2007 Chesapeake Bay Cruise

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Course: ASA 104 Intermediate Coastal Cruising 
Date: October 22-26, 2007
Vessel: IP-45 HALIMEDA
Students: April Bramble, Mark Hogan, Becky Carter, Joe Carter, Larry Sprowl
Captain: Eric Petterson

Sunday, October 21
Having exchanged emails well before the beginning of the class, everyone arrived at HALIMEDA early and anxious to get started on our adventure down the bay.  Joe and Becky Carter arrived first at 1430, followed shortly by Mark Hogan, April Bramble and Larry Sprowl.  The first order of business was to devise meal plans, create a shopping list and complete the provisioning purchases and stowage.  

After completing those tasks we had dinner at Waterman's Restaurant and discussed the overall voyage plans.  Returning to the boat, we checked weather forecasts, which predicted south winds building to 20 knots during the day for our first day of southbound travel!  This was forecast to be followed on the second day by 25 knots, still from the south!  An early start was agreed upon for the first day of the cruise to allow for the maximum travel southwards before the higher winds developed. 

Monday, October 22
The first order of business was to again check weather forecasts and it was found that conditions had not improved.  So after reviewing HALIMEDA 's systems and rigging we pulled out of the slip at Lankford Bay Marina at 1015.  It was a beautiful day, and the winds were south at only 5-10 as we motored down the Chester River to Kent Island Narrows.  The student navigator of the day was busy predicting our arrival time at the bridge to coincide with its opening schedule, and we arrived exactly in time for the 1230 bridge opening.  Upon hailing the bridge, the bridge operator warned us of very high currents through the bridge.  Powering our way through proved to be a great lesson in maintaining control in a strong current.  

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By the time we arrived at Eastern Bay and turned to the southwest, the winds had increased to around 15 the crew set sail for the first time enjoying a very pleasant sail.  Finally as we entered the main body of the Chesapeake winds had increased to over 20 knots with waves of around 3 feet, making our remaining sail to Knapps Narrows a robust adventure.  Upon entering Knapps Narrows the sails were lowered and we motored through the second drawbridge of the day, leaving the narrows just in time for a beautiful sunset as we continued to Dun Cove for the night.  The anchor was down and set at 1900, just as darkness was settling in.  It was a long but good day, logging 40 nautical miles.   

Tuesday, October 23
We awoke in the morning to a spectacularly gorgeous sunrise.  At 0740 the anchor was up and we motored out of Dun Cove, turning south to clear the shoals around Sharps Island to make our way back into the main body of Chesapeake Bay.  Sails were set and HALIMEDA sailed close-hauled in south winds of 10-15 which built to 15-20 with a few gusts around 25.  It was a great opportunity for the students to gain some practical experience sailing close-hauled to a destination and a great navigational exercise using LOPs to locate our position for tacking.  

Finally we made our way into Back Creek at Solomons Island, MD and tied up at Spring Cove Marina at 1815 just as the sun was setting.  Another great day of experiences, covering the 29 nautical miles of planned passage by logging 47 actual miles due to the closehauled tacking.  Weather forecasts for the next day promised strong winds and afternoon rain behind the passage of a cold front, so we planned for another early start for the Great Wicomico River in Virginia. 

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Wednesday, October 24
Leaving the marina at 0735 we set sail in very pleasant southwest winds of 10-15 knots, providing a comfortable close-reach sail southwards as we approached the Potomac River.  At this point we were overtaken by a line of dark clouds from the approaching cold front which brought about a quick wind shift to the north followed by increasing wind speed.  Students learned about rigging a preventer as we set HALIMEDA up to sail dead downwind on a run.  A light rain started as the wind built to 20-30 before dropping off to around 20, but HALIMEDA and the students handled the winds well with no problem.  Jibing procedures were discussed followed by the actual maneuvers, giving students the opportunity to practice a few "s-jibes" in significant winds and seeing first-hand just how this procedure maintains control of the boom at all times.  

Just as we began approaching the entrance to the Great Wicomico River the light rain turned into very heavy rain, testing the navigator's plans  as we entered in limited visibility.  After a safe entrance due to well done navigational plans, the anchor was down and set behind Sandy Point in the river at 1555.  Total miles for the day were 41.  After resting and drying out, lessons were held on overall ASA104 knowledge skills as outlined in the ASA log book. 

Thursday, October 25
After a night of off and on rain, we awoke to yet more rain.  Since this day was to be the shortest sail of the cruise, the morning was spent on more lessons, including quite a bit of time on the engine and its operation.  At 0935 the anchor was raised and we headed out into the bay for the forecast 20-25 north winds.  

For another experience it was decided to sail under genoa alone for the run southward in the north wind.  This worked quite well in the intermittent rain and the winds, which were actually nearer to 30 knots.  Seas built to 3-6 feet providing an experience in higher seas and challenging the navigators skills at obtaining sighting LOPs in these conditions.  The anchor was down and set at 1430 in a well protected and relatively peaceful anchorage in Fishing Bay off the Piankatank River after a 25 mile day.  The students spent the afternoon studying and then took their ASA104 tests. . .and everyone passed!     

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Friday, October 26
The last day of the class began with the anchor up at 0715.  After motoring out of the Piankatank River, sails were set for a beam reach in easterly 20-25 knot winds.  Halimeda sailed at boat speeds consistently over 7 knots and occasionally approaching 8 knots!  Everyone (Captain included) loved it!  Rain showers continued to pop up all day, but nothing could take away the exhilaration of this sail.  We reached the entrance to Little Creek, lowered sails and motored in to Taylor's Landing Marina. We filled the diesel tank and pumped out the holding tank before tying up in our slip at 1615 in one last heavy rain shower thrown at us by mother nature.  

The day's mileage was the longest day yet at 49 miles, bringing the total cruise mileage to 202 for the five days.  After warm showers and in clean dry clothes, Captain and crew had a celebratory dinner at the marina's Surf Rider Restaurant.  As the week was discussed and "relived" the students agreed it had been a great experience, and made them more confident about handling adverse conditions on their own.  It was a successful "school". 

Captain Eric Petterson
Little Creek, Norfolk, VA
October 26, 2007

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