Monday, May 31, 2010


We've seen Annapolis by land and by sea but no matter how we approach Annapolis, it is always one of our favorite stops.
Yet this time was different. It was the first time we approached Annapolis by sea during the sailing season and for the first time we learned exactly what it is like to approach the US Sailing Capital by water dodging other boaters as we approached.
Once in Annapolis I was anxious to get to land. We'd been to plenty of interesting little towns in the last week or so but one thing they all had in common was that their shopping districts were still closed for the season. Annapolis would be different. Shopping would be plentiful. In the end, we didn't buy anything, but we did find something we hadn't seen before - the electronic yodeling pickle. Perhaps, I'll just close with that.
The Admiral

Monday, May 24, 2010

Tangier Island...

Of all the places on the Chesapeake, the one 'must see' that everyone consistently spoke of was Tangier. So as we left Onancock on an overcast morning and set sail into Tangier Sound, the anticipation was high of what was to come. Our decision to approach from the Sound side was ideal. The minute we entered the channel we understood what makes Tangier Island so special. Along the channel was a long series of docks. The docks were filled with lots of local fishing boats, small shacks and more crab pots than we'd ever seen. It was an amazing view and in many respects we felt as if we'd stepped into Michener's novel "Chesapeake" for this was undoubtedly a community of watermen both past and present.

I'd read somewhere that over 60 million crab are fished out of the Bay each year. An unbelievable number. With a harvest that size annually it is amazing that the species is not overfished, but here is the amazing thing - just one female crab has the potential for laying 8 million eggs annually and the time to maturiity for a crab is 12-18 months. Talk about an amazing replenishing supply!!! I suppose the trick is to not contaminate the waters and somehow disrupt the ecosystem of the crab.

We eventually weaved our way up the channel and to Parks Marina where we tied up for the night. From there we set out on foot for a tour. The community has established plaquards to signify the location of historical places in the island's history. We enjoyed the stories of who's who in Tangier Island's past and quickly realized that the community was founded by about 5-6 families as the military monument and the cemetery headstones showed.

Unfortunately, our arrival was early in the tourist season and most of the island shops and restaurants were closed. In fact the only things we could find open were the grocery and the local sandwich shop. Nonetheless, we had a marvelous time.

The Admiral

Friday, May 14, 2010


After a great stay on the Rappahannock, it was time to move on. So we headed to the eastern shore to the small community of Onancock. It was a blustry day with the wind on the nose making for a rocky ride even with our two hulls. Yet the trip was well worth it. Once we serpentined through the Onancock channel and into the creek we found homes scattered across the waters edge.
The community is made up of about 1500 residents and Dave and I were amazed that everyone we passed waved to us - talk about small town hospitality. In fact the only thing missing was a bunch of townfolk sitting on Liar's Bench telling stories. So Dave improvised instead telling me how he loved pickles and had never had a DQ Blizzard - yeah right.
Back on the water we took the dinghy up the smaller creeks to enjoy the views of the shore before retiring back to Tropical Breeze.
Next stop Tangier Island.
The Admiral
5/11 - 5/12/2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Rappahannock...

Friends Jim and Kathy invited us to a social at their yacht club so off to the Rappahannock River we went. We tied up at the Rappahannock River Yacht Club and were greeted by many of its members. All sailboaters, everyone was great in offering rides to the nearest grocery, hardware, or other location we might be in need of. Even better was that everyone had their own sailing stories to tell which always makes for a great evening. Thanks to RRYC for making us feel at home!
The next morning we had plans on leaving the yacht club and heading further upriver. Unfortunately, Mother Nature was not going to cooperate with this plan and instead blew stiff southwesterly winds our way pinning us to the dock. So when times are tough - improvise. Jim and Kathy had a plan - they took us on a personalized tour of the communities of Irvington and Kilmarnock. Kathy and I enjoyed the shops while the boys - including Murphy - found the nearest comfortable chair in the shade to enjoy. While out and about Dave picked up some steamed crabs and once back at the yacht club we sat out on a picnic bench on the patio and enjoyed our meal. The Chesapeake at its finest!!
With the weather having shifted it was time to move on. We sailed onto the Corrotoman and enjoyed an evening on the hook before heading into the town of Urbanna. We'd been told to make sure we stopped by the drug store with its old fashioned soda fountain and take in a limeade. You can imagine our disappointment when we arrived and found out that Main street was without water as the city repaired the water main. Bummer - well perhaps next time.
We must keep a moving as there is still plenty to see on the Chesapeake.
The Admiral
5/8 - 5/11/2010

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Our Bay travels include days with lots of wind and days with no wind at all. On the days with lots of wind we experienced 25+ knots with gusts up to 38 knots. It allowed for quite the ride aboard Tropical Breeze. Fortunately, on the day with the highest winds we opted to drop the sails - good thing we did because just after the sails had fallen the gusts grew stronger still. Days with no wind included the day we passed Wolf Trap Light which allowed for a great photo of the lighthouse and surrounding stillness. It is hard to believe that the Bay can be filled with white caps one day and completely calm the next.
These travel days eventually landed us in the small community of Reedville, VA. Reedville is the menhaden fishing capital of New England. What are menhaden? They are an especially oily fish. The oil is extracted and processed for use in many products we use every day including soaps, stains, linoleum, fertilizer and more.
While this may not sound like the most appealing of professions, in its day it was very rewarding. In 1910, the town of Reedville boasted the highest income per capita for the entire United States. With the income flowing into the community many stately homes were built and remain today.
While I enjoyed the homes, I think the Captain preferred our stop at the local ice cream shop and the seafood deli. Good to know that Reedville has something for everyone.
The Admiral
5/3 - 5/6 2010

Friday, May 7, 2010

More Yorktown...

OK - where to begin? We were walking along the beachfront in Yorktown and found this unusual car with its even more unusual occupants. Of course we had to take photos; but it just didn't seem right to have a blog entry talking about the historic Yorktown community and include the car photos as well - so we decided a separate blog post was warranted.
Our Chesapeake adventure continues.
The Admiral

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


We left Hampton Roads on a day with great southerly breezes and cruised up the Bay at about 7.5 knots. We forget how compact things are on the Bay. That combined with our cruising speed made quick work to getting to the York River. We opted to anchor in Sarah's Creek on the northern side of the river and enjoy a leisurely day on board Tropical Breeze.

The next morning we launched the dinghy and motored across the river to Yorktown. We walked around the small community seeing some of the old buildings, the Victory monument and the battlefield. It is hard to believe that over two hundred years ago US, French, and British forces fought here. The battlefield doesn't seem to leave much protection for a soldier. We can only imagine what the field must have looked like after 9-10 days of fighting between the two sides.

Having viewed the historical area we walked back along the beach. It was not quite noon and already a stiffling hot day. Locals were beginning to position themselves along the beach front to ward off the 90+ degree temperatures - 20 degrees higher than normal for this time of year. It was a bit ironic. Behind us was the battlefield where US independence was won and along the beach it was modern day - life goes on.

The Admiral
5/1 - 5/2/2010

Monday, May 3, 2010

Fort Monroe....

After great visits in Portsmouth and Norfolk, it was time to move on. As we traveled the Hampton Roads area we passed Mile Marker 0 (buoy "36"); the official end to our Intracoastal Waterway journey. From there we passed the Naval Shipyard with plenty of ships to see. The most impressive were the aircraft carriers - they were HUGE!! And yes, that is an airplane you see on deck in the photo.
From there we crossed from the southern side of the basin to the northern part of the basin giving two navy warships wide berth as we did. That led us to Old Point Comfort and Fort Monroe.
The Fort is the largest stone fort in the United States. It was completed in 1834 and has been used by the Army since that time. Its very long history begins with its construction. Then Lt. Robert E. Lee was stationed at the fort and directed construction. President Lincoln was here during the Civil War and with the assistance of officers planned the attack on Norfolk which was a critical win for the Union Forces. But probably its most notable story is that following the Civil War was that Confederate President Jefferson Davis was imprisoned here.
While still an active military installation, the fort is scheduled to close in 2011. After that I can only assume it will maintain its national landmark status and exclusively become a museum.
Next stop Yorktown.
The Admiral

Saturday, May 1, 2010


It was a sad morning. We bid farewell to friends Jim and Kathy on Charm and their four legged crew - Nikki, Tali and most notably Murphy. We'd been traveling with them almost since our winter voyage began and we are very sad to see them go. We do, however, hope to meet up with them in the coming weeks as we explore the Chesapeake Bay.
But we won't be Bay sailing just yet. There is still much to see in the Hampton Roads area. Today, we opted to take the ferry from Portsmouth to Norfolk and enjoy the downtown community. Our first stop was the Nauticus complex which features the USS Battleship Wisconsin as well as the Nauticus Museum and the US Naval Museum. We elected not to tour the Wisconsin and instead chose to spend time at the US Naval Museum. What a treat! Volunteer Tony guided us through the museum telling us stories of our naval heritage that we never knew. For example, did you know that the Merrimac was actually a Union ship which the Union burned along with the Union Naval Shipyard to ensure that the Confederacy would not benefit from it. On arriving at the shipyard the Confederates found the Merrimac burned to the waterline in its dock. They hoisted her out and used the hull to construct the ironclad USS Virginia who would then serve as the Confederate defense in the famous USS Monitor vs. Merrimac (CSS Virginia) incident.
We walked Norfolk's Cannonball Trail, a self-guided walking tour which takes you to all the significant spots in the downtown area. The trail featured bronze statues of navy sailors, historic homes, the MacArthur Memorial and more. By the close of our day our feet were tired and our minds overflowing with new knowledge of our nation's history.
We took the return ferry to Portsmouth and thought our touring for the day was complete. That was before we heard bagpipes playing down the street. We followed the sounds and were treated to a performances by a troupe bagpipers, Scottish dancers, precision gun team and a Marine band. It was all a prelude to the upcoming International Tattoo festival which honors patriotism. How fun!
It had been a full day but there is so much more to see! We will conclude our trip in the Hampton Roads area with a trip to Fort Monroe. Then it will be time to begin our Chesapeake adventure.
The Admiral