2017 Chesapeake Bay Cruise
Schedule of Courses
Ocean Training Cruises
Our 104 class officially started on Friday, July 14th. We went over the boat and provisioned for our five day, four night trip at the local grocery store. However, by the time we got back to the boat and stowed all of the goodies, the predicted squall line that was supposed to hit during the night was fast approaching. Deciding that it was much better to be in port, wishing we were out to sea, than the opposite, we chose to stay in our slip at Lankford Bay Marina that evening and instead concentrated on an in-depth discussion of our navigation plan for the next day.
On Saturday morning, the day started early as, by 0700, we were up, ready to go and underway out of the marina. While the winds were still fairly light, they were coming from the north, so as we passed the Green Can 7 into Langford Creek, we set all sails, with the main prevented-out to port to put us on a starboard tack and headed south. As we monitored channel 16 on the VHF radio, we heard multiple securite calls for an open-water swim and log canoe races on the Chester River, so we kept a sharp eye out for participants in either event. While we never saw anyone in the water, we did pass and talk to Navigator, our big sister ship, as she came back in from a week long 106 class. We also watched as Acadame, our twin sister ship, came up behind us on her way out for a parallel 104 class. Near Kent Narrows, we bid goodbye to Acadame and headed up toward Love Point, at the mouth of the Chester
Over the radio came a call that a water spout had been sighted in the area, but we really didn't need that information. We could clearly see the water spout forming directly ahead of our path, on the other side of Kent Island. We furled our headsail, turned on the motor and diverted quickly north as the fast moving storm cell drove down upon us and then headed off to the south, toward Acadame's path. Fortunately, the cell was so compact that we succeeded in passing to the north of it, while Acadame stayed south of the same storm. We actually enjoyed the refreshing rain storm as it blanketed us and were happy that our navigation plot provided us with a good feeling as first Kent Island, then the mainland disappeared in the driving rain.
Soon, we popped out on the other end of the shower and were able to establish our location, reset our sails, turn off the diesel and continue our trip to Annapolis. As we came to the Annapolis Bay Bridge, the wind had died to the point that we could no longer maintain steerageway and the rolling from the many passing powerboats left us with no choice. In came the headsail again, on came the diesel and we continued motor-sailing toward our destination. Little did we know at that point that that would be the last wind - outside of a few storm-driven gusts - that we would see on our trip.
After passing through a regatta of small boats near the mouth of the Severn River, we were able to get to the mooring field at the Annapolis harbor and succeeded in catching one of the few remaining mooring balls. After contacting the harbormaster and paying for our ball by telephone, the crew spruced up and called for the water taxi. We ran in to enjoy the pleasures of a new port after the hard-won battle of a trip through stormy seas - well, at least that's the way it felt to us.
With a new navigation plan, we left Annapolis in the early morning and headed south toward Bloody Point Bar and the Eastern Bay. We had to adjust our plan at one point, as someone had anchored a huge cargo ship directly in the path that John had plotted (how rude!). However, using two bearing fixes on the Thomas Point Light and the Bloody Point Bar Light, we were soon back on course. Turning into the Eastern Bay and setting course for Tilghman Point found us well north of the path being taken by dozens of power and sail boats heading out from the Miles River after a hearty Saturday night spent partying in Saint Michael's. We even passed Acadame at some point as she traveled the reverse of our course, but we never were able to pick her out of the crowd.
Early afternoon found us docked at the Saint Michael's Marina, in a slip that would have made a seasoned pro question its size and position. But Matt, with a little coaching, was able to drop us stern-in, port side to. We just considered it the first lesson of his upcoming docking class! Long showers and a quick trip into town preceded a leisurely dinner and discussion at the marina's steak house where both the steaks and the company were done to perfection. After a discussion of "cruiser midnight" - up with the sun in the morning, down with the sun at night - we spent a comfortable night in port as the boat's air conditioning did its best to keep up with the heat.
Out again in the morning with a fresh navigation plan, we headed north from the Miles River and into Prospect Bay. As we approached the Kent Narrows Bridge, we got an indication - a whiff, you might say - that our holding tank was full. The crew made a quick decision that lunch ashore was needed and we pulled into the free dock at Harris' Crab House for seafood and potty calls. Underway again, Captain Frank changed the immediate destination from an anchorage in the Chester River to a brief stop at the Lankford Bay Marina pump out station. While at the pump out, we watched as thunderheads built up to our north, south, east and, unfortunately, west. A check of on-line weather RADAR indicated that pop up thunderstorms were occurring all around us and would continue to persist for a few hours. A cockpit conference came to the conclusion that, while anchoring out would be more interesting, staying put in the marina would be safer. We shifted our location to a T-head in the marina and spent the evening reviewing material for the upcoming test, while enjoying a boat-cooked pasta dinner.
When the storms had passed the next morning, we headed back out into the Chester River and toward Caccaway Island, where we practiced Bahamanian mooring and discussed the various methods of using two anchors to deal with predicted wind and current shifts. Then, it was back out to the main Chester River for hours of rescuing the Man Overboard. With just two students, everything became more intense and then the Captain ratcheted up the excitement by having each crew member do a "single-handed" recovery, excellent practice for cruising couples. After the practice, we headed back into Lankford Bay Marina to once again pump out the holding tank, take on fuel and tie the boat back in her designated slip, safe and secure.
All in all, while the crew would have much preferred to sail more, the trip was rated a successful cruise. We had arrived at our intended destination, at the expected time, with everyone we had left with!
Captain Frank Mummert