Submarine

Navy patrol boat 507 hails us on the VHF. We are informed a submarine is inbound to Norfolk Navy Base and is passing the Hampton Roads bridge/tunnel. We are heading out of Norfolk Harbor traveling north up the Elizabeth River toward the oncoming sub. We are instructed to maintain a minimum of 500 yards distance from the sub as it passes. I quickly respond; indicating we would steer clear. We turn to starboard and exit the channel to provide plenty of room; depth was not a problem. How far is 500 yards? Am I far enough? Through our binoculars we see the conning tower rising 4 stories or more out of the sea. The sub’s hull was still submerged but as it got closer and entered shallower waters we could see it emerge out of the water in full glory. As it approaches us the patrol boat races by between us and the sub. Its crew of four is armed to the gills; including a machine gun mounted on the foredeck. I edge a little further away from the sub. As it passes we see it is a smaller sub but it impresses nevertheless. Wow; we don’t see that every day. Deanna snaps a cell phone photo; I was reluctant to dig out the long lens; machine guns make me nervous.

 
 
We exit the Harbor, pass Thimble Shoal light and turn north up Chesapeake Bay. It is overcast and hazy with a chance of rain later in the day. As a result we decide our destination will be Doziers Regatta Point marina in Deltaville; about 50 miles up the Bay on the Rappahannock River. We hope to get tied up there before the predicted stormy weather. Our passage up the Bay is smooth; a nice ride. By the time we reach our Deltaville waypoint the thunderheads are looming to the west. We check the radar and see heavy rain approaching fast. I bump up the speed hoping to get into the marina before all hell breaks loose. We turn into the narrow (and shallow) channel and soon arrive at the marina. We are directed to an inside slip that would require we back in. Not gonna work. This is a challenge for Tivoli and crew. Single engine, no stern thruster, and limited rear visibility makes it difficult. We avoid it if possible. So, we back out of the fairway and tie up on the face dock which we had requested by phone earlier in the day. The harbormaster had wanted to move us inside given the nasty weather approaching and exposed location of the face dock. We appreciated the thought but were happy to finally get secured on the face dock just before the rain and lightning began. We put out every fender we own and look a tad goofy. Better safe than stylish. As it turned out the bulk of the storm passed to the north and within an hour the sun was shining.

Just another day aboard Tivoli.

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