For the second time in 11 years, we headed south to review venues to relocate or extend the charter sail business. The Carolinas offer a longer season, albeit with few tourists than Williamsburg.
First, we stopped in Edenton NC where we took a 40-minute boat ride on Liber-Tea, an electric engine runabout under Capt. Mark Theiser. I recalled a sailboat tour on Edenton Bay, and his wife Trish said Capt. Bill left seven years ago. “So that slot is open,” she added cheerfully. Capt. Mark reported that Albemarle Sound is deep enough to handle sailboats up to 40 feet.
He recounted substantial history along the coast of Edenton, making the tiny town one of the most significant during the Revolutionary War. The town produced signers to the North Carolina Constitution and years later signers to the U.S. Constitution.
Organized women’s political activity in America was born in Edenton. Penelope Barker was America’s first female political activist. She led 51 women who signed a Proclamation of Protest in 1774 known as the Edenton Tea Party. Capt. Mark said that after he relocated from Connecticutt to organize his Liber-Tea cruise, he learned that all 13 states had tea party protests in the run-up to the Declaration.
He pointed through the trees to the Chowan County Courthouse, which dates to 1767 and is still active today. That makes it the oldest operating courthouse in America. “Every year, the state Supreme Court dons their wigs and comes down here to conduct legitimate business.” That keeps the active streak intact.
Capt. Mark said that hurricanes and nor’easters occasionally strike Edenton. “But not badly. We are so far inland, and the weather currents are such that we either miss the storms or they don’t do much damage. Yet judging by a painting on sale in the visitor center, the old lighthouse at the end of town has been surrounded by water in a storm.
He pointed out a large white house that stood on a majestic corner of water. It dated to — 2002. “A few lots down, you can see a contemporary house that was built in recent years. The town daughters realized this was a loophole and rewrote the building codes to preserve the authentic colonial look. This fellow followed the new rules.” Magnificently so, it turned out.
Amy Henry drove from Suffolk to take her assembled family sailing on a unique mission. Her mother Holly explained.
“My husband Randy loved the ocean. He loved everything about the water. He once sailed to Curicao and the Azores with a Dutchman on the way to Holland. The Dutchman refused to reef during a storm, and so the boom broke. Luckily, they had tools on board to fix it, but then the mainsail ripped. So, they fixed it with duct tape and made it all the way to Europe. He didn’t sail with that guy again.
“We lived in a house along the York River, right there,” she said pointing to a spot between the old refinery and power plant. “It was on that lot, right where the coast seems to dip slightly. He and his brother bought the house for a song and moved it onto a raft to bring it just a few hundred yards. We’re doing this sail because he died last month.”
Amy recalled when her father went to sea. “We all piled in the car to watch him go out Chesapeake Bay. We drove out the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and parked at the second island to watch him go by. As they sailed past, we waved and waved until the boat looked like a cork on the water. We wondered, ‘What did we just do, letting him go like that?’ It took about four weeks for them to get to the Azores, and then on to Europe. The boat was 45 feet.”
Earlier, a group of Asian ladies who went to high school together in Northern Virginia enjoyed a girls’ sail in light winds and lots of photos. They came from China, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
Quan Tran looked over the expansive York River and recalled her father’s experience along the Mekong River in Cambodia. “After the war ended in 1975, the Khmer Rouge took over. It was terrible. They came to my family home and turned everything inside out, looking for gold or money. Even the flower pots. They ransacked the closets. Then they took my father’s property away from him, and ten years later he had to buy it back from them. They were terrible.”
I asked her friend Cindy Duong what country she was from. “This country, America!” she said proudly.
Women enjoy sailing today more than ever, and particularly a romantic cruise. Couples get to enjoy a romantic getaway as they sit up on the bow for privacy, and Let’s Go Sail provides professional photos for free. First-time or skilled mariners are welcome to sail a modern-32-foot sailboat in a unique setting of wildlife and Fall foliage or Spring bloom. It makes for an extraordinary anniversary idea.
Michelle and Kyle Kee took their adorable boys sailing in light winds as the temperatures built into the 90s. They are both serving in the Navy, she as an audiologist and he as a medical administrator. He once served on the destroyer USS Maddox and recalled a storm.
“The ship could handle it as long as we hit the waves head-on. The seas built to 30-foot swells, and that made some of the crew seasick. Having already been through it, we got to laugh at them,” he smiled.
Later, a young couple from upstate New York went sailing on their first anniversary. Jennifer Scarf is a mental health counselor who works a suicide hotline. I couldn’t help asking questions, and she patiently responded.
“I’ve been doing it for six years. We work in shifts. No, the nights aren’t the worst. Often the days are worse. We get about a thousand calls a month and have quick-response teams to go into the field. At the center, we have around 20 staff who are mostly young people. Those who call us come from all age groups and socio-economic conditions. Yes, it’s depressing at times but we help a lot of people.”
The wind died as the heat index reached 105, so we started the engine and returned to port. That cheered up everyone.
We proceeded to Beaufort SC to see our oldest friends Maxine and Benton Lutz. The two docks were installed years ago during a major renovation of the waterfront in 1979. Now they are about to be replaced in a big renovation by Safe Harbor Marinas. There and upriver at the Port Royal Marina, several boats proved the axiom that the name does not have to correspond with the waters where the boat is docked. There is certainly no waterfront in New Mexico or Denver, so it implies instead that owners live there on land.
I asked a woman disembarking a cabin cruiser called Leap of Faith if her name was Faith. “No,” she replied. Her husband explained the origin. “We bought the boat from a fellow who got rid of everything he had and moved to Florida to take the boat on a long cruise for several years. Eventually he died of melanoma.” Nearby, a big sport fishing boat was named Chaos. That will present problems if the owner has to radio the Coast Guard with an emergency. That’s why you can’t name a boat Vessel In Distress or Mayday.
One thing that always amazes me is how people neglect their sailboats. Here’s a sturdy 27-footer that is a complete wreck in terms of dirt and dings. Yet it has numerous fenders hanging off the side to protect the gunwales. Go figure.
Nearby was a pontoon boat that doubles as a tiki bar. The name Low-Country also applies literally as the thatch roof was positioned low to the deck.
Finally, a boat named Zen, which needs no explanation. And Marsh-Mellow, which plays on the marshes of the Carolina low country.
The upshot was that Edenton, New Bern and Beaufort all lack a small sailing charter business, so the opportunity is there for Williamsburg Charter Sails.
Let’s Go Sail
Check rates and pick a day for a sailboat charter. Scroll down reviews on Trip Advisor. Go back to the home page of Williamsburg Charter Sails.
The best Williamsburg boat tour offers safe “social distance sailing” daily for up to 6 people. It’s an extraordinary experience for couples. Leave your worries behind. Enjoy the thrill of moving with the wind without a care in the world. Put life back on an even keel with a romantic experience for a birthday or anniversary. 3-hour sailboat cruise as a semi-private yachting charter lets you exhale and relax as you enjoy comfort, stability and speed.
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