22 April 2012 | Portsmouth, Virginia
Cold and raining- al lot
April 21, 2012
There are many museums in the Norfolk/Portsmouth, VA area. Most are maritime or naval in nature but we were directed to one particular museum as a starting place. It is the Mariner’s Museum in Newport News, VA. Boys and Girls, this is a very impressive presentation of the story of this area and of the sea in general. We have visited more than a few such museums and this one tops the list so far. There are actual artifacts of the very earliest days of the sea from dugouts to the age of discovery; from the early and last days of sail to the modern ships. This is a must for any sailor that might find some time in the area. It also happens to be the place that is preserving the USS Monitor, or what’s left of her. Her turret (cheese box), the cannons and many parts of her are in the de-salting tanks to preserve. Not only that but the local Lockheed ship yard reconstructed her hull, deck and turret for display at the museum. One can walk her deck and that is a bit touching. The museum also does an excellent presentation of the battle of the CSS Virginia (aka Merrimack) and the USS Monitor.
The soaking tanks contain the guns, the engine and the turret of the USS Monitor which take about 20 years to preserve. Dinner ware, clocks, crew gear are on display. Letters to loved ones are on display. The two ships met at a place now marked by a lighthouse visible from shore to do battle. It was a dog fight and both sides claimed victory. The Virginia did more damage to the Union fleet by sinking wood ships before the Monitor arrived. They the stood within pistol shot and fired on each other all the time maneuvering in a narrow channel until it was done by retirement of both ships. Shortly thereafter, the Virginia was destroyed by the Confederates nearby to keep her from Union capture. The Monitor was lost in a hurricane off Cape Hatteras not long afterward. She sunk in 260 feet and 16 crew went down with her.
We have yet decided whether or not to let Scurv go with us to these museums. As long as the weather is cool and he is somewhat trained to sit on the back seatback guarding the car he might get to go.
Yesterday was a wonderful spring day with 86 degrees and a clear sky. We prepared for a change and moved the dink into the slip and side tied it so that high winds would not beat it or the boat into oblivion. It was hard to believe that a radical weather change was in works. About midnight the whole weather change occurred. As of 1700 today it is 57 degrees, winds NW at 22 mph and raining cats and dogs. It was a good day to visit the Nauticus museum in Norfolk whose main attraction is the USS Wisconsin BB-64. Unlike most WWII ships I have been aboard, this one was active through the Gulf War and launched Tomahawk cruise missiles. That means that she is in good shape. They retained a few Tomahawks and brought them home even though all the other ships launched all they had. Speculation states that perhaps the ones that came home were not exactly conventional explosives. The Navy won’t confirm or deny. Whilst I was doing the history thing, Scurv guarded Bear and the boat. He did a fine job and all aboard did some serious napping. That is a fine was to deal with the weather gods.
Picture is from the bridge of the USS Wisconsin. No wonder the city let them have the best slip