2018 Chesapeake Bay Cruise

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ASA104 Intermediate Coastal Cruising Course


 June 3-7, 2018




Mike Magee, Greg Niessen, Curtis Provance


Steve Runals

June 2, Sat
Captain, Curtis and Mike finish an ASA103 class and we begin to prepare ACADAME for the upcoming ASA104 class by securing the dingy to the foredeck and stowing the docking lines we will need at stops that we will probably make along the way.  Greg arrives, stows his gear and we meet to discuss our cruising plan based on the weather.  The forecast for tomorrow is rain with strong, gusty winds from the East.  We decide on a cruising plan and the supporting meal plan before heading out for dinner. Dinner at the Fords provides a good opportunity to get to know each other.  After dinner we provision.  Once back on the boat we review safety procedures and settle in for a quiet night after securing the dingy on the foredeck.  

Sun, Day 1: 3 June:
 All are up early for a full day.  The forecast weather has arrived – rain, very strong, gusty winds reaching 30+ knots.  We spend most of the day reviewing key ASA subjects: course standards, “rules of the road”, buoyage system, coastal navigation, marine weather, boat systems orientation – especially important for Greg who has not been aboard an IP 32 - and monitoring the weather.  Around 1630 the wind begins to drop a little.  During a luff in the still strong winds, we depart the marine for an anchorage just to the north.  It is a very secure area.  

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Despite the gusty winds and occasional heavy rain, we have a very quiet night.  It seems a little surreal seeing the tops the surrounding trees being blown by the winds and the boat sitting quietly at anchor.  Mike plans our route down the Chester River, thru Kent Narrows, down Eastern Bay and on to St Michaels.  Curtis cooks his first meal aboard while the Captain and Greg work thru the tide and tidal current tables to determine the best window to transit Kent Narrows.  All take the time to study the important information the cruising guide provides for timing the bridge opening and navigation through Kent Narrows.  Cruising guides are one of the many important resources that should be used when cruising. The Narrows have begun to shoal so making sure we have the needed depth in the channel is an important planning factor.  Planning complete and boat secure for the night, we have a very pleasant evening despite the still stormy conditions.

After breakfast, pre-operational checks and a review of MOB procedures, we secure the anchor in calmer weather and Greg heads us down the Chester River.  Before hosting sail, we execute several MOB under power drills.  Once all have demonstrated their ability to secure a tipsy crewman, we hoist our sails and take up a broad reaching course south in the greatly reduced but still gusty conditions.  Along the way we practice all points of sail while Mike tracks our progress by taking two-bearing fixes.  We need a reef so we practice putting it in and rigging a preventer to stabilize the boom.  Matching sail combinations to wind and sea conditions is a key aspect of cruising. Once down to the horseshoe bend in Chester River, we have the chance to fine tune our close hauled sailing. We have targeted our arrival time at the Kent Narrows to take advantage of a falling but still high tide and minimal current.  

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We arrive off the entrance to the Narrows a little early so we practice gybing and heaving-to. Greg gets us into position to await the opening of the Kent Island swing bridge at our planned 1130 arrival time and Curtis calls the bridge tender to request an opening.  Many years ago Mike lived on Kent Island and worked at a marina in the Narrows so this was a great opportunity to see the changes in his old stomping grounds. Once past the bridge, we enter Eastern Bay and find we can sail on a broad reach along our course but in slowly dying winds.  Mike and Curtis take several two-bearing fixes to confirm our position.  Off the entrance to St Michael’s, Curtis contacts the marina by radio to confirm our reservation.  Not much activity at the marina and Greg is able to easily get us to the pump out dock and into our slip. After securing the boat, we head over to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum to explore this Bay treasure. Showers and dinner ashore provide a great way to finish out this great day on the water.  Once back aboard, Curtis lays out our course for tomorrow. Distance today: 27 nm; Average speed: 4.5 knots

After a review of the weather and completion of pre-operational checks, Mike gets us out of the marina.  Curtis has plotted our course to an anchorage in Selby Bay off the South River.  Mike and Greg have determined the state of tide and current along the way.  We will have an ebb current taking us north to Tilghman Point but fight a building flood down Eastern Bay and then north across the Bay.  Great sail north to Tilghman Point in winds 10 -15 knots winds gusting to 20 knots in a very much cooler but sunny day.  We again put a reef in and play the traveler experiencing the value each has on reducing the heel of the boat and pressure on the helm.  Once around Tilghman Point, we tack our way down the Bay working around fishing boats that always seem to be directly in our path.  It’s great sailing. We rotate the helm while Curtis keeps track our progress by taking several two-bearing fixes.  

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We round Bloody Point in a dying wind and enter the Bay.  As we approach the entrance to the South River, sailboat traffic and the wind pick up.  The crew becomes proficient in determining “stand on and give way” vessels and we practice heaving too and fore-reaching.  Curtis gets us into the South River, around several shoals and into Selby Bay.  The forecast is now calling for T-storms and a significant wind shift so picking a secure anchorage for both current and forecast weather is important.  Once securely anchored, we review knots, ASA subjects and enjoy the quiet beauty of the area.  Mike prepares dinner while Greg plots our course out around Thomas Point and into the mooring field in Annapolis.  We have a little wind and rain but generally a quiet night on the “hook”.

After pre-operational checks and a check of the weather we depart the anchorage.  The forecast is for light NE winds at 5-10 knots but once in the Bay, find 10-15 knot winds with higher gusts.  A reef in the main and playing the traveler keeps the helm light.  We practice more tacking and jibing along with MOB drills under sail.  Curtis uses the anchored motor vessel HERO as a target for the crew to coordinate their actions to sail around it before we head into the Annapolis mooring field.  Greg gets us to the selected mooring and Mike and Curtis set up our mooring line and secure us to one of the many empty city-maintained moorings.  Once secured, we take advantage of the city pump out boat, have lunch and Mike, Greg and Curtis all take and easily pass the ASA 104 test.  Wednesday night races will begin around 1900 hours so after the test we launch the dingy, head ashore for showers and head over to Pusser’s for a final dinner outside overlooking Ego Alley. 

Back aboard, we watch the finish of the evening races as a constant parade of boats pass close abeam.  It’s a great placed to spend the evening.  Mike plots our course home that will take us under the Bay Bridge, around Love Point and up Chester River.  Curtis and Greg determine the state of the current at the Bridge and at Love Point.  We pass a rolly but quiet night in very little wind. Distance today: 14 nm, Average  Speed: 3.28 knots.

Mike has determined the trip home will be 26 nm.  Using our intended arrival time of 1300 hours as a target, we need an early departure time of between 0530 and 0600 hrs.  The forecast is for light winds and an adverse current up thru the Bay Bridge.  All are ready to go at the appointed time and we exit the mooring area in the early morning light.  We motor sail up under the Bridge, timing our passage to cross the channel to stay clear of a large northbound car carrier headed to Baltimore.  The wind picks up for a short time and we take advantage of the opportunity to do a little sailing.  After rounding Love Point, the wind again dies away.  We motor sail up the Chester River making sure to stay clear of the shallows.  

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As we approach the entrance to Langford Creek, we see a once in a life time experience on the River.  30 sailboats are headed south – no sails set because of the light winds but fanned out across the river all headed to their home ports after spending the night at the marina.   It would have been a truly amazing sight if they had been under sail.  In the light winds, we motor to the pump out and fuel docks and finally into our slip taking turns at the helm to practice docking procedures.  Each maneuver demonstrates a renewed confidence in boat handling ability.   Boat cleanup is followed by a final course review in which all agree this has been a great trip.  Each day provided a good opportunity for sailing, maneuvering under power and practicing navigation skills. All agree the course accomplished or exceeded all expectations, wetting appetites for more. Well done to a great crew!  Distance today: 25.25 nm, Average Speed: 4.37 knots

Captain Steve Runals
On board S/V AcaDame
Rock Hall, Maryland,
June 2018 


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