2018 Chesapeake Bay Cruise
Schedule of Courses
Ocean Training Cruises
It was another great Bareboat Chartering Class. Four students, Hans, Beth, Joe and Jean-Marc sailed along with Captain Frank on an adventurous circumnavigation of Kent Island. As is always the case in a summertime cruising class, there were periods of heat and no wind, periods of great sailing and periods where the threat of bad weather kept everyone alert to the sound and sight of thunderstorms. The crew came through it all with high spirits and flying colors, if not without a few drenched outfits.
On the first day of class, we spent time reviewing safety information, crawling all over the boat to discover what was in all of the nooks and cubbies, provisioned at the local grocery store after a quick lunch in town and then spent the afternoon stowing and stocking. After developing a navigational plan and deciding that the lack of wind and warm temperatures didn't require the boat to leave that evening, we tucked in for the night after another couple of hours discussing sailing lore and strategies.
Dawn came early the next morning and ACADAME departed the slip just after 0800 for some local operations. After the crew spent an hour working on mooring ball pickups in anticipation of our arrival that evening in Annapolis, we took on a load of fuel and headed out for parts unknown. Clearing out of Lankford Creek, we put up the sails and started out for the Chesapeake Bay. Moderate winds out of the south kept us tacking until we cleared Kent Narrows and could turn downwind for a run to the Love Point Light. As we sailed out, we passed NAVIGATOR, ACADAME's big sister headed back from a week long DELMARVA circumnavigation cruise. There was much discussion of the merits of that class.
Turning around Love Point, the wind picked up considerably and the run across the bay and down to the Bay Bridge became a romp, with the winds and currents around the bridge calling for some skillful boat handling. The crew, of course, was well up to the challenge. After passing the bridge, the sails were once again trimmed for upwind work and we passed through the dozens of power and sailboats in and around the Annapolis area. We snuck into the Annapolis Mooring Field at about 1800 and put our mooring ball skills to good use, finding one of the only unoccupied balls close to the Naval Academy. A quick clean up and the crew was aboard a water taxi, headed into town for a well deserved dinner at one of the fine local restaurants.
As the morning sun peeked through the clouds the next day, the forecast did not look good. Winds were negligible, dropping to none. Surely, that is wrong, cried the crew, but the weather guessers had the last word. It was a motoring day from Annapolis to Saint Michael's, interrupted only by big ship traffic while crossing the Chesapeake and a series of disaster drills while transiting up the Eastern Bay. Poor ACADAME suffered first a fire, then flooding and finally an engine failure - all simulated for training, thank goodness. By the time we had moored in a slip at Saint Michaels, the crew felt they deserved hot showers and cold beverages. Although this was a "free night," they crew decided to stick together and explore the historic Saint Michaels downtown area.
The wind forecast for the next day was much better, but the day itself was not promising. We started out of Saint Michaels, bound for the Kent Island Narrows, with almost no wind again. After getting halfway up to the Prospect Bay area, we found we were ahead of schedule, so we stopped to perform some crew overboard recovery training. While nobody actually left the boat, the lessons learned sparked a lot of lively discussion.
We were underway again for the Kent Island Narrows, trying to time our arrival for the last of the ebb current and a rising tide. With the help of a few minutes aground - quickly handled by the crew - we were able to arrive right on schedule for a 1530 opening and were soon back in the Chester River, crossing our outgoing path. The wind by this point had come up to 10 to 15 knots, still from the south, so the sails were set and up the river we went, enjoying one of the most perfect downwind sails any of the crew could remember. We ended the afternoon by coming into the Corsica River and anchoring for the night on a Bahamian moor for training, setting out two anchors off the bow to keep us firmly in place. Dinner was pasta and discussions in the cockpit, along with a review of lessons learned. The pasta, by the way, had been cooked by Beth while we were still underway, so no time was lost in feeding our hungry crew.
The last day of the class was bright, with solid 10 to 15 knot winds out of the southwest. We departed the Corsica River and sailed down into the Chester, where we conducted crew overboard training. Over and over, "people" fell off and the crew snapped the boat around trying to perform rescues in record times. The wind made the sailing just challenging enough to be interesting, without being dangerous. After all the crew had a chance to practice their recovery skills, Captain Frank demonstrated how to do the maneuver singlehandedly. All were impressed by how much practice can improve technique - a lesson well learned.
We returned to Langford Bay Marina to finish up the class, confident in skills learned and ready to take on the next challenges.