2008 Chesapeake Bay Cruise

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Course: ASA 103/104 Intermediate Coastal Cruising 
Date: October 4 – 11, 2008
Vessel: IP-32 ACADAME
Students: Charles Davis, Kevin Daylor, Robert deGroof, Ellen deGroof 
Captain: David Appleton

This turned out to be an example of our typical 103/04 class preparing novice sailors for the demands of bare boat chartering. We spent the first 3 days fulfilling the requirements and learning the skills outlined in the ASA 103 Basic Coastal Cruising course before embarking on a 5 day cruise mastering skills of the 104 Bareboat Chartering Course. This seemed to be a very satisfying experience for the crew and instructor alike.

Day 0 – Friday, Oct 3 - Arrivals and Challenge Test:
The deGroof’s arrive about 1400 and Robert took the ASA101 challenge test and passed. Ellen had taken the ASA101 course with us earlier. Later Charles and Kevin arrived. Both had taken ASA101 with us earlier this year and so were familiar with our boats and many of our procedures. The crew got acquainted, went out for dinner and then turned for the night aboard ACADAME.

Day 1 – Saturday, Oct 4 - Ship’s Systems and Boat Handling:
We started early, about 0800, spending about an hour or so in the classroom reviewing basic sailing and getting a bit deeper into boat handling under power and docking techniques. We then boarded ACADAME and spent a couple of hours giving her a thorough inspection, acquainting the crew with ships systems operations and proper procedures. After lunch we spent the rest of the day practicing docking and boat handling under power. Student crew learned a series of drills (tight turns under power, panic stop, standing turn, docking with warp lines, etc.) and performance techniques they can use when becoming familiar with a charter boat. By 1600 we returned to our dock and, after a post mortem discussion of the day's exercises, broke for dinner and an evening of study.

Day 2 – Sunday, Oct 5 - Sailing Refresher; Sailing Drills on Chester River:
After spending some time in the classroom reviewing docking techniques, rules of the road, basic sailing maneuvers, Crew Overboard (COB) procedures and such, we get underway and head for the Chester River for sailing exercises, returning to the dock at 1630 for a post mortem discussion. Crew decides they would like to study while enjoying a cookout on the beautiful grounds of Lankford Bay Marina, so we shop for cookout foods and enjoy a pleasant evening of burgers, salads and a beer or two and review of sailing topics.

Day 3 – Monday, Oct 6 - Navigation Primer; Mini Cruise to Kent Narrows:
Again we meet early, starting at about 0800 in the classroom to review sailing knowledge; then the written test, which all pass with flying colors, lead by Ellen who gets a 100! We then set off on our mini cruise to Kent Narrows, sharpening navigations skills along the way, and negotiating the shallow waters and currents through the draw bridge in the Narrows. Return to the dock by 1730 and break for dinner. After dinner the crew plans the outline for a five day cruise which will take us to several popular destinations on the middle bay.

Day 4 – Tuesday Oct 7 Cruise Begins: Off to Magothy River:
We decided the previous evening that a trip to the Magothy River would give us a good day's sail and a realistic destination. After final preparations and planning the voyage, meals and, after final checks, get underway. During this part of the voyage we had many opportunities to practice navigation, planning our tacks in the fresh Northerly breeze and estimating what our ETA will be in the Magothy as conditions changed when winds died. We also put our safety gear to use learning how to rig jacklines and attaching our harnesses and tethers to avoid an accidental COB event. After the winds died we reluctantly turned on the engine and motorsailed to Baltimore Light and the entrance to the Magothy, arriving there with a couple of hours of daylight left, so we decide to explore the river a bit before anchoring.

We cautiously entered Broad Creek off the N side of the river, where Ellen surmised, after consulting the Guide book, we'd find a cozy anchorage. AGROUND! Not cautious enough! Despite Ellen's warnings we grounded on the soft mud bottom near the island about halfway into the creek. We check the tide and find it near dead low, so we decide to bide our time for a couple of hours. Ellen and I prepare a spaghetti dinner while Bob, Kevin and Charles hoist the dink off the deck using a halyard, launch it and put our primary anchor aboard. Charles does the honors rowing the anchor out to deep water where he set it and returned aboard to join us for dinner.

KEDGING OFF! Dinner down and dishes done, the tide comes in and we feel we can begin pulling ourselves off, having declined the kind offer of a passing fisherman to tow us off. We bent a spare line onto the anchor rode at the bow using a rolling hitch, and lead it back to our starboard primary winch. After taking several bites, we succeed in pulling ourselves off the dirt and getting underway heading for the popular anchorage behind Dobbins Island as the sun begins to set. This has been a great experience for the crew. I usually like to find a nice soft spot to go aground during these classes, and Chesapeake Bay has ample venues for such an exercise. Getting off on your own is a skill all boaters should master.

Day 5 – Wednesday, Oct 8 - Magothy River to St. Michaels via Annapolis:
We're up and at'em at 0600, with Ellen helping Charles with engine and pre-departure checks while Bob and Kevin weigh anchor, and by 0630 we're underway in the predawn darkness bound for St. Michaels. This gives us the chance to observe how illuminated aides to navigation can sometimes make navigation during dark hours actually easier than in daylight.

Winds are light at first but the VHF radio weather forecast predicts they will build out of the southwest. Sure enough once we pass under the Bay Bridge waves build as winds begin to strengthen and the dingy, which we are currently towing, begins to get unmanageable. So we detour into the Severn River and to seek shelter in the lee of the river's south shore where we hoist the dinghy aboard and tie her down. Close to Annapolis, we decide to cruise through the harbor to see preparations for the sail boat show which opens tomorrow. Much activity and many boats are anchored off the Naval Academy. 

We then head out and set sail to tack our way down to Bloody Point and the Eastern Bay. The flood tide setting north plus southwesterly winds give us plenty of practice in tacking and trying to fetch marks. Rounding Bloody Point we work our way up Eastern Bay and into the Miles river where we get into a pickup race with another sailboat and sharpen our tacking, pointing and sail trim skills to keep pace with a smaller but faster craft. By 1730 we were docked and pumping out at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. And, after securing ACADAME at the dock, we take showers and head off to the nearby Crab Claw Restaurant for a sumptuous dinner ashore.

Day 6 – Thursday Oct 9 - St. Michaels to Oxford:
0700 – Crew slept in after the rigorous 12 hour sail of yesterday. All sought breakfast ashore and then Captain of the day Bob organized morning boat checks and initiated a plan for today's voyage, destination Oxford, MD. Navigator Charles set to work planning the course, Engineer Ellen checked engine and bilges and computed a need to stop at the fuel dock. Bos'n Kevin checked the rig and prepared some lunch victuals. Then all set out to explore the museum before the noon departure time.

1200 – Away from dock and underway to the fuel dock where we had a minor collision with another Island Packet 32, BETELGEUSE of Bear, DE. Damage was very minor to both boats, mostly to Helmsman Captain Bob's ego, who confused the reverse and forward gear shift positions while docking.

We motorsail back down the Miles River and Eastern Bay in light winds as we need to make time to get into Oxford in daylight. After passing through picturesque Knapps Narrows and through the draw bridge we head up the Choptank River to Tred Avon and finally into Oxford's Town Creek where we anchor for the evening after touring the Creek. Bob and Charles handle the anchoring duties while Ellen and Kevin prepare the dingy for service conveying the crew to shore for a look around. After exploring Oxford we prepare dinner and enjoy a peaceful meal while observing a brilliant sunset from our anchorage in Town Creek, Oxford.

Day 7 - Friday, Oct 10- Oxford to Kent Narrows:
We get underway fairly early and motorsail to Knapps Narrows where we again enjoy sharpening our navigation skills. Once through the Narrows we set sail heading out into the bay proper in northerly winds and, rounding Poplar Island to Starboard, tack into Eastern Bay and navigate into Prospect Bay to the north and on to an anchorage just behind Hog Island.

By 1800 we are anchored and have dinner aboard. Though the anchorage is peaceful and sheltered enough, there is a lot of ambient noise from the traffic on the bridges over the Narrows. We probably should have gone further up the creek by Hog Island, but it's peaceful enough for the crew to study lessons after dinner, carefully monitoring battery usage. By 2100 all have turned in for a good night's rest.

Day 8 – Saturday, Oct 11- Return to Homeport and Secure:
ot underway and passed through the Narrows draw bridge at 0700, tying up at the fuel dock on the Chester River side. While waiting for the fuel dock to open crew began working on the exam, the plan being that the off watch could work on the exam while the on watch stood helm and lookout duties. By 0900 we were on our way into the Chester river and tacking our way north into northerly winds.

While working our way up the river to Davis Creek and our home port, the watch gets plenty of practice sharpening navigation and sailing skills while the off watch apply their brains working on the test. By 1400 all had completed the written test (all passed) and we entered Davis Creek and set about the cleanup and secure phase of the class. Our advice to our students regarding clean up after a charter is, "Always leave the boat in better condition than you found it!"

By 1530 we finished all the business of the class and bid ado to our shipmates and new found friends. All expressed supreme satisfaction with the experience and look forward to their next adventure with us, the ASA106 Advanced Coastal Cruising class.

Capt. David Appleton, Instructor
Aboard ACADAME, IP-32
Lankford Bay Marina, Rock Hall, MD

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