Sailing home to VirginiaIs it possible to lose a southern accent? Carolyn and Steven Wrench retired from their respective jobs in Minneapolis this summer and immediately went traveling. She grew up in Front Royal in Northern Virginia, and they have lived in Minnesota for 35 years. She had a discernible Midwestern accent, but not too flat.

Carolyn took the helm hesitantly in brisk northeast winds that took us straight out the York River. She was reluctant to learn the points of sail. “A very old friend of ours says that in order to learn anything nowadays you have to push something else out of the brain to make room for the new stuff.” She did great on the wheel and relaxed somewhat as we went flying.

Sailing home to Virginia“We had the privilege of sailing on one of the oldest sailing vessels in the world when we went on a vintage ship in Annapolis.” That was no small irony since we got to sail past the 17th century replica ship El Galeon, docked for a week at Yorktown. “We saw the tall ships come into Minneapolis once, and they were magnificent.”

“The sail that I remember well was with my Dad. He had a Sunfish and would take it out on Smith Mountain Lake. For some reason he kept losing a sneaker while sailing. He wanted Steve and I to experience the thrill, so we went out with him one day and sat there. It was dead calm. Steve and I finally jumped off and swam as we pulled the boat to shore with Dad on it. At least he didn’t lose a sneaker.”

A glorious day

Sailing home to Virginia“Years later he got out of sailing and restored a motorboat, like a small Chris Craft. He didn’t get to run it, but he ran the outboard in a 55-gallon drum filled with water. He did that to keep the engine operating. My brother drove up with a trailer and we came in from Minnesota. We trailered that boat to Smith Mountain Lake and finally he got to go out on it for the first time. That was a glorious day.”

The Wrenches have traveled the world, especially Europe. “We did the barge cruise on the Seine River from Paris to Normandy, and then the Rhone River cruise to the south of France. We did the Danube, and that took ten days. We love the water, being out on it. We live a mile from the Mississippi.”

Sailing home to VirginiaThey make it a point to travel in January and February when winters in Minnesota are brutal. “They have direct flights to the Caribbean and Cancun, so that makes it easier.” Next they’re off to Orlando to see friends and then Hawaii for a month. “But it’s always good to get home, to be home,” Carolyn added. To shovel snow? I asked. “Oh, no. I never learned how to run the snow blower. I’d have to push something else out of my brain to learn that.”

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Sailing home to Virginia

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