Norfolk – Not the same anymore!

Waterside Marina – Norfolk, VA – Saturday, 5/15

The day began with a run for Denise, happy to have some place that allowed her to get in 5 miles without running out of town.  She made it part of her mission to locate the Church of the Sacred Heart for mass; a possible alternative to the Basilica that we learned yesterday was not open for non-parishioners (thanks to limited seating because of Covid restrictions). She embarked on the streets of Norfolk not sure what she would find. Her adventures took her through the quaint downtown and into the Ghent neighborhood, designated as a National Historic District.  She found Sacred Heart Church, found out the information she was looking for, and then headed back to the boat.  Along the way back she rerouted to visit the Japanese Garden she has run past before near Freemason Harbor, and past the Nauticus (maritime museum). She returned to the marina under beautiful skies and perfect weather on the Elizabeth River.

Selfie after run – overlooking Hospital Point

After eating breakfast we then spent some time on the phone talking with family members and getting some information about areas of interest to us.  From that we began planning our next two weeks itinerary. We juggled some venues because they are not good to visit on Mondays (like Cape Charles) and shuffled our schedule so we could see Denise’s family once her brother John returns from an out-of-town fishing trip.  We also wanted to be someplace where we could celebrate Mark’s upcoming birthday (5/21). We made reservations at marinas further north, knowing some may have to be altered should we encounter any bad weather.  Right now the next week looks pretty good and we are hoping to be able to capitalize on it.  This literally took up our whole morning and we know it will have to be redone in about 3 days; we have learned that you can’t really plan that far out when travel is dependent on the weather and we are on a large body of water like the Chesapeake Bay.

After lunch we hung out around the boat. Mark tackled a few boat chores like oil and engine checks, and cleaning out the shower sump pump. Denise published the last blog update and did some other chores.  We also socialized with a few of the other Loopers in the marina, and spent some time talking with the Angela and Mike; a couple we met yesterday on a 65’ Endurance Yacht (“Viscaya”) who are from Clearwater, FL and are also on their way to Maine.

During the day a boat called “Life with E’s” arrived in the slip next to ours. It was a “Regal” brand and was carrying a family of 5 kids full of energy and fun.  We spent some time talking to them and learned they lived locally and make outings as a family on the boat. They took off to enjoy some of the area around Waterside and we went back to our boat chores and hanging out. 

In the afternoon Dave (“Painkillers”) came over to talk to us about Maine. We had spoken with him earlier in the day and he and his wife want to also go there and wanted to pick our brain. We spent quite a bit of time sharing information and before we knew it time was up and he had to leave; we had barely scratched the surface of where to go and what to see.

Sharing Maine info with Dave “Painkillers”

We also got to witness one more wedding party; a popular thing around the water in May.  This one was quite a bit different as the entire party came to the waterfront and did a big dance routine while the photographer, videographer, and us recorded it all.

The Wedding Dance

Just before dinner, the family on “Life with E’s” returned to their boat and we had a chance to talk with them some more. The reason for their boat name is that all of the children have names that begin with “E” (Erich, Ethan, Eli, Ella and Eva) and we learned they range in age from 12 years to 4 months old.  Alex and Sarah (mom & dad) shared a little about their family and how the kids were home-schooled. We talked for a while getting to know each other, then we went back to our mutual boats for cooking dinner on board. 

Joungeblood Family

Mark cooked fajitas for us and they turned out delicious.  We cleaned up the galley and shortly thereafter ended up in conversation once again with our new friends on “Life with E’s”, including the oldest two boys.  We learned Erich has his own YouTube channel (“Epikkids”) and that they both are very skilled about boat handling already.  During this time they asked to see our boat and Denise gave them a tour. Then they wanted to show off their boat to us, so over we went. We ended talking with the whole family for the rest of the evening, and Mark even helped Alex out with some things on his VHF.  It was a wonderful evening and we delighted in getting to know this really special family.

Waterside Marina – Norfolk, VA – Sunday, 5/16

Today was Sunday which meant going to church first thing. This time we took an Uber to Church of the Sacred Heart in the lovely Ghent neighborhood. After mass we walked one block north to the Harris Teeters to buy some groceries for the week. We then used Uber to take us the 2 miles back to the marina and put everything away.

The “Life with E’s” family was preparing for an outing and we stopped to chat for a while. We said good bye as we were going on a walk and not sure they would be there when we returned; they were leaving before lunch. 

Then we went on a walk along the waterfront and around the park near the Nauticus. We wanted to check out a marina on the grounds of Nauticus, and near the (currently non-working) cruise terminal.  However, once we saw it we decided it would not be anything we would stay at. It was very small with a narrow entry and few slips. Plus, it had no amenities.  So we continued walking all around the area and the park, then through some of the downtown. 

At park near Nauticus

There is a place a few blocks from the Nauticus that is called the Selden Market and is a retail location housing numerous small up-and-coming entrepreneurial businesses. There were only a few of the places open including a coffee shops and small to go eatery.  In under 5 minutes we walked the entire length of the place, exiting at the next block right near the library. Here the architecture was most interesting as the original part of the library is an old building but its expansion is in a very modern building that opened in 2015.

From there we continued walking back towards the marina through downtown and arrived back at the boat in time for lunch.  Sadly, our “Life with E’s” family had left and other boaters started arriving into the marina.

We spent the rest of the afternoon on the boat. The sky turned from overcast to partly cloudy, then back to overcast.  More new boats came into the marina and Mark talked to one couple on a Marlow (yacht) from Vero Beach.  But most of the time we spent reading and catching up on home-front things.

For dinner we ordered salads and sandwiches from one of the bar-restaurants at Waterside called the Tap Room.  We feel sorry for these establishments as they all have been seriously hurt and especially in this somewhat touristy area, they are struggling. In fact two of the restaurants have shut down and are not coming back. We have also noticed that the number of people at Waterside is significantly reduced and the clientele is not the same as it was two years ago. Even with the perfect weather of the last few days, there have been few people at the adult “playground” that is part of the Tap Room.  It is sad to see an area that had been revitalized and doing so well, take such a down turn.  We probably will not come back here on the return trip.

Empty “adult” play area of Tap Room

Tomorrow we are leaving Norfolk and heading up the Chesapeake Bay. We are headed up the western side to the town of Urbana on the Rappahannock River and will (hopefully) have good cruising conditions.


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