The photo above shows the FREE harbor where we’re staying in downtown Portsmouth, VA. There’s no electricity, water or pumpout, but the location is great, and the water taxi that goes to downtown Norfolk stops here every 30 minutes. For $1.50 per person, each way, we can be in downtown Norfolk in 10 minutes. See our boat in the background of the harbor? Tonight there are 4 other boats here.
We rode the water taxi to Norfolk today and spent a couple hours taking a guided tour of the Battleship Wisconsin which was commissioned for World War II use, but was also in use as recently as the early 1990s in the first Gulf War. It is now decommissioned and is essentially a museum. While in general we aren’t huge enthusiasts of either museums or military history, we both found this tour fascinating! It’s astonishing what a huge, complex thing this is, what it takes to keep it running, the conditions in which men lived on it, and the things it’s capable of doing. We are so impressed!
This ship is almost the length of three football fields, 873 ’ and weighs 57,ooo tons. It is just plain huge!
The guy in the yellow shirt is 91 years old and served on the Wisconsin during the Korean Conflict as a medical corpsman. Now he volunteers with others on this ship and spoke to us for about 15 minutes. He is incredibly fit, and when he shook Cathryn’s hand, his bicep bulged and he was so strong it hurt! The enthusiasm and knowledge of this ship that the volunteers show about the Wisconsin, which they think of as “theirs”, was incredible.
This photo is of the berth quarters where the enlisted men live. They each have a bunk, three deep, with about 18 inches of head clearance above their mattress and head room. They have a curtain they can pull for visual privacy, and we were told they’re issued ear plugs, but that’s it. Some of these rooms housed 100 men. Bob got a bit claustrophobic with just a dozen of us standing in the room.
The photo below includes a tiny piece of “teak beach” where men would lie in the sun to relax, read books and take a nap occasionally.
The 16” guns fired shells that each weighted 2,000 lbs., the same weight as a VW bug.
Check out the size of the chain links and shackles on this baby! Each anchor on this ship ways 15 tons, the same as our entire boat! The anchor rode (chain) also weighs the same as our boat. The props (of which there are 4) are 15 feet across!
All in all, we found the scope, scale and history of this ship just astonishing. Our tour guide, Ivy, was in her early 20s, was as enthusiastic as were the grizzled veterans, and made it a lively story.
We also spent an hour in the adjacent Nauticus museum, but since most of it was about the Port of Norfolk, and about general marine/boat stuff which we already know quite a bit about, it was less interesting, though well presented.
We came back to Portsmouth late in the afternoon and picked up a few more items the guy who runs “Mile Marker Zero” marine supply had ordered for us.
After a week or more of wearing long pants and sleeves because of cooler weather, today it turned hot, almost 90 degrees. We actually ran the generator for a couple hours so we could run the air conditioning and cool the boat down after it was closed up all day while we were gone. We remain happy and well!