2019 Chesapeake Bay Cruise
Schedule of Courses
Ocean Training Cruises
One of the best
times to do a Bareboat Chartering class (ASA 104) is in the fall. The
weather is cooler, the crowds are smaller and winds get more interesting.
Our last 104 of this year was a perfect class for instruction. We had
almost every sort of weather in which to sail.
Our crew, Paul,
John and Bruce, gathered on Saturday morning for preparations and review.
John had been a Maryland School student before the turn of the century and was
back to continue his education. Paul had been involved with other
schools and was looking for a rigorous course. Bruce was stepping up his
game from smaller boats, on his way to his own boat. We spent Saturday
working through the logistics of the class, boat familiarization, sail
handling, and navigation planning. Knowing that the wind on Sunday was
forecast to be heavy, we put both the first and second reefs into the
mainsail, reasoning that we could take a reef out more easily than putting one
This turned out
to be excellent preparation. Our original plan had been to leave
Lankford Bay Marina at 0800 on Sunday, but a review of the anticipated winds
that morning indicated that the strongest winds would pass through at noon.
We delayed our departure by 90 minutes and were able to get away from the dock
in strong but manageable winds. However, by the time we had gotten into
the Chester River, the winds had grown to mid 20 knots, with gusts at 30.
To make things more challenging, the rain was keeping visibility down to
between one half and three quarters of a mile. We spent a good portion
out of sight of land on one or both sides of the river.
Of course, this
made the lessons in charting and ded reckoning come alive, for our three
sailors. Knowing where they were by the compass gave them a level of
comfort and when the first red nun emerged from the gloom on our bow, John,
our skipper of the day, was very pleased with his results. When the
second one appeared not only where it should have but exactly on schedule, he
with the visibility as low as it was, with the wind dead on the bow, I made
the decision that we would motor, since it made the navigation plan the
students had created easier to follow. When we passed green buoy 9 and
the clouds started to lift, we were happily able to set our reefed main and a
jib and actually commenced sailing. This was right about noon, just as
the forecast had predicted. However, the prediction continued to be
accurate and two hours later, we were motor-sailing across the Chesapeake Bay,
with the wind now down to less than five knots and dead on our nose - again.
As we shook the reef out of the main and motor-sailed under the bridge toward
the Severn River, the wind continue to remain low and fluky, starting to
return only once the sail had been furled and we were on the mooring ball in
The wind returned
- and turned - overnight and once we left the Severn in the morning and
entered the Bay again, the wind was on our transom at about 10 to 15 knots.
We turned up into the wind, set our main out with a preventer and dropped into
a downwind run, wing and wing, for Bloody Point Bar. Alternating between
a run and a broad reach, we passed down the bay, avoiding an anchored cargo
ship and two moving ones, as well as several tugs hauling traffic around us.
By noon, we were
in the East Bay heading toward Saint Michael's. Just as on the previous
day, lunch time brought a diminishing wind and we turned further and further
up wind, we finally found it necessary to bring in the head sail and proceed
on main and diesel again. Bruce, our skipper for the day, ably handled
the engine casualty that I threw at him and it didn't delay us for very long.
By 1600, we were tied up in the marina at Saint Michael's, anticipating hot
showers and cool drinks.
Paul, our last Skipper of the Day, the wind did not make a return over night.
When we left the marina the next morning, we could not say that the wind was
on the nose, because it did not put in an appearance at all. We motored
all the way to the Kent Island Narrows, although we had removed the mainsail
cover, just in case. We motored through the lift bridge on our way
through the Narrows, right at 1230, just as Paul had calculated and we were on
our way up the Chester River again, having completely circumnavigated Kent
In the afternoon,
as we motored from waypoint to waypoint, Paul continued to be confused as to
why his navigation plan seemed to be off by five or ten degrees. After
an hour or so, the crew realized that the portable air horn can, that had
somehow gotten placed right by the compass, was causing a significant amount
of deviation error (gee, who COULD have put that there?!!?). Once the
deviation was found and removed, Paul's calculations quickly found us back on
course. The crew was glad they had found the problem, but all agreed to
keep a much closer eye on their instructor!
We anchored that evening in the Corsica River, snugged down with two anchors in a Bahamian Moor. As the sun went down, we enjoyed a dinner of pasta and red sauce, while watching the clouds roll in and block our view of the sky. Soon, the only lights came from the houses around us and the loom of the lights of Baltimore.
As the sun came up on Wednesday, we started the engine and pulled our anchors to head back out into the Chester River. The light fog on the water gave an eerie cast to the sight that greeted us as we emerged around Town Point. The Kalmar Nyckel, the official tall ship of Delaware, was sitting at anchor, just south of Lankford Creek. As we circled here, the crew waved to us and pulled up her anchor. She was heading up river to Chestertown when we left her. After a round of Crew Overboard exercises, we returned to Langford Bay Marina to finish up the course.