2010 Caribbean Cruises
Schedule of Courses
Ocean Training Cruises
Captain Steve Runals arrives from the cold north to find CELESTIAL waiting to get
back under way but with a few minor issues to be corrected.
These get resolved and boat and Captain are ready to receive the crew who
arrive during the afternoon of the 20th.
After stowing gear and initial boat orientation, we all head up to Tickles,
the dockside restaurant, for dinner and to start getting to know each other.
While each member of the crew brings a different range of sailing experience,
each is looking forward to a week away from the cold and snow and the
opportunity to sail in this beautiful area.
Following dinner we return to the boat and start developing a cruise and
associated meal plan.
Day 1: Fri 21 Jan:
All up early and ready to start class by 0830.
We review the ASA requirements for each of the three courses (101- 103
-104), finalize our cruising plan, and complete our inventory of onboard stores
before finalizing our provisioning list. The
Captain, Pam and Sevine head to Pueblo,
the local market, for provisions while Mark, Doug and Larry check out the boat
to find required/recommended safety equipment and get familiar with boat storage
and equipment locations. After we return from the market and stow provisions, we
review Federal boating safety equipment requirements, “rules of the road”,
and begin an orientation on charts and the buoyage system before breaking for
lunch. Lunch consists of KFC from a
local vendor – something that is not normally done and will have interesting
consequences later in the day. After
lunch, we review all boat systems, inspect all areas on deck, go over winch
operation and line handling and discuss maneuvering under power. Mark lays out a
course to one of several possible anchorages and we depart the marina with Larry
at the helm by 1500. After motoring
down the West Georgie Channel, we head into Lindbergh Bay and anchor for the
night. There is a slight swell that
slowly builds during the evening, which when combined with an unsettled lunch,
results in three of the crew coming down with a little motion sickness.
That dims the enthusiasm by some for a great chicken and rice dinner.
Despite the combined challenges of a rolly anchorage and upset stomachs
all are able to get some sleep but not before two cruising rules were introduced
and executed. The cook does not do
the dishes/clean up the galley and the boat is prepared to get underway in an
emergency – dishes and galley secured, key by the ignition, dingy secured,
flashlights at the ready and windless ready to operate.
Day 2: Sat, 22 Jan: Following
a light breakfast, we review in detail a pre operations checklist, check the
weather, review MOB procedures for operating under power and layout a course to
Christmas Cove on Great St James Island. After raising and securing the anchor,
all crew participate at the helm and as line handlers as we conduct MOB drills
under power and then maneuver CELESTIAL
through all points of sail, reef the mainsail and heave-to as we avoid the
hazards of Porpoise Rocks, Saba Island and Flat Keys. We then sail over to Christmas Cove at Great St James Island
and are at anchor by 1500 hours. Several
of the crew were still having problems with their stomachs but as we tacked our
way east in NE winds of 14-22 knots and the day wears on, they are able to begin
to “enjoy” the ride and work the ship.
The Captain is surprised to find that there are now a good number of
moorings in the anchorage but plenty of room to anchor.
Prior to dinner we review knots, several go for a swim and Pam and Mark
take a short dingy ride to the beach. Along
the way the Captain stops to talk with Prism, an IP 35 that has
just completed a three year circumnavigation and is back in the VIs for a second
visit. After dinner we enjoy the
cool evening, discuss plans for the next day, which include a desire to see the
Superbowl play off games if possible. This
will require a change to the cruising plan.
Flexibility is one of the keys to successful cruising so we layout a
course to Francis Bay where a taxi ride into Cruz Bay will allow us to complete
required training and still afford the opportunity to watch the games.
A quiet night broken up with occasional rain showers allows us to get the
hatch closing and opening routine down pat.
Day 3: Sun, Jan 23:
After breakfast we review the Plan, Record, Verify and Adjust navigation
construct, a charter boat checklist, conduct pre-operations checks and get a
weather update on VHF channel 5/6. Depart for the north side of St John with Mark as Captain and
Sevine as Navigator. We transit the
Current Cut channel and enter a beehive of activity in Phillsbury Sound where we
practice all points of sail in this busy area with lots of power and sail boat
traffic to gain a solid understanding of give-way and stand-on vessel
responsibilities. After yesterday’s thorough preparation and hands on
practice, our crew is gaining confidence in their sail handling and steering
skills. We sail over to Francis Bay
and pick up one of the Parking moorings. Our
bow crew finds their MOB practice helps them to successfully pick up and secure
our mooring despite the gusty winds. Anchoring
is forbidden in National Park Service waters for vessels under 65 ft.
After two days of anchoring, the mooring is a welcome change.
After a short swim, Larry, Pam, Mark and the Captain dingy into the Maho
Eco Camp and take a taxi into Cruz Bay, the Captain to get a National Park
service pass and the others to find a place to watch the playoff games.
The Captain returns to the boat and later he, Sevine and Doug have dinner
at Eco camp – very good despite the 130+ step climb to the dining facility.
We find out later that each day at 1630 on VHF 71 the Camp announces the
menu for the evening. By 2200 all have returned to the boat and settle in for a
Day 4: Mon Jan 24: We
awaken to the sounds of roosters crowing and donkeys baying. Following breakfast, we review in detail engine operating systems
and MOB procedures under sail. Our
destination today is Jost van Dyke, which will require us to clear into the BVI.
Before we depart, Mark starts preparation for a special treat – fresh
baked bread that he will finish making while under way.
After clearing the mooring, we raise sails and practice all points of
sail before the crew tries their hand at recovery of MOB under sail.
All execute their assigned responsibilities well and our “tipsy
dummy” is finally recovered and secured for the last time.
Later we are treated to warm fresh bread as we have lunch while hove-to.
After lunch we sail into Great Harbor, pick up a mooring and go ashore to clear
into the BVI – a very painless process here.
We make some time to explore the area, get a drink at Foxy’s and decide
to check out nearby Little Harbor. After
motoring down to for quick “look see”, we decide Great Harbor is better
protected for the forecast wind direction and return to our original mooring –
another opportunity to practice picking up a mooring.
After securing the boat, Pam and Sevine take their ASA101 tests and Mark,
Doug and Larry take their ASA103 tests. All
do very well and are rewarded with dinner at Foxy’s and a quiet night’s
Day 5: Tues, Jan 25: Today’s
plan is to head southeast to Norman Island which will take us thru the Thatch
Island Cut – beating to weather for the majority of the trip.
After a review of weather and weather systems and execution of the
pre-ops checklist, we are treated to the sight of the Oceans Sailing School
schooner raising their anchor and “making” sail – all with crew power.
A very impressive sight. After
departing the harbor, we again practice all points of sail in winds 12-22 knots
before heading for the Cut. As we
short tack thru the Thatch Island cut and past Sopers Hole, we have many
opportunities to reinforce give-way and stand-on vessel responsibilities.
Once clear of the Frenchmans Cay, we review ASA104 course martial.
Mark again treats us to hot, fresh baked bread – nothing better as we
tack thru winds which at times reach 24 knots.
We sail into the Bight at Norman Island, secure a mooring and finish
lunch. Several crew then elect to
go ashore while Larry and the Capt head over to the caves for some snorkeling.
Later we all practice several different methods for recovery of a MOB –
the life sling attached to the spinnaker halyard works the best for crew and
MOB. Dinner ashore for all but
Larry and a quiet night on a mooring finish out a great Caribbean sailing day.
Wed Jan 26: Depart Norman Island after a review of dingy
operations, execution of pre-ops and weather checks and finalizing our course to
Marina Cay, just north of the Beef
Island airport on Tortola. As we
tack up the Sir Francis Drake Channel, Mark, our navigator for the day, tracks
our progress by taking two bearing fixes along the way to verify our DR
position. We arrive at the mooring
field by early afternoon. All go
ashore to explore this small, six acre island owned by Pussers and have one of
their famous pina coladas. After
this short break, we return to the boat and the crew takes their ASA103 and 104
tests. All pass with flying colors
and are rewarded with great spaghetti dinner.
We turn in for a quiet night after finalizing tomorrow’s down wind
Day 7: Thur, Jan 27: A
busy day. Depart Marina Cay by 0815
after pre-ops and weather checks. Over
night, Sevine has developed a severe headache that initially keeps her resting
in her berth but shortly after departure she is up and on deck, ready for the
challenges of steering down wind. We
sail broad reach or wing-on-wing using a preventer to control the main boom down
Sir Francis Drake Channel, thru the Narrows by Thatch Island, around the western
edge of St John to an anchorage off Cruz Bay. Along the way Mark makes some
fresh baked corn bread - so good with a little butter. Here
we dingy ashore to clear back into the US and spend a short time exploring Cruz
Bay. Some visit the VI Park Service
headquarters; others visit the shopping center at Mongoose Junction.
Back to the boat and onward across Pillsbury Sound, thru the Current Cut
by Great St James Island and along the south coast of St Thomas. The hard work by all throughout the course and a special
request from several of the crew for a return to the marina for the night result
in a modification of the cruising plan. We
head up the Eastern Georgie Channel at Charlotte Amalie and into our slip after
being cleared into the marina by late afternoon. Doug does a great job of bringing us in despite the challenge
of having to navigating around two 100 ft+ motor yachts positioned by our slip.
Lines secure and smiles on faces. A
great job by all.
Day 8: Fri Jan 28:
Capt. Steve Runals