2015 DELMARVA Reports
The student crew arrives during the afternoon of September
18th. Based on an updated weather forecast, we finalize our cruising and meal
plans. Dinner at the Waterman’s
Crab House provides an opportunity to continue getting to know each other that
we began the month before in a webinar in which we discussed individual class
goals and sailing backgrounds as well as an overview of the course.
After dinner we review course material, check out individual safety
equipment, go over interior boat systems and assign predeparture duties.
An early bedtime is a welcomed end to the day.
Saturday: Day 1
- Lankford Creek to Swan Creek, Rock
After topping off fuel, water, and pumping out, we head
down the Chester River to our anchorage at Swan Creek. On our way we practice MOB under power; all have a chance at
steering the boat and practice raising and reefing our sails in the light wind
while Lauren tracks our progress by taking two bearing fixes and updating our
arrival time. We arrive at our
anchorage just beyond the mooring field in Swan Creek.
We enjoy dinner and a fine sunset while discussing the day’s events.
The weather forecast calls for a building, veering wind to the north so
we ensure our anchor is properly set and can accommodate the change in
direction. Pete works out our
navigation plan for the next day that takes into account the tide in Swan Creek,
the strong current in the C & D Canal and an arrival time at the Summit
North Marina before dark and before the fuel and pump out dock closes.
These factors lead us to plan for an early departure time. Our
quiet anchorage is a little less so tonight.
It seems Rock Hall is “party city” and we have free admission.
By midnight things quiet down; a light wind makes for a quiet, cool night
and a welcomed rest.
Day 2 - Rock Hall to
Summit North Marina, Chesapeake and Delaware Canal:
We rotate steering the boat and taking fixes to track our
progress northward. Our early
departure time has us initially stemming a weak ebb current which by 0930 begins
to slow and then flood north. Pete
monitors our progress so we arrive at the Old Town Point Wharf at slightly ahead
of his desired time – max flood. As
we proceed into and along the channel, we are able to take advantage of
strengthening flood current allowing us to arrive at Summit North Marina by
1500. The high point of the transit occurs just after passing Welch
Point. We see a large car carrier
approaching from Chesapeake City. Vince,
at the helm, takes us close to the starboard side of the channel as possible to
give it all the room it needs to safely pass. This ship is huge, almost filling
the narrowing channel. Not often a
ship that big passes so close to you.
Showers, an excellent dinner at the Aqua Sol Restaurant and
navigation planning for our long passage down the Delaware Bay and along the
coast to Norfolk close out this long day. Bert
develops a navigation plan to take maximum advantage of the ebb current in the
Delaware River and Bay that should get us to the mouth of the Bay by late
tomorrow afternoon. To take maximum
advantage of the current, we identify 0300 as a departure time from Summit
North. The weather forecast calls
for NE winds of 10-15 knots building to 20 knots so we decide on 0400 as a
better departure time. Greg
develops the navigation plan that will take us south along the DELMARVA coast.
The offshore forecast calls for continued NE winds of 15-20 knots with
gusts to 25 knots. We discuss
options about delaying our departure but the forecast shows no improvement for
the next several days. Broad
reaching in these conditions requires special attention to the sail plan so we
rig a third reef in the mainsail and discuss running under staysail alone if
conditions dictate. We turn
in early all tired but ready for tomorrow’s challenges.
Day 3 - Summit North
Marina to offshore via Delaware River and Bay:
Once the current turns, we find ourselves moving at 8+
knots for several hours. Tracking
our progress by using fixes on lighthouses and other navigation aids is becoming
second nature to all. As
we near the end of the Delaware Bay the current begins to flood and we see
first-hand the effect of current running against the NE 15-20 knot wind.
Once clear of Cape Henlopen on the south side of Delaware Bay, we fall
off to a broad reach surfing on 4-6 foot waves.
As night closes in we are well on our way along the DELMARVA coast under
skies that change from clear and starry to overcast.
It’s great sailing with a deeply reefed main and genoa in fairly steady
NE 15-20 knot winds. The captain
reviews the “Standing and Night Orders” with the crew to ensure that all
know when to call on me if the wind shifts or increases by certain values, a
ship comes within a certain radius, etc.
Day 4 - Offshore
Chesapeake Bay Entrance and Cape Charles Harbor:
Day 4 - Cape Charles
Day 5 – Cape
Charles Harbor to Annapolis? – to Fishing Bay on the Piankatank River:
Tacking north we are able to see the value of the cutter
rig, using the staysail to help balance the helm.
By late afternoon we are at the entrance to the Piankatank River.
Vince guides use around Stove Point Neck and into a very comfortable
anchorage in Fishing Bay that protects us from the still strong NE wind. In the
fading light we clear a jam in the anchor line, find that our genoa furling line
is frayed and must be replaced, prepare dinner and watch a beautiful sunset.
It’s been a long but great sailing day in which we have learned the
value of flexibility in cruising plans and the need for self-sufficiency. Before
dropping off to a well-earned rest, Lauren reviews and modifies Vince’s
navigation plan to account for our change and to minimize crossing the Potomac
River in a counter wind and current situation.
The new plan calls for another early departure.
Day 6/7 – Fishing
Bay on the Piankatank River to Lankford Bay Marina:
As we approach Annapolis it looks like we might even be
able to sail up under the Bay Bridge. Vince
and Greg on watch work their way as far as possible up into the wind to give the
best options to pass under the bridge. Just
short of our target, a north bound car carrier calls and indicates he needs
maximum room at the bridge. We fall
off, even heaving-to to allow him to safely transit the bridge but we now have
to motor sail to clear the bridge. Once
safely clear of the bridge we conduct our man overboard drills.
In the early morning darkness all see how difficult it is to recover a
MOB at night. The ones most
impacted are the off watch that was sound asleep and were called on deck for the
drill. The importance of
staying connected to the boat is understood by all.
The Captain and Bert have the watch.
We tack our way north to a position where we can make the Love Point
Light. It’s challenging
distinguishing lights ashore from those for navigation. After safely making this
key light and the surrounding crab pots, we fall off to a beam reach down the
Chester River till, just east of the entrance to the Kent Narrows, where even
short-tacking makes little progress against a backing NE wind.
Time to raise the crew and prepare to return to Lankford Bay Marina.
Sails are secured, dock lines readied and crew assignments made for
docking at the pumpout, fuel dock and finally our slip.
Vince indicates he would like to pick up a mooring; so after refueling,
we pick up a mooring in Long Cove. Pete
and Lauren, who have a lot of practice picking up moorings during their
chartering, pass along their expertise as Vince easily executes this sometimes
challenging maneuver. Bert brings
us back into our slip. It’s good
to be home. Our ship has taken good care of us so after a welcomed breakfast and
before heading to well-earned showers and some rest and study, we give her deck
a good wash down, clean the inside and store used equipment.
It’s been a great trip. Now
all that is left is the ……“Test.”
Day 8 - The
Fellow mariners, I salute you for a job well done.
Fair Winds to each, always.
Captain Steve Runals