Two couples returned from last year for exciting spring sailing on the York River. Carol Logue and John Campbell were looking for big winds and they got it. Winds blowing to 20+ required reefing the main and the jib.
Carol reminded me that John is a retired music teacher who plays the timpani for the Richmond Philharmonic. “They are the big kettledrums,” John explained, “and I have to lug four of them around. We do five big performances a year. I used to play French horn.”
He added, “We are now rehearsing for ‘West Side Story.’ When I first came to Richmond, I saw an outdoor performance by VCU. Back then, that section of town was down and out. They found an old brick apartment house and staged the play between two fire escapes. It was very cool.”
With a strong southwest wind, we tacked mid-river near Wormly Creek to sail straight upriver and under the Coleman Bridge. With us were Maisie Blaufuss and her beau Bryan Walsh. Maisie is finishing up at the College of William & Mary after taking a year off to work for the Clinton campaign at the Brooklyn headquarters. I asked if she saw defeat coming.
“Well, I was in rural Pennsylvania that last week before the election and it was a shock to realize how weak she was there. I tried to convey that to Brooklyn, but there was too much else going on.”
Bryan is a lobbyist in Richmond representing Virginia hospitals. “We’re hopeful that Medicaid expansion for the poor will finally become law. One Republican delegate switched sides, and that may do it. Senator Tommy Norment is trying to block it with procedural delays that would run out the clock before the budget kicks in July 1. Virginia has to have a budget by then. We think Medicaid may wind up tied in the Senate, which will allow the lieutenant governor to break the tie. Governor Northam will then sign it.”
Maisie was surprisingly upbeat despite Hillary’s loss and Trump’s victory. I asked them about 2020. “Kane feels like he had his shot as Vice President candidate and he rather likes serving in the Senate. Mark Warner won’t run because he’s not well known, even with a higher profile as co-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Elizabeth Warren is out. If you thought Hillary was liberal and can’t win, there’s no way Warren can win.”
Whoever thought young people are disengaged needs to meet this couple.
Update: A few days later Carol Logue sent me a photo of a vivid painting of the boat heeling to 15 degrees. She adroitly omitted the obtrusive lifeline stanchion in the photo and enlarged the Coleman Bridge in the background. “Just a hobby,” she told me, “inspired by the great sails.”
Celebrating Mom’s 76th
In the afternoon, Debbie Kukla of Williamsburg assembled her three sisters from Richmond, Baltimore and beyond to celebrate their mom Linda’s 76th birthday.
“We grew up on sailboats and love the heeling,” Debbie said. Mom lives in nearby Mathews County on the East River, so I asked her about the Lennon House there called Auburn.
“No, that’s one of the two Lennon houses but Auburn is on the North River. The house on the East River is called Poplar Grove. He paid $350,000 cash for it, which astonished the realtor. Yoko never saw the house, and then of course he was shot.”
Linda grew up on the Severn River at Annapolis. “These girls have always been near water and on sailboats. I could never live inland.”
For the second time in one day, we sailed under the Coleman Bridge, which none of the women had ever done before. Beyond lay Yorktown Naval Weapons Station, celebrating its 100th anniversary this month.
Sailing to the Coast Guard Academy
The weekend concluded with a father-son sail on a cloudy Sunday with rain threatening.
Chris Omweg said of his son C.J., “He got admitted to the US Coast Guard Academy, so we thought it might be wise for him to learn how to sail. Unlike the three service academies, it’s am open admissions that does not require nomination by his congressman. But we’re friends with the commandant of the Yorktown Coast Guard School, and he wrote an excellent letter of recommendation. C.J. is in the Governor’s School at Tabb High, where he takes certain courses at Thomas Nelson Community College.” Almost as an afterthought, he added, “He’s also a state champion swimmer.”
It proved an excellent instruction day because the winds built from less than 10 mph to over 15, plus rain. C.J. learned how to navigate the daymarks, how to extend the sail into the wind, and how to get moving under wind power. He learned the Close Reach, Beam Reach, Broad Reach and the distinctions between them. He learned how to tack the boat, how to jibe, and how to avoid the lee of the wind. In each case, the feel of the helm was different. Eventually a light rain began to fall and the winds died off. I got them rain gear and we continued on. We got to see a big blue Swan flying a spinnaker, which is always a sight to behold.
I asked about the science side of the Governor’s School, and C.J. explained how his team was building a DNA chain in the lab. I wondered why it takes so long for cops and courts to get a suspect’s DNA (except on TV). “They have to be certain of the accuracy, so it might take six samples to be sure they have it right.”
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Returning Sailors Conquer the York
Sailors from last season returned on a brisk Saturday morning to conquer 20 mph winds on the York River. Later a family celebrated their mom's 76th birthday.
Capt. Bill O'Donovan
Williamsburg Charter Sails
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