Recounting Navy Sails
Ed Jones Jr. of Williamsburg took his family to Water Country as the summer heat began to fade. But first he sent his mom and dad to go sailing on the York River on a calm and sunny day. That seemed like a fun thing to do while on vacation, and less stress than a water park.
“I was in avionics in the Navy,” Ed Sr. recalled as he settled in at the helm. “So I had no problem with the pitch and yaw of the boat.” He was referring to the up-and-down movement of the boat that makes people seasick. We merely heel from side to side over time as the boat tacks in another direction.
Coast Guard boats zoomed around us as we watched them do exercises. “I was on the USS Independence. I had to set the GPS on land where things were perfectly still. You couldn’t set it at sea because the carrier was moving all the time. So I’d fly out from Norfolk with the GPS, install it on the ship, and take the rest of the day off.” He sighed. “The Independence is probably a barrier reef somewhere, sunk.”
Stalled by the Tide
Later he said, “We were deployed nine months at a time and came back to Norfolk, only to be held up at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. We had to sail through on the high tide, so we had to wait out there for the tide to rise. That was pretty dangerous, being at the mercy of the tide. Anyone could have bombed us sitting there. And we just wanted to get home.”
Then we got to talking about our ancestors coming by sea. Julie Jones said, “My grandparents emigrated from Germany before World War I. Their timing was perfect since Germany was a mess from then on.”
Ed said, “My great-great grandfather was conscripted by the British Navy. He jumped ship in Ireland with two other fellows. An Irish priest took them in and arranged their safe passage to America by ship. He renamed them Matthew, Mark and Luke. Mine was Luke. He got to Prince Edward Island and went into the shipbuilding trade. He worked his way down to Bath, Maine, and Perth Amboy where he settled and where I’m from.
We watched as Navy Patrol boats from the Amphibious Base at Little Creek raced up the river and under the Coleman Bridge. Upon return they were coming right at us but Ed was unfazed. They didn’t know who they were dealing with. The boats veered off to chase two Coast Guard boats for a few seconds. It was like watching dogs and cats, except the Navy dogs had 60 mm guns.
Let’s Go Sail
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