2018 Chesapeake Bay Cruise

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ASA104 Intermediate Coastal Cruising Course


 Sept 28-Oct 2, 2018




Dianne Atkinson, Eric Duncan, Rebecca McCollom


Frank Mummert

Once again, the fall has proven to be the best time to do a 104 class.  Acadame and her intrepid crew had glorious weather for the entire class, with sailing every day.  There was, of course, not enough sailing, but then again, there never really is.

After spending a day in-port, getting prepped for the trip, developing a navigation process and reviewing casualty procedures, Acadame slipped out of Lankford Bay Marina early on Saturday morning and headed out for Annapolis.  Although the wind was steadily out of the north, it was only blowing about five knots, not really enough to sail downwind.  We motored along, while Skipper of the Day Becky kept the crew focused, under the watchful eye of Captain Frank.  Turning west at Queenstown, Becky and the crew raised the main and genoa, only to find that the wind was still not sufficient to sail.  At times, we found the boat drifting with the current.  On the other hand, the day was cool and comfortable and the sun bright, the sky clear.  We busied ourselves with calculations and cautions regarding all of the fishing boats out on this beautiful morning.  

As we made the turn around Love Point, we motored out into the Chesapeake Bay and marveled at all the sailboats with their sails up.  Unfortunately, every time we got close, we discovered that, like us, they had sails up, but a distinctive water flow near the transom.  It seemed that everyone wanted to sail, but we were all motor-sailing to our destinations.  Passing under the bridge, we passed the one large sailboat that was not motoring - one of the racing sailboats from the US Naval Academy.  As we got closer to Annapolis, we found more and more small sailboats engaged in regatta training.  While we ducked and weaved around these little boats, we enjoyed the fun they were having.  

Finding the Middle Ground mooring field at Annapolis full (the boat show is coming up next weekend and there are a lot of boats pre-staging), we passed through the Spa Creek Bascule Bridge and found a mooring at the Spa Creek anchorage.  After taking a water taxi in to see the sights, we returned to the boat and had a hearty pasta dinner, watching from the cockpit as the sun dipped behind the town.

Morning found Skipper Dianne on watch, leading us out of Spa Creek in the pre-dawn gray.  As the sun peeked over the Eastern Shore, we traveled down the Severn River towards the 1AH light, where we set our mainsail with preventer and then rigged the whisker pole for a downwind run past the Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse.  As we turned toward Bloody Point Bar Light, the wind shifted toward our port bow and started to weaken, so we de-rigged the whisker pole and continued on with a beam reach.  Unfortunately, by the time we had reached the Eastern Bay, the wind had dropped to nothing and we were once again forced to start the iron genny.  Furling the sails, we took a course that would take us far from the construction at the north end of Poplar Island, which we had read about in the Local Notice to Mariners during our navigation preparations.

Once we came into the Eastern Bay, things started going badly for the crew of Acadame (well, not really).  First, there was a simulated grounding, followed by a simulated loss of the engine and topped off by a simulated fire.  During all of these (thankfully, simulated) casualties, Dianne was able to direct her crew in figuring out the problem and still keeping control of the boat, the mark of a good captain.  All the while these drills were going on, Acadame was bouncing through the traffic leaving the Miles River and heading back to Annapolis.  It seemed at times that we were the only boat headed east.  

Turning into the Miles River, we contacted the Saint Michaels Marina and arranged for a pump out and a slip assignment.  Saint Michaels always offers a bow-in slip assignment, but students from Maryland School have far too much pride in their boat handling skills to take that.  Slipping Acadame around in a very restricted area, Dianne, Eric and Becky dropped her in, stern to, just next to the busy restaurant row.  After showers and a discussion of the tides and currents at the Kent Island Narrows Bridge for the next day's transit, the crew headed over to the nearby restaurant for dinner al fresco, followed by ice cream in town and a stroll through the shopping district.

After a hearty breakfast the next day at the Blue Crab, Skipper Eric directed Acadame out of her slip and we were underway for the Corsica River, by way of the Kent Narrows Bascule Bridge.  Arriving at the bridge at 1100, we slipped through with the tide and were soon tip-toeing out of the Kent Island Narrows North Channel.  When we slipped by the Chester River Red 6 buoy, we stopped for a moment to celebrate our circumnavigation of Kent Island, then raised the main and genoa and prepared to sail up the Chester.  Three long gybes brought us to the mouth of the Corsica River and we hardened up the sails for a boisterous up wind reach around Town Point, furling the head sail along the way.  Being a very protected anchorage, our wind dropped to a gentle breeze as we slipped into the bay and we sailed up to our anchorage, dropping a down-river anchor.  We furled the main sail and drifted back, dropping our second anchor up river and then pulling back to the center.  With both anchors set and the boat settled, we did crew overboard recovery training and settled in for a delicious dinner, using up most of the last of our supplies.  Another accurate provisioning effort!

Tuesday morning was a late start - the sun actually came up before us.  We hauled first one, then the other anchor and headed back into the Chester for COB training.  Since all of the crew had been through Maryland School 101 and 103 classes, COB was an effort at buffing up skills and trying new possibilities.  After successfully rescuing our clumsy dummy crew member multiple times, we set the main for a downwind run, with the wind out of the south at ten to fifteen.  A quiet sail back up into Lankford Bay followed, with dousing the sail one last time, cleaning and stowing, the final test and heartfelt good-byes.  It was a highly successful trip, but one that the crew did not want to end.

Captain Frank Mummert
On board S/V ACADAME
Rock Hall, Maryland
October 2, 2018


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