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.