2010 DELMARVA Reports

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Course Advanced Coastal Cruising; DELMARVA Circumnavigation
Date August 10-17, 2010
Students: Peter Girling, Jim Samuels, Yda Schreuder, and Richard Sloan 
Captain: Eric Petterson


August 9, 2010
Captain Eric Petterson was on board to welcome students to CELESTIAL at the Osprey Point Marina in Rock Hall. Students Jim Samuels, Peter Girling, Yda Schreuder, and Richard Sloan all arrived between 1600 and 1700. After appropriate introductions and a brief orientation to CELESTIAL we began preparing for the week’s adventure. First was to review class objectives, itinerary, standing orders, watch schedules and daily roles and responsibilities. Captain Eric also passed out various checklists, one of which listed all the work items that must be accomplished prior to getting underway. Everyone then jumped into one of the most difficult assignments of the week, which was to plan daily menus and meals, most of which would have to be prepared and served while underway. An enjoyable dinner ashore was taken at Waterman’s restaurant in Rock Hall.

August 10, 2010
After breakfast at the Rock Hall Snack Bar we all went shopping at the Bayside grocery store in Rock Hall. Once back on board, and after all the food items were stowed away, the students began an intensive review of all boat systems, both below decks and above. In addition to the mainsail, staysail and genoa of CELESTIAL, this review included a test setting of the storm trysail and the spinnaker. Captain Eric made daily student assignments of captain, navigator, engineer, and bosun/emergency coordinator, giving each student time to act in the various roles of staffing a sailboat for offshore sailing. Eric also assigned names to the watch schedules. Other instructional items included reviews of rules-of-the-road, weather radio station planning, man-overboard techniques, and sail trim.

Finally we took a break for dinner, which was an excellent meal prepared on board. After galley clean-up was complete, Captain Eric led a planning session on the navigation techniques to be used for the week, which included pre-planning of courses and distances to various aids-to-navigation, supplemented by LOP’s for fixes and dead reckoning. With Eric’s direction, the navigator for the first day’s journey completed the navigation plan, and our very our busy day of preparation was complete.

August 11, 2010
We left the slip at 0730 and motored north up Chesapeake Bay towards the C&D canal. Winds were from the north at 5-10 knots, but dropped soon after departing to 5 or less. As we passed Still Pond in the northern end of the bay, we stopped for lunch and a little anchoring practice. After lunch we also conducted some "standing turn" exercises under power. As we continued north, the winds backed to the northwest and increased to 5-10 so we were able to sail from 1400 to 1500 before the winds dropped off again. We arrived at Summit North Marina, which is just off the C&D canal, at 1820. Dinner was again prepared and served on board. After dinner the navigation planning was begun for the entire passage down the Delmarva coast to our next destination, which was Hampton, VA.

August 12, 13 & 14, 2010
After completing the navigation plan and completing our offshore pre-departure checklist, we pulled away from the dock at 1215 confident that all was in order for our coming offshore and overnight sails. The forecast wind was to be from the east at 10-15 with gusts to 20, so with a southeasterly course we were hoping for some close-hauled sailing or motor-sailing. It was cloudy with very little wind and a bit of light rain, but as we turned into the Delaware Bay the winds began increasing dramatically and coming from the southeast… right onto the bow of the boat. Furthermore when the current was against the wind, the seas became very steep, making the passage down Delaware Bay a difficult and somewhat uncomfortable trip. These conditions continued until we neared the mouth of the Delaware when the winds finally began to back somewhat to the east at the same time that our course turned slightly to the south! We began sailing!! We passed Cape Henlopen around 2400 sailing nicely close-hauled in 15-20 knot winds from the east. As the winds continued to increase and our course turned to the south, we found ourselves sailing a vigorous, but comfortable beam reach. As the winds reached 20-25 we reefed the main, furled the genoa completely, and deployed the staysail. Under these sails the sailing was still quite comfortable in spite of the 6-8 foot seas.

As the day of Friday, August 13 progressed the winds began to drop, but not before we were faced with another challenge. We experienced the loss of a clevis pin from one of the mainsheet blocks, allowing the boom to swing wildly. After a few minutes we were able to get the boom under control, install a replacement shackle for the mainsheet block, and restore order to the mainsail and rigging. However in the process of this repair, an unrelated block pulled off the staysail boom. Finally we regained control of the staysail boom, but this gear failure made the staysail unusable until a better repair could be made. So finally we completely furled the staysail and sailed under a reefed genoa and reefed mainsail. Friday the 13th lived up to its reputation, but we demonstrated that even gear failure can be repaired offshore with proper preparation of spare parts and a calm and paced approach to solving the problem.

As we continued south and neared the mouth of the Chesapeake the winds continued to drop, finally reaching 10-15, but still from the east. Around 2400 we began to reach the area of the mouth of the Chesapeake, with all of its multitudes of lighted buoys, lighthouses and city lights. As we began making our way through the myriad numbers of lights and buoys our navigator was put to a significant test, tracking our progress and identifying the various aids-to-navigation. With everyone’s assistance and attentive sightings, we made our way through the bay entrance and past several large ships, both at anchor and underway. Finally the sun began to rise as we neared Old Point Comfort and turned towards Hampton, where we arrived and were tied up in our slip at Downtown Hampton Public Piers at 0745.

After CELESTIAL was safely tied in place, the first orders of business were showers, followed by breakfast, followed by naps. The afternoon was then filled with planning the navigation to Annapolis, and with a review/instruction of ASA106 knowledge skills held by Captain Eric. Dinner ashore was only steps away at a restaurant named "Oyster Alley".

August 15 & 16, 2010
departed her slip at 0905 on our journey north to Annapolis. After clearing the harbor we set sail in southeast winds of 5-10. Then at 1120 we rigged the spinnaker and sailed until 1430 when it was doused as winds increased to 12-15 and the sky began to darken. We continued on with main and genoa, giving us opportunities to practice setting a preventer and executing an s-gybe. As we crossed the Potomac River area just north of Smith Point, the weather forecast began to call for gusty winds (up to 25), so we furled the main and sailed only under the genoa for ease of control during the night. The sail remained quite comfortable, and the forecasted gusty winds never developed. Finally at 0930 we arrived in Annapolis and picked up a mooring, having sailed the entire length of the bay from Hampton.

After the obligatory showers and naps, some students took their ASA106 tests. All passed. A celebratory dinner ashore was enjoyed by all at Galway Bay Irish restaurant.

August 17, 2010
Left our mooring in Annapolis and motored over to the Annapolis City Marina for fuel and a pump-out. After this chore was completed, we pulled away at 0840 and motored to Rock Hall in winds from the north-northeast of 5 knots. We arrived back at our starting point for this journey at Osprey Point Marina at 1200. After packing and boat clean-up we said goodbye and marveled once again on the great experiences of this voyage.

Captain Eric Petterson
Rock Hall, MD
August 18, 2010

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