Remember when Virginia’s slogan was, “Virginia is for Lovers?” or maybe it still is; can’t say we have any clue. But crossing the state line into Virginia put a smile on our faces because the free dock awaited us by the bascule bridge in Great Bridge (Chesapeake)VA and Hampton was right up the road a piece. (teeny inside joke there) The osprey were in full family raising and I had ample time and opportunity to photograph to my heart’s content. Sorry the day was overcast though.
We seldom require a bridge opening with Twin Sisters but the approach to Norfolk/Portsmouth from the south offers the chance to “dance with other boats at bridges” a few times. The spring snowbird trek north is more spread out than in the fall/winter and the ICW isn’t usually as busy. However, whether fall or spring, nearly all boats “travel inside” between Norfolk (Mile 0) and Beaufort, NC. Hey, we may live a crazy life but we aren’t insane enough to round Cape Hatteras!
Therefore, we travel with more boat traffic north of Beaufort, with bridges being the gathering spots. This day being a Sunday offered a small benefit, the bridge after North Landing opened on request (I dislike the term “demand”) which meant we could proceed at a more sane pace to make the third bridge which opens only on the hour. For us and most in our “pack” that would mean being there at 1pm.
We hoped to snag a spot on the free dock immediately south of the Great Bridge Bascule Bridge, but just in case it was full, no way did we want to dance around for an entire hour. Good move on the part of the travel planner (me) as the dock was full; we went last under the open bridge at 1pm and slid easily onto the free dock just past the bridge! Much appreciate having two docks. Only one sailboat mid-way so we took our preferred spot at the far northern end- farthest from the bridge.
Snarfed a quick lunch then did the easy couple block walk to the Farm Fresh grocery, noting the Chili’s and Panera along the way. Battlefield Blvd is one busy road, but sidewalks and crossing signals make walking very easy, and safe.
Nighttime is another story because as many of you know, “it always happens at night.” The bridge opens on request after 8pm, the time when pleasure boats should be tucked in all comfy for the night. Commercial vessels love the dark hours, I’ll bet. We heard the horn signal for the bridge to open and did what any self-respecting person nearby would do; we stepped outside, binoculars and photo-taking device in hand. Lordy, that tug pushing that barge sure looked monstrous in the narrow waterway that is between the bridge and the lock.
The duo passed by slowly and carefully and although we were “this close”, did not feel even the slightest wake.
The next morning, Monday May 22, we took the 9am Great Bridge Lock opening with one other boat. The water level never changes more than 18” up or down (my kind of lock!) and today’s change was even less. Easy in, tie up and out in no time. Next stop was Top Rack Marina (SM 7) for cheap and easy fuel-up.
Between the lock (SM 12) and Mile 0 are several railroad bridges that are very high when open, but when they occasionally close (often in the morning it seems), no one fits under. These closures are announced on CH 16 and you sure better know which bridge is which; we eventually learned to make a note on our flip chart. No sooner did we get past the one at Gilmerton, and the warning came it would close “shortly”. Whew- doing well today.
Not all the fancy yachts with assorted toys are in the tropics!
We closed the book at Mile 0- yay! another trip logged successfully. This would be our 12th; seven years, less one RV year, for six boat cruising years.
Warship 56 pulled out from Pier 5- like we know where that is, but we had an idea- after several warning announcements. Pretty sure she’s headed south to the live fire practice zone off Camp Lejeune in Onslow Bay.
She’s a good size, but looked tiny compared to the container ship who passed us both heading in.
Destination: Hampton, VA, a place we’d heard tell of many times but had only stopped for the first time last fall to hide from Hurricane Matthew. Our reservation was at Hampton Public Piers, in the heart of downtown Hampton. The only slips we’d fit into had short finger piers so we backed in. A short finger pier can mean a piling further out you have to toss a looped line over. Note to self: try to remember that in the future!!
Fenders were set, lines ready to toss but not one (we don’t use our good blues ones for this) ready for the piling. I clearly was acting like a clueless crew member, so Russ came down to do the job. Not a good idea to leave the helm, let me say that, but two guys had our lines and with virtually no wind, no harm could come.
The wind blew, the rain pelted down in buckets and in between we visited Glazed Doughnuts- bought some too!, enjoyed lunch one day and dinner the next at Venture, pondered a visit to the brewery but the walk was so far (yep like right behind us), snipped some parsley from the Boater Community Garden and chatted with dock neighbors.
We’d hoped to visit the fort but Mother Nature had other ideas. Guess that means another visit. 🙂 . Really love Venture- drinks, food and the service. Plus we always get a booth opposite the kitchen.
The above news story caught us by surprise; buildings around us provided so much protection, and of course the wind would be stronger “out there”.
Saturday looked like an amazingly benign day to head up the coast to Cape May; a long day for sure but doable. We planned to stage 4 miles closer by leaving the marina Friday afternoon, but due to strong west winds had to stay on the western shore rather than anchor off Cape Charles which would save plenty miles.
So what’s our rush? Nothing, except someone wanting to take advantage of a perfect day. We’d miss seeing Ann & Mike in Solomons, which was a bummer, but to not do laundry with Spot and steal a sniffy kiss, well that was downright depressing! Next trip- promise!!