Excessive Sail

Yorktown is abuzz about a giant cruise ship coming into port next year, ahead of the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

Typical headline: Princess Cruises shares update on Yorktown Voyage, but not everyone is on board

The company announced in February that it would add Yorktown to the list of ports, largely because the CEO is from York County. The state General Assembly proposed $47.5 million for a pier, but it’s unclear if anything came of that. One thing’s for sure: the existing two piers are way too small. American Cruise Line ships of 200 passengers consume one pier already, more than a dozen times a year.

Spin control is in full throttle. “To sail to Yorktown as part of our itineraries on three different occasions in the summer of 2024,” Vicki Johnson, senior vice president of communication for Princess Cruises, told a packed crowd at the American Revolution Museum this summer. “You’ve got an amazing story here to tell, and we want to share that story to others in the world,” Johnson said.

The original plan of 9,000-passenger ships has been scaled down to 3,000. According to published reports, the Island Princess and Emerald Princess, two of the smaller cruise ships in the fleet, will anchor far offshore and deploy four tender boats to ferry passengers to port.

Excessive SailRegardless, the plan is doomed for several reasons:

  • Yorktown is a small village whose commerce lies along Water Street. The few stores and services would be overwhelmed by people disgorged all day long. (Restaurants would be okay since nearly all the passengers prefer to eat onboard, where it’s prepaid.)

  • The timing is impeccably poor because the National Park Service just closed the Colonial Parkway for a three-year rehabilitation costing $123 million. They like to say it’s only closed in sections, but it’s effectively shut down for 11 miles between Williamsburg and Yorktown. That has diverted traffic in strange directions, none of which are good for tourism.

  • Sooner or later the US Navy will nix the deal. They don’t want any big ships in the way or in proximity to the guided missile cruisers that transit Yorktown to and from the Naval Weapons Station. The last time an adventure was proposed was parasailing behind a motorboat. The Navy did not want people landing on the Coleman Bridge or worse – on deck of a warship. Think of the hilariously bad publicity.

Things could be worse. Princess just announced its newest and largest ship, which thank God will not be coming here:

Sun Princess is the Largest Princess Ship Ever — and the First Powered by LNG.

Princess finally has a megaship. At 175,500 gross tons, with 21 decks and a guest capacity of 4,300 at double occupancy, Sun Princess is the cruise line’s largest ship. In comparison, the six Royal-Class ships accommodate 3,660 guests at double occupancy, have 19 decks, and are 145,000 gross tons. Sun Princess will also be the first in the fleet to be powered by cleaner-burning LNG (liquified natural gas).

Small Sail

Small Sail

Gerry and Allison Mulvey returned for a reprise sail this summer, this time with their goddaughter and her boyfriend.

Gerry is a professional weather forecaster who is also into model sailboat racing.

Small Sail“I’m working on the rig right now. The boat is 2-1/2 feet long with a triangular sail of one meter each side. We race on a pond in Ford’s Colony that actually has a current. That’s because there’s a waterfall on one side that draw water over. Boat prices start at $500, and some go for $1,200.

“We race in classes, just like big sailboats. We use a joystick with GPS to maneuver the rudder and the sails to get the best wind. They’re very fast in virtually any wind. It’s quite aggressive, with some five or six boats at a time. If I can just get the rigging right!”

Small SailSomehow, we got onto burials at sea, which inspired Allison. “A friend of ours asked a pilot to take his small plane up so they could drop the ashes of their Uncle Joe in the Pacific Ocean. They got over Catalina Island and at the exact latitude and longitude they opened a window. Suddenly the wind shifted around, and all the ashes blew back into the plane. It was a mess. Someone said, ‘Isn’t that just like Joe, making dramatic entrances all his life and now making a dramatic exit.”

After much laughter, we sailed on 10 mph winds for hours and eventually put up the spinnaker to sail home.

Crash Story

Crash Story of Excessive Sail

Today’s horror story comes from a trio of high school chums who’ve vacationed together 50 years. Jim Leisy said, “I kayak a lot and I have to watch out for motorboats because they kick up a big wake. They don’t know and they don’t care. Worse than that, I got run over by a bass boat at high speed. It rose up on a wave and came down on me in the kayak, crushing it. They stopped their boat, and they thought they had killed me. But I had my life preserver on and popped right back up.” Then he added, “Jet skis are just as bad.”

Crash StoryJim’s friend Guy picked up the theme. “A million years ago, I was out sailing a small boat when a storm came up. Lightning was striking everywhere, including close around us. All I could think of was that we had an aluminum pole sticking straight up into the sky. I was never so afraid in my life.”

Larceny happens on the water as well. Jim talked about a flounder tournament where he was a judge. “One guy caught a 23-inch winner that had a scar on it from getting hit by a boat prop. I thought I recognized the scar. Sure enough, he had posted a picture of it on Facebook a week earlier and then froze it for a week until he could thaw it out for the tournament. He was busted in front of his 12-year-old son and wound up in tears over it. Imagine doing that in front of your own son.”

Swiss Sail of Excessive Sail

Mia Rigo took her family from Geneva sailing on a breezy summer afternoon, where mother and daughter sunbathed while Dad lounged on the bow and the son ran the helm. We played “The Pines of Rome” and “The Fountains of Rome” by Respighi as the sun slowly set while we sailed fast into it.

Swiss Sail

Women enjoy sailing today more than ever, and particularly a romantic cruise. Couples get to enjoy a romantic getaway as they sit up on the bow for privacy, and Let’s Go Sail provides professional photos for free. First-time or skilled mariners are welcome to sail a modern-32-foot sailboat in a unique setting of wildlife and Fall foliage or Spring bloom. It makes for an extraordinary anniversary idea. 

Let’s Go Sail

Check rates and pick a day for a sailboat charter. Scroll down reviews on Trip Advisor. Go back to the home page of Williamsburg Charter Sails.  

The best Williamsburg boat tour offers safe “social distance sailing” daily for up to 6 people. It’s an extraordinary experience for couples. Leave your worries behind. Enjoy the thrill of moving with the wind without a care in the world. Put life back on an even keel with a romantic experience for a birthday or anniversary. 3-hour sailboat cruise as a semi-private yachting charter lets you exhale and relax as you enjoy comfort, stability and speed.

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