On our visit to Yorktown, I saw the city as the French first did in 1781, when the fleet of Admiral De Grassein arrived to support General Washington’s attack on Yorktown. Together, they began the attack on General Cornwallis and his troops. The siege against the British started on September 30th. On the 9th of October, the Patriots began their artillery bombardment. With supplies of ammunition and food nearly depleted, Cornwallis’ army marched out of Yorktown and surrendered on October 19th.
At this crossroads of the American Revolution, I was aboard the Serenity, a 65′ double masted gaff-rigged schooner, scanning the shores of Yorktown from the York River.
After we left the dock, a few of us became working hands, helping to raise the sails to get under way. Leaving the dock and entering the York River, we had a great view of Yorktown. From the water, you can see how the Yorktown Victory Monument towers above the town. During my Segway tour of the historic district, I had seen homes damaged by the cannonballs fired from where I was now sailing.
Sailing under the Coleman Bridge, I realized that it was like no other bridge I had ever seen. It pivots in two places to create a large enough opening to allow huge military ships access to an ordinance facility. The captain told me that it is the largest double swing bridge in the United States.
Double swing bridges are not very common. The longest one in the world is across the Suez Canal. I wonder how many of the thousands of people people who drive across this unique bridge daily realize how special it is?
Returning to the dock, we watched our sister ship, the 105′ Alliance, sail by. She is noticeably larger, a three-masted schooner. We watched her raise her canvas sails one by one as she sailed off into the distance.
I have sailed a cutter-rigged and many sloop-rigged sail boats before. Each had only a single mast, and just two or three sails. Seeing the Alliance with huge canvas sails on her three masts was a beautiful sight.
It’s Your Turn
What: Yorktown Sailing Charters
Where: Yorktown, Virginia
Why: A relaxing way to see Yorktown. Excursions offered daily.