Jenny and Rey Mendez of New York City surprised his parents and their three children with a sailing cruise on the York River. They thought they were going to Jamestown. The parents took off for town, while we went sailing and had a lot of fun.
Their older son Steven was delighted because he earned his Boy Scout merit badge in small-boat sailing. “I did fine for my merit badge, but the boom nearly knocked me in the water. The rope got tangled around my neck and I threw my arms up to get it off. It was just after a storm and it was very windy.
“We were going really fast and starting tipping into the water. We tipped so much that water was coming over the side. That’s when the boom gybed and the rope caught me. That’s called small-boat sailing. This boat is ten times bigger.” Steven is just two badges shy of becoming an Eagle Scout. He needs to pursue projects for Family Life and Personal Management.
Soon we saw a big boat moving fast upriver. It was a Navy Landing Craft Air Cushion, and it hovered at high speed and loudly as it zoomed past. Eventually another hovercraft zoomed past as well.
Steven’s grandfather Rey Mendez Sr. is a retired NYC law enforcement officer who worked his way up from patrol to intelligence with NYPD and the federal government. He had vivid memories that went all the way back to childhood.
“The only time I ever got seasick was in a wooden boat, homemade at that. I paid for the gasoline myself. I took all the gas jugs below deck to store them. The fumes made me so seasick that I begged to go home. This was on the Long Island Sound, off Orchard Beach. I’ll never forget that.”
Then the first hovercraft returned under the bridge and proceeded toward us. The winds were light, which challenged Steven but he did well. At that moment we were in the center of the channel, dead calm as it were. We turned north to give the hovercraft leeway as it proceeded toward the channel. But instead it came right toward us as if in attack mode. Then it veered off. We could read the lettering clearly: LCAC-54. To get a sense of proximity, you can see one port shroud of my boat rigging in the lower right corner of the photo. We could almost feel the wind of the turbines, and we could definitely hear the noise of the engines. It was quite a surprise.