Day 9, Year 8: Piankatank River to Norfolk
Date: Monday, November 12, 2012
Weather: Mostly Sunny, Temp 70 degrees F; Wind SE 16-18
Latitude: 36 50.780 N
Longitude: 076 18.052 W
Location: Intracoastal Waterway, Mile 0, Across from Downtown Norfolk

We had great winds again today, but as yesterday, they were right on the nose. So we motor sailed the 50 plus miles from Jackson Creek in the Piankatank River to here. It was mostly sunny but a bit hazy as the day progressed, probably because of the warm 70 degree temperature. It was delightful. And being Veteran’s Day, it was fitting that we motored past the aircraft carriers and battleships at the Navy Base in Norfolk. It took us almost three and a half hours from the first mark leading into Norfolk to get to this anchorage. We had strong current against us, but even without that, it is a long way in here. We anchored just past Hospital Point on the Portsmouth side of the Elizabeth River which is directly across the river from downtown Norfolk. We can look across and see Nauticus, the National Maritime Center. This is where the USS Wisconsin, one of the largest and last battleships built by the US Navy, was stationed upon retirement. It was commissioned on December 7, 1943, and was retired after Operation Desert Storm in the early 1990’s. We toured it in 2001 when we sailed Windbird to New England from Florida just after we purchased her. We won’t have time to visit again this trip, but maybe on the way north in April.

We had great Skype video calls with both of our children this evening. Sam and Jonah drew pictures for us while we talked and in between smiles, Oliver just kept staring at the computer screen. It seemed like he understood when we said his name. When Justin called from New Mexico we found out that the weather there has turned very cold. The daytime temperature today was in the 40’s and the nighttime temp last night was 16 degrees F. Burr. But Ziggy and Coco are both doing great. Ziggy read a book about shapes and shared the triangle page with us as it had a picture of a sail. And then he turned on his CD player and performed a little dance. Coco was still bundled from going on a walk with Jo and Ziggy, but she finally warmed up and gave us lots of smiles.

Tomorrow morning we have to run the gauntlet. We are at Mile O on the ICW and will only make it to Mile 12 tomorrow.

Mile 2.6: We go through the N&P Beltline Railroad Lift Bridge that is normally open. If it is not, we will have to wait for it to be raised.

Mile 2.8: We pass the Jordan Highway Lift Bridge which has been dismantled. So this is no problem.

Mile 3.6: We go through the Norfolk and Western Railroad Lift Bridge which is normally open. We are hoping for a normal morning.

Mile 5.8: Here we meet our first obstacle. The Gilmerton Bascule Bridge is closed from 6:30 to 8:30 am (and 3:30 to 5:30 pm) so we have to time our departure from here to reach there no earlier than 8:30 am. At this same location we go through the Norfolk and Western RR Bascule Bridge which is normally open. Again, we are hoping for a normal morning.

Mile 7.1: We go under the Highway Bascule Bridge (Interstate 64) which is SUPPOSED to be 65 feet high which we SHOULD fit under . . . barely.

Mile 8.8: The Dominion Boulevard Bridge (aka “Steel Bridge”) opens on the hour between 9 am and 4 pm, so we just have to time our arrival here to be just before the hour.

11.3: The Great Bridge Lock opens on the hour, so again we just go very slowly from Mile 8.8 to 11.3 to arrive on the hour.

12.0: Our last hurdle of the day is the Great Bridge Bascule Bridge which opens on the hour timed to open with the Lock. Once we go through this bridge, it is our hope that there will be room along a face dock to tie up and spend the night. There are no more overnight spots deep enough to accommodate Windbird until we get to Mile 50, and there is no way to make 50 miles in a day with the waits associated with bridge and lock openings. So tomorrow will be a short day with many starts and stops. And to add to the excitement, it is supposed to rain. We’re not looking forward to that.

121112 Day 9 Passage South, USA–Piankatank River to Norfolk
Day 10, Year 8: ICW Mile 0 to Mile 12, Norfolk to Great Bridge
Day 8, Year 8: Great Wicomico to the Piankatank River