Friday, September 27, 2019:
The crew – Kurt, from faraway Colorado and David from the DC area – and
Captain Doug Riley (from Vermont) met in the MDS office at Langford Creek
Marina at 0830. Kurt and
David were both returning MDS students. The
three discussed the goals and structure of the class (especially MDS’s
approach to coastal cruising, which is to introduce and apply blue-water
sailing techniques even in more sheltered environments).
Their itinerary would involve three nights at anchor around the
northern Chesapeake Bay and one in a marina.
This drove the provisioning plan.
The crew went to town for provisions while the skipper contacted
marinas for an overnight slip. The crew then stowed provisions and made an exhaustive
inspection of SCHOLARSHIP,
becoming familiar with daily engine checks, onboard safety equipment and
sailing and motoring procedures. Next
the crew took their first lessons in navigation by chart, and in
slip-departure procedures. SCHOLARSHIP
smoothly out of the slip with Kurt at the helm, southbound on the Chester
River. The crew used their
plotted courses-to-steer and distances (timing each leg), cross-checking their
locations by depth sounder and visual bearings. They anchored for the night at the mouth of Jackson Creek,
setting two anchors at the bow to create a forked moor.
Dinner onboard was pasta and chicken, followed by another navigation
session and discussion of overnight battery management.
The morning NOAA weather forecast, received on Scholarship’s
VHF, predicted north winds up to 20 knots – leading to small-craft
advisories, but a perfect breeze for the sturdy Island Packet.
After coffee and breakfast onboard, the crew retrieved both anchors and
set a course for the west shore of Chesapeake Bay.
The 20-knot breeze made for a lively crossing.
The crew discussed heavy-air sailing techniques, learning how to employ
sail trim and twist in strong winds. They
observed the apparent-wind vs. true-wind effects on points of sail.
Upon reaching Baltimore Light, SCHOLARSHIP
tacked over to a southeast course in
order to line up with the northwest-southeast alignment of the Magothy River
entrance channel. After tacking
back to their course, the crew smoothly sequenced into the narrow channel
among other vessels with exactly same goal. Inside the Magothy, the wind rapidly settled own.
dropped sail at the northern tip of
Gibson Island and motored to the anchorage beyond.
The crew again used a forked moor to limit swing (a necessity in the
well-populated anchorage, where two-anchor moors predominated).
Dinner was a stir-fry featuring chicken that had marinated overnight.
Evening study with the instructor included more about navigation, all
ASA 104 knots and various short topics from the 104 syllabus.
These included onboard medical issues, firefighting and horn signals.
The wind direction changed radically overnight, becoming northwesterly
This day’s sail would be a fairly long one – from the Magothy on the west
shore, north and west of the Bay Bridge, to St. Michaels on the Miles River,
well south on the Eastern Shore. Sailing
time at 4 knots would be about 7 hours. With
the northwest wind behind her, SCHOLARSHIP
would need to sail with a gybe
preventer line, which the crew reviewed and rigged for use.
The end landmark of the day’s longest leg – Bloody Point Light –
sits inside shoals, so the crew plotted a waypoint west of the light.
passed huge freighters, both underway
and anchored. Navigation into
Eastern Bay and the Miles River was challenging, with frequent major turns to
follow the meandering channels. When
the depth sounder indicated that the boat was out of the channel, the crew
adjusted course using 2-and 3-bearing fixes and GPS coordinates, watching the
depth sounder return to predicted numbers.
At the mouth of little St. Michaels harbor, the crew hailed the marina
on the VHF, obtaining direction to a prime slip in front of the Lighthouse
Oyster Bar. David brought SCHOLARSHIP
smoothly into her slip, using the
(still-northerly) cross wind to line her up perfectly.
The overnight stay in a marina gave the crew a chance to shower, refill
water, buy fuel and ice, and enjoy a fine waterfront dinner at the Crab Claw
on the grounds of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.
This day’s itinerary required Scholarship
to negotiate two narrow and shallow channels and a drawbridge.
Before lights out the night before, the skipper and crew thoroughly
discussed tides and currents, referring to the published data for this date
and location, and seeking advice from both the Cruising Guide and the
skipper’s local knowledge. With
Kurt at the helm, SCHOLARSHIP
backed out of her slip in late morning
(having waited for better tides and currents) and was on her way.
After a crew-overboard drill enroute, the crew hailed the drawbridge at
Kent Narrows via VHF. She was the
only boat passing through at the next opening.
Watching the channel sidelines ahead and astern, and continually
monitoring the depth sounder, the crew brought SCHOLARSHIP
through the Kent narrows channel and
back into the Chester River to a plotted waypoint.
They confirmed arrival at the waypoint using a combination of a timed
run, compass bearings and GPS coordinates, and turned east.
Next came the Queenstown entrance channel – a very narrow one through
a shallow river-mouth bar. The crew followed the Cruising Guide’s suggested on-shore
range and hugged the channel buoys for a successful passage into the anchorage
behind Blakeford Point. After
setting the plow anchor, the crew dined onboard on pasta Alfredo with sautéed
turkey and salad. Before
lights-out, the students studied for the ASA 104 exam while the skipper
answered their questions. Tides
and currents looked favorable for a morning departure next day.
made her way out the tight Queenstown channel at nearly high tide, then sailed
and motorsailed north and east toward the Corsica River on a light southerly.
The gybe preventer again came into play.
On the way, the crew practiced with the mainsail reefing gear.
The Corsica, like Queenstown, has a tiny entrance channel – it
features a non-navigational buoy next to the real one, creating a potential
grounding hazard for the unwary. The
crew cleared this hurdle and anchored in a peaceful bay for lunch. The afternoon’s activities would include a pumpout,
refueling and water fill (requiring two face-docking maneuvers, one with a
light breeze from astern, and a standing turn off the fuel dock). Then Kurt ably backed Scholarship into her home slip.
The crew adjusted docklines, cleaned and packed their belongings, and
met for the ASA 104 exam at the MDS office.
Both students passed comfortably and, after diplomas and logbook
endorsements by their instructor, headed out of Rock Hall for home.
Skipper Doug enjoyed a fine Chesapeake
cruise with these two competent and likeable sailors.
On board S/V SCHOLARSHIP
Rock Hall, Maryland
October 1, 2019