2009 Chesapeake Bay Cruise
Schedule of Courses
Ocean Training Cruises
This turned out to
be a good example of a combined class designed to prepare sailors with limited
current sailing experience for the challenges of coastal cruising and 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 combination of
training settings and length of course provided the students time to practice
application of the skills required for successful coastal cruising in a variety
of weather conditions and cruising locations.
Jun 4, Friday - Arrivals and
Jun 6, Saturday: Review of
Ships Systems, Rules of Road and Boat Handling:
Jun 7, Sunday: Sailing
Refresher and Anchoring:
Jun 8, Monday: 103 Test,
Navigation Exercise - to the Kent Narrows:
Through the Narrows and into
Eastern Bay where we practiced COB under power before returning thru the bridge
at 1430. Once back out of the Narrows and into the Chester River, the
building winds allowed for some sailing until dying away, resulting in a motor
sailed back to the marina. Along
the way, the crew kept track of our position and practiced determining and
plotting estimated positions. We
also finalized our cruising plan for the next week to include provisioning
requirements. Upon arrival back at the marina, we finalized our provision plan
and secured and stowed the dingy on the fore deck.
Dinner ashore and a trip to grocery store completed the day’s
Jun 9, Tuesday: Cruise Begins
- off to the Magothy River:
About 45 min into the trip a loud tapping sound could be heard from the motor. We stopped, checked the engine for the source of the noise – most importantly did we have oil in the engine - and then attempted to resume our course. The tapping returned – not good. After consultation with Tom Tursi, we returned to the marina, cross loaded all our equipment to SCHOLARSHIP, checked out all boat systems and were back underway towing the dingy by 1330 under a clear sky and light southerly winds. As we approach Love Pt at entrance to the Chesapeake Bay, the wind picked up and for 45 minutes we sailed a very nice beam reach across the Bay toward the entrance to the Magothy.
As we approached the Baltimore Light off the Magathy, we watched a darkening sky and heard weather reports of forecast severe thunderstorms for our area. After rigging jacklines, dropping and securing all sail and donning foul weather gear, we watched the sky darken even more and could see rain falling ahead as we passed the Baltimore Light. 100 yards from the entrance to the Magathy River, a narrow entrance protected on both sides by shallow water and many crab traps, we were hit by high winds and heavy rain. Bob, our helmsman, had taken a bearing on the shore across from the entrance before the rain cut our visibility to about 20 feet. Under increasingly gusty wind and rain we reversed course to gain some maneuver room with deep water rather than chance being blown aground in the narrow entrance. For the next 45 min we fought the wind and heavy rain – later we were told by someone who was in Rock Hall at the time, they measured wind gusts of approx 60 knots during this storm. It was a wild ride! Bob kept us moving and under control as we altered course to avoid crab pots, information buoys, channel markers and the Baltimore Light. At some point, the towed dingy was flipped over – underscoring the point to never carry anything in it when towing. Finally, the visibility improved to the point we could see our way through to the Magothy and wind dropped into the 20s allowing us to alter course and enter the shelter of the River.
Still in heavy rain and wind we made our way toward Dobbins Island, our intended anchorage for the night, as an eerie darkness started to fall. After a short stop to right the dingy in the lee of Gibson Island, we finally dropped the anchor behind Dobbins Island at 1915 in light winds and rain. After securing the boat and a well deserved spaghetti dinner prepared by Bob with JB’s helps, we discussed the day’s events while keeping an anchor watch as winds began to build to around 20 knots, shifting in gusts through all points of the compass. This continued till just after 2400 hrs when “someone” finally said enough and the winds died away. One final note of interest in what had been a day filled with “fun and excitement”.
Once we were securely anchored,
the neighbored welcoming committee arrived – two ducks.
As the wind built that evening, they decided to take up shelter on the
dingy. All night long they stayed
there – letting us know they were there and ok every time one of us would look
in their direction. In the morning
they were gone, but being grateful guests they left several small packages on
the dingy as remembrance of their visit.
Jun 10, Wednesday: Headed
South – St Michaels:
By 1530 we were docked at the St Michaels Maritime Museum and ready to take showers. After securing the boat and cleaning up, all set off to explore the museum and quaint little town. We later met for dinner at the Crab Claw to review the day’s activities, plan for the next day and relax. Despite a sky that had threatened rain several times during the day, we had managed to avoid thunderstorms.
Two interesting points while in
St Michaels – Martha Dean (TV cooking personality) visited the Crab Claw while
we were there. She and her
entourage entered with little fanfare for a meal of the local steamed crabs. And
an American Cruise line ship paid a visit – a first for the cruise line.
They had departed Baltimore, sailed down to Yorktown, were in St Michaels
for a short visit, planned to sail to Annapolis on Friday and then return to
Baltimore. Lots going on at this always interesting port-of-call.
To finish off the day, we had a chance to watch the local Wednesday night
sailboat races at the harbor entrance. To
show that we were not the only ones having to deal with light winds, the racers
just drifted around the course, but they did complete the race.
Jun 11, Thursday: A Change of
Plans and Rhode River:
Our original plan had been to sail south, go through the Knapps Narrows into the Choptank to an anchorage in Dunn Cove on Harris Creek. The current weather and forecast for the next day indicated continued light winds so we set a course for an alternative anchorage on the Rhode River. Having alternative destinations should be part of all cruise planning. After a minor challenge getting into the Rhode River - crab pots everywhere - we anchored with several other boats in a very nice anchorage between Big and Flat islands.
After securing the boat, we took a short dingy ride to explore the area and gain experience in maneuvering these light, low powered vessels. Back at the boat, JB and I went for a short swim and cleaned the knot meter and rudder. Following a snack of crackers and cheese, the crew settling down to take the ASA 104 test. Both passed with flying colors but not without adventure.
To add to the challenges of the test, a short but violent thunderstorm paid the anchorage a visit while they were working away. During one very strong gust, the boat heeled more than at any time during the trip. Our anchor held but two other boats dragged, resulting in one boat having to reposition during the storm to avoid hitting another. Learning how to properly anchor and having confidence in your anchoring ability are important skills all cruisers must master. While watching both boats reset their anchors, we watched them drop their anchors while still moving slowly forward and then never backing down with enough force to really set their hook. We kept a watchful eye on them for the rest of the evening which thankfully turned out to be quiet and very peaceful.
Bob again provided the cooking
for a great meal. We finished off
the evening with a wild game of “Pig”.
After the Captain won both games, the crew raised some concern that the
dice might be “fixed” – so untrue.
Jun 12, Friday: To Annapolis
and a Walkabout:
Picked up a mooring by 1200 and after lunch, headed by dingy for showers ashore. Neither Bob nor JB had spent much time in Annapolis so they enjoyed a well deserved break and explored the harbor area. The wind built for about an hour during the afternoon but then died away, preventing us from feeling guilty about not being out sailing. It's always interesting to watch the ever changing background of boats and people ashore and afloat in Annapolis.
Dinner at a water side table at
Pusser’s allowed us to watch this constant stream of people and boats heading
up and down “Ego Ally”. Friday
night always provides a fascinating mix of small and large power and sail boats
wanting to see and be seen. After
dinner, Bob and I did a walkabout and then back to the boat by dingy.
JB headed to the bar to watch the Stanly Cup Finals, returning by water
taxi pleased that Pittsburgh was
ahead at the end of the second period (they won 2-1).
Quiet night despite the boat traffic that finally played out around
June 13, Saturday: Return to
Lankford Bay Marina and Secure:
Tacking up the Bay was a nice change from the past few days of light winds but as we approached Love Point and the Chester River the winds again dropped away and halfway to Kent Narrows we proceeded up the Chester under power. Bob and JB alternated between helm and navigator, keeping us located on our chart, away from crab pots and shallow water. As we approached the marina the wind returned, allowing us to finish the cruise with a short, but very nice, beam reach. Bob brought us into the fuel dock at 1330 and JB got us back to our slip for a final tie up.
After securing and cleaning up
the boat, we had a final review of the day’s events and our entire trip.
All agreed that despite the light winds and two close personal
experiences with thunderstorms, the cruise had exceeded all expectations,
wetting everyones appetite for more.
Captain Steve Runals