We left the dock in Portsmouth just before 0700 today (thanks to boat neighbor and Gold Looper Jim McFall for help with the lines!) and headed north up the Chespeake Bay to Solomons Island.
In the first few miles of today’s trip we passed the massive Norfolk Naval Station, located in the deep and wide natural harbor/anchorage area known as Hampton Roads, just off of Chesapeake Bay. After passing pier after pier of destroyers, battleships, and even an aircraft carrier, it was no surprise to learn that Norfolk Naval Station is the largest naval complex in the world. It is home to more than 65 ships alongside 14 piers, including more capital ships (the largest and most important warships of the fleet) than any other naval base.
These aerial views (from the internet) give an idea of the size and scope of this naval base that employs more than 46,000 personnel on 3,400 acres with four miles of waterfront.
The warships are protected by robust floating security gates and very attentive gunboats, to prevent another attack like the 2000 Al-Qaeda bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen. Where Hampton Roads meets Chespeake Bay, and again at the mouth of Chespeake Bay, Interstate highways pass through underwater tunnels. These highway tunnels not only provide constant highway access across these waterways but also allow U.S. Navy ships and submarines to pass anytime and prevent bridge attacks that would block these strategic channels.
We had planned to overnight in a few quaint small towns along the way to Solomons. But…30mph+ winds are predicted for the weekend on the south end of the Bay, so we changed our plans, cancelled prior marina reservations and made new ones, and traveled 113 miles directly to Solomons Island today.
The weather was beautiful: sunshine, single-digit winds from the north, and almost no waves. The autopilot followed the route (with a few diversions to avoid crab pots and other boats). Rhonda even enjoyed a nap along the way! Seven and a half hours later we turned into the mouth of the Patuxent River and arrived safely at Zahniser’s Marina in Solomons.
Happy to be here! We plan to drop the dinghy tomorrow and explore the area.