Schedule of Courses
Ocean Training Cruises
Monday, May 24th, 1999
Enchantment is an Island Packet 40 foot sailing yacht home ported in Virginia Beach, VA and currently in service with the Maryland School of Sailing & Seamanship for Ocean Training Cruises between Norfolk and Bermuda. She is scheduled to make two round trip training cruises this year to Bermuda between now and early July, 1999. Captain Jeff Papps will be in command during this entire series of cruises and he will be assisted by First Mate Jim Bortnem during the first round trip and by First Mate Lee Tucker, MD during the second round trip. On May 24th Captains Jeff Papps and Tom Tursi prepared Enchantment and brought her from her home port in Virginia Beach to Little Creek, VA for the start of her first Bermuda Ocean Training Cruise.
Enchantment did not come equipped with a Single Sideband (SSB) Radio Transceiver and The Maryland School decided to make a temporary installation of such a radio specifically for these cruises and to remove it at cruise completion. We selected an ICOM M700PRO SSB radio with an ICOM AT130 antenna tuner. This required installation of a proper antenna and ground for good signal transmission which was made difficult by the short time available and our desire not to haul the boat nor make any permanent changes to her. We received advice on how we might do this from Don Wurster, DDS who sailed with us in 1998 and who is an avid, amateur radio operator (Ham).
Instead of using a seawater grounded antenna, we decided to rig a temporary dipole antenna using the ship’s stern pulpit and bonding system as a counterpoise. We used a 35 foot length of antenna wire fastened between a pair of insulators. The top insulator was tied with a length of 1/4 inch nylon braided line to the masthead, and the bottom insulator, now 8 feet above the main deck, was tied to the starboard side of the stern pulpit. This was pulled very tight to prevent it from flopping about and to keep it clear of the mast backstays. The center conductor of a coaxial cable was clamped to the bottom end of the antenna wire and the coax shielding wires were led to the stern rail and fastened there.
We installed the SSB radio and the antenna tuner in a locker in the main salon and ran the coax cable from there to the antenna. Power supply was through a fused wire connected directly to the battery bank. And a chassis ground was connected to an aluminum water tank which ties in with the ship’s bonding system.
We were a bit skeptical at first about this simple installation, but it worked to perfection during the entire cruise it and took all of 30 minutes to remove it entirely at cruise completion. Both transmission and reception were excellent during the cruise. We spoke with Herb (Southbound II) in Canada, AT&T’s WOM in Florida before they finally terminated operations, the other yachts in our group, and the yacht Sitoa in the eastern Atlantic. We experienced no interference with any of our ship’s instruments or auto pilot while transmitting. So, overall, we were very pleased with this experiment.
On May 25th, our four student crewmembers arrived aboard in Norfolk: Eileen Ahearn, Bob Barfield, Jim Fischer and Andy Prescott came aboard anxious to get started, and our ocean prep training began in earnest the next day. And, on May 26th, we departed for Bermuda; here’s what Captain Jeff Papps had to say about the cruise:
“It was a spring Thursday in Virginia when we finished our preparations. The anticipation of our voyage was palpable and excitement was in our hearts. It always surprises me how a group of strangers can assemble from diverse walks of life and coalesce into a smoothly functioning team. It’s a union that transcends plain wanderlust, but borders on a brotherhood of a pure love of the sea.
“So we left, a convoy of three yachts on the face of a calm sea. On this trip we found that a Bermuda high was to dominate our weather. Though it did not offer a lively sail, we had opportunity to see wildlife that otherwise would not have shown. Such arrivals as a sailfish and sea turtles were seen. The dolphins were enthusiastic and playful companions entertaining us with their acrobatics and swimming close in under our bows, and the morning and evening feeding patterns of these ocean roamers brought a delight on this otherwise flat and waveless sea.
“During the cruise we had plenty of opportunity to fine tune navigational and seamanship skills including regular, hourly logkeeping; dead reckoning navigational plots; sun, moon, planet and star shots; damage control practice for several scenarios including fire drills and a mock hull leak; proceeding to emergency stations and mock abandon ship and man overboard drills to name a few.
“Anticipating a landfall is an emotional experience bordering on frustration at times. The intrigue of stepping off your yacht and meeting an entirely new culture challenges your senses for a time until you get to know these strangers and their patterns of life. Setting foot on stable land can be disconcerting to your balance and perspectives after many days in the rhythmic environment of a small yacht at sea.
“ On this cruise we found landfall to be a welcome change to our routine at sea. After clearing Bermuda Customs and cleaning up the good ship Enchantment, we wended our paths around this island paradise, each leaving with their own memories, lessons and new questions to be further pursued in future sailing adventures.”
Captain Jeff Papps,
Thursday, June 3rd, 1999
We recently completed the first of our Offshore Training Cruises for 1999, sailing here from Norfolk with four student crewmembers and Captain Jeff Papps and First Mate Jim Bortnem. The student crew has departed ship and are headed back to the “other world” to tell of their adventures on the high seas. We’re now carrying out repair of the minor equipment problems that we experienced during the cruise, cleaning up and generally preparing for the arrival of our next group of student crew.
On June 5th our student crewmembers arrived to begin preparations for their Offshore Training Cruise from Bermuda to Norfolk. They included Dr Bill Batchelor, George & Eileen Shalhoub and Tom Youens.
During pre-departure training conducted on June 6th & 7th, we went over the entire yacht and equipment and procedures for routine and emergency conditions. Part of this was a complete walk through of the of the Sea Anchor equipment and setup and an explanation of the wind and sea conditions leading to deployment of this equipment.
Enchantment is equipped with a Paratech Sea Anchor, which is an 18 foot diameter marine grade parachute deployed over the bow during severe storm conditions. This enables the yacht to stop, bow to the wind and waves, and batten down to await passage of the storm. Over the years, seamen have used a variety of storm survival tactics including heaving-to, lying ahull and running off as the principal methods. Each has its benefits, disadvantages, adherents and critics, and every seaman must decide for himself what survival equipment and tactics he will use.
When the wind is increasing and blowing a sustained 40 to 50 knots, we heave-to under Storm Trisail, which is a small and very heavy mainsail, and a partly furled Staysail. This enables us to keep our bow at a roughly 45 degree angle to the wind and waves; the yacht will make slow forward progress over the waves which may now be 20 to 30 feet high and traveling at 25 knots.
If we ran off down wind under these conditions, boat speed would increase significantly as we raced down the wave faces with the chance of diving our bow at the bottom of a trough causing a broach or pitch-pole. Many sailors deploy a drogue over the stern to slow forward speed when running off, but speeds could still reach six to eight knots down the wave faces; also, the exposed cockpit and companionway are vulnerable to fast moving, boarding waves. Lying ahull, with no sails, sea anchors or drogues, causes most yachts to bear away to 90 degrees or more from the wind; in this position, the yacht is very vulnerable to being rolled by a wave.
When hove-to under Trisail, if the wind/waves continue to increase, and if waves begin to seriously break, we may deploy the Sea Anchor. We rig the components in the following sequence in order of deployment: trip float, trip line, parachute, swivel, shackle, braided nylon line, shackle, ground anchor & chain, securing bridle. All components, except the ground anchor & chain, are carefully assembled in the cockpit assuring that all lines are properly led and without snags or snarls. The securing bridle of two nylon lines and chain hooks is rigged with one leg along each side deck belayed to two cleats and a winch for each leg; the chain hooks secure to the ground anchor chain when the sea anchor is deployed to provide backup to the windlass. In order to keep the chain secured in the anchor roller, we attach a heavy duty clamp over top of the anchor roller housing with the chain passing through the housing beneath the clamp. All shackles are wire-moused, and all leads are double checked because, once it’s overboard with an incorrect lead, we’ll be unable to retrieve it under storm conditions.
We deploy to the windward side with the yacht hove to and fore reaching under trisail. Since we’ll be making headway of possibly 1 knot with considerable leeway, the sea anchor rig will stream out aft and to windward. We deploy first the trip float and trip line, then the parachute and nylon rode from the cockpit. As the nylon is veered out fully, we are ready to deploy the ground anchor and chain. As the chain is veered out to its intended length, we secure the chain hooks and bridle. The ground anchor and chain induce a catenary in the sea anchor rode for shock absorption from wave impacts.
At this point, we may leave the trisail up to act in concert with the sea anchor to produce a “square drift” first used by Captain John Voss in 1901 and more recently by Captain Larry Pardy. This arrangement has the ability to create a turbulent slick to windward which reduces wave-breaking potential. Or, we may douse the trisail and allow the yacht to come fully head to weather. From this point on, we maintain a close watch on how the yacht is riding to wind and sea conditions, and how the equipment is holding up to the stresses and chafe.
On Tuesday, June 8th, with all equipment and crewmembers prepared for sea, we cleared Customs and departed Bermuda bound for Norfolk. During the first two days we encountered 10 to 20 knot head winds and then a Low approaching from the northeast which intersected our course and gave us southwest to southeast winds for the next two days. This was favorable to our WNW course and we made good time toward Norfolk. Then another Low approached from the south and intersected our course as we neared Cape Hatteras giving some rain and northeast winds but nothing serious.
During the cruise we maintained daily radio contact with the other two yachts. Teal Monday tracked close to the rhumb line course direct to Norfolk and encountered some heavy going with the first Low from the north. Dream Catcher headed southwest and avoided most of the effects from that Low, but also added significantly to her route distance. We also headed southwest to avoid the Low, but not as far; as a result, we minimized the stormy conditions encountered while not adding significantly to our distance.
We rounded Cape Henry Light, Norfolk at midnight on June 13th and two hours later arrived at Little Creek Harbor. We thus completed a challenging cruise with a variety of weather and sea conditions and which provided a good learning experience for all on board.
Aboard S/V Enchantment
Tuesday, June 15th, 1999
Enchantment is now in Norfolk, VA after having completed our first round-trip Bermuda Ocean Training Cruise. Lee Tucker came aboard to replace the departing Jim Bortnem as First Mate/Navigator, and to help Captain Jeff Papps prepare for the next training cruise to Bermuda.
On that cruise, we encountered challenging wind and sea conditions, but excellent participation by all crewmembers in seamanship, navigation and strategy resulted in a successful passage to sunny Bermuda in good time of 5 days and 5 hours.
On June 16th, our student crewmembers arrived including Steve Doody, Michael Lees, Bill Roper and David Salter. David was assigned as Ship’s Engineer, Steve and Bill as Bos’ns, and Michael as Emergency Coordinator. Intensive pre-departure training and preparations began on June 17th; all crewmembers were familiarized with the course curriculum and each students’ goals and objectives were discussed. Bill and Steve began a systematic review of the vessels rigging. David became acquainted with all mechanical systems, and Michael inventoried and secured all onboard safety gear. Jeff and Lee supervised as two days of vessel preparation for sea followed, punctuated by crew practice with the storm trisail, furling mainsail, on board emergency drills, crew overboard rescue techniques and sea anchor deployment and retrieval. One crewmember went aloft in the boson’s chair to thoroughly inspect the mast and rigging prior to making for sea.
Lee presented a navigation primer and route planning strategies using the pilot charts, Gulf Stream analysis and current weather forecasts. Jeff assigned duties to the crew in the event of an on board emergency and drills were conducted dockside with an emphasis on safety and the orderly approach to problem solving. Crew overboard preparation included deployment of a lifesling with hoisting tackle improvised from the boom vang and a halyard.
Finally, after all preparations were made by the crew for sea, Enchantment departed Taylor’s Landing Marina under sunny skies the morning of Saturday, June 19th, passed over the Chesapeake Bay Tunnel and entered the Atlantic Ocean with 15-20 knot winds from the ENE. Our strategy involved following the coast south to the Outer Banks of North Carolina north of Cape Hatteras and crossing the Gulf Stream in favorable wind and sea conditions. This approach was rewarded when Enchantment entered the Gulf Stream at 1300 hours on June 21 with winds moderating to 10-15 knots and moving to ESE. A low pressure system moving east resulted in 100% cloud cover shortly after leaving Norfolk and a succession of frontal systems provided nearly complete cloud cover and intermittent rain and squalls for most of the voyage. We successfully dodged a warm Gulf Stream eddy with its contrary currents prior to crossing the stream and favorably crossed two cold eddys upon exiting the Gulf Stream thus receiving a favorable boost of 1-2 knots.
A simulated crew-overboard exercise was conducted with full crew participation in moderate sea conditions. The “victim,” an MOB pole, was successfully retrieved and alternative rescue methods were reviewed. The crew also experimented with varyious sail combinations while Enchantment hove-to in 6 foot seas.
Cuisine was one of the highlights of the cruise as we chose not to follow The Maryland School’s recommended starvation diet, and each watch team was seemingly inspired by the previous one with on-board renditions of marinated flank steak Florentine, sautéed chicken satay and breakfasts of french toast and western omelets. Michael baked a delicious loaf of banana bread prior to departure.
Captain Jeff tested crew preparedness with a simulated disaster at sea consisting of a simulated breach in the watertight integrity of the hull; earlier, he had surreptitiously taped a note deep in a remote locker which said “Big Hole.” The crew discovered the problem, divided tasks according to their assignments, sent radio distress calls and executed a mock “abandon ship” drill.
Twice daily single-sideband radio contact made with Dream Catcher and Teal Monday, our sister ships, allowed the crews to trade positions, jokes and sea stories and to render assistance if needed.
A crossing to Bermuda often includes the excitement of spotting a Bermuda Long-tail, a graceful, snow-white bird with a long tail that ventures hundreds of miles out to sea. Lee was first to note one of these beautiful birds soaring to and fro about our masthead while 300 miles from Bermuda.
A persistent cloud cover prevented us from getting any celestial shots during the entire cruise, however, we meticulously kept our DR plot which, not surprisingly, tracked very well with our actual positions. It only takes a couple of celestial LOPs during a five-day cruise to significantly improve the overall accuracy of the DR.
Porpoise were numerous, and the evening before landfall in Bermuda several of the crew were treated to a fine display of four whales, thought to be Humpbacks, breaching in the calm seas one hour before sunset. This made an outstanding photo opportunity and left the crew abuzz with excitement for a long time afterward.
June 24th, the morning of our arrival in Bermuda, was an eventful day with clearing of the now familiar cloud cover to reveal a brilliant blue sky and hot sun over an indigo-blue sea. Freshening winds to 35 knots and building seas conspired to tear the genoa which was then promptly furled. Under main and Staysail, the soft pastel hues and white roofs of beautiful St. George’s were a welcome sight.
As we cleared customs we learned that Steve’s and David’s wives were already in Bermuda, awaiting their arrival. Michael returned home the following afternoon and Bill stayed on until the next weekend enjoying the sights and sounds of St. George’s. Jeff and Lee were pleased to have such a fine crew and enjoyed time with each of them in this splendid destination.
Dr. Lee Tucker
June 25th 1999
Saint Georges, Bermuda
Captain Jeff Papps and First Mate Dr. Lee Tucker, who will continue as the return trip crewmembers, set about preparing Enchantment for our next group of student crew who began arriving today. They included Luis Foncerrada from Mexico via Italy, Bob Joseph from Minnesota, Ken Chattell from Canada and Fred Topel from Pennsylvania. As on the previous legs of this cruise, we conducted two intensive days of pre-departure preparations and training following the requirements of The Maryland School’s Offshore Training Cruises Manual.
By June 29th we were thoroughly prepared and ready for sea. Our sundrenched departure was a perfect sign for the weather to be expected for the cruise ahead. After rounding the reef at North East Breakers, we held a close-hauled course of about 320 degrees magnetic; rhumb line to Norfolk is 295 degrees True or about 310 magnetic at this location. The light wind, about 12-15 knots from the SW, was enough to get Enchantment into a comfortable gait, and we settled into our new home at sea and the routine of life aboard ship. And, I noticed a variety of textbooks and tools emerge from sea bags and stowage areas as various crewmembers prepared to indulge in some long-held interest in seamanship skill.
By day three we were all comfortably acclimated to our surroundings and to each other, and a number of sun and star shots had been successfully taken as our many navigators practiced this arcane witchcraft. Our wind stayed relatively constant in velocity and direction. We had a small lift on a backing wind, which allowed us to head up to 310 degrees magnetic, a course we held predominately to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. And, except for a couple of small storm cells, this was to be one of the most comfortable passages I have made.
Of the three boats, we calculated that we were ahead of the other two by 30 to 40 miles at the beginning of the fourth day, though we weren't racing....much. Our drills were basically as on previous cruises, though we incorporated some variations used on the other boats. These were learned at our pre-departure discussions with the other yacht captains who enthusiastically swapped experiences and ideas with each other. The most intense drills are the man-overboard and loss of watertight integrity. The latter was guided by the Emergency Station Bill, which specifies where each crewmember is supposed to be and what to do, and progressed to an abandon ship drill. We incorporated into this a heaving-to exercise to slow down the imaginary incoming water.
As always on a voyage, many experiences and stories are shared. Various articles had been read on a great many subjects, and it was a pleasure to contemplate, solve or work out possible untoward scenarios. As we neared our destination, I noticed that there was a decided increase in the anxiety level and an edginess setting in. It was the anticipation of landfall, and all of its wonderful excitements, combined with the realization that this beautiful trip was coming to a close. That, and the fact that we would be losing touch with our new friends and shipmates.
When we arrived in Norfolk VA, we had completed an ocean passage of 642 nautical miles in 4 days 12 hours and 15 minutes for an average of 142 nautical miles per day. This was good time and it tied a previous school record for this passage set in 1997. By the middle of the next day, the other crewmembers had all departed for home and I found myself alone on Enchantment. Filled with memories of these four fabulous passages, and a pocket full of new friends, I became melancholy. This was not only a great experience for all involved, but it leaves me with the anticipation of doing it again next year.
The ramblings of:
July 5th, 1999