2016 Chesapeake Bay Cruise

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ASA104 Intermediate Coastal Cruising Course


 Oct 23- 27, 2016


 S/V Scholarship, IP32


Howard Lane;  William Jeffcock


Steve Runals

Oct 22, Saturday:
The Captain arrived the day before to begin prep and complete some tasks for another class.  Howard and William complete their ASA 103 class and we begin our planning for our class.  We get an update on the weather for the next several days, discuss options for cruising destinations over a chart of the area and decide on a cruising plan that includes anchoring, docking and picking up a mooring. With cruising plan finalized, we develop a supporting meal plan and head to the store to get provisions.  Once provisions are stored, we discuss our plan for the next day and prepare for the tomorrow’s challenges.  The weather has turned cooler but the forecast calls for only a slight chance of rain over the next several days making for beautiful fall cruise on the Bay. 

Day 1 – Sun: Review of Ships Systems, Rules of Road and Boat Handling:
We started the day with breakfast at the Rock Hall Pasta Plus. After just completing their ASA 103 course on Scholarship, Howard and William are familiar with the boat systems so with the exception of inspecting all standing and running rigging for chaff, we spend little time reviewing it.  Preparation does include securing a dingy on the foredeck and doing a through engine inspection.  This is followed by a review of coastal cruising navigation procedures and the buoy system.  Our class will focus on refining sail handling skills learned during earlier classes and on navigation skills needed for coastal cruising. Once our overview is complete, Howard and William layout our course from the marina to an anchorage in Swan Creek, a distance of some 20 miles.  

The forecast calls for gusty NW/W winds 15 – 20 knots giving the opportunity to practice sailing in stronger wind and wave conditions than those they had during their previous courses.  By late morning we are ready to depart.  After a review of boat handling procedures, Howard takes the helm and gets us out of our slip and to the pumpout station.  We complete this important task and are underway before noon.  Before raising sail, we execute several MOB drills under power so this essential skill is fresh on the minds of all.   Once under sail, we find the weather forecast accurate thus requiring a double reef in the mainsail, reef in the genoa and playing the mainsail traveler in the gusty winds.  William, our navigator, tracks our progress along the way taking two-bearing fixes and plotting our position as we pass known points.  Once out of the Chester River and past Love Point, we find the higher waves that we anticipated on the open waters exposed to the still strong west winds.  By late afternoon we are into the shelter of the Swan Creek Channel and to an empty anchorage just north of Rock Hall.  The protection of this snug anchorage, clear skies and cool weather make for a perfect Fall evening.  We review the day’s events over dinner and begin planning for tomorrow’s trip south thru the Kent Narrows to St Michaels.  

Day 2 – Mon: Down the River, Thru the Bridge: 
Our route today will take us through the Kent Island Narrows.  The entrance to the Narrows from the Chester River has undergone significant shoaling so timing our arrival at mid tide or better was a key factor that Howard and William determined as part of their planning the night before.  The forecast calls for a beautiful early fall day with 10-15 knot winds.  After breakfast, we conducted daily preoperations checks, reviewed engine systems and depart our anchorage based on our planned departure time. Once in the Bay we find the forecast winds fail to live up to expectations.  After a slow sail down to the entrance of the Chester River we motor sail to the entrance of the Narrows.  

Our goal was to transit the shoaling entrance between 1130 and 1230. Howard contacts the bridge tender on VHF 13 and are cleared for the 1230 opening of the highway bridge.  We watch the depth sounder carefully as we make our way thru the entrance channel and make it thru without incident. The effects of the strong north setting flood current are clear to all as we await the opening.  Once thru the bridge and into the Eastern Bay we find that the wind has completely died away.  Howard keeps track of our position as we motor sail toward the entrance to St Michael’s.  We contact the marina and arrange to refuel before tying up for the night.  With boat secure, we take the opportunity to visit one of the jewels of the Bay – the Maritime Museum. By late afternoon it’s time for showers, dinner and planning the next day’s route.

Day 3 – Tues: Retrace our Steps, Across the Bay and into the Rhode River:
We depart after preoperations checks under clear skies and forecast winds of 15- 20 knots. Once into the Miles River we find the forecast accurate and quickly put a reef in the mainsail; this is soon followed by a second reef and partial furling of the genoa as we work our way toward Tilghman Point and the Eastern Bay in strong, gusty conditions.  It’s great close hauled sailing.  Once around the point, we make a quick trip down the Bay, around Bloody Point and into a white capped Chesapeake Bay. William tracks our progress across the Bay in the gusty conditions by taking a number of two bearing fixes.  

Wind and wave conditions give us lots of practice in using the mainsail traveler to ease the pressure on the helm.  Howard and William get firsthand experience is seeing how quickly north bound sea going ships and tugs with barges can move as we work to stay out of their way.  Finding our entrance channel marker is a challenge against the just beginning to change foliage in the late afternoon light.  We enter the Rhode River and after careful consideration of the forecast for the night, select an anchorage on the west bank of the river. This provides excellent protection from strong NW winds during the night.  Once anchored, we enjoy an excellent pasta dinner, and quiet but very cold night under clear skies.  

Day 4 – Wed: To Annapolis and a Walkabout:
Seeing one's breath in the weak morning light does little to encourage the crew to exchange the warmth of the their sleeping bags for the cold cabin, but the promise of warming temperatures and coffee and hot chocolate provide the incentive to  begin the day’s activities. Despite the cold, the morning is bright and clear.  After a breakfast of eggs, sausage and coffee we execute our preoperation checks and are underway toward Annapolis.  The forecast calls for light winds so we shake out the reefs of the day before and make our way thru the crab pot floats and fish lines into the Bay.  The light wind gives us some practice in light wind sailing, but once abeam of the Thomas Point Light House, we motor sail into a nearly deserted Annapolis harbor and pick up a mooring. 

Our early afternoon arrival allows Howard and William to take the ASA104 exam and still give us time for a little exploring.  This is the first time William has been to the capital of Maryland, so after they pass the test, we head into town on the dingy for showers and a walkabout.  We meet at Pusser’s for an early dinner – the cooling temps discourage us from sitting outside on the porch, but a window table allows us to watch the limited activity in the harbor as we enjoy dinner and discuss the last several days' events. Once back aboard the boat we secure the outboard motor but decide to leave the dingy in the water – a wise decision as it turns out.  Howard and William complete the planning for our return to Lankford Bay Marina which includes identifying the state of the current at the Love Point Light.  Winds of 10 – 15 knots E/SE are forecast so it should be a good sail home.  Tomorrow’s trip calls for an early departure, so it’s early to bed.   

Day 5 – Thurs: A little excitement, Return to Lankford Bay Marina and Secure
The day begins with a little excitement. At 0045 we are wakened with a loud bang.  The Captain looks out the starboard side port lights to find us up against the town breakwater with the mooring buoy and a severely deflated dingy to port – the mooring had broken free.  We motor the boat out away from the breakwater, free the towed mooring ball and secure the boat on a second mooring.  After inspecting the boat for damages it appeared that our dingy had taken the brunt of the collision with the breakwater and we had no other damage.  We reported the incident to the Annapolis Harbor Master. We settle back to a cautious sleep    Morning comes early to allow for a 0600 departure.  It’s still dark and cold but we complete our predeparture preparations and are underway without further incident.  The crew finds locating lighted and unlighted buoys a challenge but we are soon clear of the entrance channel and into the Bay. 

The forecast wind, 10-15 knots with gusts to 20 from west, make for an exciting sail in the early morning light.  As we sail toward the Bay Bridge we find the excitement for the day is not over.  William spots on the port side a rapidly approaching powered fishing boat on a collision course.  Howard quickly tacks the boat to starboard just in time to avoid a collision.  The boat thunders past without pause.  We count our blessings and wonder what will happen next.  The sail up to and into the Chester River is without further incident.  It’s great sailing.  The now southerly wind has us making long tacks to avoid shallow water in still gusty conditions until we see that a rip has developed in the clew of the genoa.  We make the remainder of the trip home motor sailing, arriving back at the marina by early afternoon.  Howard brings us to the pump out dock and William brings us into our slip.  After securing and cleaning up the boat, we have a final review of the day’s events and our entire trip.  All agree that weather, course and excitement of the last day far exceeded expectations.  It did have one potentially “negative” implication – it wetted the crew’s appetites for more.  Well done to a great crew!

Captain Steve Runals
aboard IP-32 Scholarship
Lankford Bay Marina
Oct 28, 2016


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