Sailing Back to Virginia
Two weeks of rain led to a third week, but we were away in Florida. Finally, the skies cleared and charter returned as we went Sailing Virginia again. On this day we got to fly the spinnaker not once, but twice, and gybing as well.
Pete and Trisha Spadaro of Ford’s Colony brought their two teenage sons sailing to learn a thing or two. Peter got to toss the bow lines to cast off. Then he helped deploy the spinnaker and also turn the Genoa sheets.
His dad works for a technology start-up with big potential. Pete said, “It’s a medical device that warns against leakage by an IV in a patient. The device attaches to the arm and can see things that nurses can’t. Someday the company will go public.”
By coincidence, Laura Puskar of Raleigh NC is also in the medical field. She and her husband Eric were celebrating their wedding anniversary. “I work in pharmacology for the North Carolina prison system,” she said. “I’ve been in prison—not as a prisoner, mind you, but in drug dispensing. We’ve got 44,000 inmates across 54 prisons and farms. I have five prisons to look out for. Much our meds are for blood pressure and ulcers. Prison is very stressful for everyone.”
In the afternoon, two couples from Washington DC went sailing to celebrate Derrick Johnson’s birthday. His wife Reshena set up the sail as a surprise, and he was indeed surprised. Derrick also proved an adept helmsman. He managed to sail under the Coleman Bridge and we set the spinnaker for the second time. I explained to Andrew Williams that it was just like flying a kite. That reminded him of his wife’s experience.
“I hope it’s nothing like Teresa’s kite-flying. She about killed her mother doing that. She was flying in the Kite Festival during Cherry Blossom Week in Washington. The kite was very big and pointy. Suddenly it fell from the air and came down ZOOM! Everyone tried to run, but it struck her mother in her face.” He joked, “So let’s keep Teresa from anything associated with kite-flying.”
I asked if the kite was a family heirloom. “No, I bought it on Amazon. It was a sport kite, whatever that is. I had no idea.”
The next day, I took an old friend Bringier McConnell sailing to see about buying a boat. “I’ve always wanted to own a boat, to go down to the water and mess about. The last time I sailed was several years ago on a loop around Delmarva. We headed out of Chesapeake Bay at 6 one night in June. It was hot and still, so we had to motor a great deal, even through the C&D Canal. But it was a great experience with a crew on a 41-footer.”
We had equally still wind that morning, but as we coasted along a pod of dolphins showed up next to the boat. It’s the closest they’ve come this year, so close that we could hear them puffing before we saw them. Within minutes they were gone, and none of my photos captured the little devils.
Bringier has imagined sailing from Virginia to Maine, for which he’ll need a bigger boat. “I was out there in Maine once when a fog rolled in, and I couldn’t see a thing. This was before GPS and cell phones. I managed to crawl the boat to the nearest shore and thankfully it was the correct island among hundreds.” We don’t get much fog on Virginia’s waters.
In the afternoon, Jim and JoAnne reprised last year’s sail, this time with a couple visiting from Texas. Jim said, “We just returned from a safari in Kenya. An entrepreneur showed the natives how they could carve out large conservancies from their vast holdings to generate tourism revenue. We saw all manner of animals and none of them attacked us. The lions have evidently learned that they can’t eat Jeeps. By the same token, Jeeps won’t attack them so there’s a certain peace.” JoAnne added wryly, “We didn’t get out of our vehicles.”
The couple also volunteers for the therapeutic horse farm Dream Catchers in Toano. Jim explained, “Their mission is to treat autistic children and adults through three avenues of physical response, psychological response and emotional response. They have 12 horses, and participants pay one-third the going rate because the other two-thirds comes from fund-raising and volunteers. Last year they recorded 17,500 volunteer hours. They have children as young as 3 and one fellow who’s 96. He served with Patton in World War II and helped liberate the Lipizzaner horses. I have a retired firefighter who’s paralyzed. I help him ride so he can strengthen his core.”
Sailing on Easterly Winds
Next day, a couple from upstate New York and a suburban Washington family teamed up for brisk easterly winds that let us tack downwind in a hurry. I could feel the hot winds of August dissipate as we heeled to 15 degrees. We saw more dolphins, but only fleetingly and off in the distance. We also saw a USCG cutter on what looked like a VIP tour, circling in front of the Yorktown Coast Guard Training Center.
They got to talking about their dogs, and Amy Rosenberger was delightful. “We have a little Cairn Terrier who’s tw0. She’s more cute than terrier. Our biggest challenge was to get her to stop chasing our two cats. Now she’s okay.” I mentioned that our Lakeland Terrier loves to run away. “Ours doesn’t run far. If she gets out and through the fence, she’ll just stand there on the other side while sniffing. She loves to sniff everything.” She and Justin Rockenstyre are getting married soon and plan to buy a house. Justin got the helm under control with aplomb by threading the 3 degree needle of heeling too far vs. luffing the sails. He’s a producer for PBS television in Albany and is used to pressure situations.
Dana Mott-Bronson brought her husband Brian and daughter Nia out as well. Nia was a little nervous over the heeling but soon got used to it. Her dad ran the helm with great dexterity. He has traveled the world for Marriott and envied Amy and Justin planning their honeymoon in Greece. I asked his best and worst places. “Loved Bangkok. Capetown is the best, we enjoyed that a lot. I wouldn’t go back to India. Mumbai is just too crowded. In Beijing the smog was so bad that I didn’t see the sun for three days. I couldn’t see the hotel across the street.”
Another calm day approached, but the winds picked up nicely in the afternoon for Diane and Tim Daw of suburban Philadelphia, who brought their three children along. Diane tacked out to the middle of the river and turned upwind to go under the bridge. Tim took over as we approached Navy warship 66 at Naval Weapons.
I was explaining what I thought was an Arleigh-Burke class cruise missile destroyer, but Tim corrected me. “I’m a Navy ship buff. I’ve built models of them. That’s the USS Ticonderoga.”
I asked if he knew the number off the top of his head. “No, I looked it up on my phone. The missiles don’t fire between the superstructures, but in front of them between the tent and the 5-inch gun. You see the two domes side by side? Those are for close-in shooting at incoming fire. The radar domes are built down the street from us at Lockheed-Martin. The ships are lined up in what they call Cornfield Row because the masts are all in a row.”
Let’s Go Sail
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