Sailing Under the Bridge

Traffic picked up on the York River once the winds came up for the first time in a week. That led Tom Rose to say, “I had to avoid swerving cars three times in the past week because they we’re texting behind the wheel.”

No such danger threatened his crew of six who went sailing to celebrate his wife Kathleen’s birthday. We were all set to sail last month when the Coleman Bridge got stuck open while we were queued up in line to cross. On this day, we sailed right under the bridge toward the Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, where a big transport ship blew in that morning.

Sailing Under the BridgeDriving a boat for the first time can bring out memories of driving a car for the first time. Ragan Smith recalled getting her license and driving home that day on a flat tire. “I was on the Interstate and people were pointing to me and waving at me. I wondered if they knew I had just gotten my license. I got home and my mom showed me it was flat. It didn’t feel flat when I was driving, but then it was my first time.”

Kathleen piped up, “I never seemed to clean the frost off the windshield properly in the winter. I just didn’t take the time. I knew driving from home where the first Stop sign was, and when I saw it I knew to turn there. But it turned out to be a lamppost and I went right into a ditch, ruining my father’s azaleas.

The Roses’ friend Jim Thornton took the wheel for the first time and a few minutes later Kathleen said helpfully, “You’re doing good, Jim.” He responded playfully, “How would you know?”

Sailing Under the BridgeDave Rose, Ragan’s husband, proved the most adept on the wheel and took the boat under the bridge. He said he’s with the Chesapeake Fire Department, but his dad Tom elaborated when Dave and Ragan went up to sit on the bow.

“He’s worked on the fire boat as they cover the Elizabeth River and the Inland Waterway. He didn’t tell you that he’s a certified paramedic embedded with the Chesapeake Fire Department‘s SWAT team. Because he’s a paramedic, he’s not armed when he goes in on a rescue. But his SWAT guys will tell him that they carry an M-16 in both hands and have a pistol on their hip that he is encouraged to grab if necessary.” When I asked Dave about rescuing drunk boaters and other mayhem, he demurred modestly. “It’s mostly commercial, getting guys off barges and freighters.”

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Sailing Under the Bridge


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