2012 Chesapeake Bay Cruise

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Combined ASA103-104 Intermediate Coastal Cruising 


June 2-9, 2012




Matt Amer, Chris O'Callaghan, Don Wray


Gary Hutson

This was a combined ASA103-104 eight day course, where the first three days were conducted out of our marina doing the complete ASA103 course curricula, and the remaining time was spent on a five day ASA104 intermediate coastal cruise to various ports in Chesapeake Bay. 

The following report was written by Matt Amer, one of the students who generously submitted it for inclusion in our cruise reports file. 


Tuesday June 5th (Rock Hall to St. Michaels)
The crew began preparations for the start of their upcoming cruise by checking boat systems and getting an updated weather forecast for the coming days, all of which were expected to be clear, sunny, and in the mid 70’s but with little in the way of wind. Departing at 09:30 the group motored out of Rock Hall and headed south with Don at the helm, Chris navigating and Matt helping get 2- and 3-bearing fixes while underway. Matt hailed the Kent Island Narrows bridgetender on VHF Channel 13 as ACADAME approached the narrow channel under favorable tide and current conditions Chris projected the night before when plotting the course. After Don navigated the group under the open drawbridge, avoiding any brushes with thin water, Matt prepared sandwiches for the group’s lunch helping to temporarily satisfy his near constant appetite.

The group got their first hand at setting anchor upon arriving in St. Michaels and choosing a spot in the modestly crowded Fogg Cove just right to the town’s well known Maritime Museum. After Matt let out the proper scope and ensured the anchor was firmly set, the group took the dinghy around to the public docks and walked around St. Michaels streets checking out the Maritime Museum and grabbing some pre-dinner ice cream at one of the many local parlors to help cool off on what turned out to be a hot and sunny day. Everyone rendezvoused back at the dinghy before sitting down for dinner at The Crab Claw restaurant where Captain Hutson explained how the best soft-shell crabs are caught. After a great dinner everyone returned to the boat and spent the next few hours studying their ASA104 material while Captain Hutson quizzed everyone with charting exercises and rules of the road questions as Don began plotting tomorrow’s course for Annapolis.  

Wednesday June 6th (St. Michaels to Annapolis) 
The group rose early to check the weather and begin their daily boat systems checks and cooked breakfast. The marine forecast called for a partly cloudy 70 degree day with 5 knot southerly winds so the group motored the entire way to Annapolis after picking up their anchor with Matt at the helm and Don navigating. As Matt brought ACADAME into Annapolis avoiding a field of crab pots, Chris hailed the Spa Creek bridgetender on the radio to check the minutes until the next bridge opening. Being too far out in the harbor to make the next opening in time, Matt motored the boat around the mooring field past the U.S. Naval Academy and down “Ego Ally” navigating past the handful of mega yachts at the city docks.  After the trip down Ego Ally Matt held ACADAME pointed into the wind and away from the expensive yachts to leeward as the group waited for the next bridge opening. With the tide ebbing and coming out through the bridge with another sailboat preparing to head into the harbor Chris observed the proper protocol hailing the other boat on the VHF and arranged for them to pass through the bridge first before Matt motored ACADAME through and down Spa Creek to a prime mooring location set farther back from the bridge. Finding his favorite mooring occupied, Captain Hutson had Matt motor back towards the Spa Creek bridge where Dan and Chris helped secure a mooring.

With ACADAME moored and having radioed the Annapolis Harbormaster to pay our mooring fee for the night, everyone got aboard the dinghy and motored back under the Spa Creek bridge to the head of Ego Alley where they tied up the dinghy at the free landing and made a quick trip to the harbormaster’s office to register and pick up tokens for the shower’s at the harbormaster’s facilities. The group spent a few hours walking around the historic Annapolis streets before sitting down for an “all you can eat” seafood buffet at Buddy’s Crabs & Ribs, which came highly recommended by Don. With their stomachs full the group took the dinghy back to ACADAME passing by a fleet of Farr 400 racing sailboats at the Yacht Basin Company Marina which were making preparations to start one of their regular Wednesday night summer races. Matt spent the evening plotting the next day’s course north to Middle River while Don and Chris studied their ASA104 materials and Chart No. 1.

Thursday June 7th (Annapolis to Baltimore Yacht Club)
Everyone rose early to get a head start on the day’s trip north to Middle River to Captain Hutson’s Baltimore Yacht Club (“BYC”) where he made it known all week that they serve crab cakes finer than anything else found in the Chesapeake Bay region (and perhaps the world.) After some initial trouble with the batteries we got underway with Matt navigating and Chris at the helm for the 25 nautical mile trip north. Don hailed the Spa Creek bridge tender to time our exit from the mooring field and Chris motored ACADAME out of the harbor and under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge as we followed Matt’s course north outside the Craighill commercial shipping channel. Despite heading against the ebbing tide the group made great time by staying in relatively shallower waters where the tide’s current tends to be weaker. After Matt got a few 2- and 3-bearing fixes along the way and calculating the distances between fixes he determined the group’s average speed at a better than expected 6 knots. 

Chris navigated the group through the Hart-Miller Island avoiding the very shallow water on either side keeping ACADAME in the narrow channel. Arriving at the BYC in the early afternoon Chris navigated ACADAME to the pump-out dock and then a temporary slip where the crew tied ACADAME up for the night. After a quick tour of the Yacht Club Matt, Chris, and Don took a leisurely stroll around the docks eyeing the 100+ sail and power boats before returning to ACADAME for a few hours of 104 studying and allowing everyone to grab a quick refreshing shower before dinner. At the club’s restaurant the group had dinner with Captain Hutson’s family for what proved to be the greatest crab cakes Matt and Don had ever had tasted (and ever will).

Friday June 8th (Baltimore Yacht Club to Swan Creek)
Everyone woke up early to take advantage of the Yacht Club’s great shower facilities, run through our daily boats systems check, and get an updated weather forecast. After having an ad-hoc serve-yourself breakfast/study session, Captain Hutson let the group fine tune their docking skills in the club’s empty slips practicing backing into slips, docking along-side with wind off the dock, Mediterranean mooring, and using a single spring-line to hold the boat firm against the dock against a gusting wind.

Dan motored ACADAME off the docks shortly after 11:00 following Chris’ course back out of Middle River and past Hart-Miller Island on our way across the upper bay to an anchorage in Swan Creek.  We arrived a couple of hours later in the beautiful, well-protected anchorage among a half dozen other boats in the calm waters outside the Gratitude Marina. Upon identifying a good spot to drop anchor Dan motored ACADAME in a circle keeping an eye on the depth gauge to make sure our single-anchor swing radius would keep us in deep enough water and upon receiving Dan’s go ahead Matt, Dan, and Chris all worked together to drop and securely set the anchor. Chris and Don tok a quick swim to cool off from the 80 degree sunny weather and the group took the opportunity to observe others’ anchoring habits as a few newcomers (power and sailboats) joined the creek.  After a dinghy ride into Gratitude Marina and a healthy walk to nearby restaurant the group spent the few remaining hours reviewing their 104 notes, practicing their knot tying skills, and reviewing the rules of the road.  

Matthew J. Amer
June 10, 2012

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