The Joy of Sailing
Wayne Frith brought his wife Jo and grown son Ian from Hopewell to Williamsburg to go sailing on the York River for his 20th birthday. Where they live, the James River is pretty tame for sailing. The idea was to show Ian the joy of sailing, but that proved difficult because the winds were so light that we went nowhere unless motoring. So we puttered out two barges and circled back before the wind kicked in. Once it did, we found ourselves heeling to 15 degrees and beyond on an exciting course. Ian loved it. We all did.
Wayne recalled their most memorable moment. “Jo and I were sailing a 16-foot dinghy, unballasted, out past Stingray Point. The wind picked up and we found ourselves surfing downwind on the swells. Inevitably we suffered an accidental jibe and the boat capsized. It turtled completely upside down. We arrived at the peak of the season for nettles.”
Jo interjected, “I avoided the jellyfish by scrambling on top of that overturned boat. I’ve been bitten before and I wasn’t going to get bitten again.”
Wayne continued, “A fellow in a 40-foot motorboat came along to assist, but he didn’t understand what I was saying. I wanted him to right the dinghy by slowly pulling a line I attached to the stays. Instead he kept overpowering the boat, jerking it in the water. It wouldn’t flip.
“He went away and eventually the Coast Guard showed up. I knew I was in trouble when I told the young man to attach the line to the stays, and he said, ‘What’s a stay?’ Oh, did I fail to mention that I lost the outboard in the accident? The Coast Guard fined me for failing to operate without a motor.”
Ironically, we were trying to avoid the Coast Guard coasties doing maneuvers in the York. As we headed in, one of them fired up his blue light and pulled us over. They found a boogie board in the water and fished it out. It wasn’t hard. While I had them there, I suggested they move their buddy away from Red No. 2 day mark since his boat was blocking our access to the return channel. They lumbered over there and had a protracted conversation. They wound up towing their buddy away from the day mark. either because he was disabled or just as an exercise. They attached the line to the bow, but I wondered if they knew where the stays were.
Let’s Go Sail
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