Gal Pal Sail

Four gal pals from Richmond took the day off to go sailing on the York. The wind picked up smartly from zero to 10 mph as we zoomed downriver. Frances Judd was the only veteran sailor, and she yielded to the other three.

Gal Pal Sail“My husband and I got our first boat in Minneapolis, years ago. We bought it from a psychiatrist. When he took us out for the first time, he saw a big black cloud that greatly alarmed him. He hollered at us to drop the sail, which we did. But the boom hit him and knocked him into the water.

“Our second boat was in San Antonio. We got out in the middle of the water when the mast simply fell over, onto the boat. We thought, ‘Is this what sailing is all about?’”

Susan SailSusan Sail

Sylvia Pollock brought her husband Bruce back for a second sail. He did a fabulous job on the helm in seas running 2-3 feet. The trick is to balance the boat in the waves without going sidewumpas.

She has been with the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation and broke some news. “The Susan Constant left Jamestown for Mystic CN for three years. They will refurbish it because the hull has been fouled over the years.

Susan Sail

“The channel is too shallow and hasn’t been dredged in years, so it just sat there in the mud.”

We were talking about the Naval Weapons Station at Yorktown when Sylvia mentioned casually, “My son came up here on a submarine once and took me to lunch in Yorktown.” Top that for spontaneity.

Jib RepairJib RepairJib Repair

Several months ago, while raising the jib for the season, it became stuck at the top. The sail works fine, but I figured the halyard had jumped the track. I pondered hiring a rigger but got a better idea.

While the marina was tearing down the old boathouse to install boat lifts, I paid one of the young men in the bucket lift to take photos of the halyard exit on the face of the mask.

I motored over there and stood stable while he took multiple photos. That’s me on the bow, holding onto a dock pole. The result is that the halyard looks okay. Now I’m worried that the sheave collapsed, but that doesn’t seem evident when compared to the spinnaker halyard sheave. There’s always something with boats.

Local SailorLocal Sailor

Barbara and Robert Duckett of nearby Seaford took their daughter sailing on the York. It’s rare that we encounter a local, much less one from Yorktown.

“When I was a boy,” Robert said from the helm, “my buddies and I would try to throw snowballs at Miss Liberty atop the Yorktown Monument.” At 150 feet tall, I speculated that was quite a throw. “We tried,” he shrugged smiling.

Local SailorBarb is from San Diego, and they lived there for a while. Robert said, “I grew up here, and I sailed a lot on the York River with my dad. But sailing in San Diego taught me a lot about racing and what to do in a light wind. This was on Ledo 14s.”

He had his hands full on this day as the winds blew lightly from north and south. It was good training, or re-training.

Emergency Sail

A Northern Virginia couple went sailing in a light breeze on a hot day in June. Larry and Michelle Lee have a house on the Potomac, where he keeps an 18-foot center console boat. He prefers light winds. “I can look out my window and see the Potomac from our creek. If I see whitecaps, I’m not going out.”

Emergency SailMichelle is a senior nurse who trains newly certified nurses for the Emergency Room. “A few get washed out, but not many. Of 50 in the current class, 15 are men. They tend to be EMTs or Corpsmen.

“The Corpsmen are challenging because they are used to doing everything in the field, from sutures to injections to setting bones. They have to ratchet down as an ER nurse, letting others take over.”

Emergency Sail

Larry was curious about the Lev-O-Guage, which indicates tilt of the boat under sail. “I was a fireman for 30-something years, and we had one of those for the ladder truck. You’d think a sophisticated fire department would have some fancy technology. But they just went out an RV store and bought that.

Emergency Sail“The rig has to be balanced to hoist the ladder. A fancier version had a button that to be pressed to activate the titling mechanism. It was very sensitive, and frustrating to get right during an actual fire, when minutes count.”

Emergency SailWe covered a bit of history, including the fact that The Battle of Yorktown was where Gen. George Washington awarded the first medal for being injured in battle — the Purple Heart.

Larry said, “I read where to this day, we are still issuing Purple Hearts that were made for the invasion of Japan. The stock of medals is still that great.” All of us pondered that in silence.

Trouble Sailing

Teena Baldrige of Springboro OH took her best friend Helen Pucket sailing on a brisk morning with another couple who live near the York River. So does Helen. “I grew up here and on the James River, where my dad took me boating and fishing as a kid. I love the water.”

Trouble SailingTeena has had mixed results. “I went out as a teenager in June with my boyfriend on a Hobie cat. At one point, he fell off and I didn’t notice. I heard someone yelling in the distance, and it was him. ‘Come about! Come about!’ he kept shouting.

“I had no idea what he was talking about, but I figured I should turn the boat around. When I did, it flipped and I went in the drink. There we were for hours until someone came along and rescued us. We were covered in jellyfish.

Trouble Sailing

Leah and Kevin McCurdy were the other couple, now living in Guinea near the Severn River. “He has a lot of experience falling overboard,” she laughed.

“We went out on an old wooden boat in Mexico with people who were drinking. They were up on the bow and debating who could stand on one foot the longest. Kevin tried it and fell off.”

Kevin picked up the story. “I grabbed the netting beside the boat that they used to fish, and the Mexicans quickly picked me up and got me back in the boat.”

Sailing BigSailing Big

The brothers Kammerer took their wives sailing in advance of buying a sailboat. As young men, they had small boats that didn’t work out well. Bob and Donna moved from New Jersey to nearby Irvington 10 years ago and never looked back.

David and Merry live in the North Carolina mountains and were visiting to consider a boat. I think I talked them out of it by working with Get My Boat instead, where they can rent a sailboat near home and then walk away.

Sailing Big Bob said, “Our daughter’s boyfriend is a pilot with the NY Pilots Association. He recently brought the QE II into New York Harbor. It’s a very difficult maneuver, for which he gets paid $15,000 coming and going.

“The problem is that he’s senior in the NYPA and therefore has to be on two hours’ on-call notice. But he can only work 48 hours at a time before going off-call.”

Bob added, “For some reason, Irvington has become the thrift shop capital of Virginia. You can find any piece of old furniture in excellent condition. People can’t get rid of this stuff as they downsize, so they get estate sales to take care of it and they wind up in shops on our main street.”

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 Couples and Family 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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