2011 Chesapeake Bay Cruise

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ASA 104 Intermediate Coastal Cruising 


May 7 – 11, 2011




Thomas O’Brien, Lauren Cosgrove, Jennifer & Michael Drueen


Steve Runals

May 6, Fri: Captain arrives mid afternoon and makes final checks on ACADAME for the first 104 course of the season.  By 1830 all students have arrived and stowed their gear.  Peaceful Langford Bay Marina provides a welcome change from the hassle and traffic around DC that each had to travel thru.  Dinner at the Waterman’s provides a good opportunity to get to know each other and begin formulation of our cruising plan.  Back at the boat, we finalize our plan and develop the supporting meal plan before settling in for the night. 

May 7, Sat: All are up early for a full day.  Following breakfast on board, we finalize the cruising and meal plans.  Captain and Lauren then head into town to get provisions while Tom, Michael and Jennifer locate required safety equipment, get to know the boat systems and stow the dingy.  With provisions stowed, we review the 104 ASA course standards, Rules of the Road, bouyage system and safety procedures.  Once complete, we go over all boat operating systems and check all equipment both below and on deck.  After lunch, we review procedures for maneuvering under power before Tom, our Captain for the day, takes us out of the slip.  This sets us up for maneuvering and docking practice that includes picking up a mooring before we depart the marina area for some sailing.  We rotate crew positions as we execute all points of sail to include heaving-to, an essential cruising skill, before we attempt to head into Reed Creek for the night.  

As we approach the entrance to the creek, we find our depth gauge is significantly off and run aground (we go to great lengths to provide training opportunities for the students).   A little maneuvering gets us off the muddy bottom and with updated knowledge of what the reading on the depth gauge really means, we cross the Chester River and carefully enter Grays Inn Creek using the instructions from the cruising guide to find a peaceful and secure anchorage for what for many aboard is their first night at anchor.  Once the boat is secured, Lauren makes a great chicken stir-fry with rice and salad while we break out the operating manual and reset the depth gauge.  Following dinner, we enjoy the sunset, review the day’s activity, and Michael, our navigator to tomorrow, plans out the next day’s trip to St Michaels before we turn in for a well deserved night’s sleep.   

May 8, Sun: Mother’s Day and a day we will remember.  After an easy breakfast we review boat engine systems and conduct our daily pre departure checks before raising the anchor and heading out to the Chester River – light winds are forecast for the day. As we approach the mouth of the creek, we see a small anchored sailboat.  As we start to pass, a man comes on deck and waves to us.  We go over to investigate and find that he and his 11 yr old son have just bought this boat, Wahoo, don’t know how to sail, are headed to Annapolis to link up with his wife and have some work done on the boat; the engine has broken down and they can’t raise anyone on the radio.  It also turns out that he was just released from the hospital, has diabetes and is acting a little strange.  We secure the boat and tow him back to Langford Bay Marina.  Both are very much relived we have helped them get back to land.  

Tom and Lauren are both doctors and after providing some medical attention, we leave the tired crew in the care to the marina staff (not quite what they were expecting for Mother’s Day) and motor sail down to Kent Island where we are just able to make it thru the shoaling entrance to await the bridge at the Narrows.  Tom does a great job of dealing with the strong ebb current and takes us into the Eastern Bay once the bridge lifts.   On the way south, Michael plots our position thru the use of two-bearing fixes which keeps us on track as we head to St Michaels in very light winds.   The crew tries their hands at MOB under power, expertly maneuvering to recover our unsteady training dummy.  

We secure a slip at the St Michaels Marina and stretch our legs ashore by paying a visit to the Maritime Museum and walking around the area. Jennifer is complemented by the marina staff on her docking procedure.  Lots of folks are in town today enjoying the warm weather and taking their Moms out for dinner in this picturesque little town. After showers, a little more provisioning and a chance to do some course work study, we head over to the Crab Claw for a great meal out on their waterside deck.  The topsail schooner SULTANA from Chestertown is tied up at the museum dock, making a great backdrop for dinner. Back at the boat, we settle in for a quiet night as the only boat in the marina. It’s been an interesting day to say the least.

May 9, Mon: After a review of marine weather and pre-ops checks, Lauren finalizes our route north to Annapolis.  Forecast is for N/NE winds 10 -15 for our 25 mile trip to this “Venice of the East coast”.  Michael gets us out of the slip, to the pump out dock and finally on our way out into a freshening wind.  Once clear of the harbor area, we are treated to the sight of SULTANA running before the wind returning to the museum with an eager crew of school children.  We enjoy a nice beat up to Tilghman Point, taking the opportunity to practice reefing, playing the traveler and tracking our process using two-bearing fixes.  Once around the point, we have a fine reach that allows us to shake out the reef, rigging a preventer to minimize the impact of an accidental jibe.  

Tom and Lauren are taking a USCG navigation class so we turn on the radar and get them familiar with the screen and how to track targets.  Once around Bloody Pt and into the Bay, the wind drops to the point we continue north motor sailing.  Along the way we contact a commercial ship on VHF 13 to ensure safe passage.  North of the Thomas Point Lighthouse the wind builds to the point we raise sails and conduct a few MOB drills under sail before it dies away to a light breeze.  

We motor into Annapolis harbor where we find we have a choice of moorings, pick up a mooring in now gusty wind and secure the boat. A good trip well executed by all.  We launch the dingy and head into shore for dinner outside by the water at Pusser’s.  Over dinner we discuss the day’s events and Michael, German by birth, has the opportunity to exercise his language ability with a couple at a nearby table.  Following an excellent dinner, we return to the boat by way of the ice cream shop and settle in for a little study and an introduction to the fascinating game of PIG - Tom proves to be an easy master.

May 10, Tues: The forecast today is for light winds so we take the opportunity to dingy in to take showers and have breakfast at Chick & Ruth Diner – a very unique Annapolis landmark.  Following a very satisfying breakfast including the opportunity to join all in the diner saying the pledge of allegiance (done every morning), we dingy back to the boat, stow gear and finish laying our course to Sillery Bay.  We depart our mooring in a building NE breeze that allows us to sail for a short period and execute some MOB drills before it dies away and we motor sail up under the Bay Bridge, past the Sandy Point Light and into the Magothy River.   Once in the river, we sail wing-and-wing to the entrance of the channel behind Gibson Island and into a very quiet and peaceful anchorage across from a horse farm – quiet until the water skiers arrive (yes the water is still below 70 degrees and they did not have on wet suits).  The students settle in for a little final study between watching the extra entertainment before taking the ASA104 test, which all easily pass.  We spend our remaining time in the now quiet anchorage eating a great pasta dinner, using the dingy to explore the anchorage and enjoying the beautiful sun set before settling in for another peaceful night. 

May 11, Wed: After boat and systems checks, we depart the anchorage shortly after 0630.  Another light wind day makes for long motor sail cross the Bay and up the Chester River.  We again keep track of our position by taking two and three bearing fixes and compare them to GPS coordinates – some very close.  The American Rover, a small Bay cruise ship passes us on the way up to Chestertown – a unique sight.  Michael gets us safely into the pumpout dock where we find a rapidly raising extra high tide coming in.  Jennifer brings us into the fuel dock – a very tricky maneuver that puts us between two other boats and Lauren puts us back in our slip.  Each maneuver demonstrates a renewed confidence in boat handling ability.   Boat clean up is followed by a final course review in which all agree this has been a great trip despite the lack of wind; the course has accomplished or exceeded all expectations, wetting everyones appetite for more.  We also get an update on Wahoo, now in a slip by us.  It seems there is still a chance she will sail again but it may be a while before the crew decides to continue their trip home.  

Captain Steve Runals
aboard IP-32 ACADAME
Lankford Bay Marina
May, 2011

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