The Coffman family from Texas went on two unique excursions in one day. First, six of them toured the Norfolk Naval Yard by way of the Miss Hampton, a day boat that runs up and down the Elizabeth River. Meanwhile, their parents toured the York River with Let’s Go Sail. Because the day was quiet with virtually no wind, we covered the history of the two battles and then motored under the Coleman Bridge to see a Navy ship in port. The USS Leyte Gulf, named for the famous battle of World War II, was docked the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station. They got to see it up close. They also got to see the tube marked CG 55 where one of the Tomahawk missiles fires out.
In the afternoon, the families switched roles. Only this time, the parents with children got to sail in brisk winds building from 0 to 5 to 15 and finally 20 mph. Jeff Coffman and his brother John contrasted the winds of the York to Galveston Bay. “It blows 25 mph constantly, all day long,” John said. “You don’t see many sailboats on the Gulf there,” Jeff added.
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.
Bucket List Sailor
A couple from Cleveland touring Williamsburg took time out to sail the York River on a mild summer afternoon. “I am 65, and this has been on my bucket list a long time,” said John Blaz. “I have experience on all kinds of boats, but never a sailboat.”
He was not disappointed. We got out of Sarah Creek channel and deployed the main to sail across to Yorktown. “This is so cool,” John said. “I can see why you love this so much.” His gal Pam Macura poured herself a glass of wine to celebrate the serenity of the cruise. She asked John if he wanted wine. “No. I’m busy.” Later he added, “This is the coolest thing I’ve done in years. You can really find your soul out here.”
We observed a US Navy destroyer passing upriver and through the Coleman Bridge. Earlier in the afternoon another destroyer exited the Naval Weapons Station, so this was unusual to see two so close together – after weeks of no activity by the Navy.
At Yorktown, we encountered four Navy Yard Patrol boats that were docked by midshipmen of the US Naval Academy in Annapolis. The boats have a history that dates back to World War II. These are quite modern and sleek.
Per Wikipedia: “Yard Patrol craft are used by the United States Navy for training and for research purposes. They are designated as YP in the hull classification symbol system. They were nicknamed “Yippy boats” after the “YP” classification symbol. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor the United States Navy leased California-based tuna boats for the duration of the war or “until victory”. On 16 February 1942, San Diego Port Director Commander W.J. Morcott called a meeting of tuna skippers and crews at the Naval Reserve Armory telling the men ‘The Navy needs men to man the [clippers] – experienced men, like yourselves. Needless to say, duty in the war zones will be hazardous.’ Six hundred tuna boat men volunteered to join their boats in the navy. The ships patrolled the coasts of the United States, the Panama Canal and served in several battles of the South Pacific, particularly the Battle of Guadalcanal.“
John allowed as I reminded him of his Polish uncle, “a real sea dog who was in the Polish Navy.” Wait. What? “Yes, Poland had a navy even though landlocked.”
He continued, “My other uncle was also Polish, but he was much nicer. He had trained as a swimmer for the Polish Olympic team, but World War II ruined that. Years later we went out fishing on Lake Erie and lost our outboard overboard. He dove down 25 feet and found it. When he came up, he said ‘Okay boys, get me some rope,’ and he dove down to tie it off. We pulled it up, but it was another engine instead! Then we got the original engine up as well. We went out fishing with one engine that day and came back with two.” Off in the distance, we saw the Patricia Moran tugboat head back to Norfolk.
Suddenly we spotted an osprey flying over us with a fish in his talons. An eagle swooped down and scared him into dropping the fish, which the eagle promptly caught in mid-air. Another eagle tried to snag it in a dogfight, to no avail. We headed in a few minutes early to avoid an approaching thunderstorm.
A Roanoke couple brought their one-year-old dog sailing for his first time. Sharon Huffman said, “Brisket is a mix dachshund. He wears a plaid shirt because Ricky likes plaid as well. They’re not matching, but you get the idea.”
We sailed on a similarly bright afternoon with mild winds that shifted slightly from the west to the southwest before tapering off.
By sheer coincidence, Ricky Wilcox spent 3-1/2 years in the Navy where he manned Yard Patrol boats like the ones at Yorktown. But not quite. “These are quite modern compared to what I served on. They train officers on every aspect of a larger warship, but they’re not as big. And they don’t have all the guns.”
Another couple joined us, celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary. Earl and Dashana Garnett know a thing or two about Navy ships, as they work at Newport News Shipyard. “I work in Transformation,” she said, “making sure everything conforms to everything else. I’ve been on ships from bottom to top, checking things out. I went on aircraft carriers CVN 73, 74 and 79 and found them too big for me – yet small. ‘You call these stairs?’ she said mockingly. ‘This is a ladder, not stairs. The stair railing is nothing but chain.’”
Earl is a Navy electrician who now runs the safety side of submarines. “They had an accident in port in the Nineties when a sub nearly sank because of a safety issue. I run a team that works in three shifts around the clock to guard against water, fire and other safety issues.”
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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