A newly married Pennsylvania couple in Williamsburg enjoyed a honeymoon cruise on a warm sunny day on the York River.
Madison Lohr works in daycare in New Castle, where she prefers tykes over older children. Mark Mikolhoff works two jobs. “I’m a chef at Chuck Tanner’s Restaurant in New Castle, named for the Cleveland Indian baseball player. I also cook for Grove City College, where I specialize in international foods. The restaurant is tricky these days because we will be limited to 50 patrons starting Friday when the next phase of the lockdown opening begins. We normally can seat 130.”
Madison turned over the helm to Mark as we tacked downriver on an east wind that was building to 10 mph. (The forecast was for westerlies at 6.) She said, “I haven’t been on a boat since Alaska. My church mission went there for two weeks, and we got to go out on a small shrimp boat, just two of us at a time. I recall very bumpy waters, but we caught something every time.” An hour later, she pointed to a passing motorboat. “There it is! A little boat just like that one passing by us.”
Chuck Tanner was a minor player in Major League Baseball, but he famously managed the 1979 Pirates to the World Series championship. I recalled for Mark when as a youngster I saw Bill Mazeroski hit a ninth inning home run to win the 1960 championship over the New York Yankees. It was stunning, simply stunning, because the Yankees never lost in these situations and suddenly were toast.
“My grandfather Thomas Mikoloff played for Cleveland in the 1940 and ’50s,” Mark recalled. While they were sailing, I replaced the cluster of cushions on the bow with a new V-version from a powerboat. I sent them up there to chat as we leisurely sailed downwind. For a fleeting moment, they saw two dolphins off the bow before they disappeared into the deep.
A few days later we went from a honeymoon cruise to a drinking cruise. Three couples from Richmond picked a glorious June day to sail on the York and commemorate two birthdays and a pending wedding. With three bottles of wine and copious beer, they toasted each other and told rioutous stories about their friendships over the years. They moved back and forth to the bow and brought out meatballs and cheeses for lunch. Everyone got a crack at the helm in light winds that drifted us under the Coleman Bridge. Their laughter was infectious. Nobody talked about work or the nation’s troubles.
In the afternoon, students from VCU in Richmond enjoyed an adventure that included steadier winds of 5-7 mph. Noor Kalifa brought her sister Yusser and her friend Lesly Alvarez, and two of them went swimming off the stern. Lesly said, “I have to be careful because I had back surgery last year. Four screws were coming out and they had to be tightened in. My back hurt all the time. The first surgery was for scoliosis. Now I’m doing much better. Yes, I am taller now too.”
Next, we went from a honeymoon cruise to a family cruise. John Kruger of New Kent used to sail solo with me. Last year he brought his daughter Noelle to teach her the ropes. This time he brought the entire family, and they got to run the spinnaker in light winds on a summer adventure.
As we approached the Chesapeake Bay, John recalled a memory of someone he knew who navigated similar big waters. “We worked a project for a gentleman who was powerboating off the North Carolina coast when he hit a container ship that was partially submerged. It had fallen off a freighter at sea. He sank in 12 minutes but made it to his dinghy. He was stranded out there for three hours. Next, he bought a boat in Lido Beach, Florida, that was salvaged after sinking. Can you imagine what he was thinking? I told him I wasn’t going out with him anytime soon.”
In the afternoon, a Danville couple who recently relocated to Williamsburg went sailing for the first time as something they always wanted to do. Christy Eagle said, “In fact, one of the reasons we moved here was to be near the water so we could do this.” As a bonus, this was his birthday present.
Her husband David retired as the fire chief of Danville and just won the coveted job of fire chief for Williamsburg. I told him it would be a honeymoon cruise of a job, since Williamsburg is so well run and on a manageable scale.
We talked about arson, which is big in Danville but not so much here. “And then the week I got here, Colonial Williamsburg had an arson at Christiana Campbell’s.” Funny, I thought it was just suspicious. “Well, they didn’t want us to say arson because they were afraid of more copycat arsons. Here I am telling the newspaper guy. Arson is easy to determine but hard to prove who did it. In this case, someone spilled gasoline on an outside dining table and the fire spread to the building.”
On a happier note, Christy and David alternated at the helm in building seas from the east. On the downwind run home, they sat up on the bow for an hour chatting. Heading into Sarah Creek, we saw dolphins for a fleeting moment. I should charge extra.
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Honeymoon Cruise depicts a Pennsylvania couple sailing on the York River with fond memories.
Capt Bill ODonovan
Williamsburg Charter Sails / Let's Go Sail