Sailing Days of Old
Gina Womack took her parents, Stephanie and Tom Womack, sailing on the York River on blustery afternoon. We motored across the water to the Yorktown side to get into the lee of the wind, where the trees and the cliffs knock down the gusts. There we cruised up and down the coast while enjoying a warm afternoon.
The family used to sail on the Occoquan River in Northern Virginia. Tom saw a Cormorant loon poking his head out of the water. “Commercial fishermen on the Occoquan used to kill the Cormorants because they were eating too many of their fish catch. The men would go out at night and sneak up on their nests in the trees. Bam!”
Tom gave up the family’s Watkins 27 around ten years ago, but he hasn’t lost his touch. As gusts swept past, he deftly spilled the wind by sailing slightly into it, and then recaptured the wind for power. “The Watkins 27 was great for that, and for tacking as well. A very heavy keel gave it momentum to swing through the wind and regain direction. The old sailor who had the boat before me went to the trouble of installing lead ingots in the bilge to give it even greater ballast. I miss that boat.”
On the way back to port, Tom extended his arms to take in the brilliant afternoon on the water. “I fully expect this to be a part of Heaven.”
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