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Dream summer for a young man

by Larry S. Chowning

Fifteen-year-old Tommy Chiffriller of Richmond (above) recently bought a Columbia Contender at the Deltaville Maritime Museum “Field of Dreams” sale. He is using his new boat to cruise the Rappahannock River and has made a stop in Urbanna.
Most rising sophomores at Douglas Freeman High School in Richmond are not spending their summer gunk-holing on the Rappahannock River. Tommy Chiffriller, however, has become a bonafide and dedicated river rat.

At the age of 15, Chiffriller is on his third sailboat. He recently purchased a Columbia Contender sailboat at the Deltaville Maritime Museum’s “Field of Dreams” sale.

To get his new boat, he sold his first two sailboats and made enough money to move up in size. “The museum people had her all the way in the back and had her covered in plastic with a sign that said, ‘Project started but never finished.’ The moment I saw the boat, I knew I wanted her. She’s a great boat.”

The boat had no boom so Chiffriller and his grandfather, Albert Pollard, made and installed a boom and, with a little more work, soon had the boat in shipshape condition.

Pollard lives on Mosquito Creek in Lancaster County and Chiffriller has used his grandfather’s dock as homeport. He is spending some of his summer sailing the Rappahannock River.
“The one thing I’ve discovered on my adventures is how nice people are around the water,” said Chiffriller. 

He recently sailed to Tappahannock and ran aground going into Hoskins Creek. With some help from locals, he got off and under way. One of the people there gave him a rubber kayak for use when coming and going to shore from his boat.

Chiffriller has made several trips to Urbanna. What does he like about the town? No fast food restaurants or Wal-Marts. “When I went to Tappahannock, I loved Hoskins Creek, but just down the road was a Hardee’s and Wal-Mart,” he said.  “That’s not what I came to see. I can see that in Richmond.

“Urbanna has that small town, down-home feeling,” he said.  “I think that’s what makes it special.”

If he can talk his mother into letting him stay, Chiffriller plans to cruise some more this summer.  “I think I can talk her into two more weeks,” he said.  “If I can get a couple more weeks, I plan on cruising the Potomac.

“I have dreams of sailing to Bermuda before I get out of high school,” he added.

Chiffriller has caught the sailing bug at a young age and recently got an associate membership with Fishing Bay Yacht Club of Deltaville.

The young man certainly has some “get up and go,” and it’s a good bet he’ll make that sail to Bermuda before graduation—provided his mother lets him.

posted 07.24.2008

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