2016 Chesapeake Bay Cruise

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ASA104 Intermediate Coastal Cruising Course


 October 9-13, 2016




Andy Johnson, Heather Norwood, Kevin Norwood, Jim Powers


H. Jochen Hoffmann

Sunday, October 9, 2016. Day 1
Perimeter bands of Hurricane Matthew are dropping buckets of rain and sending northerly winds gusting to 37 knots. No doubt, we are better off staying in port than being at sea wishing we’d be in port. Thus, introduction to dinghy and outboard engine operation is done ashore. We use our time productively provisioning the boat, reviewing course topics, and developing navigation plans. Although anchoring in any of the coves in reach is not an option, we use the briefest of lulls to head into our marina creek to practice picking up a mooring, simulating a Mediterranean mooring, and setting a reefed jib. We reach Lankford Creek now fully exposed to the gale. Enough! We manage to get safely back in our slip, prepare the boat for an early departure tomorrow morning, and enjoy a quiet dinner at Bay Wolf restaurant.

Day 2
The rain has ended, but winds are still forecast at North 25 knots, gusts to 30 knots. We motor to a marina mooring and, somewhat sheltered, practice reefing the mainsail. The mooring dropped, we practice MOB (Man Overboard) under engine and then start an initial downwind run under a reefed jib. Destination per navigation plan is Whitehall Creek near Annapolis. Practicing tack after tack northwestward toward Love Point shows we are making scant progress upwind under double-reefed main sail and reefed jib. As frequently during this trip, we deliberate jointly as to a prudent course of action. We won’t be able to reach Annapolis in these conditions well before nightfall and break out Chart 12278
Chesapeake Bay Approaches to Baltimore Harbor. Magothy River, lying almost due west, offers a safe anchorage near Dobbins Island. We arrive at 1630 - two hours before sunset - set two anchors off the bow, and take anchor-watch bearings before enjoying a ham-steak dinner after this hard day’s sail.

Day 3
First, a good egg breakfast. Next, we cover key systems and troubleshooting techniques that every bareboat charterer needs to know: waste, engine power, and electrical. As we prepare to raise both anchors, we are pleased to see that we did not swing during the night. In short, our lines were not twisted making raising our anchors a cinch. Our nav plan to Galesville includes introduction to electronic navigation. The crew has measured the latitude/longitude of G “1A” Fl G 2.5s at the mouth of the West River on NOAA Chart 12270
Chesapeake Bay Eastern Bay and South River; Selby Bay. Pretending to be in thick fog and watching GPS numbers closely, all (except the captain) shade their eyes and give helm commands to direct the ship along the latitude or longitude lines until the measured numbers are showing on the GPS. Voila! There it is for all to see! At the West River Fuel Dock, we pump out and dock in our assigned slip at Pirates Cove. Showers and a superb fish dinner ashore rounds out this day.

Day 4
Jim has been appointed Skipper for the first half of today's trip. Today, is an important day in our coastal piloting education: We are transitioning from chart plotting in magnetic to plotting in geographic or True North. Using traditional conventions, the crew is drawing a DR (Deduced Reckoning) line across the Bay from buoy G “1A” Fl G 4s to G “1E” Fl 4s off Bloody Point Light at the entrance of Eastern Bay. Next, assuming a speed of 5 knots, they are adding DR symbols on that line in 30-minute intervals. Winds being very light, we motor-sail along that line with the crew busying themselves taking fixes on charted objects and learning tabular log-keeping. The captain hails a tug towing a barge on VHF Ch 13 and both agree on safe crossing. For one of their fixes, the crew has identified a deep trench SE of Bloody Point Light and uses its 120 foot depth contour to achieve an EP (Estimated Position) which they refine to a perfect fix by taking a bearing on Bloody Point Light. At buoy R “4” Fl 4s north of Tilghman Island, Heather, now in her role as student Skipper, orders a course of 144º True to be steered for 12 minutes. This defines her turning mark westward to Tilghman Creek. To verify accuracy, her navigators have also measured a bearing of 280ºT from Rich Neck to our turning mark. As both do indeed coincide, we turn and make our landfall in Tilghman Creek where we set a fore-and-aft anchor for practice and take steps to relax for the night.

Day 5
Kevin and Andi will be student Skippers in succession today. We are getting up at 0600 prompting star-gazing on deck by Jim and Heather. A good breakfast follows this, plus an introduction to the NOAA 2016 Tide and Current Tables. The 1030 slack tide at Kent Narrows determines our arrival at that location. Conditions prompt us to bring up and clean first our bow anchor and then the stern gear. Andy takes us out of the channel, follows yesterday’s reciprocal course, and then Kevin’s plots course of 014º True past Parson’s Island. We discuss challenges related to transiting a winding, narrow channel, a two-leaf Bascule Bridge (similar to Tower Bridge, London), and Bridge Tender VHF communications. Kevin makes our request call, steers us safely through the opened bridge, and Andy makes the courtesy “all clear” call. Outside the channel, the wind now increasing, we raise sails, perform one more MOB practice under sail followed by jibing and set the preventer for a long, delightful down-wind run back to our marina. Pumping waste and topping off fuel fulfills one more bareboat chartering requirement. The crew docks our good ship perfectly in her slip; we clean the boat and shake hands in a fond farewell.

Well done, sailors. I’ll see you again on the water. 

Captain H. Jochen Hoffmann
On board S/V ACADAME
, IP32
October 13, 2016
Rock Hall, Maryland



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