A couple from western Canada and a mother and daughter from Texas went sailing for the first time and did very well in an outdoor adventure off Yorktown.
First-Time Sailors to the MoviesJoLynn Bragg and her daughter Shelly Malatek wound up their vacation to Williamsburg by sailing the York River on a warm, sunny day with fluctuating breezes.
Shelly said, “I think I was on a Hobie cat as a child, but I didn’t sail it. This is wonderful. The wheel is so sensitive to the turn.” Shelly stayed with it for hours and eventually wanted to learn the ropes of turning the jib. She quickly grasped the delicate timing needed to release the windward sheet and trim in the leeward sheet. I told her it’s analogous to a bullfighter turning the bull through his cape, and she appreciated that.
Inevitably the conversation turned to boating experiences and eventually genre movies. JoLynn recalled “Open Water 2: Adrift,” based on a true story. It’s a mystery thriller where three couples sail a day charter boat in the Caribbean and decide to go for a swim. The only problem is that they didn’t anchor and neglected to put down the aft ladder. Hence they spend the entire movie struggling to get back on board. To add to their troubles, an infant is crying below deck.
First-Time Sailors to the MoviewCathie Love recalled another true story movie of a couple left behind on an island in Australia, and died. Shelly recalled the true story (not yet a movie) of the NFL player implicated in a boating accident in Florida last year in which at least one person died. Then she brought up the case of two boys fishing offshore in Florida who made it back after a harrowing storm.
Farther north, JoLynn liked “The Perfect Storm,” about the Gloucester MA fishermen lost at sea 1,000 miles off the coast. I pointed out the folly of George Clooney trying to repair the wheelhouse window with a 4-by-8 piece of plywood in a howling noreaster.
Shelly also liked “The Finest Hours,” a true movie about the US Coast Guard sea rescue service. “Who was that guy?” she asked. I looked it up: Casey Affleck.
Cathie and her husband Pete Smith live in Alberta, and they could attest to the cold water up there. “We have some friends who live in the Northwest Territories where the water is so cold they have to warn boaters not to fall in or they could die in two minutes.” She and Pete named all ten provinces for us, since no one could get past Quebec, Ontario and Alberta. Americans are pretty ignorant about Canada.
First-Time Sailors to the MoviesReturning to warmer waters, I briefly saw a dolphin but it slipped away. JoLynn and her husband fish the Texas Gulf from a 32-foot sport fishing boat.
“We hate dolphins,” she said cheerily. “They take our fish right off the line. My husband directs me to let out the line and then stop the reel to break the dolphin off the fish.”
First-Time Sailors to the MoviesShelly added, “Dolphins can tell a gafftopsail catfish from a sea trout. Gafftop are slimy, terrible fish that the dolphins don’t like to eat. We don’t either. If you’ve got a catch out there and are reeling it in, they’ll let you proceed without bothering you. So it’s likely you’ve caught a gafftop. But if you have a sea trout, they’ll go after it quickly to get it off. Dolphins like to troll behind fishing boats to see what you catch.” Who knew?

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