2008 Chesapeake Bay Cruise

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Course: ASA 104 Intermediate Coastal Cruise; Norfolk-Rock Hall 
Date: July 9-15, 2008
Vessel: IP-45 HALIMEDA
Students: Rina Landry, Todd Landry, Tom Rochner
Captain: Lee Tucker

Tuesday, July 8 
Rina and Todd Landry arrived in Norfolk just before Tom Rochner to join Captain Lee Tucker on board HALIMEDA at Taylor’s Landing Marina for a summer cruise the length of Chesapeake Bay. For this captain, the trip had a bittersweet quality as this was to be HALIMEDA’s final cruise in service to the Maryland School of Sailing and Seamanship. She had proved her mettle and gained the kind of familiarity that only comes from years together, after thousands of offshore and coastal miles in calm and stormy conditions. 

This crew came together the evening before her last class was to begin so, after introductions, gear was stowed and appetites satisfied at the marina’s excellent seafood restaurant, Surf Rider.  Todd and Rina are both electrical engineers and Tom is sailing on a grant in his capacity as a Secondary Ed teacher of history and geography. At dinner, we discussed personal goals for the trip and shared past sailing experiences. Healthy appetites from a long travel day gave us a head start in menu planning for provisioning the following morning.   

Wednesday, July 9
Following a thorough inventory of onboard galley stores, a menu plan and shopping list were created. Rina and Captain Lee provisioned at the nearby Food Lion while Todd and Tom remained onboard to begin their systems orientation including the location and purpose of each of her numerous thru-hulls!  Once provisions were stowed, the crew created a roster of crew assignments.  Each day we would have a new skipper, navigator and boatswain (bos’n). Crew positions would be rotated among Rina, Todd and Tom with each student fully accountable for the day’s trip plan and voyage, under the watchful eye of the captain.  

The crew would fully share all other shipboard duties, including meal preparation and vessel maintenance as in an independent charter.  We then began a thorough review of the ships operating systems, including fresh water, head operation, galley procedures, engine operation, 12 and 120 volt electrical systems and safety equipment. Tom and Todd led us through the location and purpose of each thru-hull. 

Topsides, the sails and rigging were thoroughly examined and our crew became familiar with location and use of crew-overboard and other safety gear.  This first day of orientation passed quickly and our crew became comfortable with HALIMEDA in anticipation of the week’s sailing ahead. Over dinner, we began to plan our weeks travel itinerary up the Chesapeake.

By coincidence, we would follow Captain John Smith’s northward exploration of the Chesapeake on its 400th anniversary!

Thursday, July 10
The day began early as Todd, navigator of the day, plotted the day’s course with a series of rhumb lines from Little Creek to Fishing Bay at the mouth of the Piankatank River.  Our bos’n, Rina copied the latest weather reports from NOAA weather radio: wind Southwest 5-10 knots, seas 1-2 ft. She performed a final check on the ship’s operating systems and rigging. After a crew meeting to prepare for undocking Tom, today’s skipper, skillfully guided HALIMEDA out of her slip and alongside the fuel dock at Taylor’s Landing so the crew could pump the holding tank dry. 

As we left the protection of Little Creek and entered Chesapeake Bay, the mainsail and genoa were raised as we motorsailed in light air to the Piankatank.  There, we conducted our first anchoring practice before a dazzling sunset over the peaceful waters of Fishing Bay. Rina, doubling as today’s chef, prepared a delicious burrito dinner enjoyed by all. 

Friday, July 11
The sun was up before 0600; a sharp deep red disk through the trees of Stove Point. Daily weather checks and ship systems reviews were promptly completed by Tom as Rina plotted our course out of the Piankatank north to an idyllic anchorage in Smith Creek in the Maryland waters of the Potomac River. After a galley performance that went well beyond the call of duty featuring hot egg, ham and cheese English muffins, Todd directed our bow crew to weigh anchor and we conducted crew overboard rescue drills under power for the next hour. We then sailed north to enter the pristine Smith Creek.  We noted that the vistas seemed unchanged from the days of Captain John Smith.          

Saturday, July 12
Today’s NOAA weather broadcast predicted the arrival of a cold front the next day, but for today we were to have continued light wind in the 5-10 knot range from the SW. Tom plotted a course to take us east, across the Chesapeake to the Eastern Shore with the historic village of Oxford, Maryland as our destination. Our rhumb line route would be 60 nautical miles, making for a long day. Accordingly, our crew opted for an early start with breakfast underway. 

Rina, our skipper today deftly piloted us out of the narrow entrance of Smith Creek where the distant south bank of the Potomac could barely been seen in the morning’s haze. Tom and Todd set the main, then genoa upon entering the Potomac River. We continued motorsailing to maintain at least 5 knots of boat speed. The coastline offered numerous opportunities to practice coastal navigation skills, so our navigator and bos’n busied themselves obtaining bearings and plotting fixes from charted land objects. Plotting a DR, they updated our position and relayed new course-to-steer instructions to Rina. We were really coming together as a team! 

We navigated and motorsailed our way up the Chesapeake to the Choptank and Tred Avon Rivers arriving at The Strand off Oxford before dark.  There we found the holding poor, unable to get a good anchor set after several attempts. The captain suggested Plaindealing Creek, to our immediate north off the Tred Avon River. The anchor now set easily in 10 feet of water at the mouth of the creek affording a cooling breeze, shifting to the Southeast. It would be difficult to describe a more quintessential scene from the Chesapeake: rustic boathouses amid unspoiled shorelines interrupted only by the occasional osprey or waterman gliding past. Yet, any thoughts of swimming were quickly dispelled by the numerous jellyfish surrounding HALIMEDA.  

Sunday, July 13
Our anticipated cold front provided an opportunity for a seminar on marine weather before setting out today. After breakfast, Todd plotted a course from Oxford to St. Michaels, Maryland by way of Tilghman Island and Bloody Bar Light. As we motored past Oxford and down the Tred Avon, we knew the day would bring some fine sailing. Our skipper, Tom steered us through all points of sail under full main, genoa and staysail at times over 8 knots! 

Todd carefully navigated us into the St. Michaels harbor. With the usual tourists and dockside diners providing an audience, Tom expertly executed a standing turn with minimal coaching from the captain to come alongside the St. Michaels Marina fuel dock. After pumping the holding tank, it was all hands on deck as we sprang off the dock and gathered forward speed toward our assigned slip for the night. Advance planning and communication are essential elements of successful docking and this crew proved itself as Tom skillfully backed HALIMEDA into her slip without touching a piling, to the amazement of onlookers. Shore showers and a seafood feast at the Crab Claw restaurant were top priority for our crew, after which we explored the charming streets of St Michael’s in the moonlight. 

Monday, July 14
A cool light rain fell this morning with a forecast for clearing in the afternoon.  Rina planned a passage from St Michael’s down the Miles River  then north, across Chesapeake Bay to the Magothy River. Todd nicely guided HALIMEDA from her slip and followed our rhumb line north.  Rina and Tom practiced coastal navigation with a series of 2 bearing position fixes.  The narrow entrance to the Magothy River gave way to a broad bay with a panorama of scenic beauty. 

Our early afternoon arrival allowed plenty of time for crew-overboard exercises under sail. Unfortunately, our crew’s skill in sea rescue under sail was offset by the light wind of only 5 knots! With determination, the captain applied some well-timed throttle to assist mother nature in creating enough boat speed to challenge the crew. Our crew next turned attention to setting two anchors off the bow.  

As the captain prepared or final dinner afloat, students completed the ASA 104 exam and all passed!  Todd and Rina opted for a celebratory - and cooling - swim after noting the complete absence of jellyfish in the area. 

Tuesday, July 15
The sun rose clear and hot as our crew rallied early for our last day aboard HALIMEDA. Todd, our bos’n today, relayed the latest weather report - wind NE @ 5kt. As he finished the daily engineering and ship’s system checks, Tom plotted a course to the east, across the Bay to the Chester River. After the bow crew hauled up our two anchors, Rina guided our vessel through the Magothy River entrance and across the shipping lanes toward our destination. 

As we approached Lankford Bay Marina at 1200, Rina gently brought HALIMEDA alongside the dock and we pumped the holding tank dry one last time. We rotated skippers so Todd could guide HALIMEDA into her slip. After a discussion of stern-to docking techniques, we warped HALIMEDA sternwise into her slip and secured docklines fore and aft and added spring lines. 

After one week and over 250 miles sailed together, we experienced the benefit of shared duties and teamwork. Our crew had come together as a unit and agreed both sailing skills and confidence had improved greatly. Naturally, we became friends in the process, promising to share pictures once back home – and begin the planning for our next sailing adventures!


Captain Lee Tucker
aboard s/v Halimeda
Lankford Bay Marina

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