Plenty of utensils and wares decorated tables in 18th-century America, but only a few became a symbol of protest during the Revolution, one of them was the teapot. It's these subtle traces of cultural change that take center stage in the permanent and temporary exhibits at DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. Here, developments in civilian and military infantry, such as ignition systems and muzzle-loading firearms, signal the progress of 18th-century weaponry, while 1690s-1820s furniture from New England through the Mid-Atlantic highlight developing cultural and regional trends.
Though a bulk of the museum's collection—including one of the biggest assortments of British ceramics outside England—was mainly used in the home, some objects were designed for outside the domestic sphere. An original fire engine built in the mid-18th century stands unscathed by flames, and a collection of medals made for George Washington honors the time he beat up that cherry tree. Scholars delve deeper into these and other artifacts during lectures held in Hennage Auditorium.
Atop the Victory Rover, guests absorb the oceanic sights and sounds of the naval base, replete with aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, and other armada accouterments illuminated by a boat-top docent. Up to 149 guests can feast eyes on the gentle waves of the Elizabeth River and Hampton Roads Harbor as their buoyant steed maneuvers past huge commercial ships and giant rubber duckies. On two-hour tours scheduled almost daily, the Victory Rover traverses a cruise route that takes history buffs past the site of the Civil War Battle of the Ironclads and mythology buffs past Poseidon’s watery front lawn. A main cabin stocked with plush seats and air conditioning offers respite from the salty breezes and talkative parrots of the otherwise comfortable open-air top deck.
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It's been more than 25 years since American Rover raised its majestic red sails and floated out on its first narrated tour. From April to October of each year, the 135-foot schooner still journeys across the smooth waters of Hampton Roads Harbor and the Elizabeth River. As its flags ripple in the wind, the three-masted sailboat explores sights such as Old Fort Norfolk and the battleship Wisconsin. Its captain narrates each of these excursions and invites guests to take turns at the helm and man the sails.
At night, American Rover transforms into a floating party. Twinkling harbor lights, live musicians, and a fully stocked bar set the mood for birthday celebrations or everyday outings. Meanwhile, climate-controlled lounges hide passengers who have an awkward history with the man in the moon.
For many, owning a yacht is as unlikely as parallel parking a yacht on the eighth try. Since 2001, SailTime Virginia Beach has been dedicated to ousting these doubts with an innovative and affordable model for boat access. In addition to its membership and ownership programs, the business hires USCG-licensed master captains to take the helm for charters on their fleet of Hunter sailing vessels, which range from the 22' Hunter 216 to the 36' Hunter 36. When traversing the cresting waves, passengers may spot pods of porpoises, who often leap out of the water to high-five onlookers. Those wishing to sharpen their own nautical skills can enroll in SailTime's ASAC-certified sailing school.