2011 DELMARVA Reports

Course Descriptions
School Yachts
Schedule of Courses
Ocean Training Cruises
ASA Certification
Registration Info
Our Location
Our People
Contact Us

Course Advanced Coastal Cruising; DELMARVA Circumnavigation
Date July 24 to July 31, 2011
Students: Russ and Betsy Armstrong, Jacques Dessailly, Scott Hanson              
Mate: Gary Hutson
Captain: Steve Runals

Sat July 23 24, 2011- Pre-departure Preparation
Scott and I arrive the day before to begin final boat prep.  Among other things we recover the dingy from the storage rack and the spinnaker and storm tri-sail from the dock box.  CELESTIAL is now ready for her crew and new adventures. By 1700 my student crew has arrived.  After introductions and initial boat orientation, we head out for dinner at the Bay Wolf restaurant – one of the few in town that have not closed because of the heat-  where we discuss cruise requirements, get to know each other and begin the planning process.  After dinner we return to the boat and continue our initial planning which results in a general cruise and associated menu plan.  We decide tomorrow’s work will begin with an early outside orientation to avoid the record breaking heat. 

Day 1: Sun
Following breakfast on board, we begin our boat and system orientation outside.  We check out all rigging, rig the storm trisail, rig and hoist the spinnaker, cover sheet and line handling and winch operation.  As an added bonus, Scott goes up the mast in a bosun’s chair to check all fittings.  By 1000 we are able to return to the A/C below where we finalize the provisioning plan.  Betsy and I head off to provision while Scott, Russ and Jacques check out boat systems and locate all required safety equipment.  Following lunch and stowing of provisions, we review the Offshore Training Prep Guide, discuss safety issues, coastal navigation procedures and begin planning our trip north.  Dinner provides a welcome break and opportunity to continue to get to know each other.  Following dinner, it’s back to cruise planning and an early bedtime after a long but satisfying day.

wpe1C.jpg (18257 bytes)

p7240090.jpg (51671 bytes)

wpe1E.jpg (19018 bytes)

Click thumbnails for larger image

Day 2: Mon
Tide and current calculations in the Bay and C&D Canal, a factor in our navigation planning, call for departure at 0700. Gary, one of the school’s experienced captains, arrives before departure filling out the crew.  After an early breakfast, we are nearly ready, except for a quick review of undocking maneuvers.  As we disconnect the shore power cords, we find both have shorted out - blackened ends - not good and making them unusable.  Russ takes us out of the slip and into the Bay where we find light wind. We rotate crew positions and practice taking two bearing and running fixes to confirm our position as we motor sail up the Bay.  We also execute MOB under power giving all hands an opportunity to get familiar with maneuvering this large vessel. Along the way we make arrangements to get required repair parts for the shore power system.  The West Marine crew at Bear, DL does a great job of getting and delivering the parts to our overnight stop at North Summit Marina in the C&D Canal.  We get some relief from the extreme heat with a light rain as we enter the canal, moving along with the current at 7.5 to 8 knots.  After arriving at the marina, we repair the shore power connections, retreat into the A/C and enjoy a great meal prepared by Betsy and Jacques, complete with strawberry shortcake, before working on our navigation plan for the Delaware Bay. 

Day 3: Tues
Another early day. Per tide calculations, we cast off at 0600 with a 2 knot current pushing us toward the canal exit at Reedy Point. While this timing means fighting an opposing flood current for nearly three hours once in the Delaware River, it also means that we will be riding a favorable ebb current for about six hours down the Bay, expecting to arrive at the mouth of the Delaware Bay at near slack tide.  In route to Reedy Point, Russ makes a truly great omelet while Scott, our navigator for today, tracks our progress.  Once in the Delaware River we again find light winds and a flood tide that initially slows our progress, but once it begins to ebb, we “fly” down the Bay at 8 knots.  Underway, we discuss a range of ASA106 topics, review watch standing and navigation rules including lights on vessels at night and the captain’s standing orders as we keep track of our progress and monitor the ship traffic moving around us.  By early evening we have entered the Atlantic Ocean and have enough wind to sail for about two hours.  Having the motor off and under sail is a very welcome change but does make preparing dinner just a little more complicated.  The cooler water also lowers the outside temperature as we prepare the boat and ourselves for our overnight passage. With nightfall, the stars fill the sky and we begin our two man watches. 

wpe20.jpg (23884 bytes)

!cid_16DDFC5F-B0F4-48B5-A102-E43085D85BE9@westell.jpg (104848 bytes)

wpe22.jpg (27332 bytes)

Click thumbnails for larger image

Day 4: Wed
To give everyone the experience of standing watch in complete darkness, Betsy and I take the first watch from 2030 to 2330, Russ and Scott from 2030 to 0230 and Gary and Jacques from 0230 to 0530. Our offshore motorsail south is uneventful, a few boats and a passing rain shower break up the hot, windless passage.  Betsy and I take over to see a nice sunrise and clear skies.  Later in the morning the wind picks up to the point we can fly the spinnaker for a short time before it dies away.  We conduct another MOB drill, quickly recovering our unsteady dummy.  We have some excitement when we see several large sea turtles.  By late afternoon the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay emerges from the haze and we consult our tidal current tables to find we will be able to take advantage of a strong flood tide.  Jacques, our navigator, adjusts our course to take advantage of this extra lift.  He has to work to keep up with our progress as we approach and pass underneath the twin bridges at the North Channel doing 8.4 knots.  We enter the Bay and are immediately greeted by several pods of playful dolphins and navy helicopters but …. no wind.  After a quick tour of the concert ships at Kiptopeke State Park and a great spaghetti dinner, we head into Cape Charles with its new town harbor docks and the promise of A/C. Scott brings us into the T-head at one of the new floating docks where we are securely tied up before dark.  After showers and a celebratory drink, we all fall into a well earned night’s sleep.  

wpe24.jpg (24908 bytes) wpe26.jpg (25805 bytes) wpe28.jpg (21953 bytes)
Click thumbnails for larger image

Day 5-6: Thurs/Fri
Today, we sleep in, have breakfast at the Coffee House restaurant, stretch our legs doing a little sight seeing, clean the boat and prepare for the next leg toward home.  The forecast is for more light wind and hot temperatures so we decide to make another night passage up the Bay to St Michaels where we can again take advantage of shore power and A/C.  Shortly after 1300 we depart the dock and find enough wind to actually sail.  Once clear of the harbor entrance, we practice tacking and gybing through all points of sail.  It is the first real chance we have had to see the real power of CELESTIAL under canvas.  Later, in winds too high to fly the spinnaker, we sail wing-and-wing with the genoa poled out up the Bay.  We have the opportunity to track and contact several large ships as we sail parallel to the main shipping channel.  As night approaches, the wind is now dead astern so we furl the main and sail north doing 5+ knots under headsail alone.  It is a rolly night with the winds rising and finally dropping away.  Each watch gets the opportunity to track passing ships by monitoring their lights, AIS images and radar return.  After midnight we begin motor sailing to keep up a four knot boat speed, continuing to keep a close watch on passing ships.  Betsy and I come on deck to see a beautiful sun rising out of the Choptank River but also another windless, very hot day.  We round a restored Poplar Island, head up Eastern Bay, around Tilghman Point and down to St Michaels.  Before heading into our slip, we practice anchoring to reinforce the process and confirm that a muddy bottom is still the Chesapeake Bay norm.  Russ brings us into our slip and by early afternoon we have lines secured, A/C operating and the boat cleaned up inside and washed down outside.  The very hot afternoon is spent in taking showers, exploring the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, catching up on sleep and studying.  Dinner ashore at the Crab Claw and an early bedtime close out this very full day.       

wpe2A.jpg (19336 bytes)

Click thumbnails for larger image wpe2C.jpg (20278 bytes)

Day 7: Sat
Another early departure.  Our original plan was to spend the night on a mooring in Annapolis but the forecast lack of wind and high temperatures dictate a change of plans.  Betsy gets us out of our slip and underway to Annapolis where we will practice picking up a mooring, dock at the Yacht Basin to refuel and pump out then head on to Rock Hall and Osprey Pt Marina. Once in the Mills River, the Capt prepares a pancake breakfast as we head north in a building wind.  We secure the engine and beat toward Tilghman Point, reef and unreef our main sail and practice MOB under sail as we round the point and head toward the Bay.  Once past Bloody Point, the wind again drops away and we motor sail past the Thomas Point Light and into a sail-filled Annapolis Harbor.  Betsy gets us onto an open mooring (surprised at the number of open moorings but the heat has kept many away) and then smoothly to the fuel dock.  Topped off and pumped out, we head back out into the promise of a building wind as we work our way thru the anchored boats and always impressive array of power and sail boats enjoying a very warm Saturday afternoon. We are able to sail for a short time until the light wind veers to the north and on our nose as we pass under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.  Once clear of the bridge, Jacques pleads for another opportunity to sail even if only in a few knots of winds. We enjoy the quiet of a short, engineless sail for an hour and then motor sail back to Swan Creek and our slip.  Jacques maneuvers us back into our slip where we quickly secure the boat, connect to shore power, clean up, take showers and head off for a celebratory dinner at Bay Wolf.  Unfortunately Gary has to leave us to head to another sailing adventure, but we enjoy our dinner and drink a toast to him and his help.  Sleep comes easily after a great dinner and knowledge that we have almost finished the trip – two more tasks await – complete cleaning the boat and for Russ and Scott, the ASA106 test.   

Day 8: Sun 
Our final day starts with a focused effort to complete boat cleanup.  Once complete, Russ and Scott take the ASA106 test.  By noon all is complete and we say our farewells.  It’s been a great trip despite the heat and light wind.  All agree they learned more than expected and set their appetite for more – maybe even a trip to the Caribbean with CELESTIAL in the winter.  Hearty farewells bring this cruise to a close for a great crew of accomplished mariners.  Great job by all! 

Captain Steve Runals
On board CELESTIAL, Aug 1, 2011
Osprey Point Marina, Rock Hall, MD

to Ocean Reports

Return to Home


© Copyright The Maryland School of Sailing & Seamanship, Inc., All rights reserved.
Web site design by F. Hayden Designs, Inc.