A couple from Leesburg and a family from all over Virginia coincidentally went sailing on the York River on a blustery, overcast day.
Sara Bailey took the helm and managed very well despite rising seas in winds blowing around 10 mph. We headed across the river and then turned upriver to get on the other side of the Coleman Bridge, where the water was calmer.
As we approached the bridge, I noticed that traffic had stopped up top. I heard the clanging of the guardrail warning and sure enough, they were closing the bridge to open it. I saw US Navy warship 81 making way off the pier of the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station and quickly stopped short of the bridge. Sara’s husband Ryan was at the helm and held steady. We pulled in the genoa and made fast to watch the transit.
I radioed the ship, which turned out to be the USS Winston Churchill. “US Navy Warship 81, this is the sailing vessel Deadline off your port bow on the other side of the bridge. We intend to stand off to the north side to observe your passage.” The ship radioed back agreement, and here she comes.
Once the Churchill was past, we proceeded under the bridge. This time the guardrail bells went off again, and I looked up to see them descending to block traffic. Suddenly the bridge was eerily quiet, with no sound of traffic on the grid. I radioed the bridge of the bridge to see if the second ship, the USNS Medgar Evers, was preparing to disembark. “No, Captain,” the bridge responded. “We couldn’t get the guardrail to move electronically, so we had to move it manually. Traffic is resuming.”
Let’s Go Sail