Exactly one year later, retired Navy Capt. Terry Culton and his wife Helen returned to sail the York River, this time with friends Mike and Debbie Decicco. Unlike last year when the winds were flat, they piped up quickly to 12-15 mph. So we reefed both sails. The couples were in town for a Bruce Hornsby concert.
Terry plied these waters several times before by leading US Navy destroyers into Naval Weapons Station Yorktown. He explained the difference between a cruiser and a destroyer.
“The DDG class has the G standing for guided missile cruiser. There are only 20 destroyers left in the fleet, compared to 65 cruisers. Cruisers have two guns, one fore and one aft. Destroyers have one gun forward. Cruisers are fatter and shorter.”
Mike is a doctor who teaches medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center. They have a place on the Finger Lakes, where taxes are unbelievable.
“A waterfront lot is taxed locally at $1,000 a front foot annually. So a cottage with just a 30-foot shoreline has to pay $30,000 taxes. That’s on top of the property tax. Plus the state income tax is 12-1/2 percent. It’s crazy, but that’s New York State.”
We talked about the Philippine freighter that T-boned the Navy’s cruiser Fitzgerald. Terry said, “Where the bow struck was the berthing quarters and exactly where the CO sleeps. That could have been me. I’m amazed so many more sailors weren’t killed.”
The winds calmed for a while, so we transited the Coleman Bridge to show how Terry used to do it. A wicked outgoing tidal current slowed our progress to a crawl even though the wind was sailing us through.
“I calculate on a rough order that every knot of current is equivalent to 30 knots of wind on a Navy ship,” Terry said, to my amazement. “So 3 knots is equal to 90 knots.” When we turned around and came back, the boat whizzed past the bridge piers, proving his point.” To paraphrase Bruce Hornsby, that’s just the way it is.
For the afternoon sail, three couples from California, Delaware and Maryland shared common interest in work, travel, children – and sailing.
Steve Rothstein wanted to learn sailing, having done it years ago with his dad on a small catamaran. He learned all three points of sail in strong winds that required finely nuanced “pinching” on the close reach to preclude coming into the wind. Chrissy Lindsey spelled him and did an equally fine job pinching.
For the day, all three captains did a courageous job in challenging winds.
Let’s Go Sail