2003 DELMARVA Reports

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Course Advanced Coastal Cruising; DELMARVA Circumnavigation
Date September 26, 2003
Students: Steve Bonine, Ken Widener, Jim Story, Ken Keppel and Mike Volatile
Captain: Andy Prescott

Pre-Departure Week
Each of the students was contacted by Captain Andy Prescott to discuss expectations, needed equipment and clothing, and any special menu or other requirements. Steve Bonine, Ken Widener, and Jim Story had completed ASA 101 through 105 and were looking for a taste of offshore sailing while pursuing the ASA106 certification. Ken Keppel wanted to refresh his sailing and navigation skills while having the experience of night and ocean sailing. Mike Volatile wanted more instructional experience before taking his Pearson 35 to the Islands. Thoroughness, clear communication, and detailed preparation and planning are essential elements of an offshore endeavor. Prior to arrival each crew member had been sent 17 references, texts, and eight handouts in preparation for the trip.

Friday, September 26
On Day One we carefully reviewed and utilized much of the study materials to examine the Island Packet 45
HALIMEDA and her systems. The team discussed possible itineraries 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 and checked out safety equipment. 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/Radarman, Engineer, Cook, and Deckhand. Each role and the related responsibilities were carefully discussed. After a very informative day Jim and Steve shopped for provisions at Bayside Market before we gathered at Pruitt’s for dinner... Soon after the crew was sound asleep aboard HALIMEDA. 

Saturday, September 27
After a hearty breakfast at The Rock Hall Snack Bar, Steve reviewed his findings on
HALIMEDA’s conformance to Coast Guard, ASA and ORC requirements and recommendations. “Surfer” Mike was carefully hoisted to the top of the mast to inspect the rigging. Ken W. gave the engineer’s report. Navigator Ken K. reviewed tide and current information for our course north to Chesapeake City. Skipper Jim smartly directed the crew and we departed Spring Cove Marina at noon.  Late in the afternoon we raised the sails and gybed our way up the Elk River. We entered the C&D Canal with three knots of flood current. This presented the crew with challenging docking which was skillfully met as we pulled alongside just past the bridge at Schaeffer’s in Chesapeake City. We dined outside to the sounds of live music as we watched in awe while a large ship passed by in the canal. We discussed lights and the many rhymes that are used to remember what might be approaching... very important for the next few days. 

Sunday, September 29
After an early morning safety briefing we walked through the procedures of general emergencies and abandoning ship with each person’s role carefully defined. Suddenly we found ourselves amidst a real “emergency” helping an engine powered workboat that had become wedged by the current between two docks. Had it not been for our quick teamwork significant damage to surrounding boats would have occurred. Soon afterward we departed the dock and headed east in the canal. Calm winds and little traffic allowed for everyone to practice their motoring skills including standing right turns.

By noon we reached the Delaware River, hoisted sails and headed downstream on a broad reach. All crewmembers soon came to remember PST-TSP (referring to the gybe preparation sequence of Preventer-Sheet-Traveler) as we gybed frequently. At 1545 we were cruising at 9.5 knots over ground in the strong ebb current. Throughout the trip we would pass through 18 NOAA weather zones and utilized the on board weather fax for review and study of weather patterns. Steve used this information as he plotted our course for the next 24 hours. 

The trip down the Delaware River and Bay offered many opportunities to apply rules of the road. Large ships and barges were everywhere. We learned the importance of talking bridge to bridge on VHF 13 as a football field long tanker departed the anchorage area and wished to cross our bow. The advantages of radar were also demonstrated as we tracked the relative path of ship traffic around us. A hearty spaghetti dinner by Jim was enjoyed on deck. As darkness fell the excitement was high crossing the COLREGS Demarcation Line out into the Atlantic. By midnight we were eight miles off the coast NNE of Ocean City, MD. 

Monday, September 30
We flew through the early morning hours with 25 knots of wind and following seas.   A beautiful sunrise brought clear skies and continuing northwesterly winds. We tried a variety of sail combinations noting the differences between each. Mike kept the crew well fed.  “Hot bunking” was experienced as the crew took turns standing their watch of four on with eight off. As morning turned to afternoon we enjoyed the company of a group of dolphins who frolicked in our wake while a variety of birds flew overhead. Jim planned our landfall arrival and soon Ken W. had brought us gingerly across the tunnel and into our slip at Taylor’s Landing. A quick dinner on shore and showers on land were enjoyed by all! 

Tuesday, October 1
Jim’s famous oatmeal was the breakfast of choice. Then, after some repairs to the jib we headed up Chesapeake Bay. Today while underway a text book review was conducted in preparation for Ken W, Steve, and Jim taking the ASA106 written exam. Particular attention was paid to weather and reading the clouds. Meanwhile, Mike learned how to use his new GPS .A close call negotiating the entrance into Tangier Island was avoided by carefully checking our position and realizing that we had been navigating to the wrong lateral marker. Ken K. flawlessly skippered up the eastern approach to the island.

Tricky currents made docking at Parks Marina a real challenge. However Captain Norm met us at the dock and not only assisted but provided thirty minutes of great entertainment with his tales of the sea, Tangier Island, and life in general. Then he was off on his moped for the 20 yard dash to his house. We dashed off to “downtown” in search of a late dinner. After dodging golf carts, bicycles, and a few cars we had the opportunity to experience some true local color while eating in the only place open on the island. 

Wednesday, October 2
We awoke to discover a stowaway cat had snuck aboard to stay warm during the night. After putting her ashore we motored out via the west channel. Steve, Jim and Ken W. took the written test as Mike and Ken K. piloted us up the Bay. We passed the naval testing areas and watched practice bombing runs by aircraft and Navy patrol boats making sure we stayed well clear. Ken W. skillfully navigated skipper Steve into Solomons and up Back Creek where we anchored for the night. Ken W. prepared a Dinty Moore feast of chicken and dumplings with beef stew. All candidates successfully passed the ASA106 written!

Thursday, October 3
As we continued up the Bay the winds were strong and on our nose at 25 to 35. We took advantage of the situation and beat our way under reefed sail until the six foot waves and tide were so much against us that it was time to motor. This allowed Ken W. to model his new foul weather gear! As we turned into Eastern Bay we rehoisted sails and beam reached our way at hull speed toward St. Michaels. As the sun fell over the horizon each crew member practiced crew overboard. Then with darkness upon us we utilized the radar to guide us up the Miles River and docked in St. Michaels at the Museum.

Friday, October 4
Passing under the bridge at Kent Narrows is always a challenging drill. Skipper Mike did a fine job negotiating the passage under the expert navigation of Ken K. We fueled and pumped out at Haven Harbor Marina following the Maryland School’s guidelines. Finally this high performing team arrived at Spring Cove. All agreed it was a terrific week and headed home having successfully sailed 413 nautical miles completing the DELMARVA Circumnavigation..

Captain Andy Prescott
Rock Hall, MD
October 5, 2003

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