2009 DELMARVA Reports

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Course Advanced Coastal Cruising; DELMARVA Circumnavigation
Date August 10-17, 2009
Students: Linda and Jim Dreiling, Bob deGroof, Josef  McArdle, Haskell Royer 
Captain: Jochen Hoffmann

Day 1, Monday, August 10, 2009
Captain and crew arrived yesterday afternoon and found CELESTIAL virtually ready for sea since the yard crew in this, our home port, had taken care of repairs and maintenance. Over dinner we all got acquainted and decided to start early today to avoid the summer heat during training on deck. By about 1130 we conclude training on lines, sails, and emergency equipment. Systems below deck are explored in air conditioned comfort. With the meal plan in hand, Joe and the captain start provisioning while the rest of the crew inventories equipment below and generates a detailed navigation plan for the next day. By dinner time, we are ready. 

Day 2
Tides and currents, part of our navigation plan, call for departure at 0800. All-hands training in protected waters (anchoring, MOB, engine maneuvers, bearing fixes) ensures that crew skills are tuned to the challenging conditions entailed in this advanced coastal cruising course. Once underway up the Bay, I coach Bob in the role as skipper for the day. Bob in turn calls on his crew to perform the necessary, rotating duties as navigator, helm, lookout, deckhand, and idler (who rests or assists the navigator). Students identify lighted ranges and use them to check deviation of the ship’s compass. In very light winds - the heat more bearable then yesterday - we arrive at Summit North Marina in the C&D Canal. Here, our shipmates Linda and Jim Dreiling invite us to take advantage of their slip which is momentarily empty. Then we are off to take showers and enjoy great sea food at the restaurant overlooking the Marina. 

Day 3
We depart at 0300 to catch the ebb current down the Delaware River and Bay. Then, surprise: the railroad bridge to which the Coast Pilot had alerted us is down, barring our C&D Canal transit. A call on VHF Channel 13 awakens a cooperating bridge tender who raises it, and we are on our way, with Joe leading the crew. In no-wind-conditions, engine at 2600 rpm, the current speeds us down river almost to the Bay Entrance where we prepare thoroughly for our offshore leg at night. I set a three-hour watch schedule to ensure that everyone will have stood a watch in complete darkness. Linda and I have the 2000 to 2300 watch as clouds, illuminated by the moon, darken threateningly. Soon, thunder, lightning, and tropical downpours are all around us. My crew? Linda is in appreciating awe: “Just the kind of experience I wanted”; her husband Jim – going to sleep, having full confidence in ship and crew; Bob and Joe – admiring the show from their bunks until, they too, fall asleep. As the next watch comes on deck, our radar shows that the storm has dissipated overhead, rather than move on. 

Day 4
Last night’s thunder storm, nearby traffic, and jumping dolphins were the highlight of our night at sea. Fixes on Assateague light (range 22 NM) helped us confirm our course of 217° psc. With Linda as skipper overseeing corrections for current, we hold that course well into the Chesapeake Bay entrance, where Jim alerts the Virginia Coast Pilot station to our presence and progress. At 1400 this happy, but tired crew ties up in Vinings Landing Marina, Little Creek, to enjoy a well earned nap, followed by dinner at Captain Groove’s. 

Day 5
Great sailing, at last, with a NE wind at 15 to 18 kts broad on the starboard bow. Haskell, our skipper-of-the day, has a blast at the wheel. This fine day began with an oil change since we had put extra hours on the main engine. Then, steering 000° T for most of the day, we cross the Thimble Shoal Channel well ahead of a tanker and an air craft carrier, practice current sailing and fixes, conduct an MOB maneuver, and come to a lovely anchorage at 1900 in Dividing Creek. Earlier, dolphins had played nearby. With the anchor watch set, a glorious sunset, a glass of wine, followed by dinner helps us close the day in best spirits. 

Day 6
The forecast is similar to yesterday’s, with a High moving our way. Jim as skipper promises us another great day on the water. We have all three sails up, and resume our course of 000° T, expecting to reach our anchorage in Dunn Cove at sun set. Alas, the wind is dying to a zephyr just N of the mouth of the Potomac. We motor sail, and, eventually, decide to strike all sails. As the sun is setting, we alter course to Brooks Cove in the Little Choptank where we end this long leg with a night anchoring exercise. 

Day 7
Those who chose to sleep in the cockpit tell us with glee about a night under bright stars. Still, all enjoy a wonderful sunrise and by 0630 we are on our way to Annapolis in light SW winds. Again we motor sail, take time to study, and practice knots and fixes. We reach our mooring in Annapolis at 1430 after topping off fuel, clean the boat, take the ASA-106 test, and enjoy a relaxed dinner on shore. 

Day 8
We are underway at sun rise. But not soon enough to beat the eager class of new Midshipmen out for their early morning run along the Academy’s breakwater. After a leisurely cruise up the Bay, a radio call to a push-tow to arrange safe passage under the Bay Bridge, and landfall navigation, we tie up in Osprey Point Marina. Indeed, ospreys and blue herons look on as we do so. Thorough boat cleaning and hearty farewells bring this eventful cruise to close for my group of dedicated mariners. Your captain thanks you and bids you Fair Winds, always. 

Captain H. Jochen Hoffmann
Osprey Point Marina, Rock Hall

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