Learning Cruise

A retired Richmond executive returned to Let’s Go Sail for a learning cruise to hone his skills acquired in ASA 101 and 103. Jay Levine recently returned from a three-week cruise in the Caribbean that posed challenges for a vegteran mariner, not to mention a newcomer.

Learning Cruise“I managed to get aboard a 54-foot Jeanneau as crew for a friend of mine. But we had to spend the first ten days in a marina fitting out the engine. Once we finally got to sail, we were out for a few days when the engine exploded. I mean, blew up! This was at 4 in the morning. We managed to hail a passing sailboat that turned out to be the largest wooden sailboat in the world for ADA compliance.

Learning Cruise“It was so big that they had an engineer on board, and he came over to help us. Within 15 minutes he emerged from the engine room with a turbocharger raised in his hands. ‘Found the problem!’ he exclaimed. He took it to his workshop on the other ship and fashioned new bolts and fittings for the turbocharger. It was loose at the time and simply failed. He fixed it. When I got home, my wife asked if I had a good time. I replied, ‘Well, sort of.’

The winds were light, so we flew the spinnaker and sailed under the Coleman Bridge to the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station. Two identical Navy guided missile destroyers stood docked to the pier. “See that Gattling Gun on the bow of Number 82?” Jay pointed. “That thing can shot thousands of rounds a minute, including up into the air at an incoming missile. No one is safe when that goes off.”

Learning CruiseWe decided not to test the premise. Instead, the wind picked up, so we tacked several times as the boat heeled to 15-20 degrees and kicked up a slew of spray. Jay had a great time, concluding, “I’ll be back.”

White familyIn the afternoon, a family from Richmond and a couple from Gettysburg enjoyed those rising winds, which by now flew directly from the east at 10-12 mph. They enjoyed the heeling and tacking while chatting about family and jobs. We skipped world issues since the day was too beautiful. 

Roy and Ann HeligAnn and Roy Helig are from Littletown PA, where he works for an ATM manufacturer. I asked lots of questions. They said, “ATMs are hard to break into. What they do is pour a precise amount of gasoline on a certain spot to burn the front open. Too much and it can destroy the money. You don’t see many free-standing ATMs anymore because people were chaining them and towing them off. One guy did that successfully with his pickup truck, but it tore his rear bumper off–with the license plat intact. The police got to his house before he got home.”

Learning Cruise II

Learning CruiseNext day, I accompanied Mike Harrison, who works at the nearby USCG Training Center, for a learning cruise on his 1982 Catalina 30. We were trying to guage whether he needed a new mainsail. We got the speed up to 7 mph and touched 8 mph, suggesting the main was just fine in brisk winds. I offered a few ideas about trim as we plowed along for two hours. Mike lets the main out using only the traveler, which seemed awkward. I showed him how to quickly go to a beam reach to flatten out the boat in big winds. We reefed the genoa once and then again to minimize the heeling and helm pressure. On the way back, we sailed into Sarah Creek and turned to a broad reach to take in the genoa more easily.

Navy Cruise

Navy Cruise

On Friday after a busy week at Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, one of the ships featured above moved out for the Norfolk Navy Base. The USS Lassen was built in 1995 and is shown here passing with a Catalina 25 bearing down. We were on a tangent toward the ship, so I radioed the bridge that we would turn shortly. 

Honeymoon CruiseOne of my passengers, Kimberly Berger, addressed her son Shawn on the helm, “You were the first child of the newly commissioned John S. McCain when it was completed in Bath, Maine. We were living there at the time and your father served on the McCain, a sister ship to that one. See that little white thing behind the gun on the bow? That’s where lightning spits out at approaching ships. Your daddy was in charge of that. It can fire thousands of shots in a minute.” Shawn beamed proudly.

Kimberly has a team of eight monitoring 28,000 employees of Capital One. She spends a lot of time Zooming. “We have multiple cameras lined up every day and can jump from meeting to meeting. One guy shows up in his T-shirt every day and leans so far back in his chair that the T-shirt is all you see. I’ve told him that I don’t like talking to a T-shirt. It creeps me out.”

Honeymoon CruiseShe added, appropos work, “I just found out that if a customer runs more than 999,999 transactions in a single month, it will break the Capital One system. That actually happened.”

Her daughter’s boyfriend Chris Mason works for another big company, Amazon in NYC. I was fascinated by the warehouse operation. “I shop for up to 101 items at a time.” In the warehouse? “No, in a Whole Foods supermarket.” I was crushed. 

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