Great Day Sailing

People ask, “Aaarrrghhh! Are we tipping over?” Landlubbers, women and other reasonable people are put off at first by the heeling effect of a sailboat. The optimum tilt under sail in a good wind is 10-15 degrees off center. Anything beyond that is uncomfortable and surprisingly inefficient. Despite what you’ve seen on TV or in the movies, putting boat over to 30 or 35 degrees does nothing to increase speed.

Great Day SailingSo it was a delight to have aboard the Stanford family of Virginia Beach, experienced sailors who kept the “rail in the water” all day long while cruising the York River off Yorktown. Patty Stanford grew up on her father’s 40-footer and grabbed the wheel of our 32-Hunter as if it were yesterday. She sailed the boat at a perfect 15 degrees for hours. It was a blast. To see what an entire day is like under sail, check out the video below.

Storm Approaching

Great Day Sailing

As we sailed on a clear bright day along the York River near Yorktown, we could see way off in the distance the low cloud formation of Tropical Storm Ana. Ned Neidlinger is a retired Air Force weather expert who was sailing with the spring class of the Williamsburg Area Learning Tree. “People are surprised to learn that in the 1960s weather forecasts were only 30 percent accurate. Today it’s much better, and extremely accurate from 24 to 36 hours out. Beyond that, the accuracy diminishes.”

That’s significant, because it means that 10-day forecasts are borderline bunk. “You can learn a lot by observing the clouds and their movement, along with how the wind hits the trees. The young men from Iowa knew more than all of us.” I watch at least three weather and wind forecasts every morning. The rain radar predictor developed by WVEC Channel 13 proves reliable and shows up online. Dark Sky has the best hourly forecast.

Relaxing Sail

Debbie Black and her boyfriend Bernie Thomas drove from Frederick, Maryland, through terrible traffic on I-95 that included at two fiery crashes. They got to unwind by sailing off Yorktown on the most magnificent sailing day of the year, with bright sun and consistent winds of 10 mph. “All my life, I’ve always wanted to sail. I could get very used to this,” Debbie said at the helm. “I love it. We’ve only been here 12 hours, and already I know this is going to be the best thing of our vacation.”

Let’s Go on a Great Sailing Day

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