After a brief trip home from May 11th to May 19th, we returned to Norfolk and In MY Element ready to depart on Monday, May 20th. We were headed to Cape Charles which is a small community on the southern tip of the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay. It was described by some boating friends as the "Mayberry"of the Chesapeake. Finding that we are attracted to smaller out-of-the -way marinas, we wanted to find out.
First though, we had to depart Norfolk. There is no way you can enter or depart Norfolk harbor without being awestruck by the number and size of the Naval vessels in port.
And those are just the ones that you can see from your own boat. Two huge ships stood out though.
The first one was the USNS Comfort. This is the third ship to bear that name and the second "Mercy-class" hospital ship. The ship is owned by the US Navy but staffed by civilians from the Military Sealift Command.
It was originally an oil tanker but was converted to a hospital ship. Its home port is now Norfolk after having been in Baltimore for 25 years. These folks respond to worldwide emergencies and usually take 4 days to get under way. They were ready to go in one day after 9/11.
The other ship that caught our eye was the USS Enterprise.
Now in the process of being decommissioned, it was the worlds first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. It was in service from 1962 to 2012. Its length is 1123 feet, its beam is 132.8 feet, and its draft is 39 feet. It was powered by eight Westinghouse A2W nuclear reactors. Even in dry dock it was awesome!
And it got bigger...
and bigger yet as it got closer.
Once it passed, we thought we had enough excitement for the morning. Seeing this huge naval vessel underway is quite impressive. Just as we throttled up to get underway again, a Virginia Beach police boat moved into our path...
and asked that we slow down to idle speed for the passage of the next ship. It took a few moments to realize that there was not much of the next boat showing as it was a submarine.
As in the movie, Hunt For Red October, a number of the crew were standing out on the top of the sub as it continued to enter the harbor.
Once it had passed us, "our" escort departed...
and all we had to do was bypass the Coast Guard boat taking up the rear escort position for the submarine.
Well, here it was only about 10:00 AM and we thought that we had a pretty good day already having passed a lot of present and past Naval history.
We continued on our way to Cape Charles...
with a mid-afternoon arrival. As we approached the town dock for a pump-out, we could see that much of the local crabbing fleet was in. The typical crab boat "draws" only two feet meaning that that is the lowest depth of water in which it can function. Ours is 3 1/2 feet for our boat. They can and do go just about anywhere. This industry has not changed much over the years. One example is the Betty D.
with a local broker meeting them at the docks to buy and distribute the catch of the day.
Much of the crabbing is done in waters that are only 8 to 20 feet deep but they set a lot of pots. We as pleasure boaters must be on the lookout ALL the time for their markers which are ofter black and are about the size of a softball. They can be very difficult to see.
After talking to the distributor, we were able to buy a half bushel of the blue crab they caught that day.
Once we got tied up in our marina slip...
we cleaned the crab ...
and then went to explore "Mayberry" on foot. We had been advised to go to the ice cream shop as a must stop.
OK... so we were there on Monday so no ice cream for us.
You've got to love that work week!
The good news was that the local Irish Pub WAS open...
so we substituted an order of calamari and a Guinness for ice cream. Fair trade? We thought so!!
Nautical Word For The Day: [from seatalk.info]
1. To interfer with the normal movement of a ship by ignoring the rules of the road.
From Great Loop Jargon:
2. That clothing receptacle into which dirty clothes are to be placed. To miss it is to interfer with the normal movement of laundry by ignoring the rules of the Admiral.