John Thomas of Williamsburg took friends sailing on the York River on a brisk fall day. Our designs were on sailing, but the conversation ranged widely.

Among his guests were Sultan Camp, who retired from the Navy after 20 years. He used to load and load from ships at the Naval Weapons Station in Yorktown as ships came and went from Norfolk. “We would take on new munitions there, but we also offloaded them if the ship was getting ready to go into the yard for repairs. He is now a headhunter for a private firm pursuing naval talent. “That was difficult a few years ago, but today we’ve got more positions to fill than people to fill them, especially in electronics.”

Mike Stallings has sailed later in life, on big boats in big races including Newport to Bermuda. “I was in culinary school for three years, and I didn’t get to boats until I was 28. I worked as a chef and first mate on a yacht and later delivered boats up and down the East Coast for The Moorings in the Virgin Islands. I was on a schooner once that didn’t have any cleats to tie off anywhere. That made for a long day. I’m 53 years old now and love to travel. I tell my son that no matter what, you’ve got to travel.” Besides being a world-class sailor, Mike was a first-class fellow by quietly demurring to the others to run the helm. He ran the jib sheets instead, quite well.

Mike and his wife Nina bought a 40-Alborg yacht years ago. “It got hit by lightning after only two months, it was heartbreaking. The electronics got blown out and worse,” but he didn’t elaborate. That was ten years ago and he hasn’t fixed it yet. “I go down there sometimes and sit on the deck with a beer and a cigar.”

He would just as soon live on a sailboat, “something 40 feet or more.” Nina demurred. “I like my house and I like my life and my garden, she said.

The best story on the boat belonged to John. He was the fellow with Howell Creative Group of Williamsburg who last year reskinned the very website you’re reading so that it would appear more elegant and simultaneously simple. I get compliments every week from people all over the country. As a result of his designs and my daily blogs, the SEO or Search Engine Optimization of the site has pushed it up the Internet chain for quick access. He’s looking at improving the mobile site for, perhaps strip it down to a smaller component. “The site works fine already, but we can always make improvements.” We chatted about technical stuff and coding, which left some in the crew puzzling over the jargon.

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