2002 DELMARVA Reports

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Course Advanced Coastal Cruising; DELMARVA Circumnavigation
Date October 18-25, 2002
Students: Rene Castro, John Endicott, Mike Robb, Mark Johnson, and Chuck Hurt
Captain: Andy Prescott

Pre-Departure Week
Captain Andy Prescott phoned each of the students: Rene Castro, John Endicott, Mike Robb, Mark Johnson, and Chuck Hurt to discuss their expectations, needed equipment and clothing, and any special menu or other requirements. Rene was looking forward to learning more navigation. John and Mark had completed ASA 101 to105 certifications with us and were looking for a taste of offshore while pursuing ASA 106 certification. Chuck, a Vermonter, was also looking for a taste of blue water sailing and pursuing ASA 106 certification. Mike was an experienced sailboarder and small catamaran sailor. He was out for the adventure and sailing the entire length of Chesapeake Bay from Cape Charles to the C&D Canal!

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Day One
The Maryland School of Sailing places strong emphasis on thoroughness, clear communication, and detailed preparation and planning. These are essential elements of an offshore endeavor. The group had been sent 17 references, texts, and eight handouts in preparation for the trip.

 On Day One we carefully reviewed and utilized much of this material to examine HALIMEDA and her systems. The team discussed our itinerary and the sailing opportunities that would challenge us. Pre-departure assignments were made for navigator, boatswain, engineer and emergency coordinator. We rigged the storm sail, checked out safety equipment, and the crew carefully hoisted Mike to the top of the mast where he adjusted the wind indicator fly. Watch section assignments were posted and discussed. Daily responsibilities for the week were also assigned with each person being given the opportunity to serve for at least a 24 hour period as Student Skipper, Navigator/Radar person, Engineer, and Deckhand. Each role and the related responsibilities were carefully discussed. 

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After a very informative day we gathered in a local eatery for dinner while discussing our provisioning needs. A tag team trip to Bayside market had two shopping carts filled in less than 30 minutes. The October winds of the Bay were calling us as we fell asleep aboard HALIMEDA’s comfortable accommodations!

Day Two
Utilizing careful planning and strong team communication Mark slid
HALIMEDA out of her berth, down Swan Creek and out into a boisterous Chesapeake Bay. We utilized a series of ranges to check deviation before raising the sails. With 20 to 25 knots winds at our back Rene was fantastic skippering us north “wing on wing” with traveler and preventer properly positioned. As the sun set we reached the top of the Bay and dropped sails in the Elk River near Town Point Wharf. 

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 Navigator John had utilized Reed’s Nautical Almanac to plan today’s trip around a favorable tide and maximum flood. So we flew into and along the C&D canal at five knots with HALIMEDA in neutral gear! Of course this same current presented unique docking challenges which were masterfully met by Skipper Mark as we came alongside at Schaeffer’s in Chesapeake City. 

 Dining ashore, John’s wife and mother-law joined us as we watched in awe while several very large ships and barges passed in the canal. This gave us an opportunity to discuss lights and the many rhymes that are used to remember what might be approaching – very important for the next few days.

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Day Thr ee
After an 0800 safety briefing we walked through the procedures for abandoning ship with each person’s role carefully defined. At 0930 we departed the dock and headed east in the canal. Calm winds and little traffic allowed for everyone to practice their
HALIMEDA motoring skills including standing right turns and crew overboard. 

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By noon we reached the Delaware and hoisted the sails. However, we were soon motoring as the winds were far less than predicted. Throughout the trip we would pass through 18 NOAA weather zones and utilize the on board weather fax for review and study of weather patterns. 

The trip down the River into Delaware Bay presented many opportunities to apply rules of the road. Large ships and barges seemed to be everywhere and we enjoyed talking bridge to bridge with the captains. As darkness fell excitement was high as we crossed the COLREGS Demarcation Line and passed out into the Atlantic. A one pot dinner by John was most enjoyable. Mark, Chuck, and Rene’s dead reckoning skills were put to work. 

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Day Four
By early morning sails were hoisted in freshening breezes and following seas. Fishing vessels appeared as if they were Times Square afloat in the Atlantic. Hot oatmeal was the breakfast of choice. A couple of bouts with Mal de Mare were quickly and successfully overcome by getting on deck and taking the helm. Sails were reefed as winds climbed to 25 knots. Not only were we traveling at hull speed but were planning down waves – very exhilarating! The traditional navy watch of four hours on and eight off worked well.

By late morning we were 50 miles offshore. As we headed Southeasterly toward Norfolk we encountered a naval vessel under maneuvers and Canadian Warship 336 in hot pursuit of a Canadian freighter. We were glued to the VHF like kids to a TV as guns were fired across the freighter’s bow. Clearly some real life excitement was occurring on the high seas! However we never learned to outcome as we soon sailed out of radio and visual range. 

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As the sun set and the full moon rose over the Atlantic the team planned and executed a perfect Norfolk landfall using fixes, GPS, radar and careful study of the many ship and navigational lights. We docked at Taylor's Landing Marina in Little Creek Harbor where dinner and showers ashore were enjoyed by all! 

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Day Five
Leaving Taylor’s we headed up the Bay. Today numerous crew over board drills were practiced by everyone as were various emergency situations including a mock abandon ship exercise. While underway a text book review was conducted in preparation for Mark, Chuck and John taking the 106 written exam. Particular attention was paid to weather and reading the clouds. Carefully navigating the entrance into Reedville we anchored up wind of the fish factory surrounded by the beautiful historic homes on Cockrell Creek.

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Day Six
Continuing north with 15 to 20 knot winds from the NE required numerous tacks amidst practicing heaving-to. Running fixes were perfected by “Buoy Banger” Rene as Mark and Chuck penciled away at the written test.

Night-time crew overboard was reviewed and practiced before we negotiated the navigationally challenging approach to Solomons Island after dark. Again an excellent team effort led to an error free entrance and perfect docking maneuvers at Zahnhisers Marina. 

Day Seven
While John worked on the 106 exam we motored north heading for the sailing capital of the world – Annapolis. The winds were not cooperating so we took advantage of the situation to discuss in detail a variety of navigational techniques and practiced related skills.

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Sails were set in the afternoon with time spent talking about the intricacy’s of sail trim. The crew having come to know each other so well over the past few days, were by now having great times joking around and creating new weather terminology such as “zerostratus” clouds.  

It is always a thrill to pull into Ego Alley and Mark performed with superiority squeezing HALIMEDA between two yachts. Shore leave found the taverns well checked out and Faucett’s Marine’s cash register ringing! 

Day Eight
A breakfast celebration at famous Chic and Ruth’s began the day as it was announced that the three 106 students had passed their written exams. Chuck conducted his docking briefing and after a sharp standing right turn exited Ego Alley and headed for Rock Hall. We fueled and pumped out at Haven Harbor. Finally the high performing team arrived again at Spring Cove. All agreed it was a terrific week and headed home having successfully sailed 505 nautical miles while completing the DELMARVA Circumnavigation

 Captain Andy Prescott
Rock Hall, MD
October 25, 2002

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