While Betjeman’s above praise was for England’s Norfolk County, we similarly “reeled with delight” upon our arrival to Norfolk, Virginia (named for the English County) and its cross-the-river sister, Portsmouth after our three night passage from Charleston around Cape Hatteras. Our visit to Norfolk and Portsmouth coincided with the cities’ Harborfest Celebration. These cities have much to celebrate with their place in our nation’s naval and maritime history, revitalized waterfronts, museums and walking tours. Our 10 day stay here allowed Eulalie to head to Cape Cod for a mini-reunion of college housemates and for Eric to knock out a couple of boat projects. He also delved more deeply into the area’s maritime history, an academic focus in college.
Red, white and blue banners proclaiming the 40th anniversary of Harborfest festooned Norfolk’s waterfront. A water taxi provided easy access from Portsmouth, where we moored Elizabeth Jean.
Tall ships gathered around the waterfront in anticipation of the Harborfest parade.
Captain Eulalie at the helm of our next vessel 😉 in Nauticus, Norfolk’s marine science and history museum.
A mermaid beckons to the museum, a waterfront park is in the background.
The above figure describes one of the milestones in the area’s history, the battle of the Monitor and the Merrimack. The figure also illustrates the locations of Chesapeake Bay, James River, and the towns of Norfolk and Portsmouth.
The gazebo frames a walkway with signs documenting the areas history as a naval shipyard.
As this sign explains, the young federal government leased the shipyard in 1794 to build the USS Chesapeake, sent to the Mediterranean to fight the Barbary Pirates.
\This sign documents the yard’s role in World War II, when the shipyard occupied four miles of waterfront and employed 43,000 workers.
The Navy maintains an excellent naval museum (free to the public) at Nauticus, the waterfront museum.
This modeler performed his work as part of the exhibit.
Nauticus is home to the U.S.S. Wisconsin, an Iowa class battleship, that fought in WWII and the Korean War.
The naval museum displays’the Wisonconsin‘s silver service. As was the practice in the late 1800’s, The State of Wisconsin paid for the silver set for an earlier ship that bore the State’s name. The silver was refurbished for the WWII Wisconsin.