A couple from Maryland and a couple from Charlottesville who had never met had a great time on vacation when they went sailing near Willliamsburg. Cooler temperatures and a steady 10 mph east wind made it easy to run four tacks downriver under 20% reefed sails.

Pam Beasley had never sailed before but managed the tacks and the turns with grace. Her husband Alba looked on approvingly. Jane Weir took over from Pam on the downwind leg, also a first-timer who proved adroit.

Sailing with Culinary & Musical ArtistsJane’s husband Ed Berger was an accomplished sailor but he deferred to the women and sat back and relaxed. “Years ago I was on a 38-foot boat sailing from Peter Island in the BVIs. There’s an offshore cliff where the water changes from green to blue. I sailed into it and shipped a wave. It came right over the bow and doused a fellow who was sitting on the companion way ledge. His back was to the bow and he was smoking a cigarette when the wave washed over him. It scared the snot out of me. That was 20 years ago.” Sailors never forget a bad experience.

As we cruised along at a good clip, the boat heeled to 15 degrees. Then it slowed as the wind eased slightly. Ed quoted the definition of sailing “the fine art of moving slowly to nowhere at great expense.”

Why They Unload Bombs

While having lunch in Yorktown the previous day, they had watched two Navy ships come in. So I explained the drill. Once back from deployment, the ships have a week to settle in at Norfolk Navy Base before they are required to come up to Yorktown to shed their missiles. They’ll reload when they go out again. The idea is to avoid having dozens of ships loaded with missiles and bombs clustered in port. Alba said, “Is that a lesson learned from Pearl Harbor?” I had never thought of it that way, but yes indeed. Precisely!

Sailing with Culinary & Musical ArtistsI asked about where they had enjoyed dinner. Jane and Ed loved The Fat Canary but not so much Waypoint. That surprised me and she explained that the appetizer was as big as the main course and the latter was “all mixed up” with ingredients that were too sweet. “Plus it wasn’t hot enough.”

I suggested playfully that she was a tough critic and she responded, “That’s what I do at home.” I thought she meant as a housewife who knows how to cook, but no. She’s a chef.

“I have a cooking school where I teach between two and six students. Then we watch a movie in the back yard. The business is predicated on my favorite movie, ‘Cinema Paradiso,’ about a young boy who discovers his love for movies.” Ed added, “She can also do a sit-down dinner for 26 people.”

Jane said, “I’ve been chefing for 25 years, mostly in Pittsburgh. But I’m from New England.” I asked if her work made her insufferable when dining out, and Ed said, “No, she’s really quite patient about restaurants.” Her website janesfood.com explains her business model as an at-home chef-instructor. Ed is quoted, “Our house is the best restaurant in Maryland. I eat like a king.”

Musical Chairs

Pam teaches music and voice at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Alba is a musical conductor who also conducts chorale. I asked an impertinent question about the need for a conductor.

Sailing with Culinary & Music Artists“It depends. I watched a rehearsal with a famous conductor and he just stood there with his hand on his chin. At a critical moment he put out his hands and motioned for the rhythm. The orchestra knew the music, of course. Here was a moment where he was changing something and they had to get it right. The conductor is making sure the correct rhythm is maintained throughout the piece. Some musicians tend to get ahead of it.

“When I was completing Conductor School, our instructor showed us a short film about the New York Philharmonic. Leonard Bernstein was standing there ready when all of a sudden he jumped into the air and landed sharply. That opened the piece with a dramatic start. The instructor told us, ‘This is a class. That is the real world.’”

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