Arguably there is no comparison because the two experiences are so different. My daughter, who’s in marketing, suggested imbedding a giant billboard in the mainsail saying, “You’d have a better time on this boat.” So let us consider sailboats and warships compared.
The biggest difference with the two tourist boats is that you get to run the helm at Let’s Go Sail. Part of the thrill of sailing is the ability to control the action on the wheel, guiding the boat just off the wind for maximum speed (and heeling). People find it exhilerating.
The point is, all sailboats are different. Zooming past them inspires one to contemplate the differences in size, speed, range and so on. That’s useful for people thinking of buying a boat. They may wind up preferring a motorboat as faster and more exciting.
A Pittsburgh couple who retired to South Carolina vacationed in Williamsburg and took a private sailboat charter on the York River. Winds were light, so we covered the Battle of the Capes and Siege of Yorktown before heading over to the Naval Weapons Station to see almost identical ships that came in the previous day. Here wc can also see sailboats and warships compared.
Ken Wentzel recalled growing up in Pennsylvania. “My father spent three years building a wooden sailboat. It had no engine, so I particularly remember those hot days on the water with no wind.” Which was like today, only cooler. “The mast is still good, sitting in a garage somewhere. The boat has long since rotted away.”
Ken and Heidi have been on a three-week trip up to New England and beyond. “We got to Nova Scotia and saw the Bay of Fundy. At one point the tide rises 20 feet, and at another 45 feet. You see rushing water and rapidly filling pools. The only time boats can traverse is during the absolute slack tides when there is little or no movement. They have to hurry.”
At Naval Weapons, we got a rare look at two classes of Navy destroyers side-by-side. No. 60 is the USS Paul Hamilton (shown above) an Arleigh-Burke Class destroyer built in 1990. The USS Hue City (shown below) is a Ticonderoga-Class destroyer built in 1989.
A visual comparison and a table of comparison suggest the two are quite alike. They have identical lengths and similar beams. Burke is much more expensive at $1.8 billion per ship vs. $1 billion for Ticonderoga. That suggests Burke has a more sophisticated weapons system, namely for firing up to 50 Tomahawk missiles. Technically, Burke is a guided missile destroyer vs. Ticonderoga as a guided missile cruiser.
“Cruisers (CG)are now becoming less and less relevant, with only 22 left in the Ticonderoga Class. Their main focus is to provide the Navy with a multi-functional guided missile platform. They can launch weapons systems such as the Tomahawk and other missiles via the ship’s vertical launching system to engage surface and air targets. They also conduct anti submarine missions and anti-submarine warfare.”
“Destroyers (DDG) have taken on one of the most central and important roles in the surface Navy. The Navy currently has 62 destroyers in the Arleigh Burke Class, with plans for a new Zumwalt Class. Slightly smaller than cruisers, they can conduct a variety of missions, including anti-submarine warfare, anti-aircraft warfare, anti-surface warfare. They protect a strike group or naval force from any threats or targets.”
When we returned to port, I pointed out that tide had come in two feet. Not exactly the Bay of Fundy, but still impressive for Virginia.
For an upclose view of the USS Hue City, check out the video below which finds the ship coming into Norfolk for retrograding.
Sailing Winds Compared
Three couples enjoyed unique outdoor fun near Williamsburg by sailing in a light breeze off Yorktown. The York River has never been so serene. After sailboats and warships compared, consider the winds.
Contrast that with the high winds and waves of San Francisco Bay, where Jim Cockrell and his wife Chris sailed years ago. Today he’s a heart doctor in Washington and she’s a school nurse for 800 pupils.
“We sailed a 30-foot Catalina that was tricked out in Vietnam or somewhere,” Jim said. “It was nothing like this. San Francisco Bay was okay if you went out in the morning. You could sail reasonably well until The Doctor arrived. Around 2 pm the winds piped up to 28 knots for the rest of the day. I have no idea why they called it The Doctor.”
Compared to the York River, I asked about the wicked current. “I watched the tides closely and rode it out under the Golden Gate Bridge eight miles or so into the ocean. Sometimes I went 20 miles offshore, all the way to the Fairline. By then the skyline of San Francisco disappeared. I timed to ride the incoming tide back into the Bay. I think it ran 5 knots or so. If you didn’t get it right, you could be under full sail and wind up spinning your wheels against the tide.”
Not all his guests were that ambitious. “So we would sail in the northern section of the Bay where the winds and current were tamer. I got so I could find just the right air temperature too.”
Jim loved the Let’s Go Sail boat. “This is a sweet hull, very maneuverable. I had a big tiller on that Catalina, so this wheel takes some adjusting. I’m still rusty, but this is a fabulous feeling. I’ll work it, I’m still learning this wonderful Hunter.” The sail was a surprise gift from Chris for their 35th marriage anniversary. With respect to sailboats and warships compared, they preferred sailboats.
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