Friday June 12, 2015 10:45AMon
On Thursday, June 4, four intrepid boats started out from Deltaville bound for Hampton: Tad and Sue Thompson in SWIM CALL, Vice Commodore Ted and Myra Bennet in PHAROS, Dan and Barbara Lindsay in IOLAR DA NARA, and Tony and Kate Sakowski in MISS KATE. It was not a sail for the faint of heart; it was a nor’easter with winds gusting over 25 knots, foreboding skies with intermittent rain, and seas up to 6 feet! We brought up the rear in SWIM CALL pounding into it from Stove Point until rounding Gwynn’s Island. Things got better for us all after that when we could put out jibs and motor sail with a quartering wind and sea. We even relaxed enough to kill the engine for a couple of hours heading south from New Pt Comfort as the wind subsided a bit. Then the fun began. First, we followed USCS EAGLE for a couple of miles at the end of Thimble Shoals Channel crossing the Hampton Roads tunnel! Then, we all gathered for dinner at the Old Point Comfort marina restaurant where we were docked. We all shared a real sense of accomplishment coming 41 miles in the nor’easter. The dreary, cool weather didn’t dampen our spirits and the food was good.
The next morning was cloudy, cool, and damp as we all got an early start, off by 0800. We had a short motor sail with the jib across Hampton Flats, but, after the turn to the north passing Newport News shipbuilding where we saw 4 flattops, it was a motor up the river into a light northerly breeze. We passed some interesting sights including the “ghost fleet” and Jamestown Island. The James River Bridge (Route 17) was accommodating to lift to allow the taller masted IOLAR and MISS KATE to pass underneath. Initially, the current was foul, but it was with us for the last couple of hours, and we arrived off Westover by 1530. MISS KATE anchored in 15 feet of water about 200 yards off the Westover lawn, and the rest of us tied up to the dock in 6 feet of water. Dinner on board; Tad and Sue had to return to Tuckahoe for a rehearsal dinner.
Saturday the sun reappeared as our boaters enjoyed a walk on the grounds while the grand lawn was readied for the 25th annual James River Association benefit auction picnic. Tad returned and all enjoyed the good food, drink, company, and auction under the tents on the lawn. After the picnic ended, we were invited to join friends and family to watch American Pharoah win the Belmont Stakes while mint juleps were served on the front steps of the magnificent house. Many thanks to Rob and Andrea Erda and Fred and Mouschie Fisher the owners and our hosts at Westover.
Sunday morning dawned sunny and calm, and IOLAR and PHAROS made good their escape from the dock at 0730 taking advantage of the slack tide. SWIM CALL wasn’t as lucky. After waiting for Bill and Jill Sharp to join the crew, it was a struggle to get off the dock against the current. By 0830 all four boats rendezvoused in the river from whence the flotilla motored down river boosted by a favorable current of at least a knot. Tad provided historic commentary on Flowerdew Hundred, Weyanoke, the Brandons and Dancing Point, supplemented by Google and other information from Tony Sakowski. By 1130 we were all anchored in the mouth of the Chickahominy River where the 52’ high bridge prevented us from motoring up the river for our crab feast. Shortly afterward, Walter and Susan Robertson picked us up in their speedboat for ride up the river to Wright’s Island Game Association’s hunting cabin where hunting guide and local resident Ryland Hazelwood was steaming a bushel of crabs. Various folks brought or fixed additional salads and treats as we were joined by Read Branch (SWIM CALL’s co-owner), Sue Thompson, Bill Moore and his friend Valerie. The feast was sumptuous and the crabs outstanding. Read graciously agreed to take the uneaten crabs home. Sue and Valerie returned home as well and the rest of us were hitched a ride again to our boats where we enjoyed the Lindsays’ hospitality for cocktails on board IOLAR. All anchors held despite a bit of a breeze in the night. It was a great day; many thanks to Ryland and to Walter and Tad, Wright’s Island members, for their hospitality.
Monday morning was sunny with a southerly breeze of around 15 knots. Starting with IOLAR, everyone was underway by 0900. After a few turns motoring down the river, the heading turned left enough for us to sail! Everyone made good time with the favorable current again, and once again, the JR Bridge cooperated on shorter notice than they might have like to let IOLAR and MISS KATE through. After a pleasant sail, we were all docked at Hampton Yacht Club by 1500. After time for relaxation, a walk or a nap, we convened at 1830 for dinner in the Yacht Club where we enjoyed the good food and each other’s company including serenades by Tad (singing his StC 3rd and 4th grade commencement songs including one about Jamestown) and Dan (who sang the delightful song about the fox out on the town-O)! Late in the night, snug in our bunks, it rained.
Tuesday dawned cloudy and foreboding with a dire forecast for thunderstorms with a cold front approaching. After an early conference “call” on channel 72, everyone decided to depart early and head straight for home. The sun came out and the storms didn’t materialize, and everyone enjoyed a terrific sail on a broad reach in a 15 knot breeze heading up the Bay. SWIM CALL was the last to leave and, true to her name, stopped for a swim north of the New Point Comfort spit where Tad and Bill Moore swam into the beach (and back). The wind faded a bit in the afternoon, but even SWIM CALL made it back to Fishing Bay by 1700 where she found Jamestown’s GODSPEED docked at the head of the bay during a stop to pump out the holding tank. In sum, a good time was had by all!