While tacking southeast toward the cable tripod on the York River, I could see two US Navy fast boats zooming from the York Channel into our path. Evidently they came up from the Amphibious Naval Base at Littlecreek to find a secluded spot for summer maneuvers.
As we kept on course, they stopped dead ahead and we simply sailed right past. One of the Navy SEALS waved while the others deployed a small dark Zodiac craft and two of them paddled into Wormley Creek, perhaps the Yorktown Coast Guard Center. I turned to my crew and said it was probably a cigarette run.
The crew consisted of a family near Ashland VA who were celebrating Dad’s 50th birthday with their own summer maneuvers. All three children were in college, but they have been home during the Virginia Lockdown.
Stephen Phillips explained, “They’ve been able to help on the farm and it’s been a good bonding experience. The animals don’t mind since they have no idea about the pandemic.”
The animals are alpacas, based at Meadowgate Alpaca Farm in Beaverton. Nicole Phillips said, “We’ve been growing them for the past 15 years. They have a wonderful fur that we sheer once a year for use in clothing and gifts. We hold alpaca therapy sessions to calm people, and we host weddings with them.”
The couple raise between 18 and 26 at a time, which reminded me of the ratio for teachers and classroom size. They live up to 20 years, so it’s a big loss when one dies. “They all look alike to you,” Stephen said, “but we quickly get to know them by name. And yes, we do name them.”
We flew the spinnaker downwind and then the kids wanted to test the York River for swimming, so we stopped near R-2 at Sarah Creek so they could jump in.
In the afternoon, a married couple from Norfolk celebrated some quietude from the work as a physician and chaplain. They stayed overnight at nearby Warner Hall.
Sarah Price Faulkner is an OB-GYN surgical resident with the Air Force at Portsmouth Naval Hospital. Waters Faulkner is a chaplain at Norfolk Sentara Hospital. Sarah works 80-hour weeks and then some, but loves her job. As a mariner, I asked if she was proficient at tying knots one-handed.
She added delicately, “Yes, in fact I have to tie them one-handed because there isn’t much room to work in there.”
They were supposed to be in Hawaii on leave, but the military locked down leave to 50-miles to help contain the virus. “I think it’s 250 miles now,” Sarah said. “So Hawaii still didn’t work. Sailing with you was our second choice.”
On the way back to port, Waters saw two dolphins swimming in perfect formation in Sarah Creek. It was the first sighting of the season.
Sailing on a Whim
On a whim, Tracy Burgess had her beau Carl Dunne look for a boat trip near where they were staying at the Virginia Beach oceanfront. He called me and within a few hours she got her wish. They sailed on a 7 mph easterly wind and spent several hours on the bow chatting. She’s retired from WaWa and he has a candle factory after being laid off from a glass plant. They were spending a few days here from their home in Salem NJ. “Between us we have seven children, ages 21 down to 8.” They looked like they needed a break.
A few days later, also on a whim, Nicole Griffith of Kettering OH called to take her beau Jared Van Oss sailing on breezy afternoon. “He called me to go on a spontaneous three-day weekend, and I thought this would be fun along the way.” She works for a software company specializing in bankruptcy software. She loves the work, loves her colleagues, enjoys the challenge, and has learned a lot. I never met anyone so enamored by bankruptcy.
Jared is 6-feet-4 and weighs 260. He works for a big freight company and used to play football. “I had a full scholarship to Michigan State, but I blew out my knee and badly tore a hamstring in high school. So they rescinded the scholarship. I wound up not going to college.” On the other hand, he also avoided major brain injury. “I had two concussions playing at Lima Senior High, so I consider myself lucky now after seeing what’s happened to players in the NFL.”
They had a lot of fun sailing and got to see the two dolphins at the end as we entered Sarah Creek. Nothing caps a day like dolphins.
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Two Navy fast boats were spotted doing summer maneuvers on the York.
Capt Bill ODonovan
Williamsburg Charter Sails / Let's Go Sail
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