Romantic Sail
A Richmond gal named Paula rented a stretch limo to take her  boyfriend Christopher sailing as a surprise birthday gift. He got out of the limo and exclaimed, “Wow!” I took one look at the limo and said likewise. “My family has a house in Weems on the Corratoman River,” Chris said. “We have motorboats, but nothing like this as a sailboat.”

Romantic SailBy way of background, Chris said, “Paula is a world-reknowned surgeon at MCV. I’m a litigator with Allen & Allen. I spent seven years as a prosecutor and needed to get into the private sector, but I didn’t want to get out of the courtroom.”Chris went to Dartmouth and William & Mary Law. I asked about famous graduates at Dartmouth and he rattled off numerous names including Mr. Rogers and Dr. Zeus. “Who hasn’t heard of Dr. Zeus?”

He added an intriguing point. Many prominent alumni are people you never heard of, such as hedge funds and CEOs. “Do you remember Jeffrey Immelt? He ran GE. He spoke at our graduation at Dartmouth in 2004 and had this to say about Sept. 11: ‘I watched planes that I built smash into buildings that I insured on a network that I owned, on a TV that I manufactured.’ That was the reach of GE at the time.”

The couple sailed the entire three hours on the bow while cuddling and sipping champagne. That’s a romantic sail.

Sailing All Over

Romantic SailingA couple from California took an hour and a half to get from Williamsburg. “We drive around Los Angeles a lot,” Dick Krause said, “so we turned off the GPS routes that included tolls. There aren’t that many routes, but the tolls can be quite expensive.” As result, they were routed all the way to West Point instead of across the Coleman Bridge to dodge the $2 toll. “And to think,” Jeanne Krause said, “we had been in Yorktown earlier.” That’s just across the bridge.

Romantic SailingDavid and Judy Doughton were on vacation from Roanoke, and he was dying to sail a Hunter 320. “I have an old Pearson 29 on Smith Mountain Lake.” He had the boat heeling to 20 degrees in a 10 mph wind that gusted to 15. “The mountains around us knock down good winds like this. The best months to sail are March and November, but they’re pretty cold.”

Romantic SailingA foursome joined us to celebrate one of their birthdays. Matt Merritt had sailing on his bucket list and took the helm with great concentration. He had lots of pertinent questions and a vivid sailing experience. “I was at the Caribbean beach at Disney World when I saw a small sailboat you could take out. The guy in charge said to take it, so I did. I got on, and the wind took me out immediately. They had to send out a rescue boat to save me. I had a board next to me on the boat and didn’t know what to do with it. Perhaps paddle with it. So I’ve always been fascinated by the wind.” His wife added, “That was 35 years ago.”

Romantic SailingAnother foursome brought a more dangerous memory. Craig Walden was with his wife Vicki. “We were young Army types, 22 years old, who didn’t know anything. Up in Alaska, we took out a 50-foot boat on the ocean. The waves kicked up to 17-foot seas, and everyone was sick. The engine had dual fuel tanks, but the switch valves didn’t work to feed each other when it got empty. We ran out of gas and were drifting to a big cliff when another boat came along and tied us off well enough that we didn’t crash. The Coast Guard had to rescue us. It was a shame that the owner wasn’t with us, and he failed to brief us about anything on the boat. It didn’t traumatize me, though. I’ve always enjoyed boats.”

Romantic Sail

Boat Damage

The other night a man in a skiff came out of the restaurant area and apparently lost control of his boat. He drove over an inflatable dinghy beside a ketch and then sideswiped the ketch, wiping out several stanchions. Then he hit the boat while it was moored out in Sarah Creek and later went under two docks, ending up at VIMS. They took him to the hospital where he lay in a coma for three days before doctors pulled the plug. It’s unclear why all of that happened, and there has been no news reportage that I could find. Update: They identified him as Gray Malone, a regular at the marina bar who had a drinking problem. Friends at his regular marina Crown Point fashioned a memorial wreath out of beer cans. They posted it on Facebook, which some thought tasteless. One fellow said, “He did like his beer. I’ll give me that.”

A few weeks earlier, a million-dollar catamaran named Cat’s Meow was moored on the T-Head of C Dock when it got sideswiped by a big powerboat, causing $40,000 damage. Quite a summer at the marina. Update: My friend Hugh Van Bremer explained: “I took my son on out on our 42 Sabre from D Dock and caught a big wind on the beam as we turned into Sarah Creek. I had both the bow thruster and the aft thruster on, but we still banged into it. I reported it to the marina.”

Captain Someday

Romantic SailJim Honey is a computer guy from Elkhart IN who someday would like to become a USCG captain. He and his wife Stacy sail a Sunfish at home. He explained while sailing on the York one brisk afternoon, “The city bought a gravel pit and filled it with water to make a park pond. We had just bought the boat and took it down there when the park opened. Now I can say we were the first to sail the pond.” All that on a romantic sail.

We tacked down river We tacked down river, heeling to 20 degrees. Then we sailed on a beam reach coming back, which flattened out the boat. I sent his wife and her sister up to the bow to enjoy the solitude. What better way to enjoy a  romantic sail.

Jim asked a lot of questions about boats and sailing, and he has a dream. Lake Wawasee is 20 minutes away and good for sailing, as big as the York River off Yorktown. “My brother-in-law has a house there with a dock on a canal. I could leave the boat there. I’d love to quit my day job and do what you do instead.” I cautioned that the requirement in my day was 100 days on the water for each of the past three years. Later I went home and checked the current policy. It’s only 90 days total in the past three years. That will cheer him up when I see him again today for another sail.

Only 90 days total for USCG license

Navy Sailor on Romantic Sail

Randy Duck surprised his gal Latifah Randolph by taking her sailing on her birthday. She didn’t know until she arrived on the dock. I told her it was a good thing she wasn’t going skydiving. 

Randy is retired NavyRandy is retired Navy, so we sailed on a close reach under the bridge over to the Naval Weapons Station, where the USS Winston S. Churchill was in port. “I was a Navy diver. Yes, like Cuba Gooding Jr., everyone asks me that. When I started out, the Mark 5 equipment weighed 150 pounds because the bell consisted of  solid brass. Later it got down to 90 pounds.”

I asked about storms at sea. “I’ve sailed in squalls where the ship rocks 25 degrees to one side and then the other.” What about MOB? “Sometimes they fall in intentionally. I never understood why they would jump off the aft section of the boat. They’re jumping right over the screws and can sucked in by the turbulence.”

As for Latifah, Randy pulled me aside to say, “Tomorrow we’re going skydiving.”

Let’s Go on a Romantic Sail

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