2010 New England Reports

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Course Advanced Coastal Training Cruise; Mystic, CT to Rock Hall, MD
Date July 30-Aug 7, 2010
Students: Jeremy Clift, Bonnie Dailey, Peter Fischer, Jon Kinlein
Captain: Eric Petterson

July 30, 2010
Captain Eric Petterson was on board to welcome students to CELESTIAL at the Mystic Shipyard Marina. Jon Kinlein was already aboard while other students arrived by train in the afternoon. Peter Fischer arrived first, followed by both Bonnie Dailey and Jeremy Clift. By 1430 everyone had arrived, and after appropriate introductions all began the process of unpacking and settling in. Next, Captain Eric began with a brief orientation to CELESTIAL, followed by a discussion of preparations for the weekís adventure. These included review of class objectives, sailing itinerary, standing orders, watch schedules and daily roles and responsibilities. Captain Eric also passed out various checklists, one of which listed all the work items that must be accomplished prior to getting underway. Everyone then jumped into one of the most interesting assignments of the week, which was to plan daily menus and meals, most of which would have to be prepared and served while underway. Afterwards Jon was kind enough to drive us all to town for dinner at a local restaurant.

July 31, 2010
In the morning, Jon again provided the transportation by first driving us to a local diner for breakfast, and then to the grocery store to shop for provisions. After all the food items were purchased and stowed away on board the students began an intensive review of all boat systems, both below decks and above. In addition to the rigging of the main, staysail and genoa of CELESTIAL, this review included a test setting of the storm trysail and the spinnaker. To inspect the halyards and rigging at the masthead, Bonnie was hoisted to the top of the mast in the bosunís chair to check things out. Captain Eric made daily student assignments of captain, navigator, engineer, and bosun/emergency coordinator, giving each student time to act in the various roles of staffing a sailboat for offshore sailing. Eric also assigned names to the watch schedules. Other instructional items included reviews of rules-of-the-road, weather radio station planning, man-overboard techniques, and sail trim.

Finally we took a break for dinner, which was an excellent meal prepared on board. After galley clean-up was complete, Captain Eric led a planning session on the navigation techniques to be used for the week, which included pre-planning of courses and distances to various aids-to-navigation, supplemented by LOPís for fixes and dead reckoning. With Ericís direction, the navigator for the first dayís journey completed the navigation plan, and our very our busy day of preparation was complete by 2200.

August 1, 2010
After breakfast on board, we got an early start and pulled out of the slip at 0710 to catch a favorable Long Island tidal current on our way to Port Jefferson, NY, approximately 60 nautical miles from Mystic. Once clear of the Mystic River channel, we set sail with the spinnaker at 0920 in a southeast wind of 5-10. What followed was an extremely delightful sail under spinnaker for almost 5 hours. Finally as the wind increased to 10-15 knots and veered towards the south we put the spinnaker away and unfurled the main and genoa, continuing a very comfortable beam reach the rest of the way to Port Jefferson. Navigation became challenging as there are few aids to navigation along the final portion of this route, so that dead reckoning and LOPs are essential in determining our location. Nevertheless careful navigation paid off as the Port Jefferson entrance buoy came into view and we turned in the harbor for the evening. At 1815 CELESTIALís anchor was down and set. Dinner was again on board, followed by navigation for the next dayís voyage to City Island, NY. Another excellent dinner was prepared on board and enjoyed by all

August 2, 2010
The anchor was raised at 0815 to again catch a favorable current on our way to City Island. We set sail in very light winds from the south-southeast at less than 5 knots. As a result we motor-sailed until the winds increased to 10-13 and veered to the southwest. We arrived just off City Island (actually a part of the Bronx) and the student captain for the day called the marina on VHF for entry instructions. Having received the information needed we motored in and were tied up in our slip at the South Minneford Yacht Club at 1415. From City Island our route was planned to take us to Lewes, DE, which would require a transit of the East River past Manhattan and an overnight sail down the New Jersey shore. After planning the navigation for this passage we had dinner ashore in town at Arties restaurant, and after dinner we completed our offshore pre-departure checklist to ensure that everything was in order for the coming offshore and overnight sails.

August 3 & 4, 2010
Another early start was called for this morning by our navigator in order to reach Hells Gate in the East River near slack water, and well ahead of a strong contrary current. We pulled out of our slip at 0725 and made our way down the East River, arriving at the notorious Hell Gate with a slight favorable current, carrying this current most of the way down the East River. As always, the trip down this river is an amazing sightseeing voyage, passing along the east side of Manhattan within a hundred feet of a busy highway (the FDR Drive), watching numerous joggers on their jogging path, under multiple bridges (including the graceful Brooklyn Bridge) and out past the Statue of Liberty. After passing lower Manhattan and heading over near the Statue for photo opportunities, we motored under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge at 1115.

After clearing the harbor, we raised sail in south winds of 10-15 knots and began sailing close hauled, tacking our way south. At 1700 we began motor sailing to attempt to improve our calculated velocity made good to the south. Around 2000 we finally furled sails and began motoring as our navigator had determined that our current rate of southerly speed, it would take us almost two days to reach the Delaware Bay. Throughout the night we could see the glow of lights ahead from Atlantic City, which we finally passed around 0500. Amazingly, as the coast of New Jersey fell away to the west, and our course changed to the SSW, so did the wind change direction, and it continued on our nose.

Finally at 1430 we arrived at the town dock of Lewes, DE and tied up. Showers and naps were the first order of business. We enjoyed dinner ashore in town, and finally worked on the navigation for our next overnight voyage up to Annapolis, MD. The final check of the weather forecast called for winds from the southwest in the morning, which we anticipated would make for a nice sail up the Delaware Bay. The forecast also called for change to northwest winds around midnight, which should similarly make for a pleasant sail down the Chesapeake after transiting the canal.

August 5 & 6, 2010
Our navigatorís calculations suggested that we should be able to carry a favorable current all the way to and through the C&D canal if we left at 1000. So based on this analysis we left the dock at 1010 on our way to Annapolis. We set sail in light winds of 5 to 10 from the south and began our journey north. However our sail was short-lived as the wind soon dropped to 5 and veered all the way to the northwest. We had the favorable current as predicted, but the wind was just not cooperating. Again we cranked up the engine and motor-sailed, then furled the sails and simply motored. 

At 2200 we reached the C&D canalís entrance with a favorable current still with us, validating our navigatorís planning. CELESTIAL reached the Chesapeake end of the canal around 2400 and entered the upper portion of the Chesapeake Bay with the winds still very light. However after entering the bay, the winds quickly built to 15-20, but from the southwest instead of the forecasted northwest!! Once more the wind was on our nose and in an area of the bay where sailing outside of the channel was not possible due to shallow water. Furthermore with the winds against the current, the waves were steep and choppy. It became a definite challenge for the on-watch crew to identify upcoming channel buoys and track our progress in difficult conditions, but they were definitely up to the task. 

Just after sunrise CELESTIAL arrived at the Annapolis harbor and picked up a mooring at 0600. We lowered the dinghy off the davits, took it to shore for showers and breakfast and came back to the boat for naps. In the afternoon Capt. Eric held a study session on ASA106 knowledge skills, reviewing many of the lessons already covered while underway. All enjoyed a celebratory dinner ashore at McGarveyís, where we discussed the results of the week. While everyone agreed that we hoped for better sailing conditions, the students all felt that this course had challenged their skills and significantly expanded their confidence to handle the boat in adverse conditions.

August 7, 2009
At 0730 we dropped off our mooring and motored to the Annapolis City Marina fuel dock for diesel and pump-out. We completed these tasks and departed at 0830, setting sail to Rock Hall in north winds of 5-10. At 1315 CELESTIAL arrived in her slip at Osprey Point Marina. After packing and a quick boat clean-up, everyone left for home, ending a challenging but educational sailing journey.

Captain Eric Petterson
Rock Hall, MD
August 8, 2010

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