2019 Chesapeake Bay Cruise
Schedule of Courses
Ocean Training Cruises
The four crew
members in the ASa104 cruise which started on July 13 with Captain Frank
Mummert were unusual. They had started together in a week earlier for
ASA101 and then continued on until ASA103, so they had been able to work
together and knew each others strengths before we even left the dock.
Sam, Wayne, Julie and Mike had already welded together into a working team,
one of the most important aspects of a transient crew and one usually
difficult to achieve. When I came aboard that first day, I wondered how
the crew would accept me, since I was the newcomer, an unusual event.
I needed not have
worried. The crew was accepting and eager to learn. We spent the
first half of Saturday doing navigational briefings and provisioning
preparation. With all the food stored and lunch out of the way, we
headed out for Lankford Creek and the crew showed me what they had learned in
their previous classes. Well trained, they were quickly able to
transition from the lower levels to a "30 knots of wind, offshore, at
night" mentality and were soon snapping through tacking and gybing around
two points and sailing upwind and down with ease. Their knowledge of the
Rules was excellent and we were able to safely perform everything I asked of
them. We returned to Langford Bay Marina for the evening, where Julie
and Mike made a tasty dinner. They finished out the evening by pulling
out charts and other navigational texts and looking over our route for the
four days of the class.
found us with winds out of the West, so Sam, our Skipper of the Day, had us
set our sails and we headed for Annapolis. We sailed close-hauled down
the Chester River, avoiding all the traffic that a pleasant weekend day would
bring. As we came around the south end of Eastern Neck Wildlife Refuge
and started up for Love Point and the Chesapeake Bay, the wind died and we
were forced to bring in the headsail and motor-sail on, hoping that, when we
cleared the point, the wind would return. Sadly, this was to be the
pattern for the next few days - a hint of air in the morning, dying as the day
progressed. The crew took it stoically, but we spent far too much time
with the engine grinding in our ears.
Seas were lumpy
and confused as we crossed the Chesapeake Bay, with the wind bouncing around
the compass and the traffic kicking up all manner of wakes. We saw
everything from personal water craft to fully loaded cargo carriers as we
passed the Sandy Point Shoal Light and headed under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
Once clear of the Bridge, the wind came up, but it was right on our bow, of
course. Before long, we were in the Naval Anchorage and dropping our
sail. The traffic into the Annapolis Harbor made the navigation a
challenge and everyone was attuned to the array of traffic around us. We
even had a close aboard approach from a pirate ship full of screaming children
before we made it in and tied up to Mooring Ball 35. After settling up
with the Harbormaster, we called for a water taxi ride and headed in, looking
for showers and ice cream.
Back on the boat,
Sam whipped up a hearty dinner and we settled in for an evening of boat
watching and more study. The breeze off the land tried its best to cool
us, but the boat was simply too warm for comfortable sleeping, so, at one
point, four of the five of us were on deck, catching fitful rest.
Thankfully, the harbor traffic had died down and the water was calm.
When dawn came, the crew was already up and about.
Annapolis for the Eastern Bay and the Miles River, we had a promise of wind
from the North. The Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse data buoy was
reporting 9 knots of wind, gusting to 10. As we came down the channel
from the Severn River, Mike, our Skipper of the Day, had to deal with a
simulated "loss of cooling water" emergency in the engine. A
diesel mechanic by trade, Mike jumped into action and we were soon back on our
way. I learned to be more careful in which crew member I gave which
As we rounded the
1AH light and headed south, the promise of wind proved illusory. Since
the tide was going out, we were already headed south at a good clip and the
dropping wind from behind quickly became just a breeze on the boat. With
the engine running, we found that forward progress made the boat apparent wind
almost nothing, a situation we would encounter frequently. We
motor-sailed across the Bay from Thomas Point to Bloody Point and saw only a
few Monday morning fishing boats, the traffic appeared to be gone.
changed appreciably as we rounded Bloody Point and headed for the Miles River.
The traffic both into and out of the Saint Michaels area was large and
consistent. We even saw a huge charter yacht, the sort seen on
"Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" that we had left in Annapolis
pass us on her way up the Eastern Bay. The wakes from all the passing
boats called for nimble boat handling by the crew to keep us from rolling
around and we used all of Mike's navigational skills to find our course, time
after time. To make it worse, there was a fire in the electrical panel
(simulated, of course) that required taking the boat out of gear and keeping a
sharp lookout as half the crew fought the fire and half kept the boat under
We finally made
it to the entrance to Saint Michaels harbor and once again dropped our little
used sail. The wind had died to nothing at this point and we motored in,
looking forward to air conditioning on the boat and showers and dinner off.
After a little free time to explore the shops and attractions of Saint Mikes,
we reconvened on the boat, clean and happy, and had dinner in one of the
The next morning
had us sleeping in. The sun was well up before we had had breakfast,
done some additional sail training and were ready to head out under Wayne, our
Skipper for the Day. Were we just being lazy? Not at all!
Wayne's calculations had shown that our best time for passing through the Kent
Island Narrows Bridge and returning to the Chester River was at 1400, so we
needed to leave Saint Michaels by 1000, just in case "something went
Sure enough, as
we left the harbor behind and headed out into the Eastern Bay, the steering
locked up tight and Tina, on the helm, was unable to steer. Luckily, the
problem was quickly identified as a (simulated) length of line in the steering
quadrant. Another drill successfully handled by the crew! We were
on our way to Prospect Bay, along with the wind. Since the wind was out
of the south and traveling with us at a little bit less than our boat speed,
we motored along with no breeze at all in the cockpit. Time was spent
reviewing the knowledge levels of the course, while keeping an eye on the
clock. After another drill - a broken hose in the potable water system,
pumping fresh water into the boat - we stood down and drifted for a bit as we
set ourselves up for the 1400 passage through the Bridge.
Once back in the
Chester River, we passed Red Buoy #6, completing our circumnavigation of Kent
Island, and headed up river for Lankford Creek again. The wind continued
to be low and variable, making sailing impossible and keeping the cockpit
windless. We returned to Davis Creek and put down two anchors in a
Bahamian moor, but just for training purposes. We ended the night back
in Langford Bay Marina and happily plugged into shore power. The air
conditioning dropped the temperature on the boat and allowed for a good
night's sleep for all.
We were up and about with the sun on Wednesday, headed back out to "complete our cruise." We still had Crew Overboard training to complete. Since Julie was the watch captain of the day, she was able to bring the wind. We had 10 to 15 knots of wind for this most important part of our educational process. Each of the students took the role of being in charge of the recovery and Oscar, our ill-fated clumsy crewmember, was rescued over and over again. After everyone had a chance to recover Oscar, we put a preventer on the main sail and headed down wind, gybing from broad reach to broad reach to get back to Langford Bay Marina. After dropping onto the pump-out and fuel docks, we returned to our slip, happy to be permanently home and much better able to handle what the sea throws at us.