Fear of Boating
“My wife insisted that I wear a life preserver. She is fearful of the water. Her family was not of the water and she’s just not comfortable.” Chuck Armstrong of Richmond was explaining why he showed up alone to sail the York River on a late summer afternoon. As the winds caused the boat to heel to 15 and then 20 degrees, he resumed the story.
“Once in Florida we took one of those air boats in the Everglades. The boat stopped because the engine started smoking. Then it failed altogether. The crew looked at each other with some confusion because they didn’t know what to do. It took them 30 minutes to get someone out there with another boat. I didn’t realize my wife was so upset. She told me later she thought the boat was about to blow up. She was traumatized.”
Near Wormley Creek a pod of dolphins popped up. They frolicked and then lined up to “attack” our boat. They were exquisite. We could hear them puffing.
We sailed under the Coleman Bridge and drove into two-foot waves with 15 mph winds. It was exciting. Joining us on this brisk summer day were Tara and Brian Galli. He’s a correction officer with the Delaware state system. “We have three prisons. There are no county prisons since there are so few counties, so we take them all. Smyrna has the largest population with 10,000 or 11,000.
“We have three men to a cell. You might be in for murder and you might be in for robbery, while I’m in for DUI. It can get pretty interesting.” I raised my hand like a school boy and inquired, “I’m going to prison next month. Can I go online and select a roommate, like in college?” Brian smiled. “We actually tried to segregate by crimes, but it didn’t work because people were coming and going so fast.”
Tara and Brian have already burned through the new season of “Orange is the New Black.” I asked if the show accurately depicted how badly the private corrections system is operated. “It’s worse,” he said. “Profit becomes more important than the inmates. They pay the guards $9 an hour, which doesn’t attract good people. I’ll admit that we have our problems in government prisons, and they’re the first place to get hit when they cut budgets. But we’re still much better than the privatized prisons.”
The wind shifted slightly, died down and then picked up. We went back to heeling 15 degrees but by now everyone was exhilarated by it. There was no fear of boating.
Tara is retired Air Force and Air Force Reserves. She mentioned that she and Brian were coming up on their fifth anniversary. Chuck said, “Oh boy, I’ve got ten times that figure. I wake up in the morning and realize we’ve been married 50 years. I wonder where the years went. The time just flew by, and by the Grace of God.”
So too, the time flew by as we sailed more than 20 miles in three hours. “I could do this all day,” Tara sighed.
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