Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Fort George Island

It was wonderful to leave Fernandina and head south on the intracoastal. We hadn't traversed this area of the ICW since the fall of 2008 as we had bypassed it by going outside into the Atlantic each of the last two years.

The weather was splendid - the best we'd seen in a November while cruising. In fact, the weather was so good that Matt questioned if we'd been lying to you all about previous weather related postings. We promise you we have not. Instead we can only say that the week of Thanksgiving brought with it the most wonderful 75-80 degree days filled with sunshine and such mild winds they could merely be described as breezes.

But onto Fort George and the Kingsley Plantation...

The plantation has had many owners since its 18th century roots but the most notable owners were the Kingsley's in the early 1800's. Zephaniah Kingsley and his African bride moved to the island where they and their slaves produced cotton. Zephaniah would become a very successful plantation owner adding to his acreage over time. He is remembered both for his business success but more importantly for his proactive stance on free blacks and his opinions against racial prejudice.

While the property still includes the old plantation house - now modified over time, the most interesting structures are the old slave quarters. They are built from tabby - cooked oyster shells (for lime), sand and water which when combined make a form of cement. Much of the cabins still stand after all these years and the oyster shells can be seen in the structures.

As interesting as this stop is we must be moving on.

The Admiral

Friday, November 26, 2010


We crossed the St. Mary's river and poof we were in Florida. It felt odd. We've never made it to Florida this early in the season. Albeit we were in northern Florida, but Florida nonetheless. Similar to our southern Georgia wanderings, we would spend plenty of time at Amelia Island - a week on the mooring ball at Fernandina Beach Marina. Why - well its a great spot and we had lots of visitors planned.

Our first guests were Kevin and Marlene. Friends from back home, Kevin and Marlene are in the process of relocating to Florida. We had a great time catching up on each others adventures.

A few days later Dave's brother, Matt, joined us. Matt would be spending the Thanksgiving week with us.

With some wheels to get around in, we experienced Amelia Island beyond the Fernandina Hstoric District. We were quite surprised to see how Amelia quickly changes from the quaint downtown district to the 'burbs' with plenty of shopping and services. While we took the opportunity to stock the pantry, Matt chose more important stocking items - a bottle of Captain Morgan's to toast his holiday by.

While on the island we visited Fort Clinch State Park. Its an old Civil War fort that has been very well preserved. I'd love to show you photos, but unfortunately on this day I would forget the camera. We also enjoyed the beach and just exploring the Amelia neighborhoods.

With our Amelia touring complete it is time to give Matt a little taste of the intracoastal. So south we go.

The Admiral
11/16 - 11/22/2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

St. Mary's and Cumberland Island

After several lazy days at Jekyll Island, it was time to move on. Next stop, St. Mary's Georgia. If St. Mary's sounds familiar to many of you it is because each of the last two years we have spent our Thanksgiving holiday there. Not this year. No, we have other plans. However, we did want to pop into town and check out the second hand bookstore as well as other happenings.

After St. Mary's we moved on to Cumberland Island. Unlike Jekyll, Cumberland has seen little change since our last visit. The mature trees and spanish moss still welcome you to the island. The horses and armadillos still roam at their leisure. The ruins of the old Carnegie mansion still stands large making one wonder what it would have been like to see Dungeness in its prime. The beach is a wonder as well - stretching for miles - it is almost as if you could walk along its white sandy shores for hours uninterrupted.
The Admiral
11/13 - 11/15/2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Changes at Jekyll Island...

Our offshore passage was what we expected it to be -negiligble winds and flat seas. We motored throughout the night and arrived at Jekyll Island the following morning.

Ashore at Jekyll, things are changing! The gas station has been torn down and a new and larger gas station /convenience store is going up in its place. The strip mall with the IGA and other stores has been vacated and all the shops relocated to trailers about a mile north. With the strip mall vacated, the plans are to knock down the strip mall and the convention center across the street and start fresh.

The new complex will feature more shops, the convention center and a new hotel. When finished it should be quite the sight!

We happened to be exploring the island the day before the mall and convention center were to come down so we thought it appropriate to feature a before shot with hopes that in 2-3 years we can feature the after shot.

More to come.

The Admiral
11/9 - 11/12/10

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Land Ho...

After nearly a week, we were ready for a little shore leave. Destination....Charleston, SC. We pulled into the marina and sprung into action. The fun would come but there were chores to be done - laundry, groceries and more.

Three loads of laundry and a grocery stock up later we were ready to explore. We headed downtown, walked through the market and enjoyed the sights and smells that are Charleston. Along our stroll we took in the architecture that is unique to the city, but you've seen that posted here before. So instead we happened on something we thought truly unique. A Ferrari parked next to a Maserati. Not pictured is the Mercedes that pulled up next to the cars shortly after we had snapped the photo. Quite the neighborhood.

What is next. Well the weather is warming into the 70's. The winds prediced to be negligible. The seas flat. We thought we'd try our hand again at an offshore voyage. Given our last experience we figure we'd prefer not enough wind to too much.

Next stop - Georgia - weather permitting.

The Admrial
11/7 - 11/8/201

Monday, November 8, 2010

At Sea

Monday: On a beautiful morning we left Elizabeth City and motored toward the sunrise and into the Albermarle Sound. The wind picked up and Dave opted to put up the spinnaker. Within no time we were cruising along at 8+ knots. Then it happened....the spinnaker blew out ripping the sail in two. I can't believe it....it happened again. Those of you who have been reading our blog from the beginning may remember that in our first season we crossed the Albermarle Sound and the spinnaker burst - not only on the same sound but also in the same location on the sail. Ahhhh.... the Captain's frustrations were heard for miles.

But we persevere. So up went the main and genoa and we cruised the balance of the day. Certainly not at the 8+ knots we had been, but still a respectable speed. We ended the day with the hook down in the Pungo River (Mile 127.5).

Tuesday: Day two of the cruising adventure started with another gorgeous sunrise and another challenge. Today it would be Pamilco Sound and stiff northerly winds. The parade of boats began the journey and by the time we reached the sound there were sailboats everywhere. The southern migration was obviously in full swing. End day at Mile 187.

Wednesday: Day three was more of the same. Lots of boats. So many in fact that when we reached the anchorage at Mile Hammock Bay we feared we may not find a place to drop the hook. Fortunately we did and our friend Francie would later tell us that we were one of 29 boats in the small anchorage for the evening. Thank heavens Mother Nature decided to bless us with a quiet evening. (Mile 244.5)

Thursday: She got even. We woke to a dense fog the next morning. It delayed every one's start as we couldn't even see the boats anchored next to us let alone the ICW channel markers. Instead Dave and I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and waited for the fog to lift. It did and the race to hoist anchors and be off was underway.

Yet Mother Nature wasn't done with her tricks. On this day she brought a fierce rain and cold wind that had Dave and I asking ourselves why we hadn't left a month sooner. Once we reached Wrightsville Beach most of the boaters chose to stop for the evening. Not wanting to experience another evening in a crowded anchorage, the Captain and I continued a few more miles finally dropping the hook around Mile 244.5.

Friday / Saturday: Isn't their a saying that boaters should never begin a journey on a Friday. Perhaps we should listen in the future. The day began sunny and breezy. We exited the Cape Fear inlet and found ourselves sailing along Atlantic waters. The wind was out of the west with an expected shift to the northwest later in the day. But as the afternoon progressed the westerly winds turn more southwest and we found ourselves either headed to the Bahamas or pointed straight into the wind to reach our Charleston destination. As the sun set storm clouds started to pop up and the winds picked up into the 20's with gusts to 30. The ride had become entirely too unpleasant.

Around 11pm making little headway into the wind we finally gave up Charleston as our destination and set course for the more northerly port of call, Georgetown, SC. Unfortunately, our bad luck would continue for as we reached the 17 mile long inlet the outgoing tide was in full force bringing Tropical Breeze to a 2.5 knot crawl with both engines humming. Seventeen miles at two and a half knots is a long way and we were exhausted once done. We dropped the hook and went down for some shut eye. The winds and tides still rallying around us.

The northerly wind shift finally came at 5:30 in the morning. The shift woke me up and I went out on deck. I watched for a while as the boat move with the winds and against the tide. It is always an interesting site to see these two forces battle against another. You never know which will win. Today wind won but in the midst of it all Tropical Breeze found a buoy marker and ran over the top of it. If you could imagine me in my sleepy state suddenly realizing that if I looked underneath the trampolines there was a yellow buoy marker flashing. Oh CRAP! I yelled for the Captain and was scared to death that we would never get ourselves out of the predicament without damage to the hulls. We somehow separated ourselves from the marker (it is all a blur) and were relieved when we realized the marker was encased in styrofoam hence no damage done. Close call!!
Wide awake now we anxiously waited for sunrise all the while keeping an eye on the nearby marker. We didn't want to hoist the anchor before the sun came up as we feared that the anchor chain may have gotten wrapped around the marker and we'd need the sunlight to maneuver our way through the mess. As twilight broke anxiety got the best of us and we began hoisting the anchor. We were happy to realize that the chain had not wrapped around the mark.

Adrenaline overcoming the lack of sleep we continued the journey down the ICW finally choosing the quiet and solitude of Dewees Creek with which to drop the hook. Sleep finally came. We rose to watch a beautiful sunset and could hardly believe that less that 24 hours before the calm that surrounded us now had been fury. (Mile 454.9)

The Admiral
11/1/ 2010 - 11/6/2010

Trick or Treat?

Halloween found us in Elizabeth City. The town is great for cruisers providing dockage at the town wharf and having a quaint downtown to explore. The Captain had high hopes of stopping at the local seafood place for his favorite - soft shell crab. Unfortunately it was Sunday and the restaurant is not open on Sundays.

Instead we enjoyed happy hour on board 'Release' with friends Ken, Francie, Mike, Lu and four legged friend Skipper. Yet it was Halloween so we should do some tricking or treating - shouldn't we? So we all opted for treating and walked up to the local Dairy Queen for our favorite ice cream treat. As you might imagine that made the Captain happy........and yes Dave's his Blizzard was EXTREME!

The Admiral

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Dismal Swamp...

One of the nice things about tying up at Elizabeth Dock is the next morning, before the first lock, you have the opportunity to have coffee with Lockmaster Robert. We did just that; catching up on all the local happenings. The lock had actually been on a restricted schedule due to drought until a heavy late September rain - 17 inches in less than 3 days. That took the Dismal Swamp from a drought situation to a flood and forced Lockmasters to start draining the excess water out of the canal. The dispersing the excess water created problems of its own. A shoal formed in the canal and a dredge was inside trying to move the excess earth.

After coffee, we continued our journey through the swamp encountering the dredge. We had fears that our wide beam would prevent us from passing. That would not be the problem. Instead the dredge held up canal traffic for 1 1/2 hours to move a pipe. Gridlock on the Dismal Swamp who'd have thought?! Fortunately being one of the last boats in the pack has its benefits. Sailboat ChrisJen stopped at the Wallaceton Tower bulkhead just before the 'traffic jam' and tied off. They let us raft to them. From behind came the power Trumpy Windrush who rafted to us. Now you really had a traffic jam with three boats rafted to each other in the canal. I wish I had a photo!!

The dredge did, eventually, allow traffic to pass but not until we deemed it too late to continue the journey to Elizabeth City. Instead we chose to stop at the dock between the South Mills lock and bridge for the night.

The Admiral

Photo 1: Robert tending to a boat in the lock.
Photo 2: Robert's banana tree and conch shell collection
Photo 3: The swamp.