2001 Mystic Reports

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Course:      Advanced Coastal Cruising, Mystic to Rock Hall
Date:          July 18-25, 2001
Vessel:        IP45 HALIMEDA
Students:    Gary Brubaker, Daryl Dumala, Alexandros Eletheriadis &                 Denise Tontarski,
Captain:      David Appleton

Sunday July 15
1700: I arrived late, loaded my gear aboard and settled in for some rest. I called the Maryland School office and Tom Tursi who informed me Ron McKie, the previous Captain had reported some battery problems on HALIMEDA. I resolved to investigate early Monday Morning.

Monday July 16
0500: Ron McKie returned to finish up some log work and we discuss the few minor problems on HALIMEDA. The battery problem seems a bit more than minor and Ron briefs me fully on his experience. The main problem is that the dedicated engine start battery is unable to start the engine.  I spend the morning diagnosing the situation and resolve to work with the backup battery banks. HALIMEDA is equipped with more than enough battery power for this voyage and we will be able to get expert advice from our base maintenance crew when we get back to Rock Hall. I also got most of the provisioning for the voyage done to save us time during the seminar.

Tuesday, July 17
0800: Resumed work on general inspection and maintenance, changing the main engine oil and so forth and looking for potential problems that might hinder our trip to Rock Hall. With the exception of the electrical puzzle, everything seems in tiptop order.  I also do some provisioning and look for the crew to arrive. They are all expected today. I also arrange to leave a car for Eric Patterson, Captain of the cruise from Rock Hall to Mystic on HOT WATER, at the Mystic Yacht Services parking lot. MYS president Dick Kerr helped me with the arrangements 

1730: I go to the train station in time to wait an hour for Denise to arrive. AMTRAK! Well at least I get to exchange pleasantry's with the local Beemer crowd as we all wait!  A lot of them up here!

2230: Denise takes my car to fetch Alex and Gary from the train station. Though Gary has come from the Philadelphia area and Alex from NYC, they both arrive on the same train. Amtrak, though often schedule challenged, can be convenient. They load their gear aboard and we get some sleep.

Wednesday, July 18
0600: we're up and showered and breakfasting and getting familiar with the boat and each other.

0900:  Daryl arrives just in time for the scheduled start of the seminar. And we spend the morning in the cruise preparatory orientation seminar. The crew gets acquainted during introductions, and we are pleased to find all have good experience and are sufficiently prepared for this challenging voyage. Alex has even achieved Instructor status for most of the previous ASA levels, and now teachings beginning sailing in NYC. Gary has a lot of charter cruising experience, and Daryl, though only sailing a few years, has learned well and is aggressively pursuing his ambitious sailing goals. And Denise works part time in the Maryland School office as Assistant Manager. She lives on the Chesapeake where she sails her Hunter THOU SWELL out of Rock Hall.

1300: After the formal seminar meeting we break for lunch and then embark on vessel inspection according to the assigned billets of Alexandros Eletheriadis as Navigator, Denise Tontarski as Engineer, Daryl Dumala as Boatswain and Gary Brubaker Emergency Coordinator.

1830: We break for a working dinner, walk the 3/4 mile from Mystic Ship Yard to town and one of the local Mystic eateries, enjoying a few libations and some fabulous food as we plan our trip.  Alex has determined the most favorable departure time would be 0300 to take advantage of the swirling and swift currents of Long Island Sound. We resolve to sleep in a bit and rise at 0300 to get last minute checks done and get off the dock by 0400. This makes sense because there are very few lighted buoys in the Mystic River... and first light won't be until 0430 or so.

2130 back at the boat we get to bed early because 0300 will come at... 0300!!!

Thursday, July 19- Long Island Sound from Mystic to Port Washington.

0300: It's dark still as predicted, inky dark in the fullness of the new moon (pitch black!!!) but we are up and those that want 'em & need 'em take showers, perhaps the last for a couple of days. At 0410 we warp off and  pull  away from the dock on time and start feeling our way down the Mystic River in the darkness. Trying to find the unlighted buoys is a challenge for all and the entire crew works at seeking  them out under Alex's guidance. David and Denise are the official watch during this exercise, but all work at guiding HALIMEDA down the river. The crew's confidence builds as does their team work skills with the morning light as they learn the capability of their own night vision and learn to rely on the navigational skills and abilities of their shipmates. The crew melds!!

0500 - We're out of the river in the burgeoning light and HALIMEDA sets sail in Fisher Sound with an easterly boost from the winds and a "kick butt" current. We've set a tentative destination of Oyster Bay for the day's voyage. This is ambitious, some 75 miles, but Alex has promised 1 to 1.5 knots of current all day and the winds are easterly albeit light. And we are already beginning to feel the current push, comparing our 5.5 knot speed through the water on our knot meter, to the 6.6 knot speed over ground indicated by the GPS.  During the morning we practice a number of log keeping, navigation, and boat handling exercises. We also discus emergency procedures including a variety of "what if" MOB scenarios.

1200: We're in the vicinity of Stafford Shoals and we rethink our destination for the day.  Currents and our Navigator have treated us well so we can go even further. We select Port Washington, and Louie's, a town dock near Louie's restaurant... I've been here a number of times.

1645: We enjoy a nice underway dinner, a Skid Row Stroganoff concoction seems to please all. By 1800 we're approaching Port Jefferson and enjoy sailing in as we watch the Thursday Night Races from the local yacht clubs outbound into the sound.

2030: After touring the harbor for a while waiting for the dock at Louie's to clear somewhat, we are able to secure a berth and pull in with the help of some of the local boaters assembled there.  This provides a very nice docking experience. And we note we've covered some 84 miles this day, a substantial piece of water!

2110: All secured, the crew departs for Louie's and some late night snacks and libations, returning by 2330 for a good night's sleep.

Friday, July 20- Magical Mystery East River Tour through NYC Harbor

0500: I wake up to find us aground at the dock! The tidal range here as in other LI ports is 7 to 8 feet, and the 5 feet we had under the keel when we docked had gone out to sea. No problem; the  ground is soft, the boat is secure, the crew is asleep, and we planned to use the few extra hours Alex's excellent navigation and planning had gained us to sleep in and to practice some docking skills this morning as we left this dock and sought fuel and pump out at one of the local marinas. 

0900: Crew is all up and fed and there is water under the keel. The incoming tide is amazingly swift and we can almost feel the floating docks soaring under our feet. We discuss and practice some warping techniques, taking into account wind and current as we get our vessel under way.  We check the charts and head for Capri West Marina where we fuel and clean up the boat with the available water. We also call the Port Washington pump out boat and use this free service to free our fully burdened holding tank! We flush it well and treat it with a holding tank additive, and we treat the fuel take with a fuel additive as well to discourage algae.

1045: We're away from the fuel dock and out of Port Washington heading for the Big Apple!  But currents are still favorable for us to do a few sailing drills. So we review reefing techniques and MOB procedures, especially the quick stop maneuver, and several other maneuvers before proceeding toward New York. It's all in view and magnificent on this beautiful cloudless day. 

1145: Since the winds are  light and variable we douse our head sails and set a course for the Throgs Neck and Whitestone Bridges and then Laguardia Airport, Rikers Island, Hell Gate and on down the East River.

1230: Alex has nailed it! He's gauged the currents perfectly and we are approaching Hell Gate and the East River with swelling currents under our keel are boosting HALIMEDA to extreme speeds as we enjoy the benefits of the full ebb. In the East River and around Hell Gate we see speeds of 12.2 & 12.4 over ground on the GPS while monitoring around 6.5 knots through the water. We have a full 5+ knots of current it seems with the spring tide of the new moon. WOW! This portion of the voyage through NYC defies description... it's a bewilderingly invigorating experience of Nature, Human Cultural institutions and the Cosmos coming together with astonishing audacity and energy! We run the East River as if it were the Colorado and we are
on a 45 foot sailboat that seems like a river raft or huge canoe! As storied East river Bridges parade by the hum of the city becomes a roar, and the crew, dazzled by the spectacle, adds to the din with the clicks and whirs of their cameras as they capitalize on the "photo op." bounty. The experience is capped by our passage under the Brooklyn Bridge and on past Governors Island into the Hudson.

1300: We've run the gauntlet and are duly in awe as we pass Battery Park and head for Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty for more "photo ops"  as these cultural icons of America pass before us. Heading down the Hudson we dodge the Staten Island Ferries bustling through the harbor traffic and note we are still enjoying a strong current in excess of 1.5 knot speeding us on to the Narrows and out to the Atlantic Ocean. We decide to press on to Cape May and forego our planned stop at Sandy Hook.

1400: Alex assumes "Captain de Jour" responsibilities with Gary as Navigator and Daryl as Engineer for the voyage down the coast. Gary and Daryl prepare the DR Plot for our off shore Jaunt.

1500: We try to sail in the SE winds. Doing so we are driven further East along the South coast of Long Island toward Ambrose Light. 

1700: We sail through dinner, but the winds have lightened and moved decidedly South, so after dinner we fire up the engine and motor sail on the main. This persists end through most of the night.

2030: As the sun sets we enjoy some beautiful colors. Using the wind to best advantage as we motor sail, takes us well out of sight of land and we see only the glow of the NJ coastal  communities.

Saturday, July 21- Out to Sea and Down the NJ Coast to Cape May. Through the night we continue to motor sail in light winds clocking from NE to E to SE. We observe little traffic but at about 0600 we note two freighters, one inbound heading North in the Ambrose Barnegat shipping lane and the other outbound. We were within a mile of the sea lane so we pay close attention to these vessels and stay clear of them inshore out of the sea lanes and Traffic Separation Zone.

0900: Made contact with HOT WATER and Captain Eric Petterson on the SSB radio.  We had been trying to make contact with them, another Maryland School Coastal Training Cruise heading from Rock Hall to Mystic, during this voyage but had missed radio connections on previous attempts. Eric reported all well on there boat and their position near Barnegat. We were approaching Atlantic City, so it seems  we had passed each other a couple of hours earlier without  making visual contact. We continue down the coast sailing in the sight southerly winds, tacking down the coast past Townsend and Hereford Inlets and on past Wildwood. 

1745: Finally, as we are approaching Cape May Inlet, the breeze freshens a bit. So Captain Alex prudently decides to dowse the sails prior to entering this port with which most of the crew is unfamiliar. Once all is secured we enter between the jetties at 1820, and we contact Utsches Marina seeking a berth for the night and get directions to their docks. Cape May is a nicely sheltered port and anchorage, but it is very shallow in places and demands the utmost attention from the crew. By 1845 we negotiate the harbor and make fast in our berth at Utsches. The crew enjoys hot showers, cold libations, and a nice dinner ashore before turning in for the night. Gary assumes captain responsibilities for the next leg with Daryl as his navigator. During the evening Gary and the crew develop a plan of attack for our voyage up the Delaware Bay while enjoying dinner at the Schooner.

Sunday,  July 22-  Genniker Training up Delaware Bay and to the Chesapeake. Another sleep-in morning for the crew. Captain of the day Gary determined to wait for favorable currents in the Delaware Bay and subsequently in the C&D Canal will be late for us with flood beginning at about 1430. So we can sleep in, have leisurely showers and some review of docking techniques and sail trim considerations. We rigged the storm trisail at the dock and reviewed the kinds of heavy weather situations in which we'd fly it. We also spend the morning breaking out and rigging the genniker in preparation for flying it in the predicted light easterly winds predicted for today. Captain Gary gets us underway at 1130 after these exercises. Undocking provides some interesting challenges in the busy Sunday Noon Traffic in Utsches narrow canals. We have to go around the cape rather than trough the canal because HALIMEDA's mast height exceeds the 55' limitations of the canal. Once out of the inlet we set sail and get a bit of sailing in as we pass the shoals south of Cape May. We get the genniker up and have some decent winds to fly it in for a little while. Nothing overwhelming. Only about 8 knots or so, enough for this first time experience.  

1430: We broke off this leisurely exercise and started up the bay as the slack water turned into a flood tide. The winds died and we spent the rest of the day motorsailing up the bay practicing more navigation techniques and planning the next leg through the C & D Canal and into the Chesapeake. By 2030 as darkness fell, we were enjoying a night sailing experience in the busy Delaware Bay in the vicinity of Ship John Shoal. And the currents are giving us a solid boost as the tables predicted. By 2330 we are entering the C& D Canal after some nerve wracking night navigation on Gary's part. He did a good job finding the canal entrance but found it a demanding task with the abundance of navigational aides in this high traffic area.

Monday, July 23
Midnight finds us transiting the C&D Canal with Daryl as Skipper and Denise navigating. Alex joins Denise on the midwatch and they take us through the Canal without incident. Daryl and Denise compute the currents and determine it would be most appropriate for us to continue through the night since the favorable currents will continue nearly to Annapolis if we do not stop. The weather is nice, the night navigation is fun the crew is working together well getting proper rest when off watch, so we press on.

At 0300 we pass Turkey point where the Susquehanna joins the already combined Elk and Northeast Rivers to form the Chesapeake Bay proper. We continue on, enjoying another breakfast underway and by 0700 we pass Rock Hall and decide to go on to Annapolis and spend our extra time purchased by not stopping at Chesapeake City on a little visit to this "Sailing Capital of the World." We pass under the Bay Bridge at 0900 and are anchoring in Annapolis just off the Naval Academy at 1015. We take this opportunity to launch the dingy and explore the harbor, giving the crew a few hours shore leave for browsing and lunching.

At 1430 while beginning to ferry the crew back to HALIMEDA with the dingy, Admiral David noted a Catalina 22, ADOMINO, was dragging anchor as the winds had strengthened and backed to the east. It was being blown on the lee shore rocks of the Naval Academy so with Denise and Alex assisting we boarded her, hoisted her anchor aboard, towed her to a nearby vacant city mooring, secured her there and reported our actions to the Harbormaster. We returned to HALIMEDA feeling the good Karma swelling.

1510: All are aboard and the dingy has been restored to secure position hoisted high on the stern arch. Captain Daryl orders weight anchor  and we are off to our next exercise... "Night Maneuvers" in the Eastern  Bay and Miles river, and finally, another night approach, this time to St. Michaels and the Maritime Museum. At 1800 we do another anchoring exercise in Eastern Bay off Wade Point, where we have dinner and clean up.

2000: We weigh anchor again and had for buoy "3" which we use as our MOB "victim" for our night MOB exercise and practical application of the Williamson Turn maneuver for crew finding lost overboard at night. Each crew member gets a turn at the helm for this exercise, while the rest
serve as lookouts and practice night vision techniques using only their eyes and binoculars to find this unlighted buoy. By 2100 we've completed this exercise and go on to the tricky entrance to St. Michaels up the Miles River in which the crew uses various techniques to find 4 unlighted buoys that guide us past the shoals. This takes us until 2230 and we finally make our way to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum where we find a berth and promptly retire to the Carpenter Street Saloon for some tall, cool libations. The crew is exhausted, but none the less exuberant as they celebrate their successful passage.

Tuesday, July 24
Today the crew slept in! Then, after enjoying a leisurely breakfast they enjoyed the Museum grounds and exhibits.  During the afternoon we practiced some advanced  docking and boat handling techniques using the variety of docks and anchorages in the vicinity of CBMM. Late in the afternoon we got underway and headed home. After passing through Kent Narrows I staged a surprise crew overboard drill. During the ensuing confusion of the approach to use, the crew lost contact with their mate (a life jacket), with the glare of the setting sun making visual contact difficult. After several attempts to find him we were finally successful, but the exercise took more than 45 minutes and some important lessons were etched in the minds of this crew about the seriousness of loosing a crew member over the side. Once we secured from this exercise, we turned toward Rock Hall and headed in as the sun set.

2130: HALIMEDA's HOME! We enter Swan Creek and make our way to Spring Cove Marina dousing sails launching the dingy for securing ashore and preparing the dock lines to put HALIMEDA back in her home berth after nine long months away, during which time she's visited Norfolk, Bermuda, St. Thomas, St. John , Tortola and the rest of the British Virgins, St. Croix, Trinidad and Mystic! Some voyaging!

2145: She's secure in her berth. And the crew is off in search of food and liquid refreshment. We are disappointed to find ALL THE RESTAURANTS in Rock Hall Closed at 2200!  But we are able to persuade the folks at Waterman's to open a bar for us and there we enjoy a sandwich and a beer or two.

Wednesday, July 25
0800: Cleanup, AND the crew gets a bonus... to prepare HALIMEDA for her yard period, we get a chance to learn some rigging. Gary, Denise and Daryl  remove the sails and fold them while Alex prepares for and takes the ASA Advanced Coastal Cruising test. He is the only crew member interested in formal certification, though all have fulfilled the sea duty and practical portion of the requirements, and then some. 

1000 Tom Tursi arrives aboard and works with Daryl and Gary planning the new rigging for HALIMEDA's stay sail: he's getting  rid of the club boom in favor of a jib-like two sheet rig. No longer will the stay sail be totally self tending, but it will be more controllable and useful in a blow.

1300: All exercises and tests and requirements complete, we vacate HALIMEDA, say our good byes to each other and head off to our various home ports.

This had been a very full voyage for this worthy crew. We covered 429 miles through the water, motored 67 hours during the voyage which lasted six over days. And we'd experienced Mystic River, Long Island Sound and ports there, the East and Hudson Rivers of NY Harbor,  the Raritan Bay and Atlantic Ocean,  Cape May Harbor, Delaware Bay, C&D Canal, Upper
Chesapeake Bay and the Annapolis Harbor, Eastern Bay, Miles and Chester Rivers, St. Michaels Harbor and finally Swan Creek.

No wonder the crew was feeling a bit drained.... but pleased with themselves as well!

Captain David Appleton
Spring Cove Marina, Rock Hall, MD
July 25, 2001

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