Sailing the Union Label
On this warm day of mild winds, we encountered a coincidence. America’s labor unions have shrunk drastically in the past 50 years, so it was a surprise to encounter three people affiliated with disparate unions.
Scott Weiler clarified that he isn’t in the union but contracts with the Painters Union of Cincinnati. His wife Jennifer is in the Teachers Union and teaches first grade. David Wright of La Porte IN is a union man in heavy-duty HVAC construction.
“I always wanted to sail,” David said, “so I acquired a 16-foot Sunfish with two sails. It belonged to someone I was working for who gave it to me in trade. I sail on Stone Lake when I can. First time we went out, Lydia got scared because we ran aground and couldn’t get off in the wind.”
Lydia recalled a slightly different version. “We went out too late in the day and after we ran aground it got dark. I was freaking out.” They recalled the story like it was yesterday, but it happened years ago.
David served in the Marines as a young man. “I wanted to become a sniper but I had a bad eye,” he explained while running the helm. “It’s still bad. Sometimes when I’m in traffic I have to close my eye to see with the other.” Jennifer asked, “Are you driving with one eye now?” and everyone laughed.
David got to talking about a new technology that scrubs the air around you. This came up because he asked about the big chimney vents at the nearby VIMS campus. I explained that they vented toxic fumes from chemistry labs.
“I know about that,” he said, “because I’ve cleaned out the filters in them and they have a lot of toxic materials. At the end of the day, I have to detox myself with ionized water and pure air. We had a worker who cut his hand near that stuff, and it swelled up like a football.”
The pure air comes from machines made by Vollara. “They remove all manner of particulate and gases. People with chronic conditions swear by them for freeing up their breathing. I had one customer who was so impressed with the results that he bought 60 of them on his credit card. Another guy used experimented with the home version of the machine, and his wife made him keep it because he finally stopped snoring after 25 years of marriage.” He showed me a video on his phone of how the machine can dissipate smoke into a fine powder.
Jennifer asked about a big nest atop the Coleman Bridge over the York River. I explained that it’s the VIMS Osprey cam and that several nests are live or filmed at any given time. During the course of the day we saw osprey dive for fish from 30 feet up.
The air felt light and shifty, so we motored around Buoy R24 and followed a motorboat into Yorktown. I pointed out the remains of Redoubt 10, where Alexander Hamilton made his fame in the 1781 Battle of Yorktown.
“We drove there on the battlefield,” Jennifer said. “We called up Google Earth to see the lay of the land close-up from overhead.” Imagine that, Mr. Hamilton.
Catching Crabs Dockside
While opening the boat, I encountered a fellow named Greg who works the docks at low tide. He carries a double-ended net on stick to catch small blue crabs clinging to the pilings. “It’s not exactly low tide. I look for the barnacle line and find them there. Today I’m going fishing for Cobia, so these will be bait.” Fishing, sailing, it’s all good on the water.
Let’s Go Sail
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