Dick and Gayl's Cruising Adventures

Just South of the Chesapeake Bay

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This section contains two pages and a special Boating Life Footnote from Dick.  To continue to Page 2 and read the footnote, click the links at the bottom of this page.T
o pages and a special Boating Life footnote from Dick.  Links to the second page and Dick's note can be found at the bottom of this page. 
Wednesday, May 5-Friday, May 7, 2005 
Portsmouth, Virginia
Wednesday: Our Introduction to Portsmouth
We were in our slip on Tidewater Yacht Agency's brand-new floating dock at a little after 1 pm. After discovering that we had a misunderstanding concerning their wi-fi availability -- usage cost an outrageous $15.95 per day, and the system was brand-new as of this day -- we spent an hour deciding whether to move to another marina with free wi-fi, but eventually decided to stay and use our Verizon card, which seemed to have a decent signal, at least from the flybridge.
We lunched late at the marina restaurant, The Deck, which Dick remembered fondly from his days living in Portsmouth 28 years ago.  Our experience did not live up to his memories.  We were the only diners in the dining room, and the manager was holding a staff meeting within earsho at another table.  As we waited half an hour for our food, we listened to him lead a brainstorming session to generate ideas for increasing business, and it was all I could do to stay in my seat.  Both Dick and I agreed that until he implemented some product improvements -- speed of service, menu price and selection, for example -- his added marketing efforts would be wasted.
The marina is located at the edge of Portsmouth's Olde Towne area.  We picked up a walking tour map at the nearby Visitor's Center and enjoyed a couple hours' stroll through this beautifully restored historic district.


The area was plotted in 1752 to imitate Portsmouth, England.  Our walk through Portsmouth, Virginia reminded us of walks we took in England last year.  Many of the homes here are built in the English basement style, with an above-ground "basement" entrance and the formal entrance up one level.  Row houses here look just like blocks of elegant row houses in London.
Our walk provided excellent history and architecture lessons, good exercise, and we were even able to incorporate two historic geocaches, as well.
We were impressed with Downtown Portsmouth -- it is bustling, attractive, and has lots of appealing restaurant choices and tourist amenities. It would be a great place to live now.  It wasn't when Dick lived here.
Thursday: A Ride Down Memory Lane
We pulled the bikes off the boat this morning for a ride into Dick's past.  Downtown Portsmouth has been revitalized so much in the past three decades it is nearly unrecognizable.  We were curious to see how Dick's old neighborhood out in the suburb of Chesapeake had held up over time.

An interesting business

As soon as we got out of the waterfront downtown area, about half a mile, the landscape looked familiar -- run-down with boarded up buildings and litter-strewn vacant lots.
The first familiar buidling Dick saw was a hardware store (no surprise there).  Then we passed the hospital where daughter Megan was born.  It looks just the same, as does the neighborhood swim club. 
When we got to Dick's old house, he was disappointed.  The house is the same, but the yard is bare of landscaping, and the house doesn't look lived-in now.  The woods in back where son Matt built his tree house are gone, replaced by more houses.  Dick said it would have been so much nicer to find a woman tending a lovely garden while a child was at play in a well-tended yard, so we could stop and chat about the virtues of the house and neighborhood. 
Once again, we learn the lesson -- You can't go home again.

Dick's old house

Friday:  A Nor'easter Blows In
As predicted Northeast winds blew hard, and cold rain fell all day long Friday. 
Undaunted, we donned our foul weather gear and walked through the chilly downpour to a downtown coffee shop for lattes and pastries.  Many of the coffee shop's patrons expressed their envy for our attire.  We read the New York Tmes and nursed our coffees for over an hour, then slogged our way back to the boat in rain and wind that showed no signs of diminishing.
Dick declared it the perfect day to change the engine oil.*  I declared it the perfect day to work on the woefully behind the times website.
It was too nasty to go out for dinner, so we invited sailors Ron and Mickie from 9 Lives over for dinner.  They are the couple we joined for dinner out in Elizabeth City.  We enjoyed sharing stories and practical information once again this evening.

Click here to continue to Page 2--Norfolk and Old Point Comfort (Fort Monroe).

*Click here to see Dick's commentary on rainy day maintenance.