2010 Chesapeake Bay Cruise

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Course: ASA 104 Intermediate Coastal Cruising
Date: Sept 4-8, 2010
Students: Bob Stringfellow, Ron McBride, Jim O’Brian
Captain: Steve Runals

Sept 3, Fri - Arrivals and Test taking:
Despite the forecast of challenging weather from Hurricane Earl and travel on a holiday weekend all arrived by 1830.  Jim and Ron had arrived earlier in the afternoon and after initially stowing their gear Jim took advantage of the pool while Ron took the ASA 107 celestial navigation test.  After Bob and the Capt arrived and stowed their gear, we all headed off to the Harbor Shack for dinner and time to get acquainted.  Jim had already taken the ASA 104 course but wanted more time underway.  Bob and Ron had both taken the ASA 105 coastal navigation course and were ready to apply their knowledge underway.  Over dinner we finalized our cruising plan and outlined a menu.

Day 1 – Sept 4, Sat: Review of Ships Systems, Rules of Road and Boat Handling:
We started the day with breakfast at the Rock Hall Snack Shack where we finalized our meal plan and then on to the local market to provision.  After returning to the boat and stowing provisions, we reviewed course requirements, Federal Boating safety requirements, Rules of the Road, buoy and boat systems.  The crew then spent an hour giving her a thorough inspection, getting acquainted with the ships systems and operations, proper safety procedures and launching and securing the dingy. 

After lunch, we reviewed the key points of maneuvering under power and spent the rest of the day practicing picking a mooring, docking at the pump out station and boat handling under sail.  A great day to practice sail handling to include reefing and heaving too in winds 10-15 with gusts to 20 knots.  Bob as captain and Ron as navigator got us at anchor and boat secure in Gray Inn Creek by 1645.  After a well earned dinner, we reviewed the day’s events and discussed our cruising plan for the next day.  Jim, our new navigator, laid out our course.  Despite the still gusty winds, we spent a very restful night in a beautiful anchorage under a star filled sky.

Day 2 – Sept 5, Sun: Down the River, Thru the Bridges and a snug Anchorage with lots of company:
Day dawned with a beautiful early fall sky and forecast 10-15 knot winds which we were able to enjoy for the majority of the morning.  After breakfast, conducted daily pre operations checks, reviewed engine systems and discussed MOB under power and anchor recovery.  Plan for the day is to sail down the Chester, thru Kent Narrows, down Easter Bay, thru Popular Island and Knapps Narrows and into an anchorage in Dunn Cove off Harris Creek.  

Departed anchorage by 0800 and made sail once through the narrow exit from the Creek and into the Chester River, winds 10-15 off the beam.  Jim, as navigator with help from Bob, kept track of our course by taking a series of two bearing fixes and plotting our position.  Into and thru Kent Narrows by 1100, joining a large number of power and sail boats who all seemed to be headed toward St Michaels.  Good navigation got us thru Popular Island and Knapps Narrows with only a short delay awaiting the bridge to open in the Narrows.  

Once into the Choptank, we conducted a series of MOB drills in a dying wind.  Into a snug but somewhat crowed anchorage by 1600 after a good day’s run of just over 28 nms.  The Labor Day weekend and beautiful weather had brought out lots of boats, many rafting up – one with 7 boats.  Quiet night, beautiful sunset and an evening spent reviewing course material and studying the stars.

Day 3 – Sept 6, Mon: Retrace our Steps and into St Michaels:
Departed Dunn Cove with Jim as captain and Bob as navigator after a review of weather, MOB under sail and pre operations checks.  Back thru Knapps Narrows, up Popular Island Narrows and into an Eastern Bay filled with white  ….. sails.  We joined hundreds of boats who fortunately were almost all headed south and toward Annapolis while we were head north toward St Michaels. 

Along the way we practiced MOB under sail, reefing and plotting position in gusty winds which occasionally hit 20 knots.  After a short sail around the St Michaels harbor for a “look around”, we had the anchor down just outside the harbor entrance by 1500.  After ensuring the anchor was set and securing the boat, took the dingy into town, purchased some additional provisions and spent a short visit in the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum followed by a well deserved dinner at the Crab Claw.  After returning to the boat, Jim went for a short swim and then the crew took the ASA 104 test - all passed with flying colors.  Great job by all.

Day 4 – Sept 7, Tues: To Annapolis and a Walkabout:
Time to turn toward home.  Departed for Annapolis after a pump out and topping off water in town.  Bob as captain and Ron navigator. Winds built during the morning providing a great beam reach up toward Rich Neck requiring a reef in the main and then a reefed head sail for a beat down Eastern Bay.  Several other boats also headed south were motor sailing but upon seeing us enjoying the fresh breeze, all hosted sail and joined the fun.  

By mid day the wind dropped, reefs shook out and around Blood Pt Bar on the way to Annapolis.  Winds did build again to allow a good run, sailing downwind wing-and-wing with a preventer in place on the main.  Along the way we had the opportunity to hail a tug pushing a barge on VHF channel 13 to clarify intended course and pass several ships anchored off Annapolis.    Secure on a mooring by 1500 and into the dingy for trip ashore and showers.  After a less than enthusiastic attempt by the Captain for a spaghetti dinner on board, we spent some time exploring this great harbor town which was enjoying a rest from the weekend holiday crowds and met later at Pusser’s for an early dinner.  Following an excellent dinner seated right by “Ego Alley”, we took the dingy back to the boat for a game of PIG and preparation for an early departure.  

Day 5 – Sept 8, Wed: Return to Lankford Bay Marina and Secure
Up for an early departure after a VERY rolly night on the mooring.   Forecast promised wind, 10-15 knots with gusts to 25 from west.  After completing boat and systems checks which identified a problem with one of our batteries, dropped our mooring under a still starry sky at 0600.  Once clear of the inner harbor, we raised sail and had breakfast underway with the wind building off our stern.  Good downwind run, sailing wing-and-wing and preventer on a reefed main till abeam of Love Pt.  Sailing around the point and down the Chester River toward the Narrows provided Jim, as navigator, a good opportunity to track our progress and plot our position along the way.  

After rounding the point by the Narrows, the wind dropped but still allowed us to sail up to just short of Langford Creek where we dropped sails for the last time. Ron brought us into the pump out dock, Jim to the fuel dock where we moved the dingy to its stand ashore and then Bob put us back in our slip.  All did a great job handling the boat under power.  After securing and cleaning up the boat, we had a final review of the day’s events and our entire trip.  All agreed that weather and course had far exceeded expectations.  It did have one potentially “negative” implication – it wetted the crew’s appetites for more.  Well done to a great crew!

Captain Steve Runals
Lankford Bay Marina
Sept 9, 2010

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