Dec 3-7, 2017 – Hampton Public Piers-NASA/Langley

Preparation for departure this morning includes filling some water in our fresh water holding tank, so I disconnect the city water connection and fill about 50 gallons into the tank. Also, I want to go up to the office, drop off the magnetic keys to the lavatories and say thanks for the stay. When I go up there, I finally meet George Jackson that Al Redfield had talked so much about back at Solomons Island Yacht Club.   With all that out of the way, we fire up the caterpillars and prepare for departure at 9:30 am. Today is a 48 NM trip so we need to hit the water so we don’t run out of daylight. I had spoken with Tom of Hampton Public Piers yesterday and he said that if we happened to get in after 5:00 pm he would be gone, but he’d be more than happy to leave a key hidden somewhere for our use in the lavatories. I told him we preferred not to be on the water after dark, but that we would call him during the day today to let him know our ETA. Once we got up to 9 knots our Navionics showed a 3:15 pm ETA, so we weren’t too worried about darkness.

As we ran south on our last day cruising the Chesapeake Bay, we started to talk about slowing down a bit and not rushing each day to push ourselves. Once we dock this afternoon, we’ll really only have 4-5 more cruising days to get to a mid-North Carolina destination to dock Kailani for a month while we go back to CT for the holidays. So as we’re travelling south today we decide to stay in Hampton for at least two days, then develop our plan for the rest of December while we’re at dock.

Monday looks to be a decent day, but Tuesday looks to be nearly 70 degrees in Hampton, so we may stay for more than two days! Who wants to be sitting at the helm on a 70 degree day in December.

Once we get within visibility of Norfolk, we can start to see the cranes, lifts, etc of the shipyard. Also, we’ve travelled south mostly on the western side of the bay while the main channel and all the cargo freighters are on the eastern side of the bay in the channel, but at Norfolk, we’ll merge with the east-west channel that takes the large ships out of the bay and into the James River. In fact as we approach the merge with that channel there are two large freighters going the same course as us thru the bay into the James River and we decide to slow to bare steerage and let them both go thru first. Also, after the second freighter goes by and we fall in line behind her, there’s a tug and tow coming out of the James River that we must avoid. The intersection of the southern tip of the Chesapeake Bay and the mouth of the James River has some turbulent water, but once we get thru that, the James River calms down and we have smooth sailing past Fort Monroe, over the I-64 tunnel and turn to starboard to enter the Hampton River.

The river is very easy to navigate as it’s no more that 2 NM long and there are 20 buoys! Our instructions from Tom the Dock Master were to call him on VHF 16 after we passed Red #20 and he would meet us on the dock. When Tracy had called him earlier in the day to let him know we wanted to extend our stay, he told her that we would be in slip #5, so we held in the channel, waited for Tom to meet us and then we backed into the slip. Tracy handed lines to Tom and between the two of them, they secured Kailani for our multiple day stay here in Hampton, Virginia.

Once we’re tied up and hooked to shore power, we turn on the heat to warm up the Salon for a bit. This is certainly the most comfortable temperature(s) we’ve had so far, but it’s always better to keep the space heated than to re-heat the space.

Monday, Dec. 4th is a nice day for a walk to explore the city. Hampton is an extremely historic city in the birth and evolution of our nation. For starters, just outside the entrance to Hampton River is the site of the famous 5 hour indecisive battle between the Monitor and the Merrimack! We’ll pass right by that site when we leave Hampton later in the week. Moreover, this area has some very unique history as far as the American Revolution and emancipation are concerned. So after trying to get into the Virginia Air and Space Center and finding out that they’re closed on most Mondays in the winter, we decided to keep walking the majority of downtown Hampton.  Soon we are in front of the Hampton Historical Museum and decide to spend some time learning more about the local history. IMG_20171204_163655(Example of adding machine used by the “human computers” in the movie “Hidden Figures.”) After putting some miles on our shoes, we head back to Kailani to let Frankie have some playtime and to prepare dinner. Tracy makes some nice steaks and we have a great meal on board.

Tuesday is the day that was supposed to be sunny and 70 degrees but, as it got closer, the forecast changed to mid 60’s and the possibility of some occasional rain. This is still not to hard to take considering there’s snow in the forecast back home! Today, we want to get to the Virginia Air and Space Center. On board Kailani as we’re eating breakfast (I made eggs over easy with sausage and toast), Tracy researches the admission options for the museum and realizes that to maximize our value and see both Imax movies that are currently playing in the museum, we should join the museum membership. An added value is that membership in the museum allows us to visit 300 other museums throughout the country over the next year, so our travel may bring us close to some of the other museums that we’ll be able to visit with today’s membership. So off to the Virginia Air and Space Center we go. It’s a very short walk as the Hampton Public Piers is convenient to everything in Hampton. We go up to the admission desk, buy our membership and enter the museum. It’s about 1:30 pm and there will be an Imax presentation at 2:00 pm entitled ‘Hurricanes’.   So we scope out the layout of the museum, then make our way to the Imax theatre for the movie. The plot takes you from the seemingly innocent start of a hurricane on the western coast of Africa to its powerful destruction in the Caribbean and southern coast of the United States. The footage was shot over five years and depicts a fictitious hurricane, but all the footage is real and is designed to show the effects both on land and underwater to humans, wildlife and nature in general. After the movie we spend another hour touring the museum and agree to return tomorrow to watch the second movie on Aircraft Carriers and visit the remainder of the exhibits.  (Here we are in flight simulators, consistently crashing aircraft.)

Then back to Kailani and Frankie. As we walk back we pass the Dockmaster’s office and our 2018 edition of the ICW and Atlantic Coast Planning Guide has arrived from Amazon. We want this updated guide mostly for the data on bridges and navigation for the upcoming Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, which starts at mile marker 0.00 just south of Norfolk and for us, is 11 nautical miles away once we leave here.D1A36C18-A6D0-4DA5-9FAA-AE20AC217B82

Wednesday comes and it’s our last full day in Hampton, Virginia. This has been an extremely enjoyable stop and a nice slow pace for a few full days. We’ve made delicious meals on board, had plenty of time for chores and R & R, and done some nice touristy type sightseeing. Today we plan to return to the Virginia Air and Space Center to complete all the exhibits and to watch the second Imax presentation, ‘Aircraft Carriers’. . IMG_20171205_165355.jpgWe accomplish our goal for the exhibits and the movie, spend some time in the gift shop (Christmas is right around the corner), and return to Kailani for some chores. Since we’ll be cruising tomorrow, I go to my resources and start taking cruise notes and make a reservation for slip space at Atlantic Yacht Basin for tomorrow. To this point, we’ve tracked forecasts for winds, seas, tides, currents and skies. Starting tomorrow, we’ll need to be prepared for low bridges and locks in addition to the environmental concerns. I make note of five railroad bridges and one lock that will slow us down. The lock, definitely and each of the five bridges noted, would stop us if they are in the down position with train activity. So we decide to make a shorter cruise distance-wise and we won’t come close to running out of daylight. Atlantic Yacht Basin fits the criteria perfectly as it is 24 nautical miles away.

E227142B-D28C-4D75-91DA-EB8BD87DC3A1After the planning work and some other chores, we decide to treat ourselves and go out to dinner for our last evening in Hampton. Tracy selects Marker 20 and off we go on our 15-minute walk to the restaurant. IMG_20171206_213825404_HDR

The nighttime decorations around the city are spectacular and we stop for some pictures on the way to Marker 20 and some more pics on the way back home to Kailani. After we return to Kailani, its off to bed so we can be fresh to travel tomorrow.