Three couples from West Virginia, Illinois and Texas nearly hit the Sailing Trifecta of Cool Sights on the York River. They had never met before and had a fun time on a beautiful fall afternoon.
First, they got to see a small pod of dolphins frolicking in front of Sara Creek. Two and then three dolphins romped near the sailboat by approaching from one side and then the other. They were so close that we heard two of them dive up behind the boat as we tried to take photos looking the other way. October is late in the season for dolphins, but my fellow mariner David Chin said they’ve been spotted five miles upriver in Queens Creek.
We saw cormorants and a far-off pelican flying. Talk of wildlife led Donna and Joe Broslowsky to mention that they were on guard duty for citing any grizzly bears at Yellowstone National Park. “We were in the back of the column walking along, aso the ranger gave us a can of bear spray just in case. Some young women were hanging around us, apparently because we had the protection. I told them, ‘Don’t do that, girls. Stay with the ranger. We’ve never used this stuff before.’”
It’s mace for bears and sprays a long shot. I asked what the safety plan was for encountering a bear. “The protocol is to stop walking. Be still and watch him. If he starts to move toward you, it could be a bluff. Don’t look him in the eye, but I certainly would, just to see what he’s up to. If he gets too close, shoot him in the eye with the bear spray and run! I figured if I can faster than any of the others, then I’m good. I know I can out-run Joe. I love you, Dear, but…” she trailed off while smiling. Joe responded kindly, “You ran fast enough to catch me.”
Joe yielded to Mike Fair, sailing with his wife Donna. He quickly responded with the best quip of the month. “No thanks. Today I’m the Admiral, directing all of you with critiques on your performance.”
Out of the blue flew Air Force One, low and slow across the York River as the second leg of the Sailing Trifecta. Its distinctive two-tone blue hull and American flag on the tail fin took our collective breath away. It was Thursday, and every third Thursday of the month the crew flies from Dover to Langley Air Force Base in Hampton for touch-and-go training. The plane (there are believed to be three of them) did three passes over us before returning to Delaware. It was awesome.
Joe described how Navy F4 jets used to fly from Norfolk Naval Base to Morgantown, West Virginia, to simulate hilly conditions of North Vietnam. “They swoop down to the Morgantown Coliseum as the imaginary target. It seemed like they got within a hundred feet. You could practically read the pilot’s name on his helmet.”
The only thing left to see in the Sailing Trifecta was a Navy ship at Naval Weapons Station depart for the Norfolk base. That didn’t happen, but I described how the swing span of the Coleman Bridge swings open for passage. They were intrigued. Upriver beyond Naval Weapons, Army helicopters were flying different routes around Williamsburg. They were likely Delta Force members of the Army Special Forces, flying over the CIA training base at Camp Peary. I didn’t say anything, since I couldn’t be sure. But I was intrigued.
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