The rain held off and the wind held up for Williamsburg Area Learning Tree’s second rigorous sailing class. Seas built to three feet as a northeast wind rotated north with chilling breezes.
Participants felt the tug of a vigorous close reach, taking the boat to 15 degrees heeling but no farther. They tacked and turned to a beam reach to flatten out the boat while maintaining sail. Then they tacked and gybed to a broad reach, pushing the boat with the wind and buffeting them with wave action.
We had to dodge at least three gill nets, long arrangements of tennis-like nets dangling below the surface of the water. Out in the distance we could barely make out the sail of a kite surfer on the river, off Yorktown Beach. He didn’t last long.
We started out with the main at a double reef and soon furled the genoa to a one-third jib. Any more sail would have overpowered the boat. Eventually the winds subsided and we let out the genoa to a full jib standard.
At one point the boat stalled out because we were lulled by the heavy waves into thinking the wind was still blowing hard. Only then did we let the genoa out to nearly full. The class learned how crucial it is to reef the sails to avoid overpowering the helm and listing too far. They also found that the waves can be more powerful than the wind, virtually pushing and rocking the boat despite a stiff breeze. It was quite an adventure.
Somehow we got to talking about cruise ships. Ugo Boggio has a summer house in Booth Bay Harbor, Maine. “The ships are terrible. They disgorge thousands of people at a time to clog our streets. In the Caribbean, they rush ashore to shop in the identical set of shops they found on the last island. One fellow exclaimed that he bought a Spanish doubloon worth $2,000 for only $750. What a fool.”
I mentioned that we just came back from Grand Cayman, where up to six ships a day moor out in the harbor for passengers to shop George Town. I found it rather impressive that so many people could come and go so efficiently. My secret plan was to pickpocket them as they headed back to their ships. I would strip them of their money but give them their wallets and credit cards back. By the time they realized what happened, they’d be back on board and unable to get back to shore to tell police. “Think of the haul!”
Bob Dillman said, “Funny you should say that. My son was vacationing in Barcelona with friends when he was pickpocketed in the subway station. When he realized what happened, the thief was on the platform looking into the subway car window. He had taken the money but quickly threw the wallet onto the floor of the train. My son was furious at getting taken but relieved to get his credit cards back.”
Let’s Go Sail, Under Reef
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