2008 Chesapeake Bay Cruise

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Course: ASA 104 Intermediate Coastal Cruising 
Date: October 20-25, 2008
Vessel: IP-440 CELESTIAL
Students: Stan Adler, Erico Silva, Jim Wallace
Captain: Eric Petterson

Sunday, Oct 19:
Captain Eric Petterson arrived on board Celestial, our Island Packet 440, at 1045 to check out the boat prior to student arrival.  At 1445 Stan Adler and Erico Silva arrived, followed by Jim Wallace who arrived at 1530.  Students stowed their gear and we discussed the week’s sailing plans.  Captain Eric also discussed how the responsibilities would be assigned for the week, with each day having a student captain, navigator, and engineer.  After that we all went to Waterman‘s Restaurant for dinner.  After dinner we planned meals and made out a shopping list.  Finally Captain Eric instructed the students as to how the navigation would be done for the week, and everyone participated in the short navigation plan to the anchorage in Swan Creek planned for the night of the October 20th

Monday, Oct 20:
Breakfast in the morning was at the Rock Hall Snack Bar, a popular spot in the mornings for locals.  Upon returning we began the boat orientation and review of boat systems, including plumbing, rigging, and electronics equipment.  This activity was followed by shopping and stowage of the all the goods purchased.   Captain Eric made the individual daily assignments for the week, followed by instructions on the processes of leaving the slip and anchoring.  Prior to actually leaving, the latest weather information was obtained off the Internet, providing a base outlook for planning the week’s cruise.  Finally the students pulled CELESTIAL out of her slip and motored the short trip to the Swan Creek anchorage (about a mile), where we dropped anchor at 1615 for the evening.  Jim Wallace prepared a very tasty dinner of roast beef, with leftovers planned for sandwiches underway.  After dinner the next day’s navigation was planned by Jim Wallace for the trip to Annapolis. 

Tuesday, Oct 21:
In the morning it became necessary to return to Gratitude Marina to repair a failed LP solenoid, which was discovered as dinner was being prepared the previous night.  So at 0715 the anchor was raised and we motored back to the marina, tying up at the fuel dock for the repairs, which were completed by 1130.  Winds were now 20 to 30 knots from the west, making for a challenging dock departure.  After carefully discussing the departure procedure, we pulled smoothly away from the dock at 1200.  Sails were set with a heavily reefed main and the staysail for the close-hauled sail to Annapolis.  Seas were 3-4 feet and choppy, but CELESTIAL and the crew handled the conditions very well, providing the students with a very good experience of sailing in demanding conditions.   We entered the Annapolis Harbor, furled the sails and picked up a mooring at 1645 after having logged 23 nautical miles.  The water taxi provided transportation to shore and dinner was at McGarvey’s.   After dinner, Stan Adler completed the next day’s navigation plan for the voyage to Solomons. 

Wednesday, Oct 22:
At 0800 we dropped off the mooring and motored out to set sail.  Winds were still at 20 to 30 knots, but now from the northwest.  It was sunny by cold.  The mainsail was set with a heavy reef again, as well as a preventer to eliminate the risk of accidental jibes.  As we cleared Annapolis Harbor, the wind continued to clock until it was more north-northwest, so we sailed on a run under reefed main alone.  Underway we practiced gybing using the “s-gybe” technique.  Finally as we neared Solomons the winds had dropped to 12 to 15 and we sailed wing-on-wing for a while before turning up the Patuxent River to enter the harbor at Solomons.   At 1645 we completed our day’s sail and were tied up at Spring Cove Marina; this day having logged 52 nautical miles.  Before heading off to dinner, we checked the weather forecast and found that the forecast for the 25th (our last day) had seriously deteriorated.  Originally it had been for east winds at around 10, but it was now forecasted to be 25-30 from the southeast with rain and thunderstorms.  Over dinner at the restaurant, it was decided to modify our sailing plans so that we could be in the marina at Norfolk before this weather system arrived, which would require a long day’s sail the next day.  After dinner naviagator Erico Silva developed the navigation plans for sailing to Fishing Bay on the Piankatank River, which was projected to be a sail of about 65 miles. 

Thursday, Oct 23:
The day began early as we pulled away from the dock at 0700 in the chill morning air, about 25 minutes before sunrise.  After motoring out of the harbor, we set sail in northeast winds of 15-20, sailing on broad reach (again with the preventer set) until just across the Potomac River where the winds began to diminish.  After passing Smith Point Light, the winds decreased to 5-8 so we motored  for about an hour and a half, until the winds built back to 12-15 for the remainder of the day.  We arrived in Fishing Bay and anchored at 1715, having logged a very fast 70 miles.  Erico Silva prepared an excellent dinner of chicken fajitas.  The nightly navigation planning was done by Jim Wallace for our last day’s sail to Little Creek, Norfolk.   

Friday, Oct 24:
Our last day of sailing began at 0745 as we raised anchor and motored out of Fishing Bay.  The winds were a nice 10-15 from the east, so we set up for a beam reach to Little Creek.  Underway we practiced MOB quick-stop maneuvers and heave-to.  As the day progressed the winds continually clocked until they were from the southeast as we made our final approach to Norfolk.  The wind shift forced us to adjust sails until we were finally close-hauled, tacking our way to the mouth of Little Creek.  However we were left with one final challenge, which was to cross the shipping channel through heavy shipping traffic.  After successfully avoiding the shipping, we made our way into Little Creek and were tied up at Taylor’s Landing Marina at 1730.  For this final day we logged 62 miles, bringing the total mileage for the voyage to 207.   A celebratory dinner was had at the SurfRider restaurant in the marina.  

Saturday, Oct 25:
The day was devoted to lessons that we were too busy to do while underway.  We had training sessions on the diesel engine, knots, sail trim, VHF weather radio, and various anchoring techniques.  We filled Celestial’s diesel tank and pumped out the holding tank.  Students studied then Stan and Jim took their 104 tests and both passed.  Lastly everyone packed their gear and cleaned the boat in preparation for leaving.  All agreed it was a great class!  

Captain Eric Petterson
Norfolk, VA

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