Friday was a journey of only 24.7 nm. The route took Last Resort through the port of Norfolk and a collection of vessels that made it look like a ‘matchstick boat’. Also we passed mile mark “0.0”. The mile mark on the ICW starts with 0.0 at Norfolk ending 1,153 statute miles south near Plantation Key. We entered the Atlantic ICW in Stuart, FL at mile mark 987. The nautical charts are marked every 5 miles.
On the southern outskirts of Norfolk, we encountered our first closed railroad bridge. The tug boat “Fort Brag” was already waiting. After a 5 or so minute wait a train came through. There was a second train that was soon to come and it was an interesting conversation to listen to as the bridge tender discussed opening between trains with her supervisor. The bridge did open and we scooted through. I’m sure the opening was primarily because of the commercial tug.
It was a rainy and overcast day and the River was busy so I followed the tug for 5+ miles – at a much faster speed than I expected.
Norfolk is an amazing port in general with the waterfront littered with immense tall cranes used in ship building and repair as well as those used to load container ships. The navy shipyard runs for miles and we passed dozens and dozens of naval vessels of every sort being repaired and refitted. No unemployment here! Below are some pictures of your tax dollars at work.
Across the bay from Norfolk is Hampton VA, my destination. As I approached the Hampton side, I throttled back only to find that the port engine would not. Whether I pushed the throttle forward or pulled back, it continued at 2,000 rpms (that’s high for the boat). That made the port engine useless – too fast for harbor/marina speed and once put in neutral, too many rpms to re-engage the transmission. So I shut down the port engine. While that was going on, I went too far to the east by a half mile and so ended up going OVER Interstate 64. If you’ve not been to Norfolk, I64 crosses the bay via bridge and tunnel. The tunnel portion exists so that the extremely tall Naval vessels can enter the bay over the tunnel. Bridges would just have to be built too high to enable an aircraft carrier to transit. So that was a first for me – piloting a boat over an interstate.
Reversing my course to the correct marina, I had another first and that was docking stern into a slip with only one engine. Thankfully, there wasn’t much time to think about it and there wasn’t much current. At 45,000 pounds and high torque props, once you line up it’s pretty bulletproof.
The dockmaster gave me the name and number of “an old school” mechanic. When I called him, he was too busy to come out but he seemed to know what the problem was and said I could fix it. Using his suggestions, the problem was found. The throttle cables from both helms are routed to the engine room where they enter a metal box that is bolted to the engine. Inside the box they are connected to a single throttle cable to the engine itself. There was a loose bolt on the engine room floor and the box itself was no longer attached to the engine. So movement of the throttle at the helm merely moved a loose box rather than transferring to the engine itself.
The box is actually attached with two bolts, lock washers and nuts to the engine bracket and both brackets on the box and engine are threaded as well. With the one bolt at a local hardware store, we located two new bolts with correct threads, nuts and washers and put it back together. It works! How two bolts lost the nuts and then unscrewed themselves from the brackets is somewhat of a mystery. Guessing that the old school mechanic that diagnosed the reason for the diesel fuel leak might have something to do with it. The spin on fuel filter that was leaking was hard to access and am guessing he disassembled the throttle assembly to more easily fix the filter issue and then neglected to put it back together properly.😡
The plan was to spend 4 nights at the marina. Decided to take a tourist trip to Fort Monroe. I had never heard of it before. It was built from 1819-1834 and has a rich history. Robert E Lee was stationed there. Confederate Pres Jefferson Davis was imprisoned there (in fact an old entry arch with his name was removed just the prior day as part of the current politically correct attempt to rewrite inconvenient history https://www.kvia.com/news/us-world/jefferson-davis-name-removed-from-arch-at-va-fort/1103401525 . Pres Abraham Lincoln spent time there planning the prosecution of the war and the Fort in its time was the equivalent of a modern day “sanctuary city” informally renamed “Freedom’s Fortress” providing safety to slaves. Edgar Allen Poe was stationed there and wrote some of his early works there. The battle between the Merrimack and the Monitor happened within sight of the Fort. During budget cuts of a few yrs ago, it was turned over by the Dept of Defense to the Dept of Interior and the Commonwealth of VA. It is now a Natl Monument and very much worth the visit.
Also on the agenda was a visit to Colonial Williamsburg. It’s probably 30-35 yrs since I was last there. I had forgotten the long walk – probably able to complete half of it. Streets of period restored buildings of the first Capital city of the Virginia colony. The buildings are populated with folks dressed in period clothing who, in full figure of speech, tell the story of the people, place and time.
And finally there was a visit to the Virginia NASA Air and Space Museum where, in addition to seeing all the exhibits, I had the chance to sit and watch the Apollo 11 documentary of the manned trip to the moon on the IMAX screen.