2009 Chesapeake Bay Cruise

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Course: ASA 103-104 Intermediate Coastal Cruising 
Date: September 5-12, 2009
Vessel: IP-32 
Students: John Goff, Alan Roach, Linyee Shum
Captain: Keith Jackson

Day 1:  0830  Three students ready to go.  All three have sailing experience and two of them have their own boat, but none has ASA certifications.  We start the morning with discussion on the Rules of the Road and Navigation aids.  Both of these topics will be reviewed constantly for the entire eight-day class.  We also find and go over the operation of all required items for the boat along with boat systems.   

After lunch, we prepare the boat and go out for an afternoon of sail training.  The proper way to start the boat and leave the dock are discussed and practiced.  We also discuss the planning and proper way to raise the sails, always being aware of our location in relation to wind direction, water depth and other boat traffic.  The students practice tacks and gybes.  We enjoy the water and sailing purposely delaying our return to wait for the heavy water traffic to settle down. After returning to the dock, the students secure the boat for the evening.   

Day 2:  0800  The students meet in the classroom for a review of the ASA 101 course material.  We also discuss our cruise and what supplies we will need to purchase.  The students inspected the boat and we left the dock for more practice of basic sailing skills. Today along with sail handling, tacks, gybes, the students practiced a MOB repeatedly until they all felt confident. After returning to the dock with a strong breeze building and securing the boat, the students went for dinner and to purchase their food for the voyage. The students stowed the supplies and again returned to the office to take their ASA 101 exam.  All students did great and are ready for the voyage.  

Day3:  0800 Everyone is ready to start.  The first day’s destination is an anchorage in Sillery Bay off of the Magothy River. The dinghy is launched and the boat inspected.  The forecast had been for winds east 5-10.  Instead, we had 10 to 15, which made for a great beam reach most of the way out to the bay.  During this time, the students were getting use to the running of the boat which included learning and using basic navigation skills and log entries every half hour. After such a nice run out the Chester River, the wind fell off to the east 5-10 which made for a rather long trip across the bay.  The students were able to identify the entrance to the Magothy and were able to work their way in past all the crab pots.  After anchoring in 12 feet of water, we recapped the day and reviewed material for the 103 exam.  The students prepared a great chicken and spaghetti dinner. The day is not over until the route and cruise plan are complete for our trip to Annapolis the next day.  

Day 4:  It is always great to wake at anchor.  We had a working breakfast talking about our course material and our next leg of our trip to Annapolis. The weather report was calling for rain and winds so a reef was tucked into the sail and jack lines set up.  We take our time inspecting the boat and getting under way. Keeping a weather eye, we head out on what turns out to be an easy cruise down to Annapolis.  The students are well into the routine of navigation and log entries.  Once more the students find there way and we pick up a mooring ball the first try.  The students had been working hard the past three days, so today was an easy one.  Every one piled into the dinghy for an afternoon and evening of shore leave.   

Day 5:  The students planned their trip to Knapps Narrows.  The boat was prepared and we came off the ball at 0915.  As soon as we got out into the bay, we were able to shake the reef out and shot down the bay on a broad reach.  The entertainment was provided by the USCG, as we were able to observe them practice lowering a basket down to one of their boats from a helicopter.  We were also able to observe and discuss tactics when operating in and around large shipping lanes.  Since we got down to our turning point to go into Knapp’s Narrows so quickly and the weather was still favorable, we elected to continue down and enter Knapp’s Narrows off of the Choptank River.  As we were approaching Sharp Island Light, the NE wind that had been driving us down, quickly picked up to over 20 kts.  This was a great opportunity to practice putting a reef in underway.  As we rounded the southern point of the shoal and entered the river, the wind and current was on our nose.  Now it was pay back time.  The students had to work tacking against wind and waves and still navigate their way up the channel. We dropped sail outside the Narrows and tied up to the dock at 1730.  Another great meal of sweat and sour pork.  We then went up to the hotel lounge to take the 103 exam.  Once more, all students did well.  

Day 6:  Forecast NE winds 20-25 with gust 35-40 with strong winds all night long.  We had been planning on going to St Michaels and anchoring for the night.  One of the importing things for anyone cruising is to know when not to go. Today was one of those days.  We were in a safe location and a secure spot for the night.  We stayed put and spent the day going over the course material for 104.  Extra time was spent on navigation and working with tide and current tables.  Once  more the students did excellent with their exam.  

Day 7:  Forecast was for the wind backing around to the N and then NE and down to 10 -15. We had heavy wind and rain all night and it was continuing into the morning.  We took our time and kept listening to the report from Thomas Point. The rain stopped and we were hearing 18-22 with25 at Thomas Point.  The crew got the boat and themselves ready.  After securing the dinghy on the foredeck, we left the dock at 1030 and soon ran into 4 - 5 ft waves and wind well up over 20 kts.  Going up in the lee of Poplar Island gave us some protection but still it was slow going. The wind never subsided as we motor sailed with just a reefed jib. We worked our way through Kent Narrows being slammed on the North side with the wind and fetch.  The conditions persisted all the way to Long Cove.  When we tied up at the dock at 1630, we looked back at a great, fun day. 

Day 8:  Due to the high traffic at the marina over the holiday weekend, we had elected to save docking until now.  We spend a lot of time practicing handing the boat at slow speeds and getting a feel for the wind under power.  All students were able to dock the boat at the docks and we finished by each having their turn backing into our slip.  The students all jumped in without any prompting in cleaning the boat up.   

It was a great week.  As with any class, the students had varied levels of skills from start to finish, but the goals of safety, fun and education were met.     


Captain Keith Jackson
Rock Hall, MD

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