Thursday morning was such a glorious day for a short day of cruising, it’s a shame we wasted it on a short day of cruising.
Because the ten miles up to Norfolk promised to be easy, Dana got a nice run in, during which she discovered a small battlefield park that Doug then walked to at a much more civilized pace.
We couldn’t verify it ourselves, but one of the many informational signs claimed that The Battle of Great Bridge was the first land battle in which the colonial upstarts defeated the mighty British. If that were true we’d expect something more prominent here. Indeed, the first artillery piece to fire a shot in the battle now is in front of some silly county building in Ohio, which seems like an odd place if that cannon literally started the string of successes that led to us using dollars instead of euros. However, at a minimum a band of gutsy farmers beat back the redcoats and sent Royal Governor Lord Dunmore scuttling home to Mother England. Pretty cool little place.
Fortunately, we had no battle over either The Great Bridge—which lifted for us right on time—or The Great Bridge Lock, which likely is the last lock we’ll see until the Federal Lock in Troy, New York.
Of course, the Dismal Swamp sign mocked us yet again. Grrrrr.
Although the distance we were traveling may have been short, the time it took not so much. Because the @#!%ing Norfolk Railroad Bridge Number 7 lowered just before we reached it. Both times through here we’ve been stopped, for two trains each time. And those trains are slow. And the bridge operator is unwilling to raise the bridge until the last train across reaches Atlanta. We left AYB planning a thirty-minute buffer for Dana’s noon conference call, but that and more was eaten up by what now officially is our least favorite bridge in the world.
Finally, however, we busted on up the Elizabeth River through the naval shipyards. This part we like.
Yup, this is cool stuff. Like the USS George H.W. Bush, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.
Although our spot at Waterside Marina looks serene enough, we spent most of Thursday afternoon and evening wrangling electrical issues. Not ours, but the marina’s. According to the dockhands, shortly after our arrival the main electrical service entrance started smoking, which isn’t a good thing. So they shut down the docks, all of which we discovered only after returning from lunch to find our boat involuntarily off the grid. Which meant no air conditioning despite the extent to which people from Arizona rely upon it. “The electrician will be here at 6:30,” they said at 2:30 just as the day was heating up. A combo of the generator and some luck got us through until we got power back, however, and we did like our spot.
Interesting side note. Remember Lord Dunmore from ten miles and a few paragraphs ago? The marina WiFi password is dunmore1. Can’t be a coincidence. We’re debating whether to notify the FBI that there’s a Tory in the Waterside IT department.
Later Thursday evening, the awkwardly-named Perseus^ 3 showed up. Now this is a damn big sloop. Nearly two hundred feet long. Even bigger than her sister ship Parsifal III, which we would know all about if we watched that trashy Bravo show Below Deck where all the crew sleep with each other and then regret it, but we don’t watch trashy shows like that. Except sometimes.
We know it’s a crappy picture, but the Captain had the temerity to leave Saturday morning without warning us to get our camera ready for a better one.
Here’s something you don’t see every day. A battleship bow-in to a city street. It almost looks like that time Jack Colton pulled his sailboat through Manhattan to woo Joan Wilder, except much bigger. It’s the USS Wisconsin in case anyone wonders.
Friday one of us slept all day in his fuzzy cat-sized bed, one of us hiked around town and got a pedicure, and one of us visited the MacArther Memorial. The former two failed to take any worthwhile notes or photos, but the museum was awesome.
For anybody interested in military history, this is a must-stop stop. Full of memorabilia and interesting details of the great General’s career, some well-known and some obscure. Like the fact that his mother got an apartment to be near him at West Point. If that doesn’t get you hazed, nothing will.
According to the half-hour video, MacArthur almost single-handedly won WWII for the good guys.
Not to undermine MacArthur’s very significant contributions, but we’ve also been to the Nimitz museum in Fredericksburg, Texas, where they’re pretty sure local boy Admiral Chet deserves most of the glory. Others might point to Fat Man and Little Boy (the atomic bombs not the Paul Newman bomb). We think the outcome is all that matters, of course, because the outcome is all that matters. The memorial and museum and marble coffin lids were awesome though.
But wait! There’s more! In addition to almost innumerable plaudits, awards, and medals, the Five-Star General has his name right there on the mall. Fredericksburg doesn’t even have a Dillards, or Spencer Gifts, or Orange Julius, which pretty much settles any debate.
What Norfolk has in boats and heroes, unfortunately, it lacks in pickleball. Just outside the back of the mall on what looks to be an abandoned parking lot we did find painted courts, but sadly we’re not traveling with our own nets or with opponents so no pickleball for us.
Friday night the marina filled up, which mostly was ok but we could’ve done without the dude who blocked our view of the concert stage when the somewhat decent cover band started playing.
We really like Norfolk, but somewhat ironically we might like leaving Norfolk even more. Because heading north we get to pass the Norfolk Naval Base. It’s not quite as jammed as Pearl Harbor, but it’s still dang awesome.
Yup, that’s USS Ramage—aka Warship 61–the guided-missile destroyer which may have frightened us into submission last time through but this time they had the good sense to stay out of our way.
Next up, USS Gerald R. Ford, the largest military vessel in the world. Nearly five thousand sailors and pilots and whatnots live aboard when underway. With two nuclear reactors she can cruise at thirty knots continuously until about 2050, except with a crew that size they probably need to stop for lots of pump-outs.
And then next door we have another Nimitz-class carrier, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. Her claim to fame is the involuntary record-setting 205 days at sea, when the Navy decided that at least one ship should remain Covid free. True story.
It’s cool to see these boats lined up in their slips, but we’d really like to see one underway. Oh well, maybe next time. Hey wait! That’s a Navy Security Vessel on the radio, warning that a carrier is returning from sea and that everybody should get the hell out of her way. He didn’t use those exact terms but we took it that way, and when he later specifically asked us—and by “asked us” we mean told us—to get Tumbleweed to the other side of the green channel marker, we obliged. Those dudes had mounted machine guns.
Dana got some good shots of USS Harry S Truman as we slid past anyway.
Doug wanted to ask for a fly-by on behalf of Ghost Rider, based on the assumptions that (1) they’ve all seen Top Gun and (2) they’ve got a sense of humor. But again, those dudes had machine guns. Reel Grace was following us up to Deltaville and Tim took the money shot as we approached. Because of the distance it’s kind of hard to tell, but we’re pretty sure all those people on the flight deck are lined up trying to get good photos of Tumbleweed.
Another startling coincidence. Reel Grace used to be George and Meg’s Viridian, which we first met in Rock Hall the same life-changing day we met Second Wave. We last saw her as Viridian—with a for sale sign—at Grand Harbor on Pickwick Lake. Small world.
Anyway, done with Norfolk means done with the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. Back out on the Chesapeake Bay for the next couple of weeks or so. More specifically for now, back to Deltaville, like a buzzard that keeps returning to an armadillo that’s been smushed by a truck. For anyone who isn’t up to date, until four years ago we’d never even heard of this place. Then we were stuck here in the freezing rain for three weeks in 2018. Then at the end of the Loop we were stuck here again for a few days, but at least we had Brent and Karen along for emotional support. Then last year we brought Misty Pearl back down to stage for sale, although that was a business trip so no blog posts to prove it.
It’s not that there’s much too wrong with Deltaville, it’s just that there’s not much to Deltaville. And what little there is isn’t close to the marinas. But we arrived in time for a grocery run in the courtesy car—yes, the engine warning light was on, because that’s in the courtesy car regulations—and docktails at sunset with Tim and Jen.
Sunday brought Barry and Robin from Crossroads, which used to be our sister Selene 43 but then we broke up the family and shacked up with another family. Barry is an electronics whiz and is helping with a few things. Great to catch up.
Tomorrow will be our second shortest cruising day in history, behind only that time Misty Pearl and Second Wave had to move slips in Clayton and Brent still celebrated with his post-docking Shiner Bock. Zimmerman Marine is about a hundred yards away. We’re leaving Tumbleweed over there for minor work and heading to the mountains.