2004 DELMARVA Reports

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Course Advanced Coastal Cruising; DELMARVA Circumnavigation
Date September 27-October 4, 2004
Students: Rich DeBella, Nils Pearson, Cliff Selover, Brian Tissot, Mike Wansbrough
Captain: Andy Prescott

Pre Departure
Thoroughness, clear communication, and detailed preparation and planning are essential elements of an offshore endeavor. Prior to arrival each crew member had been sent 17 references, texts, and eight handouts in preparation for the trip. 

All the students were also contacted before departure by Captain Andy Prescott to discuss expectations; needed equipment and clothing; and any special menu or other requirements. Brian Tissot and Mike Wansbrough both from the Toronto area had completed ASA 101 through 104 and were looking for a taste of offshore while pursuing 105 and 106. Cliff Selover from New York who has a Pearson 30 on the Hudson was looking forward to sailing at night. Nils Pearson was on sabbatical from his rigorous engineering job and looked forward to circumnavigating the Delmarva Peninsula. Rich DeBella, a licensed Captain and experienced sailor was looking for a new challenge.

Day One 
On Day One we carefully reviewed and utilized much of this material to examine the Island Packet 45
HALIMEDA and her systems. The team discussed possible itineraries and the sailing opportunities that would challenge us. Pre-departure assignments were made for navigator, boatswain, engineer, and emergency coordinator. We rigged the storm sail and checked out safety equipment. Mike went up the mast. Watch section assignments were posted and discussed.

Daily responsibilities for the week were assigned and discussed with each person being given the opportunity to serve for at least a 24 hour period as Student Skipper, Navigator / Radar person, Engineer, Cook, and Deckhand.

After a very informative day and a run to West Marine, we shopped for provisions at Bayside Market and gathered for an excellent dinner at Bay Wolf.

Day Two
With Nils navigating we departed Spring Cove at 1300. As we rounded R10 in Swan Creek a suspicious transmission vibration had us quickly heading to Haven Harbor Marina for a short haul. We did not want to take any chances as we began a 400 to 500 mile journey.                                                                                                                   While Brian and Mike began the 105 Navigation exam the rest of the crew watched Halimeda and her 17 tons rise out of the water. It was a great opportunity for us to observe the underwater characteristics of the IP hull and to discuss it in relation to other hull designs. Haven Harbor’s ace mechanic gave us a green light to proceed with directions to engage the transmission by revving up the engine after putting her in gear.  

As we headed up the Bay and as darkness fell the weather went from bad to worse. We were catching the remnants of Hurricane Jeanne which included heavy blinding rain and winds with gusts to 45 knots along with steep waves. With the radar on we communicated with several passing tugs and tows. Nils intently kept us on course while Cliff, Mike, Brian and Rich took turns testing their foul weather gear at the helm. Dinty Moore kept our bodies warm. Eventually the wind and rain eased as we slipped into the C&D Canal. Finally, thanks to great team work, at 2300 we arrived at Chesapeake City; just in time too as it was “last call” at Schaffer’s. We celebrated the day’s accomplishments which included Mike and Brian passing 105! 

Day Three 
We departed the dock and headed east for an enjoyable motor along the canal while we discussed proper procedures for emergencies aboard including COB and abandon ship. By afternoon we had reached the Delaware River and were headed well downstream. Although we had been prepared for the worst the River and Bay were kind to us providing fine winds for sailing and gentle wave action. Points of sail with different combinations of sail including reefing were practiced by all. A hearty chicken pasta dinner by Rich was enjoyed on deck.

As darkness fell the excitement was high crossing the COLREGS Demarcation Line out into the Atlantic. The ships and tugs and tows seemed to be everywhere as a variety of lateral navigation aids pulsed their lights in red, green and white providing a variety of navigational challenges. Using a modified Swedish watch allowed each two person team to enjoy their nighttime three hour watch while others “hot bunked” below in the comfort of the hammock-like lee clothes. Halimeda rhythmically rode the waves at seven knots.

Day Four 
After some early morning doldrums the sails were again raised as the wind started to build. Brian served up breakfast and lunch.

During the afternoon it was time to motor sail as we enjoyed the company of several groups of dolphins who frolicked in our wake while a variety of birds flew overhead. Time was taken to review a variety of 106 topics such as sail shape, apparent wind, center of effort, and weather. 

Cliff planned our landfall arrival and soon we entered Thimble Shoal Channel. Rich brought us sharply across the tunnel past four hovercrafts as we systematically “hunted” for the entrance to Little Creek. 

 At 2100 we were greeted at Taylor’s Landing by Cliff’s sister Ellen and friend. They joined us for a “broccoli” dinner ashore. Showers on land were enjoyed by all before an exhausted crew slept most soundly.

Day Five
We headed up the Bay. Despite a windless forecast we were pleasantly surprised and set the sails soon cruising along at eight knots! We watched a Navy helicopter drag a sled the size of a jeep through the water while it conducted minesweeping exercises. Attention was paid to weather and reading the clouds.

Sailing along we completed a text book review before Brian and Mike began and passed their 106 written exams. Rich directed the crew through properly negotiating the tricky entrance to Tangiers Island. Brian was adept as skipper having to make a variety of last minute decisions. Soon we were on the T-dock at Park’s Marina listening to Dock master Milton – an old salt who engaged us in vivid descriptions of Tilghman and his adventures at se

We ducked golf carts and bicycles – the islands primary means of transportation - as we walked about the island which seemed frozen in a 1950’s time warp. Nils cooked up a storm in the galley allowing us to feast on an excellent lasagna dinner.

Day Six
After a morning chat with Milton Nils motored us out via the west channel. We listened to a Pan Pan Pan call and subsequent VHF 16 Coast Guard responses to a boat sinking thirty-five miles offshore.

Once again the Wind Gods were with us growing to 15 knots from a variety of directions allowing us to sail different points of sail. Abandon ship drills were practiced and the benefits of having a collision blanket on board were clearly demonstrated. 

Brian skillfully navigated skipper Nils into Solomon’s and up Back Creek to Zahniser’s Marina where we parallel parked between two very large yachts. We celebrated the days sail with a walk to town and an excellent dinner at the Upper Deck.

Day Seven
As Mike headed us around Drum Point we faced strong northerly winds which allowed for some great sailing, practice reefing and tacking drills.  Unfortunately our course make good was bad so on went the engine as we motor sailed on up to Annapolis. Navigating into another Back Creek found us docked for the night at Mears. Brian and Mike shopped for gifts before we sampled a couple of Annapolis’s salty watering holes and an enjoyable last night out.

  Day Eight
An early morning start passed crews preparing the docks for the Annapolis Boat Show. Rounding Love Point each crew member did a terrific job practicing Crew Overboard maneuvers. As we headed towards Swan Creek reality and land life loomed around the bend. But all agreed it had been a terrific week. We pumped out and topped off the fuel tank at Haven Harbor before heading to Spring Cove slipping Halimeda into her slip like a hand into a fine leather glove!

After packing, Halimeda was spit shinned before all said their good-byes. Clearly an adventurous group who preformed outstandingly well - Mother Nature had given them a good taste of what she and a DELMARVA cruise have to offer aboard HALIMEDA.

Captain Andy Prescott
Rock Hall, MD
October 5, 2004

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