The week began with a continued warm front offering flat seas in the morning and rising seas in the afternoon. A couple from rural South Boston VA were celebrating her 50th birthday, and a family from rural North Carolina were in Williamsburg for a William & Mary interview.
Stuart and Patti Freemon live in Pikeville NC, from where he commutes to LaGuardia to fly for Jet Blue. He flew pretty fast on the York River, banking at 40 degrees to achieve 11 mph, fastest this month. Someone asked about the famous Sully Sullender landing in NYC.
“You can fly with one engine stuffed with birds, but not two,” Stuart said. “He had to do calculations on the scope of the Cray computer while talking to the JFK tower. They said that LaGuardia was six miles away and Teterboro was seven.
“He said there wasn’t time and declared the Hudson River. It was a perfect landing at 140 mph. If someone hadn’t panicked and opened the aft cabin, it would have continued to float. In the movie the FAA accused him of aborting too early without finding an alternative airport. So they did simulator tests to show that he could have glided into Teterboro, but it took seven attempts to get it right.”
Stuart is thinking of retiring and running a duck boat tour in Edenton to show people the nature and history of the place. They looked at buying Little England farm and plantation on the York River, so I offered some of its history and current background.
Afterward, Stuart wrote in a Trip Advisor review: “While our girls have been to Girl Scout sailing camp as recently as a couple of summers ago, it has been nearly 40 years since I was a camper at Camp Sea Gull and sailed regularly. But our afternoon on the York River brought back so many fond memories and maybe even proved to me that I still have a little bit of sailor in me.”
Tom Bushley is a retired Navy Seabee who was deployed with SEALS before the first Gulf War. Before the war, I asked? “Yes, just me and three other guys on a team scouting the place.”
His girlfriend Dawn Mitchell has a son driving the NASCAR circuit. “He drives late model cars and is coming up this weekend to Langley Speedway. He operates out of South Boston and they drive a triangle of South Boston, Martinsville and Langley. If you win all three you win the triple crown and get a grandfather clock.”
I asked about the expense of sustaining a NASCAR driver on the circuit, said to be $1 million a year. “His team consists of three old guys, so we’re not that big,” she laughed.
Sailing Lake George
Michelle Gooding and Lisa Pascale of Christopher Newport College went sailing on a retreat with a family of four. The ladies observed as Maryellen Dye’s nephew John ran the helm in building winds. We wound up reefing the Genoa to avoid over-heeling.
Lisa said, “My father used to have an 18-foot boat that he ran on Lake George. He used to say that all he needed in life was a boat, a six-pack and a bailer (me).” That got a good laugh. “I have a friend in Virginia Beach who works in physics at Jefferson Lab and wants to get a sailboat. My idea is to have him take out inner-city kids from Newport News to teach them physics and sailing, hands-on.” I had my doubts about that, so we switched subjects.
“My husband works at the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, where they have AC 13 on display.” That’s one of the giant catamarans from the 2014 America’s Cup in San Francisco. “Just the hull, of course, you can’t get the mast up inside a museum. When you walk in, it’s hard to figure out at first what you’re looking out. They even have the Luis Vuitton cup, which is quite big. It resides at night in a van with two security guards.”
Later a chef and his family from Galloway NJ joined a Williamsburg couple learning to sail. David Pascale has been a chef for 15 years, most recently at the Anchorage Tavern in Summers Point. “We just made the Top 50 Restaurants in America by msn.com, which has led to waits of up to an hour and a half for seating. We got another big boost years ago from a spot on Diners, Dives & Drive-Thrus. As a result, we get enough word-of-mouth that we don’t have to do any advertising.”
Ready to Launch
Next day, I finally got a good shot of Day Mark 8. After only a few weeks, osprey parents are ready to launch their two fledglings from Sarah Creek into the York River.
Pat and Diane Laban were visiting Williamsburg from Port Richey FL on their way to Detroit and their full-time home. They have traveled the country in RVs, and he has done considerable boating.
“As a boy I sailed in Sea Scouts on Lake St. Claire near Detroit,” he said as we motored past the new osprey family. “Someone donated a 38-footer and fixed it up with a new mast. I spent weeks on it one summer. Then the skipper stole the boat. They had it propped up behind the VFW. He must have needed a big truck to back up and get it. They knew it was him, but he was gone.”
On a separate subject, Pat spoke of a big raft-up in Michigan. “We’re going on my son’s boat to the Muscamoot Bay Raft-Up, on Lake St. Claire. Every year they draw 5,000 boats.” One can only imagine the chaos.
Sailing with Two Bobs
July 19 is a perennial sail for Nanci Bond and Ellen Jaronczyk of Williamsburg. Nanci explained to Mary and Rosco Childs of Caroline County, “Both our husbands are deceased and named Bob. They died years ago, but their birthdays are July 18 and July 20. They loved the outdoors, so we honor them every year by sailing with Bill.”
Rosco Childs retired from a Defense Department job that took him 2-1/2 hours to commute to back and forth. “I did that for 30 years and am glad to be retired.” He was celebrating Mary’s birthday, so I produced a special even chair for the occasion. Mary got to sit in it only briefly because I put her on the helm as a birthday present. The winds blew steadily at 12 mph all day, providing fuel to tack down river five times. Then we tacked and sailed a broad reach all the way back. Ellen took over the helm for more exciting tacking. She got the boat to 30 degrees and 12.2 mph.
Along the way, Rosco informed us that he and Mary became clergy in 2000. “We care for an older man who lives with us. We met him at church and he said he was homeless, so we took him in. His doctor later said, ‘Whatever you’re doing for him is working because his health has never been better.’ He’s been with us five years now.”
On a whim, Kevin and Marty Bryant of Baton Rouge called to go sailing. Within a couple of hours, we found ourselves in a wonderful easterly wind tacking downriver. Marty had a speech defect that I couldn’t quite trace until she explained.
“I’m legally and profoundly deaf. I graduated high school in 1974 but was denied a college education. I kept working at it and now have my master’s. I teach fifth grade and I love it. My three boys all got their master’s at LSU, just like their momma. My daddy invented a mold for taxidermy and became rich. His house has 300 mounted animals on the walls.” Kevin pulled up a photo on his phone of the family room.
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Sailing from Rural America
Two couples from rural Virginia and North Carolina got to sail fast on the York River.
Capt. Bill O'Donovan
Williamsburg Charter Sails
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