Chesapeake Bay: A love story

Is it a love story when a widow and a widower fall in love—not with each other, but with the Chesapeake Bay? Two years ago, at the age of 55, I became a widow and got my U.S. Coast Guard license to operate a 50-ton vessel. Herb, 81, recently widowed, and once an expert sailor on Canada’s Georgian Bay, moved aboard Ticketoo II, a 34-foot Catalina, on the Chesapeake
Author:
Updated:
Original:

Is it a love story when a widow and a widower fall in love—not with each other, but with the Chesapeake Bay? Two years ago, at the age of 55, I became a widow and got my U.S. Coast Guard license to operate a 50-ton vessel. Herb, 81, recently widowed, and once an expert sailor on Canada’s Georgian Bay, moved aboard Ticketoo II, a 34-foot Catalina, on the Chesapeake Bay. He was hoping to singlehand it to Florida.

After meeting at a marina on the Sassafras River, we decided we were compatible enough to spend a month together aboard Ticketoo II, exploring the Chesapeake from the Sassafras to Norfolk, Virginia.

We had both enjoyed long, happy marriages with landlubbers, and we hoped the brackish waters of the Chesapeake Bay would wash away our grief. If we could not have our first loves, then we would have our second: sailing. What we discovered was a new suitor: the bay itself.

Sailing south, we covered some of the same water that Captain John Smith explored 400 years earlier. We became engaged with American history. The past was present in the Native American names for places, the traditional watermen’s workboats, and the old schooners that graced the harbors. We saw mansions on the shores of old plantations where tobacco had been loaded onto ships bound for Europe. We peered at the murky waters that were once filtered to transparency by a massive oyster population, which is now sorely depleted. History was alive in Yorktown and Jamestown, Williamsburg, and St. Mary’s City.

All too soon, autumn came to the Bay, and with it, that twinge of sadness that overcomes sailors when summer is ending. In the evenings, Herb and I sat in the cabin listening to Beethoven and Mozart, Bach and Mahler. We read books. We remembered the people we had lost and wished they were with us. But, we discovered while on a broad reach in a 20-knot breeze, or in a quiet anchorage at sunset, even without them, life in the Bay was magnificent.

Related

Shelly-forward-last-day

Charter Advice for First-Timers

Never chartered? No worries. A vacation under sail can be the most memorable time of your life. That said, it also pays to be prepared by doing some reading, building your skills and listening to what the experts say. First and foremost, not all charter grounds are created ...read more

HugoBoss

Video: Vendeé Update

Last week Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) led the fleet across the equator. As one of the class' top sailors who's been on the Vendeé Podium twice, it seemed possible that Thomson was going to grab an early lead and hold on to it all the way around the world. But early on Saturday, he ...read more

AdobeStock_229409051

Chartering Again for the First Time

It’s been a rocky road of late for the charter industry, especially here in the Western Hemisphere. First came hurricanes Irma and Maria in the Caribbean followed by Dorian in the Bahamas. There has also, of course, been the coronavirus, which burst into global prominence ...read more

01 LEAD cedaryachtclub_onedesign18_hike

An Interview with Ayme Sinclair

In recent months, US Sailing, like many organizations, has been taking a closer look at diversity to ensure it’s doing the best job it can of introducing people from all backgrounds and ethnicities to the sport. As part of this effort, this past summer it organized an online ...read more

125768940_10222759720523627_5373654001582879638_n

US Sailing Presents Adaptive Sailing Panel

On Tuesday, November 24, US Sailing’s Leadership Forum will present the latest panel discussion in their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion series. This event will focus on adaptive sailing and provide practical recommendations for organizations looking to expand their adaptive ...read more

02-IMG_5971

A Carbon Neutral Circumnav with Jimmy Cornell

Historic anniversaries have always held a special fascination for me, especially if they mark a significant nautical achievement. In 1992, on the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ would-be voyage to India, I organized a transatlantic rally that followed the historic route of the ...read more

DJI_0068

SAIL Podcast: Jimmy Cornell’s Carbon-free Circumnav

In this episode of Point of SAIL, Principal Editor Adam Cort talks with bestselling author and pioneering bluewater sailor Jimmy Cornell, who set out November 19 on yet another circumnavigation aboard a newly designed, carbon-neutral Outremer 4Zero catamaran. The voyage, which ...read more

emirates-600x

Emirates Team New Zealand Splashes the last of the AC75s

Emirates Team New Zealand unveiled its second-generation AC75 yesterday, joining the other three America's Cup teams with boats in the water. In just over 100 days, this boat will attempt to defend the Cup for the Kiwis, but there's plenty of racing between now and then, with ...read more