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Roni Tails Sea Tales and Other Stories Pictures of Doublewide Mayaca Railroad Bridge

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Portsmouth - Ocean Marina


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May 17, 2004 - May 18, 2004

I decided to make the 12 mile crossing from Bluewater Marina to Portsmouth on Monday so that I would be 'ready set go' for the ICW on Tuesday morning, I wanted to make the whole trip thru the Great Dismal Swamp in one day as I had to reach a marina due to having Roni aboard - the Swamp route doesn't have a lot of places to take a dinghy ashore, and certainly not in any of the anchorages mentioned. It is, after all, a swamp! So I waited for the tide to be just right before leaving so I wouldn't be fighting an ebbing tide thru the harbor.

Thank Heaven for a Shallow Draft Boat

It was only 12 miles across Hampton Roads River to Norfolk/Portsmouth but oh brother, what a 12 miles! First I wandered out of the channel, as I missed a marker and could not locate it even with binoculars, but felt that I was clear of the shoaled area to the South. Well I wasn't. I looked at the depth meter and the depth was going from 12 - 10 - 7 - 5... 3...... 2!!!!!! OH GODS! I am in the middle of the danged waterway and I am going to go aground! But all that happened was the rudders kicked up a touch and I was back into deeper water, with a quick turn to starboard... 2.5 - 3 - 6 - 7... ahhhh! But then.....

The Coast Guard Cometh!

Just as my heart was starting to regain control of itself, I note a big rubber inflatable boat is tracking me on the starboard side. I think, well what do THEY want? Just to jeer at me for almost going aground? But no! They want a lot more than that! It is the Coast Guard and they have singled me out for a random check. They were really nice guys, polite, respectful and trying to be as innocuous as they could. Roni decided she liked one of the officers a lot. She sat there and sucked up to him as though she knew!

In any case it was a random check, and they mostly wanted to insure that the boat was safety compliant and not stolen. But it took about an hour and it ruined my entry into Portsmouth as I had to fight an ebbing tide and thus made only about 4 knots. Still, they they were nice guys, and this is a military town, and 9/11 happened.... I asked them if they stopped ships and they said sure. All the time.

Well, I guess now I have a story to tell someone's grandchildren!


These are the big ports on the Chesapeake besides Baltimore. There are large military bases, gigantic ship building and repairing facilities - and of course shipping facilities. Take a look at the images to get an idea of what I was passing. The channel appears narrow, but it is not that bad and the water is very deep even outside the marked channel, so I could keep out of the way. It was much less stressful going thru here than going into and out of the Little Wicomoco!

But here comes Ocean Marina right in the middle of all the hubub and what a respite from the busyness of the channel! Right across from the Marina is a dry dock with crews running all night, but this marina seems somewhat isolated from all that. Again, I enjoyed my stay and found it to be very pleasant. The difference here is that the marina is locked after 7 p.m. and I had to have a key to get in and out. There is a Radison Hotel next door to the marina, with a marvelous grassy area in the front. Roni and I had fun entertaining the crowd with her excellent frisbee work! She thought it was just a fine place. She likes applause.


I'm doing well, although I am a little like Roni - New Things are not necessarily Good Things. So this adventure of going thru Norfolk/Portsmouth is, I will admit, a little daunting. Once it is over I'll probably forget how nervous I was. Well, maybe.

Still, I am having the adventure of a lifetime and I owe it all to my wonderful and generous husband, Dennis. He is giving me this opportunity and I don't want to squander it. A mid-life adventure and the perfect one at that.

Tomorrow, the ICW and the Great Dismal Swamp!

Click an image to see a larger version.

Crossing Hampton Roads Channel
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Crossing Hampton Roads Channel
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Entering Norfolk-portsmouth
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Container Ship Being Loaded
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Air Craft Carrier
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Norfolk-portsmouth Channel
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Norfolk-portsmouth Channel
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Norfolk-portsmouth Channel
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Air Craft Carrier In Dry Dock
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Ocean Marina View Into Harbor
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Lighthouse Frisnell Lens
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View Of Shipyard From Walkway
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Getting Ready The Chesapeake Bay The Great Dismal Swamp North Carolina South Carolina Georgia Florida

Roni Tails Sea Tales and Other Stories Pictures of Doublewide Mayaca Railroad Bridge