Three couples from Georgia, South Carolina and Maryland converged on a cool, crisp Fall day to pursue the History Cruise. But first we sailed under the Coleman Bridge to view a Navy submarine in port.

Hover SailDoug Boyd reluctantly took the helm, having once sailed S-28s in Annapolis. He talked of the wind conditions there as fluky except in Spring and Fall. Despite a wicked outgoing tide, he managed to make the bridge in only two tacks when it usually can take five or six. I asked him when was the last time he sailed. “35 years ago,” he replied cheerfully.

Off in the distance, I saw a foaming house on the river horizon. We were tacking back across the river when I realized it was a Navy hover craft barreling down the York at 30 knots or more. It was getting closer than I thought, so I radioed on Channel 16 and then 13 to describe my intentions: crossing to the north, leaving plenty of leeway. Despite the racket posed by four gas turbine engines, the radio operator heard me and approved the plan.

On the bowUp on the bow, Holly Hatchett and Cash Powers could see the ship roaring. As it sped past, I took several pictures including one with the American Revolutionary War Museum in the background. The ship is remarkable for its size and power. It came up from Little Creek in Virginia Beach, where the hovers are home-ported. After plowing up the York to West Point, we were catching it on the way home. The boat could get to Virginia Beach in under an hour, where it would take us two hours by car or a full day under sail.

Officially the boat is known as a Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC). It costs $27 million and measures 88 by 47 feet. No word on the decibel levels. This is one of 36 on the East Coast stationed at Little Creek. They are loaded onto bigger landing ships for rapid deployment of men and materiel. It can haul an Abrams M-1 tank up to 40 knots. The engines burn 1,000 gallons of fuel an hour. That’s more than Let’s Go Sail has burned in 20 years.

Navy sub

Along the way, we got close enough to the Navy sub at NWS Yorktown to get a good photo without arousing the Navy patrol boat hovering (that word again!) nearby.

Once the hover craft and we cleared the bridge on the Yorktown side, we began the two-part history tour. This resonated with all three couples as they had recently come from Yorktown where celebrations were in play for the 242nd anniversary this week of the British surrender.

CharonAt the end of the tour, I described how the French set up several cannons at Artillery Park, where they fired red-hot cannonballs in a mile-long arc and fell onto Lord Cornwallis’s flagship Charon. The balls burned through two decks before setting sails afire in the third deck, quickly destroying the 64-gun flagship. The ship lay dormant in the mud for decades until 2021 when divers found it using side sonar. With a bit of drama, I pointed below our boat, “And there it is, right here, having burned to the gunnels and sunk 242 years ago today.” They gasped, or at least I hoped they did.

The day’s inevitable horror story unfolded not about sailing but about freighters. Lynn and Lee Powell live in Augusta, and he got to see the car freighter Golden Ray as it stood capsized off St. Simons Island. “When it left port, the captain decided to fix the ballast at sea rather than near shore. He took a bad turn, which shifted the freight. Hundreds of cars slid off center and crashed, destroying them and listing the ship. It’s a miracle that all four crew members survived. Workers had to cut the ship up into six giant pieces and haul them off using barges. It took six months.”

Adapted from Wikipedia:

Golden Ray began its final voyage by loading vehicles at three ports. From there, the ship proceeded to Jacksonville and Brunswick, where some vehicles were unloaded and others were loaded. When it left Brunswick, the vessel was carrying approximately 4,300 brand new cars to Baltimore. Some were destined for delivery to the Middle East.


On 8 September 2019, the Golden Ray capsized within the Port of Brunswick‘s harbor, shortly after unberthing. After the cargo was loaded at the dock in Brunswick, the chief officer transferred 8 tons of water from the no. 5 port water ballast tank in the ship’s double bottom to the no. 5 starboard water ballast tank, correcting the list from 0.42° to port to 0.03° to starboard. At the time, Golden Ray was displacing 34,609 tons, with drafts of 30.8 and 31.2 ft forward and aft, respectively. The ship departed the dock and executed two turns to port, traveling at approximately 14 mph. At 0135 EDT, the state-provided maritime pilot ordered a starboard turn; the pilot noted the vessel “felt directionally unstable … when I started the turn, she wanted to keep turning” and ordered the rudder be returned to center at 0137 EDT. However, the vessel started to heel to port rapidly. To counteract this, the rudder was turned to port, but the vessel continued to turn to starboard and heel over. The list reached 60° within a minute as the bow thruster and reverse engine orders were issued to counteract the list. At 0140 EDT, the ship ran aground. The ship’s master previously had ordered the portside pilot door on deck 5 to be opened at 0108 EDT, to prepare for the departure of the pilot. Water began to enter the vessel through the open pilot door, flooding the engine and steering gear rooms; as tugboats pushed the ship out of the deep channel, it came to rest on its port side.

The anticlimactic story of the day came from someone else after we discussed how shallow it must have been at the Georgia grounding. “One time, a hurricane blew through Florida and swept all the water completely out of Tampa Bay. You could see a stream in the Bay, and that was the channel.”



Five young ladies set out on a sunset sail in front of their alma mater, Virginia Institute of Marine Science. The occasion was a bachelorette party.

Sailing by VIMSI asked if it was true you need to have a published scientific paper to get into graduate school at VIMS. “No, that’s not the case. What you need is the support of a faculty professor for a specific lab or project. He or she will agree to take you on, and that’s your entry.”

They said VIMS has just under 100 grad students and the admission yield is only 20%. Placement is comparable to other industries. The biology companies don’t pay as well as the engineering companies. Someone in ocean geology can make a lot with an oil company. One girl said her uncle is a land geologist who doesn’t believe in climate change. I found that cute, in a bizarre way. “Not really.”

VIMS SailLater, they talked about boat protocol. “A fellow told us that you can tell starboard from port because starboard has an R. Well, guess what. So does port.” Everyone laughed.

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.

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 for a Hover Sail

Check 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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