2001 DELMARVA Reports


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Course Advanced Coastal Cruising; DELMARVA Circumnavigation
Date September 7-14, 2001
Vessel IP45 HALIMEDA
Students: Maryann Timon, Patrick Paul, Bill Phillips, Carolyn & Mark Sienkiewicz
Captain: David Appleton

Friday, Sept. 7: Seminar, Crew & Vessel Preparation
0900- At the crew meeting we find out Mark & Carolyn have a Catalina 34 in Baltimore, both Mary- ann and Bill have boats in Annapolis, Bill owning an Oday 28 and Mary Ann a Taswell 43 on which she lives and works... already living the dream of most of us. All are using this cruise to sharpen their skills and find out if off shore sailing is really something they want to pursue. We conduct the seminar addressing the topics in the School's Off Shore Training Manual  School head Tom Tursi is aboard making some rigging adjustments and he joins in the discussion on several topics.

1230- We break for lunch returning at 1330 to commence ship inspection and preparation for sea.  Billet assignments are as above for the first phase of the voyage and each performs his or her inspection with diligence. I made the following crew assignments: Patrick Paul as Navigator, Mark Sienkiewicz as
Engineer, Maryann Timon and Bill Phillips as Boatswains, and Carolyn Sienkiewicz as Emergency Coordinator.

Mark is particularly thorough with the engineering inspection, finding several discrepancies. Some we fix, but the non-critical ones, like the non-functioning solar panel, we leave for professional repairs later. Mary Anne and Bill set up the storm trisail for a demonstration as well as reviewing the operation of the cutter rig with the crew. And Maryann was hoisted up the mast for the pre-sail rig inspection. Carolyn inspected all the safety equipment and briefed the crew on the operation of the COB pole/strobe rig. She also inventoried ship's stores and provisions and made a shopping list which we fulfilled. Patrick planed the voyage up to the C&D and noted the best time to transit the canal would be Saturday night at about 2300. So we resolved to leave a little late, about 0930 Saturday morning. All this planning and inspecting took us well into the evening, and it wasn't until after 1900 that we broke for dinner, enjoying the local seafood cuisine at the Waterman Restaurant.

Saturday, Sept. 8
: Up the Bay to the C&D Canal
Up and at'em at 0630; the crew enjoyed showers ashore for the last time for a few days, got some breakfast, and eagerly launched into final departure checklists. Carolyn thoroughly briefed the crew on all the safety equipment, Patrick briefed the crew on the general course plan for the next couple of days, Mark did the final mechanical checks while Maryann and Bill planned the undocking procedure.

At 0940 we were away from the dock with the knot meter trip log on 443.5 and engine hours meter at 2007.8. As we made our way across the Swan Point Bar short cut, we checked our ship's compass for deviation using the Baltimore Channel range light and found little to no deviation. Once past the shallow water and in the bay proper we were able to set sail and secure the engine for a decent, albeit slow, down wind, often wing on wing, sail in the 10-12 knot southwesterly winds. We set the watch schedule and began the routine of the voyage, conducted various navigational and watch keeping exercises and fine tuned our plan for transiting the canal and the Delaware bay. Patrick selected an anchorage in the Bohemia River to await our "current window" for transiting the canal. During this leisurely sail we also conducted reefing exercises and Crew Overboard (COB) exercises, including the quick stop maneuver under sail, and heaving too, giving the crew a better understanding of HALIMEDA's handling characteristics. 

We had dinner at 1700 and cleaned up by 1800 when we anchored at the entrance of the Bohemia, and all took a nap. At 2230 we were up and weighing anchor. The side lights did not function so we had to change the lamp as we got under way. By 2300 Bill, at the helm, was guiding us into the C&D Canal, and we noted a 1.5 knot flood (favorable for us) current.

Sunday, Sept. 9
: Delaware Bay and Beyond
It fell to the mid watch Captain, Maryann and her watch mate Mark to transit the canal and enter the River at 0105 hours, guide us past the Salem Nuclear Plant and on to the Delaware Bay. They noted a fairly strong flood current flowing up the bay and slowing our progress. This was as planned, since the current would change shortly and the ebb would speed us down the bay. The remainder  of the crew rested. At 0200 Mark noted the electric bilge pump switch in the "on" contrary to our voyaging practice, and turned it off so we might better monitor our bilge water level. The night passage down the bay afforded many opportunities for night navigation exercises as well as vessel identification practice. Unfortunately the southerly winds gave us little opportunity to sail.

At 1145 we cross the COLREGS line and officially/legally enter the ocean off  Lewes Delaware at the Harbor of Refuge Breakwater. At 1200 we get a fix and begin our DR which we will keep for the ocean portion of this cruise. At 1400 the SE breeze enables us to sail so we secure the engine and begin to enjoy a bit of an ocean sail. During our ocean sail we continue maintaining our DR Plot, and at Ocean city we up date it with a new fix at 1900. So far the crew is doing well, but Mark has been struggling with a bout of Mal de Mare. But in spite of his queasiness, Mark stands his watch and finds the helm the best therapy. By 2130 the wind died so we turn on the engine and motor sail on a course of 200 to 210 degrees more or less following the contour of the coastline south.

Monday, Sept. 10: Off Shore Adventure
At 0030 we pass a fleet of menhaden fishing boats headed north passing us to port. Maryann wisely changed course to 240 to stay inshore and well clear of this fleet even though they are not actually fishing at the moment. During the night we make good progress down the coast, mostly motorsailing, enjoying a fairly calm ocean and extremely clear skies. After Breakfast we changed roles. Patrick became Captain for making port, with Maryann as navigator. Bill would assume the Safety role and Carolyn was now engineer with Mark as boatswain. Thus assigned they planed their approach. Off Great Machipongo we noted the RW Buoy "A" was missing its ball on top, thus making us mistake it for another buoy consequently mistaking our position.  Once we realized the problem, we notified the Coast Guard of this irregularity at 0845 and they thank us for advising them. Using the DR plot Maryann identifies navigational aides including buoys and the Cape Charles Light to pin point our position and set a course toward Thimble Shoals Channel where she plans to enter the bay crossing over the Thimble Shoals Channel Tunnel.

  Once inside the Bridge Tunnel and across Thimble Shoals Channel I staged a surprise COB drill with Mark at the helm. Even though we were under power at the time, it was difficult to maneuver this heavy 45' vessel close to the COB, which took about 15 minutes. A very useful discussion ensued as we made for the dock and prepared our approach to the fuel dock of Taylors Landing Marina.

At 1510 we dock at the Taylors Landing, fill out fuel and water tanks, then move to our berth for the night and the crew heads for the showers and the swimming pool for a refreshing dip. Mark is still struggling with his upset stomach, and at 1620 he and Carolyn elected to leave us here in Norfolk. Mark's illness was debilitating enough to make the voyage up the bay look very unpleasant. We were disappointed to loose them. Both were competent crew members who demonstrated a remarkable attention to detail in the jobs assigned to them. During dinner at a local restaurant, tomorrow's Captain, Maryann, and her Navigator, Bill, plan the next day's voyage during which they hope to make it at least as far as the Rappahannock River.

Tuesday, Sept. 11: Exploring the Bay
Captain de jour Maryann got us underway at 0600 and we made our way out of the Little Creek harbor in the company of a couple of USN Patrol Craft (PC CYCLONE class). They were joined later by hovercraft in practice operations in the southern bay. It's an impressive sight! The strong northerly winds required us to tack many time as we worked our way through the 5' to 6' choppy waves. To make any progress north we needed to motor sail using the staysail and reefed main.

By 0800 we were crossing the Thimble Shoals channel and managed to stay clear of shipping in this busy channel. At 0920 I called the office by cell phone to notify them of Mark and Carolyn's departure, and Nancy informed us of the WTC/Pentagon disaster. We turned on the fm radio and followed the events as they unfolded. The crew was silenced... appalled at this outrage against not only the US, but the whole world. It was a very, very sad day. We pressed on north, but our hearts were not in the exercises. As we listened to the horrors reported over the radio in silence, the crew seemed to reach a tacit agreement that all we could do was not give in and continue the voyage and the exercises despite these terrible events. So we continued up the bay practicing navigation exercises focusing on our tasks in spite the efforts of those who would disrupt us.

At  1655 we sighted a US Navy DDG heading North in the channel we were about to cross. We contacted them notifying them of our intention to take their stern. They acknowledged and wished us a save voyage. We wished them well also, as we surmised they were on there way up the bay to patrol the Potomac near Washington. We heard a USCG Securite announcement on VHF 16 & 22 notifying all mariners that the Potomac north of the Wilson Bridge and Baltimore Harbor had both been secured and closed to traffic. By 2100 as darkness fell we approached our intended anchorage in Indian Creak north of Windmill Point. The crew cautiously and  skillfully made this tricky night approach under Bill's guidance. They did quite well but missed two day marks in the darkness and we noted this could have caused us to run aground.  But we didn't and successfully dropped and set the hook at little after 2000.

Wednesday, Sept. 12: Exploring the Bay
At 0635 we departed Indian Creek and headed out into the bay where we found several of the menhaden fishing fleet boats stalking their prey. As we got into the main part of the bay the winds increased and by 0800 reached into the 20s out of the north to northeast. This would be another "beat up the Bay" day, and it soon became apparent that we would again have to motor sail to make any head way toward our objective, St. Michaels. By 1125 we reached Smith Pont Light and headed out across the Potomac River making decent progress north.  

At 1500 we passed the USS RAMPAGE, DDG 51, anchored just south of Cedar Point near "the Targets" in the US Navy's practice bombing range, no doubt standing guard for the USNAS Patuxent River base. As we progressed North we practiced some precision positioning practice, pitting the crew's LOP plotting skills against the GPS in a "who can get the closest to our position" exercise. Patrick was the closest, with Maryann not too far off, and then there was Bill, off by about a mile and thus the one elected to "buy the beer!" As night fell the winds died and the crew prepared for the night entrance into St. Michaels.  They are charged with finding four unlighted
buoys on the way up the Miles River as they make this night approach. We also use one of these buoys to practice the night COB procedures, using the Williamson turn technique to put the boat on it's reciprocal  course exactly "in her tracks" so that we can find the COB.

Thursday, Sept. 13: Further Exercises and Exam; Home and Secure
0010- Arrived at St. Michaels and docked at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. The crew enjoyed a midnight libation in celebration of their fine performance in the difficult "night maneuvers," and by 0100 all turned in for a much deserved rest. But 0800 all were up and ready to plan the days activities. Patrick was ready to take the ASA 106 test at 0900 and he did. Bill and Maryann looked over the museum and then returned aboard for some docking practice. We spent some time discussing docking and warping practices, and then got underway to practice at 1l00. By this time Patrick finished the exam and joined us as we used the museum facilities to
practice various docking and undocking techniques, using both engine/prop and rudder characteristics and warping techniques to dock and undock. Given the weeks events and the threat of a front coming in to make for another strong northerly wind tomorrow, the crew under Capt. Patrick elect to return to Rock Hall today, and we get underway at 1230.

At 1430 we transit Kent Narrows and the bascule bridge and head through the Chester River toward Rock Hall. We arrived at the fuel dock at 1630 where we take on 35.4 gallons of diesel and compute our consumption at 0.9 gph at an average 2500 rpm. By 1715 we are back at Spring Cove Marina and we commence clean up operations. In light of the horrendous events in New York and Washington, the crew decides to leave this evening to get home to their families. By 1900 HALIMEDA is cleaned up, the crew have removed their gear, and we sit down to ponder the sunset and our experience from the porch of the Spring Cove Marina house.  The crew had learned a lot from this experience. But the world events had dampened there enjoyment.

Captain David R. Appleton
Aboard HALIMEDA, IP45
Spring Cove Marina, Rock Hall MD
September 15, 2001



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