2010 Caribbean Cruises

Course Descriptions
School Yachts
Schedule of Courses
Ocean Training Cruises
ASA Certification
Registration Info
Our Location
Our People
Contact Us
Course ASA103-104 Virgin Islands Intermediate Coastal Cruise
Date January 21-28, 2011
Students: Larry Arnoldussen, Pamela Galasso, Mark Grabowsky, Doug and Sevine Rowe
Captain: Steve Runals

18-20 Jan: Captain Steve Runals arrives from the cold north to find CELESTIAL waiting to get back under way but with a few minor issues to be corrected.  These get resolved and boat and Captain are ready to receive the crew who arrive during the afternoon of the 20th.  After stowing gear and initial boat orientation, we all head up to Tickles, the dockside restaurant, for dinner and to start getting to know each other. While each member of the crew brings a different range of sailing experience, each is looking forward to a week away from the cold and snow and the opportunity to sail in this beautiful area.  Following dinner we return to the boat and start developing a cruise and associated meal plan.   

Day 1: Fri 21 Jan:  All up early and ready to start class by 0830.  We review the ASA requirements for each of the three courses (101- 103 -104), finalize our cruising plan, and complete our inventory of onboard stores before finalizing our provisioning list.  The Captain, Pam and Sevine head to Pueblo, the local market, for provisions while Mark, Doug and Larry check out the boat to find required/recommended safety equipment and get familiar with boat storage and equipment locations. After we return from the market and stow provisions, we review Federal boating safety equipment requirements, “rules of the road”, and begin an orientation on charts and the buoyage system before breaking for lunch.  Lunch consists of KFC from a local vendor – something that is not normally done and will have interesting consequences later in the day.  After lunch, we review all boat systems, inspect all areas on deck, go over winch operation and line handling and discuss maneuvering under power. Mark lays out a course to one of several possible anchorages and we depart the marina with Larry at the helm by 1500.  After motoring down the West Georgie Channel, we head into Lindbergh Bay and anchor for the night.  There is a slight swell that slowly builds during the evening, which when combined with an unsettled lunch, results in three of the crew coming down with a little motion sickness.  That dims the enthusiasm by some for a great chicken and rice dinner.   Despite the combined challenges of a rolly anchorage and upset stomachs all are able to get some sleep but not before two cruising rules were introduced and executed.  The cook does not do the dishes/clean up the galley and the boat is prepared to get underway in an emergency – dishes and galley secured, key by the ignition, dingy secured, flashlights at the ready and windless ready to operate.

Day 2: Sat, 22 Jan: Following a light breakfast, we review in detail a pre operations checklist, check the weather, review MOB procedures for operating under power and layout a course to Christmas Cove on Great St James Island. After raising and securing the anchor, all crew participate at the helm and as line handlers as we conduct MOB drills under power and then maneuver CELESTIAL through all points of sail, reef the mainsail and heave-to as we avoid the hazards of Porpoise Rocks, Saba Island and Flat Keys.  We then sail over to Christmas Cove at Great St James Island and are at anchor by 1500 hours.  Several of the crew were still having problems with their stomachs but as we tacked our way east in NE winds of 14-22 knots and the day wears on, they are able to begin to “enjoy” the ride and work the ship.  The Captain is surprised to find that there are now a good number of moorings in the anchorage but plenty of room to anchor.  Prior to dinner we review knots, several go for a swim and Pam and Mark take a short dingy ride to the beach.  Along the way the Captain stops to talk with Prism, an IP 35 that has just completed a three year circumnavigation and is back in the VIs for a second visit.  After dinner we enjoy the cool evening, discuss plans for the next day, which include a desire to see the Superbowl play off games if possible.  This will require a change to the cruising plan.  Flexibility is one of the keys to successful cruising so we layout a course to Francis Bay where a taxi ride into Cruz Bay will allow us to complete required training and still afford the opportunity to watch the games.  A quiet night broken up with occasional rain showers allows us to get the hatch closing and opening routine down pat.

Day 3: Sun, Jan 23:  After breakfast we review the Plan, Record, Verify and Adjust navigation construct, a charter boat checklist, conduct pre-operations checks and get a weather update on VHF channel 5/6.  Depart for the north side of St John with Mark as Captain and Sevine as Navigator.  We transit the Current Cut channel and enter a beehive of activity in Phillsbury Sound where we practice all points of sail in this busy area with lots of power and sail boat traffic to gain a solid understanding of give-way and stand-on vessel responsibilities. After yesterday’s thorough preparation and hands on practice, our crew is gaining confidence in their sail handling and steering skills.  We sail over to Francis Bay and pick up one of the Parking moorings.  Our bow crew finds their MOB practice helps them to successfully pick up and secure our mooring despite the gusty winds.   Anchoring is forbidden in National Park Service waters for vessels under 65 ft.   After two days of anchoring, the mooring is a welcome change.  After a short swim, Larry, Pam, Mark and the Captain dingy into the Maho Eco Camp and take a taxi into Cruz Bay, the Captain to get a National Park service pass and the others to find a place to watch the playoff games.  The Captain returns to the boat and later he, Sevine and Doug have dinner at Eco camp – very good despite the 130+ step climb to the dining facility.  We find out later that each day at 1630 on VHF 71 the Camp announces the menu for the evening.  By 2200 all have returned to the boat and settle in for a quiet night.   

Day 4: Mon Jan 24: We awaken to the sounds of roosters crowing and donkeys baying. Following breakfast, we review in detail engine operating systems and MOB procedures under sail.  Our destination today is Jost van Dyke, which will require us to clear into the BVI.  Before we depart, Mark starts preparation for a special treat – fresh baked bread that he will finish making while under way.  After clearing the mooring, we raise sails and practice all points of sail before the crew tries their hand at recovery of MOB under sail.  All execute their assigned responsibilities well and our “tipsy dummy” is finally recovered and secured for the last time.  Later we are treated to warm fresh bread as we have lunch while hove-to. After lunch we sail into Great Harbor, pick up a mooring and go ashore to clear into the BVI – a very painless process here.  We make some time to explore the area, get a drink at Foxy’s and decide to check out nearby Little Harbor.  After motoring down to for quick “look see”, we decide Great Harbor is better protected for the forecast wind direction and return to our original mooring – another opportunity to practice picking up a mooring.  After securing the boat, Pam and Sevine take their ASA101 tests and Mark, Doug and Larry take their ASA103 tests.  All do very well and are rewarded with dinner at Foxy’s and a quiet night’s sleep

Day 5: Tues, Jan 25: Today’s plan is to head southeast to Norman Island which will take us thru the Thatch Island Cut – beating to weather for the majority of the trip.  After a review of weather and weather systems and execution of the pre-ops checklist, we are treated to the sight of the Oceans Sailing School schooner raising their anchor and “making” sail – all with crew power.  A very impressive sight.  After departing the harbor, we again practice all points of sail in winds 12-22 knots before heading for the Cut.  As we short tack thru the Thatch Island cut and past Sopers Hole, we have many opportunities to reinforce give-way and stand-on vessel responsibilities.  Once clear of the Frenchmans Cay, we review ASA104 course martial.  Mark again treats us to hot, fresh baked bread – nothing better as we tack thru winds which at times reach 24 knots.  We sail into the Bight at Norman Island, secure a mooring and finish lunch.  Several crew then elect to go ashore while Larry and the Capt head over to the caves for some snorkeling.  Later we all practice several different methods for recovery of a MOB – the life sling attached to the spinnaker halyard works the best for crew and MOB.  Dinner ashore for all but Larry and a quiet night on a mooring finish out a great Caribbean sailing day.

Day 6: Wed Jan 26: Depart Norman Island after a review of dingy operations, execution of pre-ops and weather checks and finalizing our course to Marina Cay, just north of the Beef Island airport on Tortola.  As we tack up the Sir Francis Drake Channel, Mark, our navigator for the day, tracks our progress by taking two bearing fixes along the way to verify our DR position.  We arrive at the mooring field by early afternoon.  All go ashore to explore this small, six acre island owned by Pussers and have one of their famous pina coladas.  After this short break, we return to the boat and the crew takes their ASA103 and 104 tests.  All pass with flying colors and are rewarded with great spaghetti dinner.  We turn in for a quiet night after finalizing tomorrow’s down wind return course.

Day 7: Thur, Jan 27: A busy day.  Depart Marina Cay by 0815 after pre-ops and weather checks.  Over night, Sevine has developed a severe headache that initially keeps her resting in her berth but shortly after departure she is up and on deck, ready for the challenges of steering down wind.  We sail broad reach or wing-on-wing using a preventer to control the main boom down Sir Francis Drake Channel, thru the Narrows by Thatch Island, around the western edge of St John to an anchorage off Cruz Bay. Along the way Mark makes some fresh baked corn bread - so good with a little butter.  Here we dingy ashore to clear back into the US and spend a short time exploring Cruz Bay.  Some visit the VI Park Service headquarters; others visit the shopping center at Mongoose Junction.  Back to the boat and onward across Pillsbury Sound, thru the Current Cut by Great St James Island and along the south coast of St Thomas.  The hard work by all throughout the course and a special request from several of the crew for a return to the marina for the night result in a modification of the cruising plan.  We head up the Eastern Georgie Channel at Charlotte Amalie and into our slip after being cleared into the marina by late afternoon.  Doug does a great job of bringing us in despite the challenge of having to navigating around two 100 ft+ motor yachts positioned by our slip.  Lines secure and smiles on faces.  A great job by all.   

Day 8: Fri Jan 28:
Despite being back “home” there is still work to be done.  After a breakfast we have a final review of knots, discuss lessons learned and conduct a thorough cleaning of the boat – inside and out.  Sevine and Pam take the ASA 104 test and pass – again congrats. Now it’s time for farewells.  All express their feelings that the course surpassed their expectations, giving them the opportunity to learn new skills and gain increased confidence in skills they already had.  There was more than one hope expressed to sail together again. Congratulations to all for a job well done, fair winds and great sailing to all! 

Capt. Steve Runals
St Thomas, VI
28 Jan 2011

Return to Home

© Copyright The Maryland School of Sailing & Seamanship, Inc., All rights reserved.
Web site design by F. Hayden Designs, Inc.