R&R is at Tidewater Yacht Marina in Portsmouth, just across the Elizabeth River from Norfolk. Other nearby waterfront cities include Virginia Beach, Hampton, and Newport News, all located on rivers that converge into a large body of water known as Hampton Roads, one of the world’s largest natural deep water harbors (a roadstead, or “roads”). It incorporates the mouths of several rivers and empties into the Chesapeake Bay near its mouth to the Atlantic Ocean.
Hampton Roads is home to many US Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and other military bases and yards. From our marina in Portsmouth, we could see the naval shipyards and drydocks where many large Navy ships were undergoing major repairs and refitting.
The Hampton Roads Transportation system includes passenger ferries running regularly between docks in Norfolk and Portsmouth. For a senior fare of $2.25, we could ride any ferry all day. We ferried across to the Norfolk Waterside District, an interesting restaurant and entertainment area.
Friends had recommended that we visit Nauticus, the national maritime center in Norfolk. In a slip next to the museum is the decommissioned USS Wisconsin (BB-64), an Iowa-class battleship that was launched in 1943, served in the Pacific Theater of World War II and the Korean War, and after modernization participated in Operation Desert Storm in 1991.
Wisconsin is 887 feet long and has a 108-foot beam. She was designed for a crew of 1,921 persons (117 officers and 1804 enlisted). Her nine massive 16-inch guns dominate her decks; she also has more modern armament including Tomahawk and Cruise missile launchers. Her main guns fired over-2000-pound ammunition up to 24 miles. Wisconsin’s four steam turbine engines and 17-foot propellers could move this 58,000 ton ship at speeds up to 38 mph!
As we walked through the crew members’ wardroom, David Woods, a senior museum docent, happily answered our questions. He is a 30-year Navy veteran whose experience includes driving nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. He offered to show us some areas that were typically closed off to visitors, and we quickly said “Yes!” We toured the officers’ quarters, the chiefs’ wardroom (which he said always had the best food aboard), and even the bridge/helm station (protected by 12-inch armor) and navigation area, and captain’s cabin in the superstructure. Amazing technology and systems, and a tour guide who shared so much information about the ship and its operations.
We took most of the next day to check off tasks on our “leaving the boat checklist” to make R&R secure while we are gone and ready for our next voyage. Our dock neighbors Jeff and Marguerite generously offered to drive us to a Norfolk airport hotel, and we flew to Michigan early the next morning. We look forward to seeing friends Scott and Cathy in Norfolk when we return there after Erika’s wedding!
Captain’s Log Summary:
R&R (boat): Portsmouth, Virginia
R&R (people): Holland, Michigan
Departed: September 8, 2019, Holland, Michigan
Travel Days: 79
Fuel: 5,818 gallons
Average Speed: 10 mph
Fuel Rate: .76 miles per gallon
Friends, Smiles, Blessings: Still too many to count!