Sunday, June 4,
2017. Day 1
My student crew has arrived and is eager to learn how to charter their
own boat. We meet briefly in the classroom to get to know one another, learn
about the MD School, and the School’s comprehensive program. We inspect the
boat, and plan our itinerary plus meals. While the crew plots navigation
course legs for today, the captain shops for provisions. Once ready for sea,
we head out into Davis Creek to practice Mediterranean Mooring off a Marina
dock followed by visual and compass steering practice down Lankford Creek.
Near Green Can “3”, we raise sails, tack down the Chester River and make
landfall in Queenstown Creek where, after anchoring on two anchors set 45
degrees off the bow, Fred prepares the first of our three on-board dinners.
After a good breakfast, our superb new engine—already having shown
starting issues yesterday afternoon and prompting us to use prudent battery
management—won’t crank on either #2 or #1 battery. Only after combining
both batteries, do we get a halting but successful engine start up. Ryan,
supervisor of airline mechanics, suspects one or more faulty battery cells. We
resolve to continue sail training all day, including Crew Overboard (COB)
evolutions with and then without engine. Our Plan: finish training, sail into
Swan Creek if we must, and get help there from captain Frank Mummert of the MD
School with whom I have been in contact. After multiple bearing fixes under
sail, reading range lights, and following the students' landfall plan into
Swan Creek, our batteries, although not taking a proper charge, have enough
juice to crank the engine. At 1600 we dock in Haven Harbour Marina, where
captain Frank meets us with new batteries. He needs to replace only the one
showing faulty cells. Lesson learned. Chris then treats us to a terrific curry
chicken dinner on board and all is well.
We review engineering topics, trouble shooting, and steps to avoid
avoidable troubles. Next comes introduction to DR (Deduced Reckoning)
navigation and chart plotting in True North, rather than Magnetic North.
Before departing we buy more ice and pump out again while we have the chance.
The crew lays out a DR track to Annapolis and—under a very brisk NE
breeze—they’re excited to find that their bearing fix efforts show that we
are where we should be. Deep into Annapolis Harbor, we douse sails, hail the
Harbor Master on VHF Channel 17, and tie to mooring #2 from where we take a
water taxi for showers ashore and Caribbean drinks and dinner at Pussers
We begin by pumping out the waste holding tank at Annapolis City Dock.
The day’s DR plotting up Eastern Bay (Chart 12270) includes depth contours
as turning marks, plus time/speed/distance calculations to determine ETA at
certain marks. At the tip of Tilghman Island, we steer SE on a range between
NavAids R “4” Fl R 4s and Red Nun “6”. Chris, who has followed Fred as
skipper, calculates a turning waypoint to Tilghman Creek when Tilghman Point
bears 230 degrees on our hand bearing compass. It works. Neat. Short of the
creek entrance, we lower sails. Fred steers us ably along a narrow channel,
and Chris and Ryan prepare our anchors for a fore-and-aft anchoring practice
inside the creek. Now Ryan, who also loves to cook, astounds us by preparing
an outstanding Sushi dish for all. To be sure, this captain has never had such
an elaborate treat onboard. All are most pleased.
As on previous days, we are up and running by 0630. Ryan, then Fred
are skippers for our trip N to Lankford Bay Marina. We find that
retrieving—as well as setting—a fore-and-aft anchoring scheme is an
exhausting task requiring forethought when planning a trip. Since the crew has
gelled as a team by now, our approach to and through Kent Narrow’s two-leaf
Bascule Bridge in a strong counter current goes flawlessly. With the wind
building to NW 10-12 knots, there is time for two more COB maneuvers under
sail, followed by tacking practice up Chester River. Final Bareboat Chartering
procedures include fueling up, pumping out, hosing down the ship and topping
The crew docks our good ship perfectly in her slip, and
we clean the boat and shake hands in a fond farewell.
Well done, sailors. I’ll see you again on the water.
Captain H. Jochen Hoffmann
On board S/V
Rock Hall, Maryland, June 8, 2017