Two ends of the mariner spectrum were captured in a sea change along the York River. A waterman sets up for the day to harvest oysters off the river bed while the destroyer USS Mitscher transits toward the Coleman Bridge and Yorktown Naval Weapons Station.
The Mitscher was the Navy’s official welcoming ship when a replica of the French frigate Hermoine arrived in Yorktown from France two weeks ago. Earlier we spotted what looked like two baby dolphin scurrying in the water. An hour later the Coast Guard issued an alert that manatee had been spotted at the opening of the York River and mariners should avoid contact. We wondered if our siting was the same manatee. Later a Moran tugboat went barreling down the river back to Norfolk after helping dock the Lake Champlain at the Navy pier. Closer to shore, another waterman seemed oblivious to all of this as he methodically raised and lowered his dredge while a diesel engine roared in the background.
Father’s Day Sail
As a unique Father’s Day present, Jack Spain’s son and son-in-law took him sailing. They cruised along the York River near Williamsburg with his three grandchildren. All three men worked in various professions. And they have a family farm on the Mattaponi River in King & Queen County.
The Mattaponi is one of two rivers that feed into the York. It splits into three rivers all the way west to Interstate 95. The family farm grows corn, soybeans, winter wheat and lobloly trees for harvest. Jack said, “When the tree branches are touching, that suggests that roots are also touching. So we have to thin the trees. They grow to 50 feet.”
People ask, “Do you run anniversary sails?” Bonita and Jerome Sims celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary by sailing quietly on the York River in a cool breeze. They met and married in Detroit and have since retired to Phoenix. There they’ve taken up golf and grandchildren. They explained the California drought as partly the fault of Arizona. “Our water rights trump those of California,” Bonita explained. “Arizona farmers have rights to the Colorado River water that exceed those of California farmers. Something has to be done.”
Let’s Go Sail the Mariner Spectrum
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Mariner Spectrum shows watermen and Navy ships as a range of vessels seen on the York River. Let's Go Sail.
Capt Bill ODonovan
Williamsburg Charter Sails / Let's Go Sail