Sailing with Celebrity
I made a rare run for the first time this season to Yorktown to pick up two couples. Yorktown has wicked currents and requires dock hands, which proved the case.
Terri Devlin and David Haberman were on vacation from Pittsburgh, where she works for a company making sleep apnea monitors and sails a 21-foot Hunter. Dave had no trouble adapting from tiller to wheel, and he ran the course the entire time.
The second couple is related by marriage to comedian Stephen Colbert. “You can’t use our names,” she insisted, “or they might stop inviting us. We see him at Thanksgiving when his five siblings who live in the Washington area rotate the big dinner. They have 70 people, including friends and distant relatives like us.
She and her husband explained Colbert’s humor. “He’s the youngest of 13 children, from Charleston. Their father was killed in an airline crash, so they started to show their house to tourists. It’s downtown in The Battery, obviously a very big house. Money marries money down there. Eventually she got a big settlement from the airline as well.
“The story goes that Steven developed his humor to make his mother laugh and bring her out of her misery. We really enjoy seeing the family. Our kids used to play with their kids, but now they’re teenagers and they don’t get together as frequently. There’s good-natured debate within the family of the correct pronunciation of the named Colbert, with a soft T or hard T.”
By afternoon we were back at the marina for another run. A family of five from Jersey City was in Williamsburg on vacation. Two children took sailing lessons a month earlier on the Hudson River and were terrific on the helm.
“We weren’t very far out on the Hudson,” said Amber Lee Valois. Her brother Joan (JO-ahn) added, “Next year when we go back we can venture farther out into the river.” The Hudson is one of the busiest commercial rivers in the world, so I can’t imagine sailing on it with a small boat.”
“It wasn’t that small, maybe 18 feet,” Amber Lee clarified. We had the genoa reefed into a small jib because the winds were 10 mph and gusty on a magnificently sunny day. Their mother Celica was nervous about heeling, “Relax, Mom,” Amber Lee said. “Let me concentrate on what I’m doing.” Eventually Celica started singing quietly, and Amber Lee added, “Keep singing, Mom. That shows you’re happy.”
Both kids were diligent about warning everyone when we tacked, which was frequent because we were trying to go under the Coleman Bridge. “Ready about,” they warned before adding, “Coming about.” At one point the wheel got away from Amber Lee and we started to come upwind. It was easier and timely to follow through with a tack, so we did.
At that moment, Joan was below in the head taking a pee and started shouting. He was unaware and then unprepared for the turn, so he went from 15 degrees one side to 15 degrees the other side in two seconds. Everyone laughed at his dilemma, including Joan. He emerged from below and asked sheepishly, “Have you got a towel?”
Let’s Go Sail
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