Sailing past Busch Gardens
Every year Busch Gardens in Williamsburg ramps up in the fall for a massive theme of Hallow Scream. Before they went sailing on the York River, Tina Herald and Chris Lawrence were in the park the previous evening as the cast began to set up and rehearse. They regaled me with this:
“All of sudden this pirate with a patch on his face jumped out with a sword to threaten a woman guest. She was riding a three-wheeled motorized scooter and was so startled that she started barreling down the outdoor stairs. She went down one set of four steps and then another set of four before the guy could regain his composure and try to rescue her. Now there’s a lawsuit in the making.”
I told them about other accidents at Busch Gardens, most notably the time the personality Fabio got hit in the nose by a flying Canada Goose. He was the star opening a new roller coaster and was surrounded by vestal virgins. Blood was everywhere.
Tina took Chris sailing as a surprise for his birthday. It was very wind, steady 20 mph, after a storm front moved through the night before. I assured them that the boat cannot tip over. “That’s what they said about the Titanic,” Tina laughed. Well, not exactly.
They live in suburban Cincinnati where they both work at Northern Kentucky University. Chris spent four years in the Navy, but his big excitement was on tugboats with McGinnis Inc.
“I was on tugboat crews along the Ohio River, taking barges down the river from Mile Post 800 through the locks. That means 800 miles up from New Orleans. The sister company is Excell. The tugs have dual propulsion of 1,000 to 1,200 horsepower diesels. The wheels (props) are four feet across. The companies have since broken up into new owners, but they still hold the fleet priority on the Ohio River and Cincinnati harbor.”
I asked if he missed the work. “Yes, I do. I’ve gone back to see if they’d hire me but the wages aren’t what they used to be. I want to work up to my steering license and then pilot license eventually.”
He added, “Today is my birthday and that of my former captain, Richard Roberts. He’s got 35 years with the company as a captain, by which time they’re supposed to name a boat in the fleet after you. I’ll have to call him to find out how that’s going. Rich is a real cool dude.”
Despite the winds, we saw seagulls, pelicans and cormorants flying about. “Chris is a bird-lover,” Tina said. We briefly spotted a dolphin in the harbor but it disappeared.
Chris had no trouble with the strong winds as they momentarily heeled the boat to 20 and 30 degrees. I never had to tell him a single thing about how the wind works on a sailboat. He knew it instinctively. We rode for 23 miles and never slowed down. It was better than Busch Gardens.
Let’s Go Sail
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