Small Distance Big Change

The barge is dead ahead and looks to be passing to our port. Suddenly, it turns right in front of us and blows its horn. We are doing 8.4 knots but I spin the wheel hard to port and Tivoli safely, if narrowly, passes the tug on the “two whistle” – starboard to starboard. Thought we might need to break out the AED! No communications from this fellow on the VHF at all. I guess when he wants to push his barge to shore he will do it – no matter the traffic. I’m quite happy to give way to any commercial vessel but a little warning would have been nice.

We finally escaped the clutches of the boatyard and are motoring up the Elizabeth River. We lock through the Great Bridge lock (a whopping 2 foot lift) and pass through beautiful marshland lined with homes. These give way to the industrial rough and tumble of Norfolk; rich in naval history and full of military facilities, wharf after wharf containing naval vessels under repair. Aircraft carriers and support vessels of all kinds, some shrouded in covers, some guarded by Navy patrol boats. Soon, only 10 miles down the road, we arrive in downtown Norfolk and tie up at Tidewater Marina located at ICW mile mark “0”. We have come full circle, picking up Tivoli here and, 4 years later, returning to this spot to more fully explore the Chesapeake and points north.

Though we spent almost 3 weeks at Atlantic Yacht Basin our experience was an excellent one; save for the time it took to complete our projects which, we’ve learned, is always double or triple one’s expectations. The yard is very professional, courteous, helpful in every respect, they stand behind their work, and their prices are very reasonable. We will be back no doubt. We left with fresh bottom paint, the Lugger was flushed and filled with fresh antifreeze, the pilothouse AC was scrutinized and although we didn’t diagnose the “HI PS” problem it is running much better and, finally, we have a new master stateroom head. All necessary. Now we can get on with it.

Tidewater is where we wait for decent weather. Big change from AYB. At AYB we were tied up on a face dock along a canal and watched small craft passing, watched the Great Bridge bridge open for traffic, watched paddleboarders, kayakers, and crew rowing their shells, watched the activities in the small park across the way. A pastoral setting. Here we have a great view of the Norfolk skyline and large ships passing; we are in a marina with 300 other boats rather than a boat yard; and we have close access to all the amenities a larger city affords.

It’s nice to be back on the move; in spite of tugs getting the heart racing.


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