2002 Mystic Reports

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Course Advanced Coastal Cruising; Rock Hall to Mystic
Date July 20-27, 2002
Students: John Davidson,  Denis Hammond, Bill Westberg
Captain: Eric Petterson

Around 1500 John (Jay) Davidson arrived at the boat. Then about an hour later Denis Hammond also arrived. After a brief boat inspection we went to dinner. William (Bill) Westberg finally arrived around midnight due to air travel and train delays.

The morning was begun by briefing the students on operating procedures, assignments and watch schedules. It was decided to rotate watch schedules each day so that the various responsibilities would be shared by all. Also it was agreed to have rotating navigational assignments, and to try
and navigate primarily without GPS usage. Next the students went through the ship's inventory, systems, and rigging. Then it was off to the grocery for provisions and back to the boat for stowage.

With Denis as navigator we set off in still air at 0620, headed for Charles Island off Milford, CT. Made an unsuccessful attempt at sailing then resumed motoring. Underway we reviewed the ASA 106 skills and course objectives. Arrived at Charles Island at 1545 and anchored amongst the Sunday afternoon crowd, which thinned out dramatically as the sun began to set.

At 0710 we picked up anchor and headed out of the harbor. Sails were set in 10-15 from the SW, and we sailed close hauled. This lasted for about an hour then the wind died. Around 1300 the wind was back and we again tacked our way down Long Island Sound towards City Island in winds building to 15-20. Jay was the navigator and our continuous tacking added to his
challenge of keeping up with our position. Various navigational tools were used including LOP fixes, dead reckoning, and doubling the angle on the bow for a fix with only one aid. We arrived at City Island and were tied up in the marina at 1745.

With Bill as the navigator we left the marina at 0800 on our way to Hells Gate. Under the Throgs Neck Bridge we joined a small parade of other vessels headed for slack water at Hells Gate, which we found at our 1000 arrival. From there it was down the East River past Manhattan, around the Battery and past Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. As always, New York harbor was a feast of traffic of all types. Once through the Verazzano Narrows bridge, traffic thinned out except for fishing boats everywhere. We arrived at Atlantic Highlands and tied onto a mooring at 1430.

The focus then became the next leg of the trip (down the New Jersey shore). A cold front was scheduled to pass, then stall. In fact the forecast for southern New Jersey was for 20-30 from the SW, which would be right on the nose in near gale conditions. As the day progressed, later forecasts suggested that we should be able to make it Cape May without encountering too much adverse wind. We went to dinner and found the front passing earlier than predicted. The decision was made to wake up early and depart if the forecast and winds remained acceptable.

7/24/02 & 7/25/02
We were off the mooring at 0415 with Denis as the navigator. Weather still looked a bit unsettled, but acceptable for the run to Cape May. We rounded Sandy Hook in the dark, and the sky just began to lighten as we passed into the offshore waters. We set sail in winds 10-15 from the NE and motorsailed to keep the speed up. The goal was to get to Cape May before the front moved back north and set up the strong SW winds. All day the winds built from the NE to 15-20 then 20-25 for a short time. Seas also built to 6-8 feet. As we neared Cape May the weather forecasts continued to change, now suggesting that the front would stall and start moving north somewhere much farther down the Delaware coast. The decision was made to continue south to Norfolk. Around 1800 we were passed by a fleet of six "Yard Patrol" boats from the US Naval Academy with midshipman out for summer maneuvers. We exchanged passing instructions via VHF.

Passing the entrance to Delaware Bay we encountered only light traffic, but enough to give everyone the opportunity to experience night time tracking using compass bearings. We also got to practice navigation using GPS. Passed Assateague Light at 0400, identifying the light through its bearing to our position, its flashes, and confirming its visibility with the range tables. Rain started at 1100 and winds built to 20-25 as we approached the Chesapeake. Passing through the bridge-tunnel, we headed for Hampton Flats and anchored, getting some good anchoring practice
since it took three tries before we were able to have a solid set. The time was now 1630 and everyone was tired and hungry, but satisfied from a long offshore passage.

The morning saw heavy rain. Since we had no real destination other than Taylor's Landing Marina at Little Creek, we hung around until the rain stopped. Of course just as we began raising the anchor the rain started again! We left the anchorage at 1330 and unfurled sails in NE 15-20 winds for a nice sail. Once clear of the channel we practiced tacking and gybing, then headed off to Little Creek. At the marina we filled with diesel, pumped out, and tied up at the dock at 1700. Total mileage logged for this entire passage, Mystic to Norfolk, was 379 nautical miles.

Captain Eric Petterson
Little Creek Harbor, Norfolk, VA
July 26, 2002

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