There’s boating, and then there’s shipping. Dante and April Turner of Chesapeake went sailing on the York River to celebrate their first anniversary, complete with a picnic basket of wine and cheese.
“I’m a longshoreman,” Dante said when I asked what he does. “We have three container terminals in Norfolk, Craney Island and Portsmouth, as well as one across the river at Newport News. I specialize in containers. They lock down using four steel rods to keep them from popping off.
“If they pop off at sea, it’s usually because of operator error with those rods. I saw a crane operator knock the back of a stack a little too hard, and all 12 containers tipped over and fell into the water. They float, or they’re supposed to float because they’re airtight. “
We talked briefly about “Lost,” in which Robert Redford’s character was sailing a boat that hit a submerged container of sneakers. That holed the boat.
“I’ve come across containers that have people in them.” Did you let them out? “Not right away. I had to get Customs to come and do it. The smugglers drills holes in the floor so the immigrants can breathe, but it gets awfully hot in there in five minutes.”
I told Dante he was set for life. “Longshoreman jobs don’t come open very often. The training is two to six weeks, but you have to have a specific skill. I’m a welder. It’s something of a family business, too. My uncle started the local union in the 1970s.”
Has he seen any mobsters? “They come in the office now and then. They’re very discreet.”
A family from Minnesota was also on board, and their son Luke helped me fly the spinnaker. Earlier we thought we saw dolphins. His mom Renee said facetiously, “Can I swim with the dolphins?” It looked more like a giant stingray. “Never mind, I don’t want to swim.” It turned out to be a harmless skate.
Dante offered the couple some wine, but they demurred. “Our 25th is next week,” Renee said. “We’ve graduated to hard liquor.” Everyone laughed.
For the afternoon sail, a couple from California MD spent the entire three hours chatting and hanging out on the bow as we sailed for miles.
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