Schedule of Courses
Ocean Training Cruises
||Advanced Coastal Cruise; Florida, Dry Tortugas & Key
||March 8-15, 2008
|| IP440 CELESTIAL
||Mike Coyne, Frank Crumb, Jeff Harper, Jeff Scott, Ken
This first Dry Tortugas cruise was a thoroughly enjoyable
success. The five member student crew were exposed to a wide variety of
experiences fitting for an advanced coastal training cruise. The only
change made to the original cruise plan was the elimination of the last port of
call, because of insufficient time.
crew planned their menu before provisioning on Saturday, March 8, then they
prepared the boat for departure. It was a chilly 41º shortly after dawn when we
began our cruise on Sunday March 9, leaving the South Shore basin of Burnt Store
Marina, motoring into Charlotte Harbor then heading south into the Gulf of
This overnight run down the Gulf to the Dry Tortugas provided considerable off
wind sailing with swells on the beam and quarter. By 0900, we were 30 miles away
from our destination. Even with lumpy seas, this was an easy sail to Fort
Jefferson on Garden Key.
Arriving Monday March 10 at 1500,
we anchored close to the Fort and enjoyed some adventures off the boat, touring
this historical landmark with a little snorkeling on the side. Our initial
anchorage at Bird Key Harbor was less than adequate due to lack of protection
from east swells and wind. As with
the US Virgin Islands National Park, there is a charge to anchor and use
the facilities. The mooring buoys were adequate and we had no trouble
negotiating the course in and out of Garden Key, but it should be done
during daylight hours. Depths were sufficient in the designated channels.
After 24 hours of rest in the Dry Tortugas National Park, we began the next leg
of our journey immediately after an early dinner on Tuesday, March 11. We made our second overnight run, sailing from
the dry Tortugas to Key West by going offshore south of the barrier reef. This
provided some great sailing while beating into an east wind. We encountered the
Gulf Stream about 10 miles south of the barrier reef near the Key West main ship
channel providing for a great ride east. The 24 hour stopover at Key West
was exciting for the students as CELESTIAL mingled with some much
larger vessels. We docked for the night at the City of Key West's Bight Marina.
The cost was reasonable, accessibility was good and it was near the Historic
Seaport. A chance to visit the Historic Seaport, Sloppy Joe's, Margaretville,
and excellent seafood restaurants kept the crew busy along with intermittent
study for the ASA106 test.
At 0800 on Thursday, March 12,
we departed Key West via the Northwest Channel and motored out into Florida Bay.
The channel was easy to negotiate. A stale high pressure system resulted in
light winds on our trip north. The Navy towers provided some great navigational
fixes along the way with a man overboard drill to keep the students alert. We
were accompanied along the way by dolphins and occasional sea turtle and a great
sunset to test some celestial skills.
March 13, at 0900, we arrived at the entrance buoy at Boca Grande Channel
and traveled up Charlotte Harbor. We
were met and escorted by a "tagged" manatee as we entered Burnt Store
Marina at 1300. We had covered 470 miles safely, utilizing three overnight sails
with excellent seamanship, camaraderie and adventure. This was a thoroughly
enjoyable cruise with a GREAT student crew. All three testing students
handily passed the ASA106 test!
Captain Joe Kliment
S/V CELESTIAL, IP-440
March 15, 2008
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