Friday, April 30, 2010


We are now in the Hampton Roads area and that means big boats and lots of them. Navy and commercial vessels are common sites in this area but one thing that we aren't used to seeing is a cruise ship in dry dock. If you think these big boats look huge in the water, imagine seeing one in dry dock. Quite the site!
We began our tour of Portsmouth at the Lightship museum and the Maritime museum. A lightship is essentially a floating lighthouse that also doubled as a rescue vessel. I must believe this had to be one of the most boring occupations in the service as crews of 9-14 men per vessel would be dispatched for 2-4 months at a time with the responsibility of maintaining the light and only serving as a rescue vessel in times of need.
Spring is in full bloom in the area and that was evident as we walked the streets of the historic district and viewed the homes; blossoming flowers and trees in their fine greenery added to the beauty of the area.
It would be our last evening with friends on Charm, as they would be continuing there journey home and we would opt to do some bumming around the area. We chose a Pub which had good burgers, good beer and good prices. It would have been a perfect meal if not for the pickle incident......yes know what I'm getting at here. The Captain has a severe aversion to pickles and neglected to order his hamburger platter absent pickle. We realized after the order was placed but it was too late. The burger was plated with pickle and despite the waitress' removing the pickle from the plate before it reached the table, the Captain's plate had - yep you guessed it - 'essence' of pickle on the burger bun. Oh dear, if you can imagine Eeyore's sorry eyes and face you'd have a great description of the Captain.
Tomorrow, Norfolk.
The Admiral

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Dismal Swamp...

The Dismal Swamp is one of the most beautiful legs of our journey. It is a 21 mile land cut that connects Albemarle Sound and the southern Chesapeake. Originally opened in 1805, it took over 12 years to hand dig the cut. Truly amazing.
We took our time as we traveled through the area The first evening we rafted off of Charm at the NC Visitor Center. Storms moved through the area so we spent the evening enjoying movies and grilling out.
The second evening we spent at Elizabeth's Dock - again rafted with Charm. We had high hopes of stopping at a local Mexican retaurant for dinner out but again more rain showers found us and we instead chose to stay aboard enjoying more movies and homemade pizza.
Our third day in the swamp began with breakfast with Robert. He is the Lockmaster at the Deep Creek lock. We enjoyed good conversation with Robert and other boaters before locking through and completing our Dismal Swamp voyage.
With time on our hands and good weather ahead we are opting to stay in Portsmouth for a day or two to enjoy the nautical history in the area.
The Admiral
4/26 - 4/28/2010

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Elizabeth City...

With a major storm front expected, we were in a hurry to get to Elizabeth City and secure dock space at the town docks before the storm's arrival. The anchor was up at 5:50am - way too early for me - but the early start gave us a beautiful view of the sunrise.

By the time we passed under the Alligator River Bridge, the winds in the Abermarle Sound were picking up nicely so we hoisted the spinnaker for a great sail across the Sound. We sailed along at 7.5 knots making quick work of the 45 mile journey to Elizabeth City.

Once docked, the priority became laundry. Yes laundry!! We had somehow accumulated 5 loads of laundry and it was quite the challenge to drag it down to the laundromat about 1/2 mile away. With laundry accomplished it was time to treat ourselves to some fun so, with our friends on Charm, we went out for supper at a local seafood shop. Mmmmmm!!

Back at the boat, Tropical Breeze was capturing lots of glances from the many students and families who had gathered in the park where the boat was docked. It was prom night and it quickly became apparent that a tradition is to have prom photos taken at the park overlooking the river. It was quite a site - all the young people in dresses and tuxedos.

The storm which was to arrive overnight didn't. Instead we were greeted the next day to a brisk wind but plenty of sunshine. Given that we expected 30-40 knot winds with lots of rain, we gladly chose the alternative. So after a day of bumming about Elizabeth City and happy hour on board Tropical Breeze there was only one thing left to do - get the Captain his birthday blizzard. With all the challenges that January and February had brought us, we had never made it to Dairy Queen for Dave's birthday blizzard. I must say I was really beginning to tire of hearing about how deprived he was of his birthday treat so when we realized that their was a DQ within walking distance of the boat, we walked up and resolved the issue.

But yes, those of you who know Dave well also know that getting him his birthday treat was not going to stop him from yearning for more blizzards in the future. Even before he had finished his long awaited soft serve, he was already asking when he could expect his anniversary blizzard followed by his summer solstice blizzard etc.

Ahhhh life with the Captain always takes me in such sweet directions and that normally means to the nearest ice cream shop.

The Admiral

4/24 - 4/25/2010

PS. Thanks to Kathy on Charm for the photo of Tropical Breeze under sail.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Beaufort, NC...

From Southport, NC we continued northbound to Moorhead City. There we realized we were out of potatoes, tomatoes, fruit, orange juice, bread and were down to our last onion. So out came the bikes and we cycled off to the supermarket for provisions.

Without the threat of going hungry we traveled just a few miles further to Beaufort, NC. It was here that we met up with friends Jim, Kathy and Murphy again and went on a walking tour of the city. The top sites in Beaufort, NC are the Maritime Museum and the Burial Ground. At the museum we saw the head of a 2080 pound great white shark that was caught off Cape Fear in 1985. The shark was feasting off smaller sharks that had been caught by fisherman and in the process of its feeding frenzy managed to get itself caught up in the fishing lines. The museum displays only the head of the shark but it alone is intimidating enough! On a lighter side the museum also has the shell of a 20 pound lobster. Just one claw was enough to feed a family of four - well at least the Captain and I anyway.

From there we walked over to the burial ground and while I was originally a bit hesitant about walking through the cemetary, I have to admit it was quite interesting. Numbered markers were placed throughout the cemetary and a brochure informed us of the specifics of who the person was. There were men who fought in the revolutionary war - even a British officer who was buried standing up in salute of his home country. There were children who's graves were decorated with shells and children's toys. One young lady had died on a return trip from England with her father and rather than bury her at sea her father placed her corpse in a barrel of rum. Once she returned to the US, and her mother, the child was buried in the cemetary - still in the barrel of rum. Quite amazing!

Having seen Beaufort, it was time to continue on. We were up early with the intention of hoisting the anchor by 7:30 am. But whe we went to hoist the anchor we realized that no matter how much power we gave the engines we were moving nowhere! We were stuck - in the muck!! The wind had pushed us toward shore and the tide had dropped just low enough that we - a catamaran who draws less than 4 foot - were on the hard. How embarrassing!! Well Jim, Kathy and Murphy continued their journey. Meanwhile Dave and I decided to have a lazy morning with pancake breakfast and a movie. With the movie over we thought we could be on our way. Guess again - still stuck!! Fortunately, the tide was coming in more swiftly now and it was just another 15-20 minutes before we could be on our way. Thank heavens!

Fortunately, Jim, Kathy and Murphy took pity on us and slowly made their way up the ICW that day. This gave us the opportunity to catch up with them at the Bear Creek anchorage. But we were having such a good day that while in the anchorage we found the shoal and managed to get ourselves stuck again - fortunately only for a minute - before successfully dropping the hook.

Oh my what a day! Aground twice and three and a half hours on the hard! You can imagine that by the end of the day I was ready for a stiff drink!

The Admiral
4/20 -4/22/2010

PS Welcome to new readers Ed and Lois and Ed and Lynn. We hope you enjoy our journey.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Our first stop in North Carolina was Southport. A fishing village, the town docks prominently display their fishing vessels and seafood restaurants. Further inland the community is built of mainly old homes (1850's - 1930's) which feature plaquards of what historic community figure lived in the residence originally. Many of the plaquards featured pilots who would guide ships safely in through Frying Pan shoals and the Cape Fear inlet.
We tied up to the free town dock, walked around town and enjoyed an excellent dinner at the Fishy Fishy Cafe which featured local seafood - flounder, scallops and oysters.
At low tide, Dave found a vessel - or what was left of it - long ago gone astray. We wondered if it would have benefited from the guidance of one of the local pilots. Perhaps not.
The Admiral
4/18 - 4/19/2010

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Making More Tracks...

We left Fernandina and since, I confess, it has been a bit of a blur. In Georgia, we wound our way north on the rivers through the low lying marshes. Many boaters avoid Georgia because of its winding path and historically shallow waters. I find it serene. The boat traffic is lighter in Georgia so you can look across the vast marshlands and almost feel as if you are the only living soul for miles. That is, of course, with the exception of the bird life which adds to the peacefullness of it all. Frequently we see birds nests on the mile markers and I was finally successful in capturing a photo with a bird in his/her nest.

From there we crossed into South Carolina which I always equate with Charleston. Unfair I know because the state has so many other great things to offer. Yet for me, a favorite spot is Charleston. We didn't stay this time. We only stopped to pick up fuel and water. The mega dock was filled with mega sized boats this trip. A sailing monohull which had to be at least 120 foot long. A big power yacht at least 150 foot in length and then this little 80-90 foot sailing catamaran that Dave admired.

Despite our short Charleston stay, we were able to take in some practice runs of the US Navy's Blue Angels. They were flying overhead as we crossed Charleston Harbor oftentimes just a mere 100 foot above us. The roar of their engines deafening as they went by.

Then with a blink of an eye we were crossing the Sunset Beach Pontoon Bridge in North Carolina. We were happy to get through. The bridge has been closing periodically because of the extreme low tides that the area has been experiencing.

The journey continues.

The Admiral
4/11 - 4/17/2010

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Fernandina Beach...

Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island is a new port of call for us and one we can't believe we hadn't stopped at before now. How enjoyable!

The downtown community is a historic district and we enjoyed a morning of walking up and down the streets with Jim, Kathy and our four legged friend Murphy - of course - taking in the splendor of the historic homes.

After a great day of touring it was once again time to head north. So after a morning stop at the Farmer's Market and another stop at Pattycakes Bakery for brownies - our third stop at the bakery in as many days - we would be on our way.

Or voyage would now continue on the Intracoastal Waterway as the winds had turned unfavorable to continue our journey on in the Atlantic.

The Admiral
4/9 - 4/10/2010

P.S. Dave, Shirley and Christopher - So glad to hear that Tiffany Rose will be enjoying the water for the summer. As you can see we finally made it to Fernandina - a port of call I know the three of you enjoyed. No, we will not be storing in Charleston this year. We've opted to head up to the Chesapeake for some Bay sailing before we bring our season to a close.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Making Tracks...

With the shuttle launch behind us we opted to take advantage of the southerly winds and pop out to the Atlantic for our northerly journey. So out the Canaveral Inlet we went. Through the lock, past the bridge - in which only 3 of 4 spans would open - and out into the Atlantic.
The run was interesting. We began with a hop from Canaveral to St. Augustine. Unfortunately, the winds died shortly after we reached the channel so we ended up motoring the entire way. Several hours into our trip the starbord engine started acting up again. I guess the fuel filter wasn't the problem. A little while after that the chartplotter started losing its GPS signal and kept beeping at us to make us aware that it wasn't working. Dave and I started to think we had somehow drifted into the Bermuda Triangle - eeekkkkk. Fortunately not. Using the port engine we continued our journey and opted to turn off the chartplotter and use the shoreline as our guide. Twenty-two hours into our adventure we arrived in St. Augustine. The chartplotter had mysteriously rid itself of its issues and Dave had brainstormed the problem with the starbord engine and was able to fixed it. Thank heavens!
But weather was not going to continue to be our friend and we knew it. So nine hours after our St. Augustine arrival we left again. This time destined for Fernandina Beach near the Florida / Georgia State Line. The winds were much more cooperative on this leg of the journey and we successfully made the 50 ish mile journey under spinnaker sail.
We arrived before dawn and enjoyed a much needed sleep.
The Admiral
4/6 - 4/8/2010

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Blast Off...

We were up at 5am and walked about 1 1/2 miles to the Banana River Bridge to see the shuttle launch. We anticipated that we would be the only people crazy enough to get up early to watch the launch. We thought wrong as there were already 30-40 people standing at the base of the Banana River Bridge in anticipation of the launch when we arrived.
A fellow shuttle watcher let us view the shuttle through his binoculars. We were 10-12 miles away from the pad but through the lenses could see the shuttle standing at its launch ramp clear as day. While we were waiting for the launch we saw the International Space Station going past overhead - pretty cool.
Someone had a radio on nearby with shuttle commentary. The spokeperson said countown 2 minutes and 39 seconds to launch and then the shuttle blasted off.....I didn't even have the camera ready. I guess the commentary was slightly delayed!!
Nonetheless, at 6:21am the launch pad lit up and the shuttle took off. We watched for many minutes as its glow climbed into the sky. Despite the darkness, you could see the smoke trails behind it clearly. When the visual spectacle was almost over, the sound of the launch finally reached us. It was a huge rumble, like a thunderstorm.
All in all, really impressive!! We walked back to the boat and when the sun did come up we were able to get a photo of the residual smoke trails lighting up the sky. What a great start to the day!
The Admiral

Monday, April 5, 2010


We arrived safely at the Harbortowm Marina on the Canaveral Barge canal. Then it was time for work as the Captain stepped into the engine compartments to change the fuel filters. By the looks of the filters, it was time for a change. We are confident that this was the source of our problems.
With the work complete, it was time to enjoy a nice Easter dinner. We decided to try making our own crab cakes. They turned out pretty good - at least good enough that we plated them special and took a photo. Friend Kathy on Charm would be proud. The meal yielded the use of 5 cans of our Bahamas provisions - which never saw the Bahamas - and used one bottle of wine.
Happy Easter.
The Admiral
4/4/2010 pm


Light southerly winds made for a great day of sailing. It was the first time this season we had the sails up. We again enjoyed that feeling of being liberated from the dock - that is until the power boats started passing us - then we just felt like turtles.
We anchored somewhere in Cocoa for the evening and then motored into Canaveral on Easter Sunday. While we normally motor with just one engine in an effort to conserve fuel, today we found using one engine to be a necessity. The starbord engine was losing RPMs and we believe fuel starved. We hope with a filter change we can remedy the issue.
The Admiral
4/3 - 4/4/2010 am

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Vero Beach...

Oddly, Vero Beach was not very crowded when we arrived. Usually we end up rafting 3 boats together to a mooring ball - which gets pretty darn wide when you think of 3 catamarans all rafted together - but not today. Instead we stood alone on mooring ball #1.
There is lots to do in Vero. They have a great bus system which will take you to the beach, the mall and plenty of places in between. We were in need of a grocery run. So off we went via bus to the local market.
With the shopping done, we will continue the trek northbound with the hopes of shuttle launch viewing in our future.
The Admiral
4/1 - 4/2/2010

Friday, April 2, 2010

Peck Lake...

We gave hugs and kisses to our friends, handed out dog treats to our four legged buddies and then attempted to cast off away from the dock. Just when we thought we were leaving, the train bridge closed and we were trapped. One train went by but the bridge didn't open then another train went by and finally the bridge opened and we were free to go. Sunset Bay is like the Hotel California, you can check out anytime you like but you can never leave (except we had lots of "spirits" there).
While we will miss our friends at Sunset Bay bunches, it felt quite liberating to be away from the dock. After all, Tropical Breeze hadn't been on the move since December.
Our first stop was a mere 9 miles away at Peck Lake. We dropped the hook, made sure it was secure and then launched the dinghy for shore.
Peck Lake isn't really a lake. It is a widening in the ICW allowing for a boat anchorage. Once on shore, you can walk east and within minutes you find yourself on a beach along the Atlantic. It was great to let our feet sink into the sand and feel the cool Atlantic Ocean between our toes.
Next stop Vero Beach.
The Admiral

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Farewell Parties....

With the spring season on us, it is time to begin saying goodbye to friends both old and new. Of course to say goodbye appropriately requires one good party...or two...perhaps three. Our farewell season began with a cookout with friends Jim and Kathy on Charm, Eric and Ellen on Westwind and Ed and Gillian. Excellent burgers, even better side dishes, great friends and wine always make for an awesome evening!

But there were more friends to say goodbye to. So a happy hour was in order. Joe and Patti joined us from Acacia as well as Jim and Kathy. More food, more drink and more fun!

Yet the best was saved for last. A party hosted by the marina to thank all the marina guests for a wonderful first marina season. While the goal was to say goodbye we made a new friend. Ingrid, a boater and Tropical Breeze blog reader stopped by to introduce herself. You have no idea how excited the Captain and I are to find out that someone actually reads our blog!! .... besides our favorite Dave's, of course. More food, more fun and dancing 'til sunset made for another wonderful night.

The Admiral
3/26 - 3/30/2010