A Wisconsin couple transplanted to Palm Harbor FL was visiting Williamsburg and saw they could go sailing on the York River. Peggy Wearing grew up near Lake Michigan.
“I started out sailing prams and later 210s out of the marina in Milwaukee. One sister didn’t like sailing at all, but the other sister and I loved it. The first one got scared by the lines when she was 12 and never got over it. This is different, the wheel. I’m used to a tiller.” She and her husband Dave are toying with getting back into sailing, so I walked them through the steps to rent a boat through Get My Boat or Boatsetter. They live in Palm Harbor and thus can exploit Tampa Bay. Year-round, too.
We sailed in a comfortable 8 mph wind that eventually fell apart as the clouds thickened. Rain began to fall, so I finished up the narrative about the Battle of the Capes and Siege of Yorktown before heading in. Dave began to sing the lyrics from “Gilligan’s Island” and Peggy joined him, to pleasant laughter.
The mate was a mighty sailing man The skipper brave and sure Five passengers set sail that day For a 3 hour tour, a 3 hour tour The weather started getting rough The tiny ship was tossed If not for the courage of the fearless crew The Minnow would be lost, the Minnow would be lost.
Sailing in College
Tom Stickle brought his wife Crystal and friends Becky and Robert Styron sailing on the York from nearby Hampton. Both couples have had all manner of boats on creeks and rivers around Hampton, and they had no trouble sailing the light winds of a beautiful, sunny day. Tom is getting ready to buy and has his eye on a Hunter 38 because it is so roomy inside.
Becky hadn’t been sailing since college. “I took a class as my PE fulfillment. I remember being out in a big wind as a struggled with tiller. It wound up bruising me on my hip.” She suffered no bruises with the wheel, deftly reaching upwind against an outgoing tide.
Robert is retired Coast Guard. “The New York Harbor was the craziest place. Sailboats get out there and the owners don’t know what they’re doing or don’t know how to react. We saw some broken masts and worse. The best was a frantic call from a woman whose husband was out sailing and she couldn’t reach him. She was very worried and tried for hours before calling us. On a hunch, we asked where his boat was based. We called his marina and asked them to go down to the docks to see if by chance the boat was still there. He was there… with Susie.”
Robert held up his fingers as if calling the wife. “Yes, ma’m, we found him. You might want to go down to the marina and talk to him yourself.”
I asked Robert if he was related to the William Styron, the famed author of “The Confessions of Nat Turner” who also lived in Hampton. “There were two Styron boys who made it to America and jumped ship at New Bern, North Carolina. All of the Styrons today from North Carolina and thereabouts are related to them. So yes, he’s a relative, but I have no idea how.”
Sailing Long Island
Laurie Moyer of Columbia MD took her physician beau Steve sailing on the York River, where he recalled his past on eastern Long Island. “Sailors go out of Sag Harbor, around Montauk Point and into the Atlantic,” he said. “There are some very big boats,” he added wistfully.
“I was an internist working in the Hamptons with the usual office visits, hospital rounds, and the occasional house call. Some of the homes in East Hampton and South Hampton are amazing. Some of the people are, too. I also served the general population. People are people.”
Laurie interjected, “Tell him what you do now.”
“Now I’m a doctor in the inner city of Baltimore. Remember the riots where they set the CVS on fire? That’s where I work. I’m part of a doctors’ group and I’m limited to 100 patients a day. I’m safe because as the only old white guy in the neighborhood, I stick out and they know me for my work. We treat all manner of patients, without the hassle of insurance. They know me as Dr. No Co-Pay. It’s very rewarding and quite different from the Hamptons.”
Laurie used to work for newspapers in upstate New York and Bethlehem PA. Today she is writer-in-residence at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre PA, where she teaches creative writing . “The students spend a vigorous week on campus and then work ten weeks online. They have to submit outlines, and they work their way up to finished manuscripts that could be a paper, a screenplay or a script. Some of them run to 300 pages.” I couldn’t imagine teaching creative writing, as I had trouble teaching reporting to two generations of newspaper writers.
Steve said proudly, “She wrote a book and got reviewed in The New York Times.” Laurie said, “It’s called ‘Death of a Rainmaker: A Dust Bowl Mystery.'” If you’re going to teach creative writing, it helps to be a published author.
Steve grew up with comedian Jerry Sienfeld. “We rode our bikes together in Beth Page, with banana seats. I remember riding down the street when Jerry pointed to a 30 mph sign. ‘We have to go faster,’ he joked. He was a comedian as a kid. We went right through school and on to Massapequa High. Today he does stand-up at a theater in uptown New York, and he plays Atlantic City and Las Vegas. What you see is what you get. That’s him.”
As the wind eased, I sent them up to the bow for some private time.
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