Category Archives: Sailing South

Portsmouth, VA (November 6-8, 2013)

We take it easy on Wednesday and go sightseeing on Thursday. We cross the water to Norfolk in a ferry. We had our mail sent ahead of time and there is a big packet of letters for Malachi from Ms. M’s class. He is thrilled! As we arrive, we see a huge schooner with orange dots all over the rigging. We can’t figure out what they are (I wondered if it was a boat that had been in a Halloween parade). As they draw closer, we finally realize they are crew members in orange rain gear. They are perched high above and are singing in unison as they dock. It is incredible to watch – a “once in a lifetime sight” as another onlooker comments. The vessel is from Norway.

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We go to see the museum Nauticus with an amazing 3D movie about the ocean and another about being a fighter pilot and tour the largest U. S. naval warship ever built (the USS Wisconsin). We use our last day in port to fill water and fuel tanks, do laundry, get some supplies and run other errands. We made it down the whole Chesapeake Bay (Matt and I even saw some dolphins!). Our next step is the long motor down the Intracoastal Waterway.

Arrival at Portsmouth, VA (Tuesday, November 5, 2013)

We had a rough but fast sail from Yorktown to Portsmouth, VA. The towns we stop in have been wildly different. From quiet, sleepy Reedville to Portsmouth with its hulking naval vessels and busy channels.


It was blissful to get in a little early as it is the first time we arrived anywhere before 7 pm. We dock at a marina, go out to dinner and then come back to the boat and collapse.

Arrival at Yorktown, VA (Saturday, November 2, 2013)

We get to Yorktown late – it’s about 8 pm but we don’t get the boat tied up until 10 pm. The marina is completely unprotected and is being hit with incredible wind, waves and tides. Matt is not happy. It is also closed for the season – so no facilities. We do the best we can. After docking the boat we literally use lines (i.e., ropes) to pull our 30,000 pound baby to a different spot and re-tie it. We collapse in bed that night – only half joking that we will need a year off to recover from our year off. Thankfully, morning finds us in the same spot but it has not been a restful night. We re-do some lines and then go to breakfast and church. It’s a tiny church. We are the last ones in and the only place left to sit is the front row. I can feel eyes on us as we walk up the aisle with the boys in their life jackets (we are a grimy contrast to those in their Sunday best). Everyone is welcoming. We meet the pastor after mass and he offers us the use of a house to shower and do laundry (I briefly wonder if we look homeless). We arrive back at the boat to find that a line has snapped off and the boat is now at a 45-degree angle from where it was. Matt is not happy but we work well together in getting it re-tied. I’m finally starting to realize how much of the sailing part of this trip is on his shoulders and the complexity of it all. We eat out for an early dinner. On the way to the restroom I see a poster advertising ‘Restaurant Week.’ Curious, I glance at the list. It includes Ruby Tuesday’s and IHOP. Well, I guess we’re not in Kansas anymore. Or maybe it means we are in Kansas now. Hmmm …

The next morning we move to a more protected marina on the other side of the bay. It feels like we can finally relax. Other highlights include seeing historic houses with cannonballs from the war still stuck in their sides, ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s, and viewing cannons and battlefields.

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Halloween in Reedville, VA (Wed., Oct 30 – Friday, November 1, 2013)

After exploring the whole town, we realize the only thing open is the small post office (the two restaurants are only open Thurs-Sunday, the ice cream place is only open Saturday, and the two banks and gas station have gone out of business). It becomes comical as we realize there is no chance of getting Halloween pumpkins (or even any food) here. The kindness of strangers, however, continues. One neighbor offers the use of her dock, another motors out to ask if we need anything (including the use of a car), and a random stranger drives Matt to the next town to get pumpkins. The next day an older gentlemen motors out with two dogs and offers to take the boys to his yard so they can get off the boat and run. We have just met him and yet we let the boys go (we can see them from the boat). We later row the dinghy over and sit with him on his porch. The next day, while visiting the town museum, we realize he is the narrator in the movie we are shown.

Matt and the boys carve pumpkins and then get dressed for Halloween. They are ninja sailors – or maybe sailing ninjas. We put jack-o-lanterns on the back of the boat before we row to shore. We trick or treat on the one main street. A few of the houses are spectacular – with a ghoul sneaking up to me from behind a tree. I scream. Matt and the boys think that it is hysterical.