The York River took an eerie sky and temperatures fell slightly on the open water, compared to land. The best line of the day came from an 11-year-old whose mother asked sweetly if she could see the eclipse with her special solar glasses. “Yes, Mom, it’s ALL I can see through these. Everything else is black.”
The best story of the day came from Gary Sullivan, a grizzled lookalike for Robert DeNiro. He and his wife joined his first cousin and his wife for an adventurous sail under the eclipse. Brisk winds made it all the more fun.
“I served in the Navy on an icebreaker called the USS Atka, named for an Aleutian Island. Day after day, we would sail the ocean off Anarctica and roll from side to side because the hull was round. That way you could slide right up on the ice and drop down to break it. The ice was eight to twelve feet thick, so you had only one shot it to break it up. If you got stuck, you had to transfer 100,000 gallons of ballast from one side to the other to rock the boat, hoping it would slip back into the water.
It was great fun on the helm. Instead of trying to hold a compass heading, the skipper simply said, ‘See that big chunk of ice over there? Hit it!’
“The ship was commissioned in 1943 by the Coast Guard and was later given to the Russians as part of a lend-lease program. Eventually it wound up back in the Navy at the Atka and then went back to the Coast Guard. Then it was cut up for scrap. At one time the Navy had five icebreakers and now they have none.”
Because of global warming, I asked.
“I don’t know,” Gary said. Then he looked up at the eclipse one last time.
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