2009 New England Reports

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Course Advanced Coastal Training Cruise Mystic to Rock Hall, MD
Date July 31-August 7, 2009
Students: Ron Boyer, Bob Day, Jim Gravelle, Glen Gravelle, Frank Mummert
Captain: Eric Petterson

July 30, 2009
Captain Eric Petterson was already on board to welcome students to CELESTIAL at the Mystic Shipyard Marina.  Students Jim Gravelle, Glen Gravelle, and Ron Boyer arrived on board in the afternoon.  Bob Day also arrived and we all walked to town for a seafood dinner, giving us a chance to get to know one another.  The last student, Frank Mummert was not scheduled to arrive until very early the next morning. 

July 31, 2009
Frank Mummert arrived this morning.  After breakfast in town, a final voyage itinerary was agreed upon.  With this settled we could plan our next week’s meals and a shopping list was developed, taking into account the inventory of the food already on board.  Eric, Bob and Ron took a taxi to the grocery to make the purchases while Frank, Jim and Glen stayed on board to conduct an extensive review of the boat systems, stowage and inventory.  After provisions were purchased and stowed away on board, Frank, Jim and Glen conducted a thorough review of the boat for all, both above and below deck, with Eric offering instruction on the boat and its operations.  It was established that there would be rotating daily student assignments of Captain, Navigator, Engineer, Bosun and Emergency Coordinator.  Watch schedules were then set, daily positions assigned, and emergency assignments made.  That evening everyone worked together on the navigation plan for the first day, giving Eric the opportunity to instruct everyone on a common process for navigation.  Dinner was at a local Irish Pub restaurant in town.

August 1, 2009
After breakfast on board, Eric held instruction on weather information, specifically focusing on VHF and SSB broadcasts and how to locate this information on the NOAA Internet site including weather radio stations for each leg of the coastal trip, as well as SSB times and frequencies for the offshore forecasts.  The storm trisail was then taken on deck for a test deployment while at the dock to ensure that everyone was familiar with its rigging and handling.  At 1050 we pulled out of the slip and headed out into Long Island Sound with the destination for the day of Port Jefferson, NY almost 60 nautical miles away.  It was a beautiful sunny day with very light winds from the west.  At 2030, just as it was becoming dark, we reached our destination and picked up a mooring from the Setauket Yacht Club.  It was a good day, giving everyone the opportunity to become accustomed to the shipboard routine and to the operation CELESTIAL underway.  An excellent dinner was prepared on board and enjoyed by all

August 2, 2009
With an early departure to catch the Long Island Sound flood current, we dropped off the mooring in Port Jefferson at 0620.  Winds were even lighter than the previous day, and the weather was cloudy with occasional spells of light, misty rain.  Our next port of call was City Island New York, which is actually a part of the Bronx.  We arrived here at 1220 and took a slip at the South Minneford Yacht Club marina.  After lunch in town, we provided assistance to a young couple on a beautifully restored older ketch by providing muscle power to hoist him to the top of his mast for a repair.  He appreciated the help, but his partner couldn’t watch!  The rest of the off-and-on rainy afternoon was spent with instructional sessions held on board CELESTIAL regarding including the collision avoidance rules of the road, and MOB maneuvers under both power and sail.  After planning the next day’s navigation past New York City, we had an excellent dinner in town at Arties restaurant. 

August 3, 2009
Another early start was called for this morning by our navigator in order to reach Hells Gate in the East River at dead slack water.  We pulled out of our slip at 0720 and made our way down the East River, arriving at the notorious Hell Gate with barely a ripple showing on the water.  From here it was a spectacular run down the East River with the ebbing current building behind us, passing the posh apartments of Manhattan’s upper east side, the UN building, and numerous bridges and other sights of Manhattan and many the many other buildings of the New York skyline.  It is always odd to be on your boat and floating along within a hundred feet of a busy highway (the FDR Drive) and numerous joggers.  Finally, as we rounded the turn in the East River headed for the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty was clearly visible in the distance.  After passing lower Manhattan and heading over near the Statue for photo opportunities, we motored through the Verrazano Narrows and raised sail in ESE winds of 3 to 7 knots.  From here we had a pleasant sail to Sandy Hook Bay and the town of Atlantic Highlands, NJ where we picked up a mooring at the Atlantic Highlands Yacht Club at 1530.  After dinner our navigators presented the navigation plans for our offshore legs, which was to make our way offshore to Cape May, NJ, with the possibility of stopping there for rest or continuing on to Annapolis if conditions and timing were right. 

August 4, 2009
At 0900 we let loose our mooring and left Atlantic Highlands, once more in very light winds.  However as we past the northern tip of Sandy Hook and entered the Atlantic Ocean, the winds increased to 10-15 from the south.  Sails were set for a close-hauled sail down the coast, tacking between the land and the shipping lanes in seas that built to around 4 feet.  Our position was tracked using dead reckoning and an occasional fix of land based objects (towers, tanks, etc.).  As sunset approached our navigator recommended that we should begin motor-sailing to improve our southerly velocity made good.  An excellent dinner was prepared, proving to everyone that you really can cook while underway in a rolling, pitching boat at sea.  There was very little traffic during the night, only a few tugs pulling barges, but this did provide for the experience of identifying nighttime lighting.  

August 5, 2009
As morning began to break and we approached Cape May we briefly picked up a pod of dolphins about 100 yards off escorting us down the coast.  The winds had become much lighter, and had also turned more to the southwest, with thunderstorms forecast for later that night.  The decision was made to continue on without stopping, and so CELESTIAL entered the Delaware Bay around 1200.  Motor-sailing up the Delaware was uneventful, passing numerous ships in the shipping channel.  Around 2200 we made the turn into the C&D Canal, heading west toward the Chesapeake Bay.  But, as we approached the railroad lift bridge, the green light turned red, sirens began wailing, and the bridge started to lower.  We had to hold position in the current well off of the bridge while waiting for the train to pass over, providing yet another interesting and uncommon experience.   

August 6, 2009
Just after midnight we left the canal and entered the Chesapeake.  The navigation team became very busy identifying the flashing intervals of Nav Aids and maintaining courses in order to keep us near the dredged channel (very shallow water outside of the buoys in this part of the bay).  To make matters more interesting, two of the buoy's lights were out, making their identification even more difficult.  After sorting out the buoy situation, a radio call was made to the Coast Guard to report the problem.   Around 0300 it began raining with a few rumbles of thunder and lightning, but this didn’t last too long.  At daybreak the winds turned to the east at 7-12 knots and CELESTIAL became a proper sailboat again.  This also gave us an opportunity to practice setting the boom preventer in case of an accidental gybe.  As courses changed and winds turned more northerly, our last point of sail to Annapolis was wing-on-wing and we were able to practice an S-gybe with the preventer.  Finally we picked up a mooring in Annapolis harbor at 1000 after a 49 hour non-stop voyage from Sandy Hook.  After showers and clean clothes, we had breakfast ashore at Chick & Ruth’s… an Annapolis tradition.  The afternoon was spent napping and studying until later when Jim Gravelle and Glen Gravelle both took their 106 written tests and passed.  Celebratory dinner ashore  

August 7, 2009
In the morning winds were forecast to be light again, so we pulled out the gennaker, which we planned to set on our way to Rock Hall.  We left the mooring at 0720 and tied up at the Annapolis City Marina to be the first boat for fuel and pump-out when they opened.  At 0820 we got underway again and set sail in 5-10 knots from the northwest.  After passing the bay bridge the winds built to 10-15 knots, which was too much for the gennaker, but just right for a very enjoyable sail.  At 1300 we pulled into our slip at Osprey Point Marina at Rock Hall, ending our 380 nautical mile journey.  Everyone finished packing, cleaning, and departed for home, and so ended a very enjoyable cruise.  

Captain Eric Petterson
Rock Hall, MD
August 1, 2009

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