2019 Chesapeake Bay Cruise

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ASA104 Intermediate Coastal Cruising Course


June 19-23, 2019




Erika McEntarfer and Iwona Awlasewicz


George W. “Nordie” Norwood

Day One (June 19, 2019).  As both Erika and Iwona had just been certified in ASA103 (completed yesterday--June 18 on Acadame) with Maryland School, so Academe was already an old home to them.  They just stayed aboard to begin their 104 adventure.  We met in the MDS classroom at 0845.  After reviewing general navigation plan and safety procedures we made a provisioning run into Rock Hall.  We ate lunch first just to make sure we weren’t shopping on an empty stomach.  Erika and Iwona did a great job—coming in under their provisioning allowance.  Well done.  After putting everything away, we departed our slip for a local sail and a chance to work together as a 3-person crew as opposed to the 5-person crew they had for 103.  Departing the slip, maneuvering and docking all went well.  We also did two speed calibration runs (both directions between G3 and G1) and determined that 2000 RPM will give us about 4 knots through the water.  That of course means we’ll be around 3.5 knots against a nominal current and maybe 4.5 knots with a current. We’ll keep track tomorrow and see how it turns out. Bottomline--the crew is ready for the journey.  After return to our slip we did weather checks and navigation preparation—then we bedded down after dinner with Iwona in V Berth, Erika in main cabin and Captain Nordie in Quarter Berth. We are planning for a very early departure to Annapolis—hopefully as early as 0630.  We want to get in before the Small Craft Advisory (SCA) forecast (winds greater than 20 knots and thunder storms in area) goes into effect for Annapolis around 1500 local.

Day Two (June 20, 2019). Up early as planned, we were underway by 0620.  Unfortunately, the wind refused to cooperate—nice breeze but directly on our face headed down the river.  We motored from Lankford Bay Marina to abeam Kent Island with a steady 10 knots of SSW winds.  We then motor sailed around Love Point and down under the Annapolis Bay Bridge.  Approaching Annapolis, we dropped the main sail and motored in.  Upon entering Annapolis Harbor, we were greeted with a few gusts and a 5-minute rain shower—but bad weather is still a couple of hours away.  We had clear “motoring ’as we wove our way through dozens of speed demons (all little kids) in their small sailing dinghies having a grand time.  A sight to behold.  We then passed through the Spa Creek Bascule Bridge at 1330 opening and moored up on Ball 51.  Erika and Iwona took a water taxi into Annapolis City Dock.  They wandered the streets for a while and I joined them later.   After walking around as a crew—and enjoying dinner and an ice cream treat--we returned to Academe, just in time for a squall line to blow through.  As we watched the action of the wind and waves, we knew we were safe and secure with two dock lines holding us to the mooring ball.  After the rain passed it was still very hot so we opened up some hatches and Erika chose to sleep in the cockpit.  Another rain shower around 0130 quickly set all three of us to closing hatches and Erika moving back to the main cabin.  Everybody quickly went back to sleep in anticipation of another O-Dark Thirty get up for a weather check and early departure.

Total Miles for Day Two = 32 NM. Total hours underway = 7.5. Average Speed for the Day = 4.3 Kts 

Day Three (June 21, 2019). Up early (0530) for coffee and multiple weather checks.  SCA still in effect for Chesapeake Bay and Eastern Bay.  After comparing various weather forecasts, we knew we would be getting banged around by 20-25 knots gusting to 30 out of the North and with possible 3-4 ft seas.  Erika and Iwona are ready, able, and capable for the job so we decided to motor sail with double reefed main and furled head sail.  We started engine at 0715, dropped off the ball at 0725 and cleared the Spa Creek Bridge at 0730 with Iwona at the helm.  Crew did good job of getting us out to Red 4 at Annapolis Harbor entrance—and the rodeo began.  Crew did a great job of handling forecast winds (Yes, the winds were there).  We motor sailed with double reefed main and engine at approximately 1500 RPM averaging some 5.5 to 6.0 knots across the Bay.  When we turned up into Eastern Bay, our North winds colliding with an incoming current gave a much slower (often less than 2.5 Kts) and “lumpier” ride.  Again, crew handled all aspects of high wind sailing with excellent navigation underway, very controlled jibing (PST-TSP rounding Rich Neck), with each getting a chance to rig preventer line by going forward (sometimes on hands and knees) while using harness, tether and jackline.  All in all, a great training opportunity to use ranges and contours to safely negotiate the Wye River.  We dropped the main before entering St Michaels and motored to our slip (#37) near the restaurant.  A windy but beautiful sunshiny day.  We decided to dock “bow in” as our neighbor boats extended too far out from the finger dock for us to use the pilings for warping in “stern first”.  Erika did an excellent job of bringing us in with 12 G 15 Kt winds from our quarter.  We enjoyed a nice lunch (and crew debrief) at the restaurant that was only 20 feet from our bow.   Erika and Iwona then took a walk around St Michaels before our 1830 pasta dinner aboard Acadame.  Then more Nav planning—in particular looking at high tide tomorrow for Kent Narrows (0923) versus the distance from St Michaels to Kent Narrow (some 15 nm).  As it would take another incredibly early getup to make that high tide window, we realized we had to modify our plan for the last two days of the trip.  Instead of going through Kent Narrows on Saturday for an anchorage in Corsica River and return to LC on Sunday we decided to anchor Saturday night near Rich Neck (placing us close to Kent Narrows), then go through Kent Narrows on Sunday morning (high tide at 1005) and travel up the Chester River to LC and “home” on Sunday.  With our plan “sketched out”, we turned in at 2200 for a well-deserved night of sleep after a couple of very early get up mornings.

Total Miles for Day Three = 30 NM. Total hours underway = 6.5.  Average Speed for the Day = 4.6 Kts (Thanks to that quick “wind assisted” crossing of the Bay)

Day Four (June 22, 2019).  Up early (at 0615) we set about with coffee, breakfast (Erika knocked out great egg sandwiches), and academic review.  Both Iwona and Erika were super prepared, so we decided to take the 104 exam that morning because we did not need to clear the slip until 1200 and it was a short run to Rich Neck.  The weather was beautiful—but still a little windy.  They both completed the exam with high 90 scores.  Well done.  We prepared to get underway at 1200—with Iwona at helm and Erika handling the lines.  A starboard quartering tail wind had our port side pinned against the finger dock but Erika used the port bow line to turn bow in enough to counter prop walk to port and align our stern directly into the wind which was perfect for slowly backing out of the slip.  Erika then moved the line from piling to piling as she worked the bow out of the slip as Iwona kept the boat under control in slow reverse as we steadily inched out of the slip.  Meanwhile, there was a large group of folks gathered on the big cruiser to our starboard who were watching the entire evolution.  As Iwona continued her steady and controlled backing by keeping the stern directly into the 12-15 Kt wind—and Erika called “bow clear”—we heard shouts of “Great job guys” coming from the crowd of spectators on the cruiser to starboard.  Then they gave Erika and Iwona a round of applause.  First time I have ever had students receive applause—but it was very much deserved.  Well done crew—you made me proud.  

Of course, there was no time to enjoy the glory as it was time to head to fuel dock for fuel and water top off plus a pump out.  Iwona brought us to the dock “port side to” with an excellent standing turn with Erika catching the lines.  After our work at refuel dock was complete, it was Erika at the helm and Iwona giving nav support.  They again made good use of “marker by marker” guidance departing St Michaels and heading North to Rich Neck. Crew made excellent use of ranges and contours not only to navigate but to locate a sheltered anchorage with adequate depth on southside (lee side with north winds) of Rich Neck.  Although winds would be dying off during the night, we put out two anchors (forked moor) for the experience (and for peace of mind). We had lunch on the hook and got back into the charts to prepare for our Kent Narrows passage tomorrow.  Iwona and Erika laid out a “marker by marker” plan for the passage which we even “dry ran”.  Erika (who will helm us through tomorrow) and I would locate each lateral mark on the chart as Iwona practiced her Nav talk (“easy left” for Red XX or “dogleg right” for Red YY, etc.)  By the time we were through with our review, we all knew what the route would look like—although none of us had been through there before.  We then reviewed knots, discussed sailing stuff in general, and enjoyed a beautiful sunset in a most peaceful (and private) anchorage.  House voltage dropped down to 11.8 so we ran the engine for about an hour to charge house voltage back up.  After another great meal we turned in.

Total Miles for Day Four = 12 NM. Total hours underway = 3.0.  Average Speed for the Day = 4.0 Kts  

Day Five (June 23, 2019).  Up early (0530) for coffee and a beautiful morning—light breeze and lots of sunshine.  Another of Erika’s egg sandwich breakfast.  Engine start at 0640 with crew pulling up the 2 anchors (great job) and Nordie at the helm taking their directions.  The entire evolution was completed by prebriefed hand signals and went flawlessly.  Erika then took helm and we headed out of our anchorage with crew using ranges and contours to work our way to deeper water—then headed for Kent Narrows.  We were able to do one more “dry run” of our Kent Narrows passage plan and were “on time” passing Kent Narrows South to make the 0900 opening (high tide at 1005).  Iwona guided Erika to a “deep water” holding position south of the bridge and just off the restaurant to the east for a 10-minute wait for the bridge opening.  The current would be approaching slack tide in an hour but was still a flood—which gave us (north bound) the “downstream” advantage over the south bound traffic that would be going against the current.  We coordinated with a cruiser “Declaration” to go ahead of us as he was hawking closer to the bridge. Then Erika followed Declaration and took us through for the 0900 opening with no problems and no drama as we transitioned from “Reds to Starboard” to “Reds to Port” with Iwona giving steering commands like a professional.  After clearing well to the North to avoid any uncharted shoals, we headed up the Chester River for Acadame’s homeport in Lankford Bay Marina.  

After 4 days of everything going so well, you’d think motoring home in a very light breeze would be a piece of cake.  But not to be.  There were multiple simulated emergencies in store for Erika and Iwona.  First there was simulated MOB with Oscar (our MOB simulator) falling overboard at least 3 or 4 times—requiring crew to maneuver each time to an up-wind position with boat stopped for the pickup.  Then there was the simulated Engine Overheat which required the crew to shut down the engine and locate and clean out the raw water strainer.  After engine was restarted, a simulated Flood, Flood, Flood was next with crew locating multiple through hulls and sea cocks.  Then there was a simulated Fire, Fire, Fire which required crew to locate two fire extinguishers and bring them to the cockpit for a lengthy discussion about firefighting.  After fire extinguishers were remounted thing got worse with a simulated Abandon Ship requiring a simulated “May Day” call with vessel name, location (using “geo-reference”) and intention (abandoning ship).  Erika and Iwona swapped the helm during the emergencies and both did great.  Then it was a leisurely ride home—although they kept looking at Oscar and wondering if he was going to fall off one more time (he didn’t).  

We finally arrived at Lankford Bay Marina, going first to the pump out dock with Erika at the helm.  There, we not only pumped out but practiced some more line handling techniques for catching pilings when coming into a dock. Then Iwona took us to the refueling dock where we topped off.  Next we returned to our slip for one last docking evolution.  We topped of fresh water, removed gear, cleaned boat, and gave Acadame a good hosing down.  We then accomplished log book signing and certification for two very knowledgeable—and now even more experienced—crew.  Bottomline, Iwona and Erika did a great job and I’d be proud to again sail with them anytime in the future.   

Total Miles for Day Five = 21 NM. Total hours underway = 7.0.  Average Speed for the Day = 3.0 Kts).  Note:  Speed definitely slower today as total time for today included holding for bridge opening at Kent Narrow, actual passage at Kent Narrows, multiple simulated emergencies, and maneuvering for pump out, refueling and docking.

Total Miles for Days Two through Five = 95 NM. Total hours underway = 23.5 hours. Average speed for the trip = 4.04 Kts. 

Captain Nordie Norwood
On board S/V AcadAme
Rock Hall, Maryland
Jun 23, 2019


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