Sail Air Force
A local couple took their family sailing on a beautiful Sunday morning. Enrique Lara is retiring from the Air Force after 23 years in a unique career.
“I run vehicle logistics for the Air Force,” he said casually and added, “all over the world.” Not planes, mind you, but vehicles. I asked how many. “89,000 vehicles.”
I nearly fell over in wonderment. “We have a team of specialists who monitor everything from Jeeps to C5As. We have a unit that can rush 60,000-lb. pallets onto the C5A and load the bay in an hour. It takes a lot of coordination. We have a self-contained long truck that does nothing but transport ICBMs. We don’t do that much anymore, but you never know. The trucks are old and need to be replaced.”
Enrique is toying with his post-retirement career. “I’m not sure I want to do logistics anymore. I can go with Caterpillar or other big companies and fit right in. Not sure about that. I like diesels and I’m good with my hands.”
As we sailed behind a fuel barge, I pondered this for a while and came up with an offer. Why not become an independent boat diesel mechanic with a van? I recommended Yanmar diesels because they dominate the marine field. There must be 10,000 boats in a 50-mile circle that he could service and fix. He liked that, so I sent him a follow-up link.
Women enjoy sailing today more than ever, and particularly a romantic cruise. Couples get to enjoy a romantic getaway as they sit up on the bow for privacy, and Let’s Go Sail provides professional photos for free. First-time or skilled mariners are welcome to sail a modern-32-foot sailboat in a unique setting of wildlife and Fall foliage or Spring bloom. It makes for an extraordinary anniversary idea.
Enrique’s daughter Ana took sailing lessons in Spain and ran the helm the entire three hours. She navigated rising winds and seas with great skill, concentrating like a true skipper. Her grandparents were a bit skittish about the heeling, but they got used to it.
A visiting couple from suburban Detroit got a taste of southern living as they ponder retiring to South Carolina. “We love the water,” said Patrick Moran, “and want to live near it.”
We started out on glassy water that eventually built to 15 mph. Soon we saw a few dolphins, which are early this year. “I was once boating at Hilton Head on a small planning boat when I approached two dolphins. I stopped to watch and before long one of them delivered a baby. They paddled around for a while and then swam off. We started out with two dolphins and wound up with three. That was a lifetime experience.”
After they heard the short lecture on the Battle of the Capes, a US Navy destroyer arose in the distance. We maneuvered into position on the north side of the York River to watch two Moran tugs get positioned to catch the ship as it transited the bridge. We heard the Wendy Moran radio the bridge of the USS Gettysburg as to which side the pilot would board the ship while both were churning 10 knots or less. When we got close enough to see it, Patrick said, “Holy shit! He made it.”
As the bridge closed, we sailed over to Yorktown to see the Kalmar Nickyl, the tall ship restored from Sweden that is now the state ship of Delaware. Quite a morning.
Burial at Sea
In the afternoon, a family from Washington DC gathered under the organization of Susana Lopez to scatter the ashes of her father Daniel at sea. Her sister Virginia traveled 17 hours from Australia. Federal law requires one travel 3 miles out to sea for any ashes, so we had a brisk sail under the helm of Susana as the morning winds grew to 15 mph. It was very somber under a cloudy sky. But as Susana’s brother Eduardo helped his mother with the urn, the sun suddenly came out as a wonderful symbol of hope.
Old Salt Sailors
Don Schiller of Baltimore brought several of his cronies from The Baltimore Sun to sail on a sunny, warm York River. We regaled each other not about our newspaper days but how Tribune Co. ran our newspapers into the ground. It was a bittersweet conversation. Don had worked as a writer, copy editor, features editor and more. I exclaimed, “Then you know all the words!” Like me, Don still has nightly dreams of the work of bygone days. We sailed into the sunset.
Next day, we got closer to the Kalmar Nickyl, the state ship of Delaware. It was a pre-Father’s Day sail with two families. Jimmy Merhout of Prince George VA took the helm and talked a little about the family business of repairing clocks and watches.
“My father started it and I took it from there, 57 years altogether. The rise of digital timepieces did the business in. “There aren’t probably any people left alive who could do the work we did.”
From the bow, Penny Merhout said, “I get my nails done by a woman in her 20s. I was admiring a clock on the wall of the salon, and she said she couldn’t read it. What? ‘No, I never learned to read that kind of time’ is all she said. And she’s in her 20s!”
Finally, two days later we got to see the Kalmar Nickyl under sail. Young men dropped the sails from the yardarms after climbing 50 feet or so. Not for the squeamish, but magnificent once the sails are unfurled.
Let’s Go Sail
Check rates and pick a day for a sailboat charter. Scroll down reviews on Trip Advisor. Go back to the home page of Williamsburg Charter Sails.
The best Williamsburg boat tour offers safe “social distance sailing” daily for up to 6 people. It’s an extraordinary experience for couples. Leave your worries behind. Enjoy the thrill of moving with the wind without a care in the world. Put life back on an even keel with a romantic experience for a birthday or anniversary. 3-hour sailboat cruise as a semi-private yachting charter lets you exhale and relax as you enjoy comfort, stability and speed.
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