There I was—parked, perched, and perspiring— at the two-foot corner tip of the waterfront dock for almost three hours—sandwiched between the silver metal railing and the black wrought iron gate, pier post my stability. The local TV station crew was to the left on the concrete slab beyond the gate and the three announcer’s command station up the gang plank to the right during Norfolk’s Harborfest Parade of Sail. It was a perfectly privileged, prized viewing area to peer off into the distant melted sky and sea horizon—waiting—feet dangled over the water’s edge, camera equipment ready. Other photographers lingered and waited on shaded benches.
As noon approached, other observers gathered behind, around, and next to me, but no one touched the pier post I tenaciously clung to. Canon camera gripped in one hand and video camera in the other, definitely a juggling feat. My aim was to remain only a reflection in the Elizabeth River, to capture the fleet of ships through the camera lens, and to not become an additional captivating water parade feature. A list too far one way and a plunge in the Elizabeth River would have cooled off this sizzling photographer. My husband steadily leaned against the iron gate, feet firmly planted beside me, guarding—my buffer zone. An accident waiting to happen? Possibly, but nothing or nobody was going to pry me from my precious spot. I had waited four years for this one-hour photography moment.
A woman bent over my shoulders and commented, “Looks like you’ve found the perfect spot!” I smiled up at her, hanging on to the wooden pillar.
Canon smoke suspended heavily over the Elizabeth River while the booming sound from character vessels pierced the air; horns tooted as sleek power cruisers and sailing craft passengers waved and toasted to the waterfront onlookers; and the grand display of tall ships, antique and wooden boats, military vessels, and more passed in review off Norfolk’s Town Point Park at noon on Friday, June 10, 2011. Under the direction of the Virginia Pilots Association, the 35th Parade of Sail and docking drew thousands of spectators stationed at vantage points along Downtown Norfolk Harbor. Navy search and rescue demonstrations, Coast Guard emergency response exhibitions, public visitations aboard tall ships and character vessels, and even a Tidewater Dock Dogs Competition rounded out an extensive schedule of events throughout the three days of festivities. The traditions of the East Coast’s Premier Waterfront Festival celebrated with fanfare, regality, and an enticement to return.
After three hours propped against the wooden pier post and at water’s edge, I twisted my head sideways, gazed up at my husband, and exhaustively inquired, “Had enough?” I had. He reached for my free hand, pulled me from my precarious position, and we both forced our way through the crowd gathered around us.
The headline, “Woman Photographer Plunges into Elizabeth River at This Year’s Harborfest,” didn’t appear in the Norfolk Daily News or the Virginia Pilot. Both the video camera and the point-and-shot were spared a watery grave, and my photography session with a fleet of ships successful. Mission accomplished.
A return visit for next year’s OpSail 2012 is seriously being considered. What fun!
Parade of Sail:
Welcome Aboard the American Rover’s 45-minute Norfolk Harbor Cruise
Thanks for sailing along with me. More Norfolk Harborfest 2011 images can be found at www.corinthrose.com under This N’ That.