded in the Army National Guard. The c-130 is still flying, but they’ve added more engines. Yes, it’s still a prop aircraft, not jet-propelled.”
Let’s Go with Connecticut Sailors
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Couple from Connecticut took their family sailing and she got the lesson of a lifetime.
Capt Bill ODonovan
Williamsburg Charter Sails