Day 51 - Portsmouth, VA
21 May 2012 | North Landing, Portsmouth, VA
Mon 21 May 2012
Tied to Free Dock at North Landing, Portsmouth, VA
[photo: The Lightship Portsmouth, retired and berthed in Portsmoth, VA.]
It rained during the night, but all the hatches were closed since it was a bit chilly. We got up fairly early for a 0620 departure. The current in the cut was northerly (in our favor), but not due to lunar tides; the strong N wind had blown much water south, and when the wind stopped, the water started flowing back.
As our new friend, Ed, described, there would be a sequence of restricted bridge openings on our route to Portsmouth, and you had to hit the first one on the half hour, fairly early in the day. Since some opened on the full and half hours, and some just on the hour, a boat capable of making 6+ mph can do it with proper timing. We had 30 miles to run to the first bridge, so we assumed we could easily make it in 5 hours. When we got going, we realized the current boost could let us make it in the 4 hours and 10 minutes we had, so we tried for that.
I ran the engine at a higher power setting than we had been doing for most of the cruise, and the temperature stayed at the optimal setting with the higher capacity cooling pump. We had one snag where a railroad bridge which is normally open (expect for passing trains), was stuck in the down position, blocking all but rowboats and kayaks from passing. Our "flotilla of about 8 boats kept station or circled until they fixed it. It was only a half hour delay, thankfully, and the adjacent road traffic bridge opened immediately after the RR bridge did to accommodate us.
As an aside, as the flotilla cleared the bridge before the stuck RR bridge, there was an announcement on Channel 13 regarding a RR bridge stuck in the closed position. To be frank, my ears aren't quite tuned to the dialect and accent of the speaker, so I had no idea what bridge was affected. When I hailed on that channel for a repeat of the bridge location, a nasty voice informed me that "He done told you three times already! It's the number 7 bridge!" I elected not to reply, but I would have liked to say that not everyone can understand the speaker, and just as importantly, no pleasure craft transiting the waterway has any idea what the "number 7 bridge" is. All we have are names that appear in our cruising guides, and those change frequently, too.
During the long run (49.5 miles in 8 hours), Diane was helpful whenever needed, but spent a good bit of time pulling apart the bedding and mattress from the V-berth to get it dried out. Maybe we just need a major overhaul of our hatches and ports, but the terrible pounding we took for 4 hours in the Albemarle Sound, with the bow being buried under water countless times, let enough water in that the berth was too damp to ignore it. It is one thing to sleep on a damp berth, but letting the moisture sit there will invite mold and mildew.
After we docked, and part way through our celebratory beverage, Diane wisely decided that the boat needed to be put back in order before we got too relaxed. After struggling with the difficulty of putting sheets and covers on the mattress, she (half-jokingly?) said in frustration that she would be flying home. I pointed out that we had not brought her broomstick along; I hope to survive the night.
This seems like a good spot, and some other cruisers and a few locals who stopped to say hello, agree with us. We got off the boat about 1600 and secured a map in the nearby Visitor Center. The ferry that goes across the river to Norfolk leaves from this location, so that will be easy. While off the boat, we stretched our legs with a short stroll through just a portion of the "Olde Towne." It was clean and nice, although we came 12 inches away from being hit by a car making a left turn while we had the crossing signal. We (Duane) were tempted to stop at Das Bier Garten restaurant for some Wurst und Bier as an appetizer, but we (Diane) declined.
Many cruisers, including some locals we chatted with today, recommend a restaurant called Lobscouser, just a few blocks away. The prices look great, especially the early bird dinners. We will try that tomorrow.
Our opinions differ on our location for the evening (and probably tomorrow, too), but Duane thinks the docks are sturdy and fine. The location is right in the heart of the Olde Towne, which is the part we hear is worth seeing, and for a night or two, it is free. We will hear the whistle blast of the ferry until its last run near 2130.
Dinner was our yummy leftover clam sauce over linguini and fresh broccoli. We intend to explore ashore more tomorrow with the bicycles.