Schedule of Courses
Ocean Training Cruises
depth of the schools instructional capability was demonstrated at the start when
intended Captain Instructor Jochen Hoffmann had a medical issue and at the last
minute Captain Andy Prescott was called in to skipper the cruise with Captain
Joe Kliment teaming with him for the pre-departure orientation.
student crew consisted of five able bodied sailors ready for a challenge. They
included Manny Rosa an enthusiastic sailor and teacher from Brooklyn; Richard
Dixon – retired and considering some significant blue water sailing aboard his
IP 35: Bill Magness an IP380 owner from Florida with the same thoughts in mind;
contractor and Hudson River sailor Jim Spilbore from New York ; and Wolfgang
Linke a high spirited mechanical engineer and Etap owner.
responsibilities for the week were assigned and discussed with each person being
given the opportunity to serve for at least a 24 hour period as Student Skipper,
Navigator/Radar person, Engineer, Cook, and Deckhand.
a very informative day the team shopped for provisions and enjoyed dinner
ashore. Captain Andy joined them that evening on board.
1400 we headed carefully out of Burnt Store Marina bound for Boca Grande Pass,
the Gulf of Mexico and a 24 hour run to Key West. Jim was excellent as skipper
while Bill did a fine job of navigating us out to sea!
clear of Boca each crew member practiced tacking and gybing, first with mainsail
alone and then adding the head sail. It was a good refresher and got everyone on
the “same page” regarding these basics. Particular emphasis was placed on
the use of the preventer – always important but even more so on offshore
advanced coastal cruise would be particularly challenging as there would be
several overnight sails and a Gulf Stream crossing. A watch schedule was
established that teamed Captain Andy with Manny; Bill and Richard; and Jim with
first sunset at sea was followed by a wonderful star filled night with a
spectacular full moon.
took over as navigator with Rich as the student skipper. Their leadership
brought us successfully up the Northwest Channel and into Key West’s Galleon
Marina where the team raced for the showers.
demonstrated his prowess in the galley cooking up a storm just in case we ran
into one over the next few nights. Chicken, salmon, and hamburger cooking all at
once – A very impressive feat and nicely packaged too for easy access while at
team dined at Guy Harvey’s followed by Jim treating everyone to some sinful
pie and taffy at the Key Lime Factory. By 2300 there was a sextet of snoring in
the key of sea!
head sail and main were fully deployed as we sailed with favorable winds.
Wolfgang demonstrated his engineering and craftsmen ability as he modified a
stubborn lockset on the aft head door. Meanwhile Manny served a gourmet lunch of
burgers and dogs. Bill worked hard at navigating our northerly course and
applying his coastal navigation knowledge and skills. Jim’s jokes and
expressions kept the team's spirits high while Richard concentrated on prepping
for tomorrow’s travels.
was agreed by all that it was a “ten” day – absolutely perfect sailing on
a beam reach at seven knots with one to two foot following seas and not a cloud
in the sky.
2000 with the winds building and the skies darkening an accidental jibe
demonstrated to all the importance of the preventer! We took in the sails to the
second reef point and with winds of 15 to 20 we were sailing along once again at
a very comfortable seven knots.
anchor and off we went. At 0930 we turned at marker 23 and followed the pass at
Turtle Reef off Key Largo. The forecast was for light north winds and four to
six foot seas as we began our Gulf Stream Crossing. This was not perfect but
also not too bad as south winds are preferred which make for lighter seas in a
current that runs north sometimes at four or five knots.
the forecast was not altogether correct. The winds built to 20 knots the seas
rose to a confused 10 to 12 feet – quite miserable and uncomfortable as we
plugged along with a deep reef in the main and staysail. There was to be no
fancy lunch today but we were making progress. It certainly will be long
remembered as something to avoid if at all possible!
1615 the cruise ship Carnival Glory was heading for us on a collision course. A
call to them on VHF 16 switching to 13 made our presence known and we agreed to
alter our course and pass behind them.
evening hours and setting sun brought calmer seas and higher spirits.
good case of mal de mere also hit the crew as we reached our way point now
heading easterly via Northwest Channel. But by daylight spirits and stomachs had
improved and we sailed along as thoughts turned to making landfall and some good
times in the Bahamas.
excitement of this day occurred actually at night. Around 2100 in the course of
thirty minutes we would weave our way in and around three cruise ships and two
freighters. The Raytheon radar was fantastic at keeping us abreast of so many
targets coming at us from all directions.
next thoughts turned to finding a marina and planning how to weave our way
through the poorly marked and shallow Marsh Harbor. A big fishing tournament was
underway and many places were filled. But we lucked out and found a slip at the
predominately sailboat oriented Conch Inn Marina – home of Sunsail and the
a false start entering the Harbor we retraced our steps and tried again with
success. We passed a variety of live aboard boats from all over the US and
Canada that were anchored throughout the Harbor. We pulled up to the fuel dock
and were greeted by a big smile and hello from a very nice Bahamian lady.
next game was clearing customs and immigration which really was a test of our
ability to switch from sailing time to “island time.” After a three hour
wait we were finally cleared! We topped off the fuel tanks and headed for our
leave was enjoyed by all with celebratory drinks at Curly Tails followed by
dinner at Mangos.
After packing, CELESTIAL was spit shinned before all said their good-byes. Clearly the class was an adventurous group who preformed outstandingly well. Mother Nature had given them a good taste of what she and a Gulf Stream crossing cruise from Florida to the Bahamas have to offer aboard CELESTIAL.