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:
Publish date:
chesapeake_bay_widower

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

mcarthy-and-mouse

Experience: McCarthy and the Mouse

Sitting at the helm in a light breeze, my arms crusted with a fine rime of salt, my skin so dry I’d lost my fingerprints, I heard a clatter and a curse from below. There were only three of us a thousand miles from shore and only one on watch at a time. Usually, the off watch lay ...read more

2018-giftGuide

2018 Holiday Gift Guide

Brass Yacht Lamp Does someone on your gift list spend the whole winter missing the warm days on the water? Let them bring a little bit of nautical atmosphere home with this new lamp from Weems & Plath. The glass enclosure means the flame cannot be blown out even by ...read more

image001

Opinion: On Not Giving Up Sailing

E.B. White was 64 when he wrote his now-famous essay “The Sea and the Wind That Blows,” which begins as a romantic paean to sailing and then drifts, as if spun around by a pessimistic eddy of thought, into a reflection on selling his boat. Does an aging sailor quit while he’s ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com A Helping Hand  This is a real-world solution, and I expect correction by my betters. However, anyone whose seacocks are modern ball valves rather than the grand old tapered cone variety may care to ...read more

1812-JeanneaueNewsVideo

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 410

Designed by Marc Lombard, the Sun Odyssey 410 shares much in common with her older siblings including of course, the walk-around deck. Other features that set the 410 apart from other models being introduced this year include the 410’s “negative bow” shape allowing for a longer ...read more

shutterstock_698968441

Cruising: The Bahamas

“The ‘Explorer’ chartbooks. All three.” “An unlocked phone. But good luck with BTC.” “Spam. It’s ‘spensive there!” These were just a few suggestions we received from fellow sailors who had cruised the Bahamas when we asked how to best prepare for the trip. In fact, several ...read more

windsensor

Gear: B&G Wind Sensors

Sense the Wind B&G has launched a new line of wind sensors, including the WS320, a wireless system that is suitable for masts up to 80ft. Wireless wind sensor technology has been hit-and-miss, with some users reporting intermittent signal failure on tall rigs, but B&G, citing ...read more