Hampton Public Piers, Hampton, VA to Parks Marina, Tangier, VA — May 20, 2014

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The wind forecast was good with the winds having switched to the southwest overnight.  Well once we exited the river onto the Chesapeake Bay the winds were really out of the west and we were rolling with the 2’ to 3’ waves.  We picked up the speed some and that helped but it was not the most comfortable ride. The sky was clear and the sun was out even though they were predicting a chance of rain.

There was a lot of chatter on the radio regarding Navy Ship exercises and maintaining a clear zone around the ship. Also had one broadcast where they were doing “demolition exercises”, and wanted a 2 mile clear zone.  The demolition exercise (whatever that was) was out on the Atlantic at least 15 miles south of us.

We saw several Ships/freighters anchored out in the Chesapeake Bay on the East Side. They all looked like they were empty and we never got within a couple of miles of them. They were probably “salties” waiting for a cargo at one of the ports.

I called Parks Marina on the mobile phone and got an answering machine so I left a message for Mr. Parks and figured he would call back. As we approached Tangiers Island it is a low lying Island that is probably no more than 6’ above high tide.  We could see a lot of buildings and a water tower. The main channel into the island area cuts right thru the center from east to west.  We came in the east side because I thought the Island would give us some protection from the wind but thankfully the wind had subsided to almost nothing as we approached. The channel was well marked and about 6’ to 7’ deep at the shallowest points and we were coming in about an hour after low tide.

It is quite an experience to see Tangiers.  All the shoreline along the channel is lined with docks and fishing boats.  The men go out fishing for crabs and they are called Watermen. We saw lots of boats out on the Bay and several followed us into the harbor.

I tried raising the Marina on 16/72 but with no success.  Another boat came on and said that Mr Parks goes not answer the phone or the radio. We proceeded in and found the marina.  We pulled alongside one of the larger docks and tied up. The impression you get is an old, old fishing village. The marina had a few boats in the slips.

We talked with a couple who were on a boat at the marina and they indicated that Mr. Parks was in the hospital.  He had had a pacemaker installed a while back and an infection had developed. The people who were there the previous night had left checks with them and they were leaving in the morning. I gave them a check for our dockage, $35.00 and one other boat that had come in also gave them a check. Later in the afternoon a woman came by saying she was related to Mr. Parks and I told her the one of the other couples had the dockage fees. She thanked us and went over to see them.

Candy and I walked thru the town.  It has its own Post Office, Historical Museum, Fire Station, grocery store and probably 5 restaurants. The main road is probably one lane wide and all the houses are wood framed and not very large.  I took some pictures to try and give you a flavor of Tangiers. The main mode of transportation is electric golf cart although I did see 3 pickups and 1 car. You can rent a golf cart or bicycle. The island is absolutely flat.  If there is a big blow the place must be underwater.

2 Ferries come over each day with tourists, from Reedville and Crisfield.  The ferries leave at 5:00 and everything closes up for the night.  Some of the gift shops are only open Friday and Saturdays. One of the reviews I saw said there were more dead people here that living ones and the settlement dates back to the early 1800’s. There are graves all over the place and maybe the comment is true.

I thought it was a nice place with a lot of character. Certainly different than some of the “big city” marinas we have visited.  I would come back here again.

Top Rack Marina, Chesapeake, VA to Hampton Public Piers, Hampton, VA — May 18, 2014

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We planned on cruising from Top Rack to Cape Charles on the Eastern Shore today.  They had a problem at Top Rack with the fuel dock when we arrived.  The computer had crashed and they could not pump fuel.  We were at the dock this morning at 8:00 when they opened.  We departed at 8:20, great service.

The sky was about half clouds and the temps were in the 60’s but as the sun came up it warmed some.  The wind was light at Top Rack and they were calling for 10 to 15 mph out of the north on the Chesapeake Bay.

Early Sunday the traffic was light and the tide did not bother us.  We passed the Port of Norfolk on the South side of town.  There were also a number of dry dock areas where Navy Ships were being retrofitted.  Some of the ship was covered with tarps and I assumed that they were cleaning and painting those areas.

The Downtown Norfolk area looked nice from the water.  Not much activity in the morning.  We did see a couple of large tugs but they were not moving any barges.  The only low bridges were 4 or 5 railroad bridges and those are normally up unless there is a scheduled train.

South of Norfolk is a large are on the Eastern shore that houses a large number of Naval Ships that are also being retrofitted.  These did not appear to be in dry dock. This section of the River is fairly straight and heads due north and runs right up to the Chesapeake Bay. It is probably 8 to 10 miles long.  The water was getting pretty rough and the wind seemed stronger than 15 mph so we decided to go to Hampton VA in lieu of Cape Charles.  We had not been to Hampton Last Summer.

Active Captain is great because I was able to call up the app on my IPhone and decide that we would stay at the Hampton Public Piers.  I called and made a reservation and that is all it took. This was actually the plan B I had in mind in case the wind was to much.

The Hampton Public Piers are all the way in on the river and that would cut down on traffic  on the river and the wake we would see on the boat.  The marina does have a Ferry Boat that takes passengers on tours of the Norfolk area and it also has a large fishing boat where they can take out dozens and dozens of fishermen at one time.

The marina is right in the downtown area and associated with the adjacent Crown Plaza Hotel.  If we had wanted to we could have used their pool or sauna.  The Virginia Air and Space Center  was just a short walk away and they also had Imax movies.  The Downtown district was pretty neat and had lots of shops, bars and restaurants.

The only bad thing was that on our first walk, Candy and I were attacked by a bird.  It wasn’t a barn swallow but it did some dive bombing at me and did touch the back of my shirt a couple of times.  This also happened the second time we went out even though we put a variation into the route.  We stayed away from that park area the rest of the stay.  On the morning we left we were coming back from our downtown walk and had another bird problem.  This was about 6 blocks from where the first problem was so I am assuming it was a different bird. Oh Well!!

This was a good stop that we enjoyed.

Lamb’s Marina, Elizabeth City, NC to Top Rack Marina, Chesapeake, VA — May 15, 2014

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Another nice sunny day but the rain is sitting in the western part of North Carolina and moving slowly east.  Our plan was to go to the Dismal Swamp Visitor Center free dock for the next 2 nights. According to the weather reports it is going to rain all day tomorrow.  We decided to pass thru the canal and move on to Top Rack the marina we fueled at last year.

The day stayed sunny for most of the morning and then the clouds started to move in. We did stop at the Visitor Center to walk Candy but we got back on the canal in about 20 minutes.  You enter and leave the canal by lock with a lift/or drop of about 8′. The locks only operate at 8:30, 11:00, 1:30 and 3:30. We entered at the 11:00 lock and left at the 3:30 lock.

After we left the Visitor Center we had about a 5 minute shower.  It was heavy enough to obscure the boat about 1/2 mile ahead of us.  It did cool off the temps a little and that was welcome.

The canal is a swamp on the west side and a highway/road runs along the east side.  Some homes along the east side but probably not more than about 20 for the 21 mile length.  Originally George Washington had about 15.000 acres of land and was the president of the Dismal Swamp Owners Association.  The Plan was to harvest the cypress trees and use the canal to move the timber to market. Before this got underway an easier harvest area was opened along one of the readily accessible sounds in North Carolina but the canal had already been built.

Much has been written about the Dismal Swamp Depth and the Army Corp tries to maintain a minimum of 6′.  We did not see anything less than 6′ but we did hit some dead heads that were essentially submerged.  I did not see them until we heard the clunk and them saw it surface behind the boat.  We have no low speed vibration so I am hoping there is no damage.

The rain tomorrow may help us because we are staying at Top Rack Marina.  They had a slip for us with power tonight, but all the slips with power were already reserved for tomorrow night.  If it rains enough the reservations may not be used.

We are going to need to watch the weather closely because from here we will start up the Chesapeake Bay.  Last year we did the western side of the Chesapeake Bay and this year we will do the eastern side. I am still planning the stops but it looks like our first stop will be Cape Charles which is just North of the Atlantic Ocean Entrance to the Chesapeake Bay.

Dozier’s Regatta Point Marina, Deltaville VA. to Reedville Marina, Reedville VA. — May 10, 2013

Short run today so we were in no hurry to leave the marina.  Candy had 2 walks this morning before departure and had a chance to spend some time with Tundra.

The water was flat today with an extremely light breeze out of the south.  The biggest problem was all the crab pot markers in the water.  The only place they do not seem to put them are in the marked channels and there are not many of those.  I needed to pay close attention and I almost ran over 2 different ones but saw them just in time to avoid the markers.

We cruised to Reedville, VA.  A small fishing village on the west side of the Chesapeake Bay off one of the creeks.  It is on a peninsula and the whole peninsula is Reedville with the road running up center of the peninsula.  There is a restaurant right with the marina that is about 50′ from the boat. it is a seafood place, The Crazy Crab, and I hope it is good.

Candy and I walked Main Street.  There are a couple restaurants and an Ice Cream & Gift Shop.  The rest of the buildings are homes that are older and very well kept.  I took some photos of the homes.  We only walked about 1/2 mile up Main Street.

The weather forecast for tomorrow and Sunday are for rain and the wind out of the Northwest so we may be here a day longer than we planned.

Nauticus Marina, Norfolk, VA. to Dozier Regatta Point Marina, Deltaville, VA. — May 9, 2013

After a couple of days of scattered showers it was nice to have a sunny morning with light winds from the south.

We got a late start today and the river was full of traffic.  No real large boats but none the less pretty busy.  It is about 12 miles from downtown Norfolk to get to the Chesapeake Bay and the traffic was gone by that time.  Along the way there are several miles of ship yards with most of the slips full of Navy ship undergoing some type of work.  There was even a Red Cross ship sitting in a slip.  We saw destroyers, battle ships and probably 4 aircraft carriers. It is amazing how many ships are there and then to realize there still is a Naval presence on several areas of the world.  There is a tour boat that goes from Norfolk to the ship yard and then cruises slowly by and I am sure they are relating information on all the boats that are there.

It was nice to be out on a “calm” big body of water.  The Chesapeake Bay was very kind to us today.  We cruised north just far enough offshore to make sure we were away from the shoals and shallow water.  Lots of crab pot markers to contend with but the style they use on the Chesapeake is easier to spot than those in Florida.  We passed maybe 4 or 5 sailboats and were passed by only one power boat.  We traveled most f the way at about 9 mph.  A nice slow pace.

Deltaville, VA is a nice small town with about 800 residents and probably 2,000 boats.  It has good access to the Chesapeake.  The Dozier Regatta Point Marina is the home to the Waterways Guide publications and they are sponsoring an after rendezvous get together for Loopers who are interested.  We stayed here because of the late start out of Norfolk but the area is very nice and worth a trip back.

Dismal Swamp Welcome Center, NC to Nauticus Marina, Norfollk, VA — May 5, 2013

We took our time this morning getting ready to depart because there are only 4 lock openings each day at each lock and we decide to make the 1:30 opening.  We would then get fuel at a marina called Top Rack and then on to Norfolk.

The Dismal Swamp is really interesting with the water depth maintained at approximately 6′.  The Corp of Engineers comes thru once each year and trims the branches and moves debris to the shore to keep it open. The Swamp is fresh water from draining the adjacent countryside so in times of dry weather they may close to Dismal Swamp to boat traffic because they cannot maintain a water level.   As we traveled there were some really tight areas and I am glad we did not pass any other boats headed southbound.

We joined back with the Virginia Cut waterway about 2 miles after we exited the Dismal Swamp North Lock. We turned right to go about 1 mile to Top Rack Marina as all 3 boats were going to fuel.  After Champ III was tied up Fandango came into the dock and then Adagio. Adagio is a Ranger Tug that is about 27′, just large enough for Sanford and Tundra.  As Adagio was getting close to the dock and we had a line, Tundra was anxious to exit the boat and tried to jump the gap and did not make it.  We had him swim to the main dock where we tried to hoist him up but his 125 lbs. plus probably 20 lbs. of water in the fur made it difficult but finally he was on the dock.  Not a real good arrival in Norfolk.

The trip from Top Rack Marina into downtown Norfolk is pretty interesting in that there are Navy ships all over the place being worked on.  Many of the ship areas are covered in tarps so they can work out of the wind and weather.  Most of the Naval activity is on the Norfolk side but there is some on the Portsmouth side.  There are lots of security boats patrolling the river with their blue lights flashing to make you aware they are there.

We originally planned on staying in Portsmouth, VA. right across the river from Norfolk but wanted to enjoy some time with Kate and Don on Fandango and Sanford (with Tundra) on Adagio.  Don wanted to stay in Norfolk and found us slips at the Nauticus Marina.  It is a little 15 slip marina next to the Navel Museum.  It was originally intended for day boaters to come in to see the museum exhibits.  Now 1/3 of the slips are used by the City of Norfolk Fire Boats, etc.  It turned out to be a busy place during the late morning and early afternoon but pretty quite all the other time.

I went to the Naval Museum the next day and they have the 2nd floor devoted to the Norfolk Area development and general commercial maritime activities.  The 3rd floor is pretty much devoted to the US Navy through the years with special attention to the Battleship Wisconsin because the ship is in the water on the North side of the Museum.  You can tour the ship if you want.  The exhibits are fascinating and we spent a couple of hours touring the Museum.

The museum attracts a lot of school kids and they had a teenage marching band at the museum and they were up on the skywalk.  They played for a couple of hours and were quite good.

The American Great Loop Cruisers Association (AGLCA) had their Spring Rendezvous at the Waterside Marina, just about 1/4 mile from where Nauticus Marina is.  We did not plan on attending the Rendezvous but it was nice to see some of the other Loopers we met along the way.