Tuesday, October 28, 2008


WOW!! What a phenomenal day! We woke to quiet weather and wondered if there would be sufficient wind to sail but the northerlies began to build and shortly after breakfast we put up the spinnaker and left Whitehall Bay. That was it. No tacking. No jibbing. Just a straight downwind sail – I mean surf - past Annapolis to Solomans Island. Conditions were awesome! Currents and winds in our favor, we flew down the bay. Much to David’s enjoyment we passed every monohull and catamaran within our general vicinity as we peaked out at 13.6 knots and averaged 9-10 knots the whole way. The attached photo shows the rooster tail effect of all the water passing behind the boat as we scream passed. Just incredible!

Tonight we are tied up at Calvert Marina in Solomans. More rainy weather is passing through and we will likely be here for two nights until the weather clears. But no matter. The town is compact but includes everything a mariner needs for provisioning. Additionally, the marina offers their patrons the use of a courtesy car – an old Mercedes of all things. So this evening we made a beeline for the local Ace Hardware store to buy a small propane heater. The result – no more chilly evenings!! The heater is keeping the main cabin nice and toasty.

More soon.

The Admiral

Where'd the Dock Go?

On Saturday we waited for the storm to come through. The weather worsened throughout the day and by Saturday evening the worst of the storm arrived. The combination of the high tide, the wind blowing water up the river towards us and the rain resulted in the water level rising above the docks by Saturday evening. We were happy we had decided to wait out the weather.

Sunday morning was clear and sunny. The waves on the Chesapeake were mild as were the southerly winds. We sailed, through intermittent winds, south of the Bay Bridge and spent the night (once again) in Whitehall Bay near Annapolis. Tomorrow we will traverse new territory, continuing the southerly trek down the Chesapeake.

The Admiral

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Haul Out...

So after less than a month, the boat was out of the water again. A series of tests were run but we couldn’t identify the root cause of the problem with the sail drive. Everyone admitted the oil looked strange, but pressure tests suggested that water was not the source of the problem.

Our choices were to continue with further testing ripping away part of the fiberglass enclosure for the sail drives. If we did this, it would be highly unlikely that we would be able to launch again and our trip would be scrapped for the year. Option 2 was to purge the oil of the unit, run another batch of oil through the system and purge it and then fill it again with fresh oil. David would then need to check the oil as we headed south and if signs of problems persisted we would need to seek additional assistance at that point in time.

We have chosen option 2 – head south. So after spending a good portion of the day hanging in the cradle of the boat lift, Tropical Breeze once again found water under her hulls. We will remain docked here through Saturday, to allow for the coming storm to pass through and then take off on Sunday and head south – again!

The Admiral

Friday, October 24, 2008

Northbound Day 2...

What a difference a day makes. The winds having died down overnight calmed the seas of the bay. Now in the early morning the winds were picking up again but the calmer waves provided much improved overall sailing conditions. We traveled north returning to the Sassafras River and reaching our destination.

While it was nice to be back to familiar territory and familiar faces, we realize that when we depart again we will need to push to get down to the end of the bay. We have no deadlines, but the weather continues to turn cool and it is becoming more and more nippy in the evenings.

The Admiral

Northbound Day 1...

Our great day of sailing from the day before was due to the brisk northerly that had built in the Chesapeake. Yesterday’s great sail would become today’s upwind battle as we spent 10 hours with water smashing against the hull, wind in our faces and a constant tacking back and forth across the bay. In all we traveled about 50 miles and made good progress back to our northerly destination.

The outcome, however, was two very exhausted sailors. We tied up in Rock Hall Harbor at Waterman’s Restaurant. This is where we’ve historically enjoyed our crab feasts but tonight we were too exhausted to tackle any crab. As we enjoyed our dinner, the restaurant felt like it was rocking – another sign of a long day on the water. Admittedly, I was feeling a bit like a wimp, not tough enough to endure fall Chesapeake sailing, but as David and I enjoyed our meal and we listened to the local conversations around us I began to feel tougher. The hostess indicated that diehard patrons who always made the trip by boat for the oyster buffet cancelled their reservations for today – weather too challenging. Further, patrons were cancelling reservations for the weekend as the weather was supposed to deteriorate further. We even overheard a fisherman indicate that he hadn’t braved the weather to go out fishing today.

Feeling a renewed sense of Midwestern sailing gusto – or stupidity – we returned back to the boat. Lying in bed that night my brain kept telling me something was wrong. It was. The winds had died and we were tied up to a dock in the well protected harbor. All was silent. After a day of constant motion, water slamming and winds hollaring the silence was eerie. So with the peculiar silence, I fell into a well needed restful sleep.

The Admiral

The Good and the Not...

We left Annapolis today and experienced our best sailing day yet. The winds, which had been inconsistent, filled in nicely and we had 15-20 mile an hour breezes across the bay. Near the end of our day the breezes picked up further and we dropped the spinnaker and chose a heavier sail to complete the journey into Kent Island Narrows.

There we met up with John, of Chesapeake Yacht Systems, who completed our corrosion survey. This was his last marine job before retiring. We opted to have this additional survey/assessment completed after we discovered, in July, the sail drives were corroded and needed replacing. The survey would confirm whether or not the problem related to electrolysis or if the problem was (as we suspected) and incompatible metal paint being applied to the sail drives. The great news was that John was able to confirm that the problem had not been electrolysis and he was even able to give us a few pointers on how we could further protect the electrical system of the boat. This was great news!

The bad news was that John and the Captain discovered that one of the new sail drives had, what appeared to be, water in the oil. Not so good for a mechanical part that is supposed to only have oil in its guts. This is certainly an unexpected problem and will require us to return north for diagnostics and a fix. Ugh!

The Admiral

Monday, October 20, 2008


All the cruisers we spoke to insisted that we haven't seen Annapolis until we've approached it by boat. They were right. The quaint historic city is home to both the US Naval Academy and boasts that it is the US Sailing Capital. This combination makes for great scenery as you come up the Severn River. The Naval Academy emerges on the right with its blending of modern and french style architecture. The tallest building on the Academy grounds being the Chapel with its dome.

Beyond the Naval Academy is downtown Annapolis. When Brother Matt was visiting us last month he said he couldn't understand why I was so insistent that we go into Annapolis. He expected just another downtown - but Annapolis is not just another downtown. Instead Annapolis has mantained its historic brick architecture through its buildings and streets combined with the local stores which take on a charm almost like Mackinac Island absent most of the fudge shops.

We had a busy day in the city. Between picking up supplies at the canvas shop, the chandlery, hardware store and a few provisions we were on the go. We sat down to have lunch and I realized it was 5:00 - oh my! I am really not certain how the days are getting past us so quickly and those that wondered if we would get bored I promise there is no boredom setting in yet. We will keep you posted should that change.

The Admiral

The Bay Bridge

We continued our journey down the Chesapeake on Friday. Our trip included something new for me. In all the years Dave and I have sailed the Great Lakes together I've never been onboard when the spinnaker was hoisted. Well Day 2 of our journey included downwind spinnaker sailing. As you can tell from the first photo looking up at the Bay Bridge as we sail underneath the color of the spinnaker keeps with the red, white and blue theme for Nestle's Crunch - what luck!

As we approached Annapolis we realized that it was a beautiful Friday and it was the weekend of the power boat show. Taking these facts into consideration we opted to not go into Annapolis and instead anchored just north of the city in Whitehall Bay for several days. The bay is well protected from the Chesapeake with mature treelines and a few very nice homes on its border. A great spot, but unfortunately no access to internet, hence the delay in this posting.

Next stop Annapolis.

The Admiral
10/17/08 - 10/19/08

Thursday, October 16, 2008


At 11:15 this morning we left the docks on the Sassafras River and headed out toward the Chesapeake. A mere 10 minutes into the journey I heard a bird cawing and turned to find a big black bird sitting at the top of the mast. Then turning to the stern I realized the big black bird had pooped all over the back of the boat. My initial reaction was frustration as I had just scrubbed the deck the day before. But giving it further thought I decided it was just Mother Nature's way of initiating us into her environment. So having now been accepted as a part of her world we went out into the Chesapeake taking photos of the Sassafras River as we went.

The day was very nice. Winds at 8-10 knots. Mid 70's for temps. Slight waves. We sailed down to Middle River and are now planning to spend our first night at anchor in Sue Creek. Tomorrow we will make the rest of the journey to Annapolis.

We celebrated my birthday this evening with a great birthday dinner and for dessert - Klondike bars. I know it doesn't seem exciting to all you land based folks but we are absolutely smitten with the fact that the freezer can keep ice cream.

More to come.

The Admiral

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Final Sassafras Sunset...

Well with the gear stowed and tanks filled I think we are finally ready to shove off. Before we do that, however, we wanted to enjoy one final sunset on the Sassafras River. The sunsets here are just stellar and tonight's viewing is spectacular as well.

Next stop? Somewhere closer to Annapolis. If the northerly winds come in as expected we may make it to Annapolis tomorrow. Otherwise, we will anchor somewhere overnight and finish the journey the following day. After all, what's the hurry?!
The Admiral

PS > For those wondering why I am not posting excerpts pertaining to the big birthday I had today its not because I am trying to ignore the event. With all the final activities going on today the Captain and I agreed that we would celebrate the big event tomorrow where we hope to have new sunset viewing to enjoy.

Holy Crab!

In celebration of Tim's last evening in Maryland we did what every good tourist should do - crab dinner! I know - your all thinking, didn't we just see a crab dinner several postings ago. Yes you did, but I continue to be overwhelmed by the sheer mass that the crabs present on the platter. I think Tim was pretty shocked too.

The Admiral

Captain Crunch?

The Captain has been having difficulty adapting to his new lifestyle. We, brother-in-law Tim and I, decided to give him a helping hand in transforming him to his new sea based life. Our goal was to turn him into Pirate Captain Crunch. It was a challenging task but we finally succeeded. If interested in turning yourself into a Pirate I suggest the following:

1) A dockside haircut to leave those land based cooties behind.
2) The hoisting of the new colors....in this case Red, White and Blue for Nestles Crunch! (Thanks Sabine and everyone from the office)
3) The eyepatch - because every well known Pirate in history had one.
4) The smoking of a cigar to enrich the senses.....and finally
5) A champagne toast (thanks Nancy) because its always 5 o'clock somewhere!

With the ritual complete, Captain (Crunch) Dave appears to be easing into his new dockside responsibilities of chief mechanic, bartender and grill chef - I mean bartender, grill chef and chief mechanic. Stay tuned as the Captain will add the responsbilities of helmsman and navigator once we leave the dock!!!

The Admiral

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Boat Show...

Today we enjoyed the US Sailboat Show in Annapolis, MD. The weather was just perfect - sunny and in the mid to upper 70's. The show held several surprises including new catamarans that we had never seen before as well as the absence of several catamaran companies who have gone out of business or have chosen to focus on power cats vs sailing cats. One such surprise was the spotting of Chesire Cat in the show. We had a few minutes to talk with Mike T., Chesire Cat's Captain, who indicated that his cruise thus far has exceeded expectations. Very good news to hear given that Captain Dave and I will be pushing off from the dock sometime this week.

We are anxious but not so much so that we are going to leave before making sure that some of the all important small tasks are completed. Tomorrow the Captain and brother-in-law Tim are painting markings on the anchor chain so that as we let out chain while at anchor we know how much is out. The Captain also has one more trip up the mast to install the new anchor light bulb that we picked up at the show. All little things, but little things that will be very helpful while underway.

More to come.

The Admiral

The Whirlwind...

It has been a heck of a week!! Captain Dave even remarked that he felt he has spent more time in the car than anywhere else. The whirlwind began with the drive back to the midwest. On our arrival there was the day of errands, the day visiting friends in Indiana, the day with Dave's family, time with my family, three final work days for Dave, his going away party at work (which was great - thanks everyone!) and, of course, all the activities involved in packing for our departure.

Somehow the top priorities were completed and then we traveled out East for the boat. This time we brought brother-in-law Tim with us and the photo of him relaxing on the trampoline is exactly what Dave and I needed following all the running - a day of rest.

The Admiral

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Preparations Continue....

Well as we reach the final days of preparations, the Captain and I have been hard at work trying to get things finalized. Dave was up on the mast again to install the radar reflector. While up there he got some great views of the marina. While the photos give a great reflection of all the boats and work going on around us they certainly don't do justice to the beautiful terrain.

I am very greatful that my freezer is now functional again. The Captain had disabled the evaporator and drilled holes into the freezer walls in an effort to add more insulation and stop the condensation on the countertop and behind the salon cushions. We don't know if the fix will solve 100% of the problem but, without a doubt, the freezer has substantially more insulation now than before.

When not working we've become social beings. We've made lots of friends here. Each of which has a rich history of how they got into sailing and there adventures thus far. Yesterday we hosted our very first "impromptu' happy hour. (Not to be mistaken with our first happy hour.) "Impromptu" as right around 5:00 yesterday evening the Captain and two other yachties were standing on the dock talking their experiences. Hand a drink to each one and voila "impromptu" happy hour is born. I didn't have to twist any arms either! It is quite fun.

The Admiral