2011 Chesapeake Bay Cruise

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Combined ASA103-104 Intermediate Coastal Cruising 


September 17-23, 2011




Roy and Mary Richard, Stewart Schroeder


Steve Runals

Sept 16, FriArrivals and Team Building:
Roy and Mary Richard, Stewart Schroeder and Captain Runals all arrive and settle in before dinner.  Dinner at Waterman’s provides an excellent opportunity to get to know each other and discuss the outline of the course.  Weather forecast for the week – cool, wet and light winds.  Back aboard, we review ASA course requirements, conduct a chart orientation and make preparations for our first full day of training before turning in for the night.

Day 1 – Sept 17, Sat: Review of Ship’s Systems, Rules of Road and Boat Handling:
After breakfast, we start the day with a review of the federal safe boating requirements, “rules of the road” and lights/buoys systems.  The crew then spends time giving the boat a thorough inspection and getting acquainted with the ship’s operating systems and proper safety procedures. After lunch, we review the key points of maneuvering under power and spend the rest of the day practicing docking and sailing all points of sail, tacking and jibing and heaving-to.  Tacking back up Langford Creek we have the opportunity to experience a common Chesapeake Bay experience – running aground. After recovering, we return to the dock and spend some time practicing knots before Roy takes and passes the ASA101 test. We review the day’s experiences over dinner at the Bay Wolf restaurant followed by an evening of study.

Day 2 – Sept 18, Sun: Refining Sailing Skills:
The day dawns with a beautiful cool end of summer sky but forecast light winds.  After reviewing marine weather and conducting pre-operation checks, we depart the slip and practice maneuvering under power, conduct MOB drills under power and sail, all basic sailing maneuvers to include reefing and heaving to in the Chester River in 5- 10 knot winds. We experience a problem with the starter that is quickly overcome and gain some experience in the importance of being able to accurately read charts by making a quick trip in and out of Grays Inn Creek.   Once back at the dock, we review the day’s events, practice some knot tying and finalize our provisioning plan before heading up for welcomed showers.  After dinner ashore at Ford’s, we head to the store for provisions.  The rest of the evening is spent in laying out our course for tomorrow - down and cross the Bay - and reviewing course material. 

Day 3 – Sept 19, Mon: Cruise Begins - off to the Magothy River:
We start the day with getting the ignition switch fixed and making a quick trip into West Marine for some additional foul weather gear.  The updated forecast for the week calls for slowly warming temperaturs but rain every day. Mary, Captain for the day, oversees our topping off water, pumping out the holding tank and stowing the dingy on the foredeck before we depart the marina.  Roy, as navigator, tracks our progress as we head down the Chester River.  Stewart assists him in taking two-bearing fixes and carefully recording the passing of waypoints and buoys along the way.  The wind is light so we motor sail down the Chester River, around Love Point, across the Bay and into the Magothy River.  

Along the way see and avoid a surprising amount of floating debris washed down by the recent heavy rains.  This becomes even more pronounced as the week progresses. The wind picks up for a short time and we are able to head toward our anchorage behind Gibson Island under sail.  Along the way we pass the topsail schooner SULTANA from Chestertown motor sailing – a surreal sight with all sails up.  We share our quiet anchorage with four other boats.  Before dinner the crew takes and passes the ASA103 test.  We enjoy a cool evening and a great jambalaya dinner prepared by Stewart before planning our course for the next day and turning in for a well earned rest.  

Day 4 – Sept 20, Tues:  Rain, Crab Pots and the Rhode River:
The day dawns overcast with a continued forecast of rain with possible thunderstorms.  Roy, Captain for the day, supervises our final preparations for departure while Stewart finalizes our navigation plan to get us to an anchorage on the Rhode River.  We recover and secure the anchor in light rain.  Once in the Bay, we enjoy a short period of sailing until the wind drops to the point that to make headway against a weak, but very noticeable flood current, we motor sail under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.  Along the way we have our first encounter with large container ships.  

Rain comes and goes, threatening to become heavy.  As we pass the entrance to Annapolis Harbor, we discuss the option of picking up a mooring in Annapolis but clearing skies provide the grounds for optimism so we continue south – sailing and then motor sailing into the West River.  Careful navigation is required to avoid numerous crab pots as we make our way into the Rhode River under still very overcast skies.   Once anchored between Big and Flat Islands, we launch the dingy and motor over to the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (S.E.R.C.), a great resource and interesting place for a shoreside visit.  Back on the boat, Mary starts the planning process to get us to St Michaels and we enjoy a great spaghetti dinner under now clearing skies.  Forecast for tomorrow – light winds and …. rain.

Day 5 – Sept 21, Wed: St Michaels:
Crew up and moving by 0630.  We finalize our departure preparations in fog and light rain.  Stewart gets us out of the anchorage and into the West River where we again maneuver through a maze of crab pots.  Once into the Bay, we enjoy a nice close reach as we sail toward the Bloody Point Light where the wind again fails us and we motor sail into the Eastern Bay.   A building breeze allows us to have a fine reach up toward Tilghman Point.  Along the way, Mary monitors our progress by accurately plotting our position and keeping our logbook updated.  We also take the opportunity to review ASA104 subject areas.  

As we approach the Tilghman Point, the wind dies away and we motor down the Mills River to the St Michaels Marina.  After pumping out and topping off fuel and water, Stewart gets us easily into our slip.  We take the opportunity for a short visit to the Maritime Museum – a great regional resource, before heading to the showers.  We enjoy a great meal ashore at the new Marco’s Restaurant. Returning to the boat after a quick provisioning stop in town, we spend a quiet evening, relaxing in the cockpit under now clear, starry skies.  It provides a great backdrop for time to learn the game of PIG to sharpen our “navigation skills”.

Day 6 – Sept 22, Thurs:Annapolis Here We Come:
After breakfast aboard, Mary gets us easily out of our slip in light winds and under overcast skies.  Once out in the Mills River and Eastern Bay, we motor sail and sail in light, intermittent winds.  As we approach the Bloody Point Light the winds die away completely and we motor up the Bay toward Annapolis.  Along the way Roy tracks our progress by taking 2 and 3 bearing fixes and running time and speed calculations.  As we approach the Annapolis Harbor, our man overboard dummy decides the crew is looking a little too comfortable and decides to go for a short swim. Not so quickly recovered, the crew goes to great pains to ensure he keeps his footing for the remainder of the trip.  

By early afternoon we secure our mooring – so strange to be there in mid week with little traffic.  The crew takes some time for a quick review of course material before they all take and pass the ASA104 test.  With all academic requirements now complete, we dingy ashore for showers and then dinner at a waterside table at Pusser’s where we enjoy watching the constantly changing activities in the now busy harbor.  Back on the boat the crew enjoys another quiet evening.  Tomorrow’s forecast again calls for rain and light winds but tonight we enjoy a star filled sky.   

Day 7 – Sept 23, Fri: Rain, Fog and … Wind;
We change things up a little and dingy into shore for breakfast at Chick & Ruth’s Delly.  Forecast calls for 100% rain but it holds off till will we make it back to the boat.  After preoperational checks, Roy gets us underway in light winds, rain and fog.  We motor out of the harbor and into the Bay in passing rain showers and very little traffic.  After motor sailing up past the Bay Bridge, the wind picks up and despite the rain showers, at times reducing the visibility to just past the bow of the boat, we have some of the best sailing of the trip.  We are able to sail up to and past the entrance to the Kent Island Narrows, at times slowly but we sail.  As we pass the entrance to Queen’s Town the wind drops but we sail wing-and-wing using a preventer for a short period until the wind falls away to nothing.  NOAA weather radio warns of heavy rain and winds for the night.  

We head into the Corsica River for the night under increasingly overcast skies and find a secure anchorage from both current and forecast winds for the night.  Shortly after setting the anchor and securing the boat, the skies open up with the heaviest rain of the day.  At one point we think we see animals lining up on the shore for us to come and take them aboard.  Despite the rain, we have a great evening in our protected anchorage.  Stewart makes a super meal of steak fajitas with rice and we enjoy the sound of rain on the bimini and cabin top until around 1930 when it drops off to occasional showers.                                                  

Day 8 – Sept 24, Sat: Return to Lankford Bay Marina and Secure:
Up after the “sun” for an easy departure.   Forecast calls for clearing skies but no wind – not even light wind --- no wind.  Stewart makes his promised pancakes with bananas and we prepare for returning home.  Preoperational checks complete, anchor secured and underway for home by 0900.  The forecast proves accurate as we motor into the Chester River and up to Langford Bay Marina.  Stewart gets us into the pump out station, Mary to the fuel dock and Roy back into our slip.  Each maneuver conducted with the teamwork that comes from working closely together over time.  After securing and cleaning up the boat, we hold a final review of the day’s events and our entire trip.  All agree that despite the lack of wind and rainy weather the course exceeded all expectations. We had a great time with a great crew. All head home with appetites wetted for more sailing adventures. 

Captain Steve Runals
aboard IP-32 ACADAME
Lankford Bay Marina
Sept 25, 2011

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