Sailing into the Mist
Linda Nay of Henrico took her family sailing on a misty afternoon that led to sprinkles on and off. “We don’t mind,” her husband Kent said. “We’re outdoor people and like all kinds of activity, even when the weather isn’t perfect.” The simply wanted to sail a new river. She found Let’s Go Sail on getmyboat.com, the company that is to boats as Uber is to cars. “I used to live on a boat, in the Potomac River. Boats don’t scare me.” So we went sailing into the mist.
Linda took the helm as we tacked on a west wind toward the Coleman Bridge. She maneuvered through two-foot waves and ten mph winds. Way off in the distance we could see a large freighter docked at the Virginia Fuel Farm pier. At first I thought it was just a break in the clouds, but Linda spotted it accurately. In the other distance we saw through the haze the outline of the USNS Medgar Evers, a Navy dock ship at the pier of the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station.
Kent takes his kayak on the Chickahominy River. “I ran into an algae kill the other day that slowed me down. It was a yellow muck. ”
At work, Kent said, “I operate a construction company focused on 7-Eleven stores. We build them, repair them, rehabilitate them and otherwise take care of them. We cover 2,500 stores along the East Coast. 7-Eleven is the largest retailer in the world, with 60,000 stores everywhere from Europe to the U.S. to Indonesia. That’s more than McDonald’s has.”
Their son Jerry took over the helm as Linda proceeded up to the bow. Later their younger daughter Laurel joined her. They spent more than an hour up there, chatting. Older daughter Emily was resting below deck.
I wondered if the Japanese still own 7-Eleven. “Yes, and they just replaced the 80-year-old chairman with a 50-year-old who’s more focused on convenience than previously. The Japanese loaned the company millions of dollars years ago and took control when the loans defaulted. They’ve had them ever since.”
I asked about cars running through the front windows. “It happens about 60 times a year, and amazingly no one gets killed. Drivers commit the classic mistake of hitting the accelerator when they think they’re hitting the brake.”
Why not install bollards? “We do that, but not everywhere because it’s too expensive. I have one store that’s been run through five times. They could use the bollards. WaWa has them for every store as a matter of new construction.”
As for volume, “The average annual gross is $2 million, which is pretty good for a small building. WaWa averages $5 million but their stores are much bigger. WaWa has everything in there.”
What sells the most? “Drinks. People buy a lot of drinks at 7-Eleven. America’s thirst is good for us. This weekend we’ll suffer because of the rain. People just won’t venture outside.”
By now, Jerry had tacked upwind several times to take the angle back under the Coleman Bridge. He did a masterful job and glided within 50 feet past one of the pilings as we transited the bridge toward Yorktown.
As for robberies, “Not cash so much, ever since we limited the tray to $20 maximum. The big thing is cigarettes. They’ll rob several cartons at $50 apiece and then resell the packs elsewhere. We advise the clerks not to resist. In fact, they get fired if they resist.”
I suggested that the next store he builds contain a trap door for the robbers. “You could fill it with water,” his son Jerry said helpfully from the helm, “or sharp sticks to snare them,” like punji sticks. “Then some fire.” Kent deadpanned, “As long as the trap door button works.”
Kent added, “There was talk once of hitting an alarm that would lock the doors from the inside, but that would have left the clerk stuck with the criminal. That was a bad idea.”
The rain resumed, so we headed in. Towels were spread all over the deck to keep us dry. The Nays were delightful despite the mist and rain, enjoying a family outing by making the best of things. Back at the dock, I asked the crew to guess how far we traveled. “15 miles,” said Jerry. It turned out to be 14.9.
Let’s Go Sail
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