2008 Chesapeake Bay Cruise

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Course: ASA 104 Intermediate Coastal Cruising 
Date: June 16-20, 2008
Vessel: IP-32 ACADAME
Students: The Craig family - Brian and Molly, parents; Madeline and Riley, teenage daughter and son
Captain: Jochen Hoffmann

16 June 2008, Monday. Day 1; Lankford Bay Marina
I arrive at 0845 and find the Craig family already happily ensconced on ACADAME our Island Packet 32 foot cruise yacht. Provisions are in place as well. After introductions, we begin our first day by checking out boat gear and systems below deck, and sails, lines, and equipment topside. Madeline and Riley, navigators for the afternoon, are laying out course lines to Queenstown. The weather report tells of brisk winds – SW 15-20 knots; thunder storms early evening. After lunch we practice maneuvering under power, picking up moorings, and docking. Before we leave Lankford Bay at 1350, we practice reefing and using harness and tether. We depart with one reef in the main. As we tack repeatedly along our navigators’ course lines, darkening clouds in the West and the latest weather report give clear warnings: severe thunderstorms are arriving a lot sooner then indicated in the morning. Queenstown harbor with its tricky entrance is out of the question. Time to strike sails, drop anchor in Chester River, and increase scope to a 1:10 ratio. Wind gusts to 40 knots make for a rough ride at anchor. And as two crew members are now feeling queasy, motoring back to a mooring at Lankford Bay for a quiet dinner and night is a prudent choice. 

17 June 2008, Tuesday. Day 2; Chester River-Shaw Bay-St. Michaels Despite strong winds at midnight, everyone got a good night’s rest. Today’s forecast - W 15 to 20 knots, gusts to 25 - is perfect for reaching our goal for day 2: St. Michaels. As we speed down river under double-reefed main, Madeline at the helm, Molly and Craig are navigators and Riley hails the Kent Narrows Bridge tender on VHF. Passage through the opened bridge is expertly helmed by Craig while Helen is fast becoming a keen lookout. We practice points of sail and navigating by depth contours. Fast progress allows us to practice anchoring under sail in Shaw Bay where we stop at 12:30 for lunch and a swim. On our way to St. Michaels in gusty winds, everyone is taking a turn at the helm to get a feel for sailing a keel boat in strong winds. By 1600 we are safely tied up at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. There is plenty of time left to explore this fascinating museum, have dinner on shore, and study afterwards. 

18 June 2008, Wednesday. Day 3; Miles River – Eastern Bay to White Hall Bay 
The forecast, same as yesterday, is adding thunderstorms for the late afternoon. We spend the better part of the morning on engineering topics. Propulsion, cooling, and electricity begin to make more sense as students look closely at, or touch the parts that generate power. Then, everyone is laying out segments of our courses for the day, applying time/speed/distance calculations later on. At 11:10, after pumping out, Brian, who has developed a real feel for the helm is steering us deftly through repeated gusts. Thereafter, Molly has to contend with fickle winds that don’t settle down until after Brian takes the helm beyond Point Lookout. Taking fixes along our track and analyzing navigation assumptions becomes a great learning experience. At 1800 we drop sails and anchor at a lovely spot in Whitehall Bay where Madeleine and Brian prepare a delicious chicken stir fry. Thunderstorms and gusty winds after dinner prompt us to raise anchor and motor into Whitehall Creek where we settle in for a beautiful sunset and quiet night. 

19 June, 08, Thursday. Day 4. White Hall Creek to Magothy River After three days of hard sailing and today’s winds forecast to be light, we are ready for a more relaxed day. A leisurely breakfast begins the day. Then we raise anchor and Madeline, followed by Brian, carry out perfect Man-Over-Board drills. They will take turns being skippers for the day. Molly and Brian are perfecting their skills as navigators underway. With Helen a sharp lookout, we steer safely through a large field of crab pots. Once in Magothy River, Madeline negotiates successfully the perhaps narrowest channel on the entire Bay toward Atlantic Marina. Here, Molly completes a smooth docking maneuver at the pump out dock. N of Dobbins Island, we practice setting two anchors off the bow, take a swim, and then rest before reviewing the ASA104 book. A beautiful sunset and rain clouds – far away - put us all in a good mood. 

20 June, 08. Friday. Day 5. Sillery Bay to Lankford Creek 
Since today’s forecast is again for light winds (WSW at 5 knots) the adults are getting up a 6 a.m. and start motoring to get a head start on what we expect to be a long voyage followed by lots of activities at landfall. While Brian is at the helm, Molly is practicing DR (dead reckoning) plotting and fixes. Offsets from her DR track show her that we are encountering a North-setting current of about one knot. When the “youngsters” join us after breakfast, they delight in demonstrating their mastery in knot tying – with Helen doing a model line coil. Well done, guys. As we approach successively pump-out, diesel, and home dock, Riley, Madeline, and Brian, respectively, show that they, too, know how to dock a boat. The crowning moment – after clean up – comes in late afternoon: all have passed the ASA104 test. “My crew” is well on their way toward their key goal: to charter and skipper a vessel safely in the Virgin Islands. 

Fair Winds and following seas to these fine mariners. 

Captain H. Jochen Hoffmann
Aboard IP-32 ACADAME

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