Marry Me? Yes!
Ziquine Hopkins and Crystal Dorsy went on an evening cruise along the York where he proposed to her on the bow of the sailboat. She was totally surprised and slightly astonished that Zi had already told her family. The couple enjoyed a catered dinner onboard and got to see two Navy amphibious craft training together as night fell. We managed to dodge the late afternoon rain and experienced just a few sprinkles underway.
Suddenly the clouds broke and a full moon shined on the couple. Crystal teaches nine preschoolers at a private school in Raleigh. She will have some story to tell about her summer.
Future of Sailing
Two families on vacation went sailing the next day and showed us the future of sailing. Faye Anderson of Gaithersburg MD brough relatives from Frederick MD on what turned out to be the first really good wind of the month, 22 days into it.
Faye works for an NGO called Global Communities. “We have staff working in 25 countries, mostly Africa. Our budget is around $250 million and has been cut by the State Department. The USAID budget has been scaled back, which affects everyone. Numerous position at State have gone unfilled, which complicates our work.” On the matter of newspapers, she said, “We have an effort in Ukraine teaching independent journalism. It’s a fine line between truth and propaganda.”
Faye’s 15-year-old niece Miranda Trautman was assigned by the family to take the helm since she’s learning how to drive a car. Miranda turned out naturally gifted. In shifty winds that changed speed and direction, she managed to find the sweet spot between luffing the sails and not heeling too far. In essence, it’s the power spot on a close reach. I teach sailing and sometimes people just don’t get that, even after several days on the wheel. It was a spectacular performance.
Later that day a family from Newark went out under similar conditions except that storms were brewing out of the west. Sung Hong and his wife Esther run a small supermarket in Newark. I was fascinated by that and asked questions. “Yes,” he said, “we’ve been robbed, but only twice in 12 years. It’s just kids, teenagers. They want the prepay phone cards, which they could just as soon shoplift instead. Older criminals are more respectful. They are drug dealers. We can tell by the cash they carry. It’s not hundreds, but a lot of ones and fives and tens. They come in to buy food and don’t want any trouble. They’re mostly in their 30s.”
I put his son Joshua on the wheel after Sung and I set the sails. He was very quiet and is going into the ninth grade and seemed reluctant, but then he got into it. Like Miranda, he found the sweet spot of the power reach and stayed with it all afternoon. After a while he got to read the wind as it approached and was ready to turn into it or out of it ever so slightly. I asked if he was a musician, since they get the abstract notion so well and have great concentration. “I used to play piano,” he said sheepishly.
We were headed to the Coleman Bridge when a frontal system of wind hit us hard, perhaps 30 mph. Even though the Genoa was reefed by half, the wind pushed the boat to 35 and 40 degrees. I took the wheel and released the traveler and started the engine. Rain was imminent, so the parents and their toddler Jeremiah went below for shelter. First, Sung helped me pull in the Genoa furler, which took all of two men. Josh stayed on deck to steer into the wind so I could pull in the main. All of this took five minutes, but it awakened us from a comfortable and leisurely sail. Josh got a lifetime of sailing in one afternoon. He and Miranda can easily comprise the future of sailing in America.
Sailing to Opportunity
Iris Alicea of Perth Amboy NJ took her husband Manny and three sons sailing so they could learn the basics. “I’m big on exposing them to as many experiences as possible so they can learn from them. These boys went to the same high school as Manny and me, which helps keep them grounded in the community. Manny is from the Dominican Republic and I’m from Puerto Rico. We go back to see my family to stay in touch. After the hurricane last year my father had no electricity for six months.”
The oldest son Jayden was my deck hand and an able helmsman. I asked him where he was in school. “I’m at Yale, finishing up my senior year. I’m majoring in Ethnicity Race & Migration with a plan to go on to law school. Probably not Yale and probably not right away. But I hope to work in public service.”
His younger brother Xavier is going into the eighth grade at school but is already for the sailing team. In brisk northwest winds, he caught on quickly to the idea of pinching the wind by holding speed without luffing. “I hope to go to an Ivy League school as well, Yale or Harvard.”
A similar family dynamic recurred in the afternoon when Dina and Anthony DiPierno took their three children sailing. By now the wind had shifted more to the northeast, so we shot down the river on a close reach close to shore. Their son Angelo showed an uncanny ability to hold a course in rising and shifty winds, so I asked if he was an engineer. “Yes, studying mechanical engineering in college.” Engineers get the concept intuitively.
His older sister, Gabriella, was equally adroit on the wheel, which I attributed to patience and concentration. “I’m starting work next week teaching fifth grade.” I kidded her that was the hardest job she could find? ” She responded cheerfully, “I’m coming off a teaching job with autistic children aged 5 to 18.”
At the end of the week, Brittany Austin took three of her colleagues from Middlesex Social Services out sailing on an annual retreat to recharge their batteries. This arose as one of those things to do near me because Brittany had been out with her parents earlier this summer. Business was not the main topic since the effort was to focus on other things. They talked about family, children, boyfriends, travel, music, boating and more. Each of them took a round on the helm and performed well with little instruction. As a team-building exercise, we set the spinnaker after multiple tacks downriver toward Crown Point Marina.
Let’s Go Sail
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