October 22 was our last day on the Chesapeake Bay (at least for this trip). We left Park’s Marina on Tangier Island around 7:15 bound for Norfolk, VA. We have been blessed with absolutely beautiful weather and this day was no exception. The weather was sunny and warm and the seas were calm. What more could anyone ask for? The first part of the trip was quiet and peaceful but as we got closer to Norfolk we entered the channel that leads to the very busy port towns of Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, and Portsmouth. The channel is lined on both sides with huge ships – battleships, destroyers, aircraft carriers and many more. What a difference from the quiet pristine waters of the Chesapeake Bay!
On our way north during this journey, we spent several days docked in Norfolk where we attended a “conference” of boaters who were interested in the Great Loop.
This time we decided to stay elsewhere and Portsmouth, which is just across the river from Norfolk, came highly recommended. We learned that the City of Portsmouth provides free dockage right in the center of the town’s historic district. We arrived there around 4:30, found the free dock and tied up a a nice tucked away corner adjacent to a lovely park.
After tidying up the boat, we set out to explore the town stopping first at the Visitor’s Center which was next door to our town dock. We had a great time walking through this very attractive town following the walking guide we received at the visitor’s center. Portsmouth, like so many other cities on the east coast, is filled with interesting historical references and beautiful architecture. It was officially established in 1752 . During the Revolutionary War parts of the town were burned but many of the historic buildings remain. Later on, Portsmouth became home to our nation’s first naval hospital and was a significant player in naval shipbuilding and the maritime industry. It has had its ups and downs economically but it has managed to rebuild its waterfront into a very appealing area. This, and its proximity to so many of Virginia’s attractions, makes it a very worthwhile place to visit.
After walking by many interesting attractions and museums that we were too late to visit, we were becoming rather thirsty.
We found a perfect solution in the The Bier Garden, a very authentic German restaurant with over 200 types of beer. Jonny was in beer heaven! It took forever to make a decision among so many choices but we finally decided and were very happy with our selections. By this time we were also hungry, so we satisfied our cravings with some nibbles – enough to prevent us from having to make dinner.
As it got dark, it was time to walk back to the boat where we started to settle in for the evening. About 9:00 we heard a knock on our door. Someone was telling us that we had to move our boat because the ferry would be docking in our berth! We were taken aback by this news as there were neither signs nor any indication on line or in our guidebooks that this wasn’t a perfectly acceptable place to dock! Three other boats that were docked nearby were also notified of the same. We had no choice but to untie ourselves and move a couple of hundred feet away. This is where Jonny totally stepped up to the plate. After having had two German beers and after 8 hours of piloting the boat, he maneuvered Zendo into the smallest possible space one could imagine. It was a masterful job of parallel parking in the dark with a single engine!
About an hour later we saw the ferry – a huge paddlewheel style boat- pass us as it went to fuel up and dock at our little park side dock space. Enough excitement for one day – it was time to call it a night and prepare for the next leg of our journey.