You’d think a sailboat at anchor would be ghostly quiet. It isn’t. If there’s any breeze at all there is always a thrumming in the rigging that takes on depth the higher the speed. This can be disconcerting. With every gust you can feel her start to lift chain off the bottom and then the bridle ticks ever faster over the bow until she stops tugging and then the elastic effect of the stretched line bouncing back. Because of the Naval yards and Norfolk there’s a low end city rumble. In every anchorage there’s always a knucklehead that hasn’t led a halyard to a quiet place. I like the occasional tug whistle and one morning we awoke to that distinctive fire breathing rumble of large block twin V8’s of offshore speedboats. There were at least 50 of these things, all colors and designs, coming into Tidewater Marine in Portsmouth.
Sometimes a voice will reach you from a boat or shore, and for a second or two you’d think that they were right next to you. On weekends Norfolk often has bands playing in the park opposite us, But our favorite, because we’re anchored off Hospital Point, is that every night we hear a bugle playing Retreat and every morning Reveille. Kind of nice.
Portsmouth’s not a bad place to hang out. The cruising guides warn against wakes in the Elizabeth River, and we do get bounced a little from time to time, but with the heat wave we’ve been having it’s so much cooler out at anchor than we would be at the free dock at the ferry landing.
Being in a busy harbor we see lots of marine traffic all day long. There are two pretty schooners that take tourists out a couple of times a day; there are barges and tows; various pleasure boats come and go, either near us at anchor or to and from the adjacent marina. There’s the USS Wisconsin just across the river and huge cargo ships.
We’ve explored Old Town and visited the lightship.
We’re located between a naval base and the navy shipyard. When we take the ferry we get a great view of the ships being worked on at the yard.
Yesterday morning Jack said, “Holy crap! Look at that!” it was a huge warship just across the river being escorted to the shipyard by six tows.
We looked her up — the USS Donald Cook, going in for an upgrade to Aegis class — and watched until she was out of sight. You don’t see that everyday!
Later we enjoyed the company of our neighbor in the anchorage, Alan from Snow White, a Brit sailing out of Northern Ireland.
We carefully organized our Monday mission.
-Dinghy into the Honda Shop where they think they have the correct throttle cables for our dinghy, install them while we do other errands and pickup the dinghy on the way back to Escape Velocity.
-Exchange our empty LPG tank at Mile Marker 0 Marine.
-Bob & Cassie at Mile 0 are just about the nicest people we’ve ever met. They are going to drive us to the cell phone repair people who have agreed to repair Marce’s iPhone while we wait, eliminating a 12 mile bike ride.
Tied up the dinghy at the Honda Shop called Full Throttle, which after all is what I’m looking for, rode the bikes to Mile Marker 0 Marine with a 20# LPG tank strapped to the rack on the bike. This part went smoothly because of Bob. So far so good.
If you’re ever in Portsmouth, VA, Look them up. True Angels of Mercy, right next to the south ferry dock, which is how I first found them.
Cassie ducked the photo op. We’ll try to catch up with her later. Bob uses all the disparate marine shops in town to fill any order that day!
So, no joy at the cell phone repair shop. Come back tomorrow seemed to be the theme of the day. Same at the Honda shop where we had to beg them to overnight the cables for a possible repair tomorrow. Cassie drove us to TJMaxx, the grocery store, Best Buy, Office Max, and still no joy.
Cassie said no problem, we’ll do it again tomorrow! Tuesday went much better and even Full Throttle came through in the end, although very late in the day. We managed to leave our new printer on their work bench, unfortunately. We had so much stuff in the dinghy we didn’t notice until we were unloading, where we had our own Abbot and Costello moment. Where did you put the printer? I didn’t touch the printer. Why not? Did it fall overboard? How would I know? I will admit that the printer toppling into the Elizabeth River was a distinct possibility because the trip back from Full Throttle was a little ragged due to the fact that I suddenly had full power and after a lifetime of motor cycle driving twisting one’s wrist down for more gas apparently is hard wired into my DNA. This has caused a certain…unevenness to one’s experience in our dinghy. There are even rumors about the harbor,that I tried to mount EV with the dinghy. Let me be the first to disabuse you of this spurious accusation. Not so!
Finally we decided that in our haste we must have left it at Full Throttle and of course they’re closed. Marce said just dinghy over and see if you can get it, and while you’re at it try sitting on the other side so that the throttle syncs with your brain’s wiring. Sure enough the overhead door had just enough space left that if I ducked down into the dinghy I could just slide in under the lip of the door. Now if no one shoots me we’re home free, because this had disaster written all over it. I jumped out of the dinghy, grabbed the printer box, jumped down into the dinghy and made my escape.