Sailing Past Thanksgiving
The cruising season winds up by mid-November, but I held off until after Thanksgiving to take Adam Six of Charlotte NC and his girlfriend on a surprise sail for her. Lennie Gorman was recovering from shoulder surgery, and Adam was on leave from Afghanistan.
He said, “I work in maintenance with MRVs,” which I took to mean mechanized robot vehicles but didn’t want to pry for security reasons.
I asked about the safety of the region since the war is still going on. “I work in the south, where it isn’t bad. Up north it’s worse. Kabul gets hit two or three times a week. The weather is also warmer in the south. It’s a desert climate.”
Lennie was indeed surprised. “It’s been a whirlwind week, what with the birth of my first grandchild and now this.” She surveyed the boat and said, “I love it.”
As we headed out of Sarah Creek, the Coleman Bridge was noticeably open, which mean one thing. Out on the horizon, hidden in the haze and the trees of the lee shore, the USS Bulkeley steamed upriver toward the Naval Weapons Station.
As we stood off to watch, a 44-foot Hunter was also poised to observe. It looked like the second span was stuck partially open, but the ship made it through and picked up a Moran tug for docking at the Navy pier. After 5 or 10 minutes we noticed a faint wake left by the cruiser. Had the river not been glassy, there would be no perceptible wake. Yet when the Moran passed us an hour later, the wake was tremendous, rocking the boat.
“This is the smallest boat I’ve been on in a long time,” she grinned. “I was in the Navy and served on the aircraft carrier USS George Washington. I was among the first women to serve on the Washington. There were 20 of us. I was an aircraft mechanic, working on jet engines.”
Over the marine radio, we heard a Coast Guard warning to stay away from a ULC that was transiting Thimble Shoals to the port of Hampton Roads. The ultra-large container unit spanned 1,200 feet long and 158 feet wide. I asked Lennie how that compared to the Washington. “I don’t know, but I remember that the flight deck was longer than three football fields.” Later I found the specs to be 1,092 feet long and 252 feet across.
By contrast, the nearby Bulkeley is 509 feet long and 66 feet across.
The wind was flat and the York River was glassy, so I sent the couple up to the bow for some privacy. “This is wonderful,” Lennie said. “I think he just won Christmas. We’re very competitive. “
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