While we left Coinjock at 7:40 am, we were one of the last boats to depart…and the marina bulkhead was fairly full, with about 10 boats. It was a gorgeous day with calm, diminishing winds, calm seas, sunny and warm, starting out at 55 degrees, warming up to 76 degrees! We’ll take it!
The waterways heading north from Coinjock
This journey to Portsmouth/Norfolk was a new route for us. We have never approached from the South when coming to stay here, our previous arrivals were all from the north. Our journey took us through Coinjock Bay, North Landing River, the Albretmarle and Chesapeake Canal to the Great Bridge and Great Bridge Lock.
Great Bridge, and Great Bridge Lock
As we knew from our experience with the Elizabeth River, it’s a busy recreational, commercial and military waterway AND airway. What we didn’t know about this approach was there are 3 railroad bridges. Normally they’re open, but due to recent storm damage, two of them are being repaired, and are in a down position. As we approached the Norfolk Southern #7 Railroad Bridge, we caught up with several of the boats from our day on the water and in the lock. We overheard some of their radio chatter discussing the bridge closure. No one had tried to call the bridge (you need to call by phone, as they are manned remotely), and just assumed that a train was coming. But…they had been sitting there for 10 minutes with no train activity. So, we called, and found out that the bridge was undergoing repairs, and they would alert the crew and open the bridge. We let everyone know, and we were on our way within 5 minutes.
Then we came to the Norfolk and Western Railroad bridge further north on the South Branch of the Elizabeth River. It too, was closed. However, this one did have a train moving forward across at a snails pace. Then it would reverse at a snails place. Then forward, then reverse again. Well, you get the picture. We were stuck there for nearly an hour. Long enough for Rob to whip up one of his delicious grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch!
From there, it was smooth sailing up to Portsmouth!
The South Branch of the Elizabeth River, Portmouth/Norfolk, VA.
There was quite the welcoming crew, with dock master John Mascarella there to help with lines and deliver all of our packages (!), and our friends Joe Tignor/Bandwagon 3, and Ted Haler/Dream On were there to lend a hand as well. We got settled slowly, as we were too busy catching up! We decided to reconvene on Misty at 5 pm for “docktails”, and invited fellow Loopers on the dock to join us. We had a wonderful celebration and send off for Joe and Rhonda Tignor/Bandwagon 3, as they just “crossed their wake” (AKA completed their Loop), sold the boat and were heading home to Kentucky.
Rhonda ad Nancy
Ted, Rob and Joe
And of course, no first evening at Tidewater would be complete without dinner at Fish N’ Slips! This casual bar/restaurant in the middle of the marina offers delicious, large portioned dishes at reasonable prices. You can get anything from fresh seafood, burgers, tacos, and soup (crab & corn chowder is amazing), to yummy meatloaf (enough to feed a family of 4!)!
Eating tacos (even though it’s not Taco Tuesday!) at Fish N’ Slips with Rhonda, Joe and Ted
We had a lot we wanted to get accomplished during our week in Portsmouth. There was a watercolor show at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, we wanted to take a tour of the Navy Base, we had errands to run, provisioning to do, and the boat was getting washed and waxed for the season…oh, and there are a few restaurants we want to get to!
When we lived in the area, we thoroughly enjoyed the Chrysler Museum of Art and their glass studio. We ventured over to Norfolk to see their current special exhibit: “Watercolor: An American Medium”.
With over 35 watercolors, this exhibit represents the broad styles, subjects and artists who were important to this chapter of American art. The exhibit is drawn from the Chrysler’s own holdings, as well as Hampton Roads collections. It presents a showing of American watercolor from it’s height from around 1870 – 1940. Artists such as John Singer Sargent, Thomas Moran, John La Large, Andrew Wyeth, Charles Demuth, Maurice Prendergast and others are represented.
“Watercolor: An American Medium”, Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA.
The museums glass collection is second only to the Corning Museum in New York, and includes a significant Tiffany Glass collection. This beautiful museum deserves exploration, as their collections and special exhibits are fabulous. Don’t forget to stop into their lovely gift shop, and go across the street to the Perry Glass Studio. They offer demonstrations and classes, both of which are great! Rob and I took a glass globe/paperweight class and I took a botanicals class when we were living there. It was hard, but a lot of fun (except for my burn in the botanicals class!).
Some of our favorite pieces in the Chrysler’s permanent collection
The museum is right on the edge of the Ghent neighborhood in Norfolk. We wanted to have lunch at Mr. Shawarma, a wonderful, casual Mediteranean restaurant, but they were closed for spring break. So, poor us, we went to The Grilled Cheese Bistro instead! We thoroughly enjoyed an amazing serving of Parmesan & Chimichurri fries and The Rabbi, a grilled Swiss cheese sandwich with pastrami, beer braised onions and stone ground mustard. The food here is fabulous, but a word to the wise: split one order of fries and one sandwich. You’ll still be stuffed! We have never had a bad meal here. Their sister restaurant, The Greenhouse Kitchen is next door, and is equally as good. And, their gigantic salads can easily be split.
Decadent lunch at The Grilled Cheese Bistro, Norfolk, VA.
There was some stormy weather while we were in Portsmouth, and we experienced the sounding of sirens and emergency weather reports with tornado warnings on Friday night. It was very dark and gloomy, with high wind gusts and spotty rain, but fortunately, no tornados!
Port in the storm, Portsmouth, VA.
A tour of the U.S. Naval Base, Norfolk, was always on our “to do” list, but we never got around to actually “doing it”. So when we were planning our week here, this tour was definitely on the list. The tour of the base is on a bus, and no one is permitted to get on/off during the tour. The you’re down by the river, they make it VERY clear, that no photography is allowed. Interesting, as we have been up and down the river numerous times, and took a lot of photos of the ships in port. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the tour, and learned a lot…and, we saw the mermaid in uniform (no photo, as we couldn’t get off the bus)!
U.S. Naval Base, Norfolk, VA.
No visit to Portsmouth would be complete without a visit to a couple of favorite shops: Anderson-Wright, The Kitchen Koop and Skip Jack. Unfortunately, Skip Jack is closing, as the owners are relocating themselves and the store to Maine. Needless to say, the store is in complete disarray, but everything was on sale. Merry Christmas, Happy Birthday for some of my favorite people!
Anderson-Wright is a treasure trove of decorative items and furniture for your home and garden. Even better, the courtyard and space behind the store is a beautiful venue for special events. I always find special, and reasonably priced gift items for myself and friends!
The Kitchen Koop, owned by Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef, Deon Foster, is full of everything you can think of for your kitchen, from pots, pans, and utensils, to cookbooks, linens, and gourmet foods. They also have a schedule of cooking classes that have won rave reviews. This is a must stop for me when in town!
The Kitchen Koop
Olde Town Portsmouth is filled with historic, beautiful homes, gardens and parks, with brick streets and sidewalks, and Tidewater is nestled within it. The National Landmark Commodore Theatre, is in the center of town on High Street. It’s a lot of fun to go watch a movie and eat lunch or dinner.
Downtown Portsmouth, VA.
No visit to Portsmouth would be complete without a visit to Studio CK for a haircut with the wonderful and talented Mackenzie. She and her Mom, Chrissy, own the salon, and they’ve done a great job transforming the space into a beautiful, relaxing and whimsical environment!
Studio CK Hair Salon
A helicopter was circling and hovering the area for the better part of Sunday afternoon. There were also some local police wandering the docks and asking questions. Apparently, a sailboat that was, until recently, a Tidewater resident, sank somewhere off of Hospital Point, and they were searching for the man who owned the boat. Sad and scary.
Our favorite restaurant, among many good ones in Portsmouth is Still Otherworldly Eclectic Tapas (AKA Still). The restaurant is just off Court Street, in the basement of an old building, with stone and brick walls that make for a very cool space. They’re open for lunch and dinner, with the same menu. Everything is wonderful, and since it’s small plates, it’s easy to check out a lot of different dishes.
Fabulous dinner at Still Otherworldly Eclectic Tapas, their food, and their funny sign about washing your hands in the restroom!
One of the best things about Tidewater is its easy access to Norfolk. The ferry across the river is just down the block, and there is a lot to do within walking distance once you’ve crossed the river to Norfolk. It was a pleasure to take a trip over there for a mani/pedi!
Ferry trip from Portsmouth to Norfolk
We enjoyed one last dinner with Ted at Fish N’ Slips for the actual Taco Tuesday, and followed up our meal with drinks on the roof deck of Dream On, watching the sunset.
The night views of the marina, river and the Norfolk skyline are always enjoyable!
Evening views, Tidewater Yacht Marina
The morning of April 24th was bright and sunny, with the sun still rising when we left at 6:30 am, headed for Tangiers Island in the Chesapeake Bay. Our friend Ted was nice enough to help with lines, and Nancy successfully pulled Misty away from the dock!
For the most part, we had a quiet ride up the river, enjoying the view of the Navy ships with the sun rising behind them. Quite a sight!
Beautiful sunrise departure from Portsmouth, VA.
While we were bittersweet to leave, and will miss our friends there, it was time to move on from Portsmouth, spend a week exploring the Chesapeake, and get back to New Jersey, where we have numerous appointments to take care of before continuing north. We’ll miss much of the area, but looking forward to continuing our journey!