A lovely couple from landlocked Staunton, Virginia, came to Let’s Go Sail on a beautiful Friday to learn the fundamentals.
Kelly and Todd Armentrout once sailed on a Hobie Cat and found they love the idea of being out on the water, in the elements of the wind. They quickly relearned the close reach, beam reach and broad reach. Then we flew the spinnaker on a run that went straight up the York River for five miles. It was exhilarating.
As we were working between Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Jose, the subject was on everyone’s mind. Todd served in the Navy and had first-hand experience with that adventure.
“I worked on the flight deck of aircraft carriers, occasionally as a yellow-shirt who flags the planes to go. The deck of the USS George Washington was 50 yards wide and as long as the Empire State Building is tall (1,092 feet). We went out into hurricanes in 1995 and 1997.
“They had us park our cars at the movie theater of the Norfolk Naval Base to keep them away from any remaining ships. The commander said simply, ‘We’re going right into it (hurricane).’ The problem was that you couldn’t leave the ships in port because they would tear up the dock and rip out the bollards.
“We went out to sea in the Atlantic, heading directly into the wind. All the planes were moved below deck. Some buddies and I went up to the focsl in the bow, just below the end of the flight deck. Waves broke over the deck, so that’s 70 feet. Just as the bow peaked upward, we jumped up and found ourselves suspended in the air momentarily as the bow came back down.
“The flight deck was flagged at 50 knots, stopping all planes. The catwalks below were flagged at 80 knots, but we went out there anyway. The carrier didn’t sway from side to side because the ballast consisted of fresh water and fuel. I didn’t get seasick.
“Now that I think of it, I must have been on the USS America in 1995 and the Washington in 1997.” I wondered about the names of the hurricanes. “You know, I don’t remember.”
Yet Todd and Kelly remembered a lot about the fundamentals of sailing, on a much smaller vessel to be sure.
The Vaka family of Leesburg, Virginia, went out on the afternoon cruise. They were visiting their son Nick who’s a freshman at the College of William & Mary. I regaled parents Colleen and Chris with the distinction that all the classes are taught by professors, not teaching assistants, and that W&M has a national reputation with a strong alumni presence in New York City.
They asked how the search for the new president was going. I speculated that it probably would not be a white male law dean. For that’s what we had in four of the past five presidents.
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