Who goes sailing

“It’s remarkable how quickly a good and favorable wind can sweep away the maddening frustrations of shore living.” – Ernest K. Gann

Those who cruise with Let’s Go Sail on the York River cross all demographics, but they tend to skew more affluent. They are slightly overweight but never obese, and they have some college background. Many have never been on a boat before. Some have never seen so much water. A few have more experience than me. My business breaks down by by five other metrics.

Who Goes Sailing: 20% Young Couples

Who Goes SailingThey are often newlyweds on their honeymoon in Williamsburg. Others have just gotten engaged or are about to get engaged — on the boat! Multiple couples make it a day’s outing to get away from the kids. Many people treat the cruise as a surprise birthday gift (“Whew! I was afraid he was going to take me skydiving.”) Others treat it as bucket list item, only to regret they waited so long to test the waters. Too many couples are going for their last fling before a spouse is deployed overseas. All of them are simply out for a good time, with beer and wine to assist.

20% Families

Who Goes SailingNext, parents aged 30s and 40s find sailing a fun adventure for their children. Kids ranging from 10 to 15 do just fine on the helm, where they get to run a boat that’s bigger (and more expensive) than the family car. Teenagers put down their smart phones to take in the air and hoist the lines for physical activity. Everyone enjoys a picnic lunch on board. It’s all about family bonding, especially among mixed families with new members and military families before deployment.

20% Lessons 

Who GoesCouples, families, solo sailors and others enjoy a set of informal lessons that can be fully learned in three hours. The basic take just ten minutes. (“That’s it? That’s all there is to it?”) Then guests get to “see” the wind like never before while tacking with it for speed and maneuvering. They get to appreciate how the boat heels, or leans with the wind.

Who GoesOn a good day, we get to fly the spinnaker, which is an optic delight. Lessons are a great gift to Dad for his birthday or Father’s Day. Teens enjoy the lessons as creative and challenging. It’s a useful grounding for those going on longer cruises who want to get their sea legs.The Lessons Cruise tees up sailors for accredited classes by the American Sailing Association, in nearby Norfolk or anywhere around the country.

Who Goes Sailing: 40% Older Couples 

Who GoesFinally, people in their 50s and 60s enjoy sailing because it’s relaxing, intimate, adventurous and comfortable. Two or three couples who travel together on vacation will find it a nice break from touring museums or shopping. Break out the Bloody Marys and the hors d’oeuvres.

Many couples are returning to Tidewater after decades away from their military service. Others are seeing the Historic Triangle for the first time and its abundance of open water. Other couples are grandparents with the grandchildren, giving the grown-ups a break for the afternoon. They all like to sail, even though they haven’t tried it before. Memories are engraved here. 

Others who enjoy sailing

Photographers are mesmerized by the birds that populate the York. In the summer the osprey dominate the water. Once they leave for South America, the cormorants, seaguls and pelicans return. A blue heron hangs around the marina all year long.

Who GoesSwimmers enjoy jumping in on a hot day when there isn’t much wind. They find a clean river with water temperatures approaching 90 degrees.

Musicians are surprised to find how agile they are on the helm. My sense is that their powers of concentration and their nimble hands combine to learn sailing within minutes. 

Teachers reflect the same attributes as musicians, and they are very good at taking directions. Or as one told me, “I watch a lot of TV!”

Those Who GoMedically challenged patients find great solace on the water. I’ve done a few with severely disabled children and enjoyed watching their reaction.

Fishermen don’t pull out the rod, but they enjoy the mix of 200 types of freshwater and saltwater fish that fill the York. Blues, spot, croaker are the top three. They and everyone else are amazed to see pods of dolphin suddenly swimming alongside Let’s Go Sail.

Those WhoAthletes get a kick out of heeling to 20 degrees and the heft required to haul in the sails at that angle. They relish the sea spray coming over the bow.

Doctors & Lawyers enjoy the solitude away from whining patients and clients.

History lovers enjoy hearing about the Battle of the Capes and the Siege of Yorktown in 1781. We sail to the very spot where Cornwallis’s flagship Charon burned to the waterline from bombardment by the French on shore. 

Who GoesNavy vets and patriots of all stripes gawk at the arrival of warships in the York as they transit the Coleman Bridge on the way to the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station. Here is the longest swing bridge in America and the only double swinger. A sight to behold. The video below shows the USS Laboon transiting from NWS through the bridge and out toward Norfolk.

Who GoesArchitects, builders and historians marvel at the mix of housing along the shores of the York. Little England boasts a heritage dating to 1727, and the wood wing on the north side dates to 1691. A contemporary house (shown here) replaced a smaller house and spans 3,000 square feet per floor.

Incidentally, Ernest Gann’s “maddening frustrations of shore living” are universal.

Let’s Go Sail

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