2016 Chesapeake Bay Cruise

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ASA104 Intermediate Coastal Cruising Course


September 18-22, 2016  




Jeff Campbell; Connie Jones; Wayne Kendrick; Mike Parsons


H. Jochen Hoffmann

Sunday, September 18, 2016. Day 1
We begin by discussing course goals and voyage planning, including routes, meals, and weather. Training begins with line-handling seamanship, followed by dinghy and outboard operations in the harbor. One crew delights in getting us all wet. Laughter ensues. Provisions on board and navigation plan in hand, we motor, then sail close hauled toward Queenstown and its narrow, challenging channel. A looming sandbar sharpens our senses as we make a wide turn into our anchorage. We are the only boat here. Nature's beauty surrounds us as we enjoy a simple dinner. 

Day 2
The forecast tells of a stalled frontal boundary, winds SW10 with low visibility. Out come our Foulies as we practice MOB (Man Overboard) maneuvers off Queenstown. Prevailing conditions preclude taking bearing fixes, so we use depth contours and time/speed/distance calculations to find our waypoints. Exciting! As the wind increases near Love Point (by now we are thoroughly drenched), we set sail for Annapolis. Our crew has developed three landfall scenarios for practice: Chesapeake Harbor, Back Creek, and Annapolis Harbor. We implement all of them to maximize learning and experience. In Back Creek we briefly pick up a mooring to discuss sailing resources such as the U.S. Coast Pilot. Extensive use of nav lights all day plus cabin lights for chart work has depleted our #2 batteries. We take a slip to recharge them. Then off to shower and dinner at Pusser’s restaurant. 

Day 3
After breakfast on board (we had all made a quick run to Starbucks for our favorite coffee), VHF Radio practice brings the Harbor Pump-out Boat alongside to empty our holding tank. It’s a perfect segue to our important systems topics of the morning: sanitation, power, and electrical. Knowing these systems and learning about trouble shooting them is a critical part of bareboat chartering. By the time we are done, the constant rain has abated, and we rig a preventer for a spirited broad reach to Galesville on the West River. Here we update our log (Details matter!) and introduce tabular log entries that are part of DR (Deduced Reckoning) navigation. Our slip is at Pirates Cove with its restaurant known for great seafood. We were not disappointed. 

Day 4
First thing, students take the ASA104 test. All pass with flying colors. Next, we stock up with ice blocs to save battery power, develop our DR plot from G “1A” Fl G 2.5s to south of Bloody Point Light and learn to convert from True North to Ship’s Compass (TVMDC + West) and Ship’s Compass to True North (CDMVT + East). From now on, all chart plotting is done in True. Jeff is skipper and his plotted course is 115° True. A fast beam reach gets us quickly across the Bay. From here, Connie and Wayne (Wayne now the student skipper) plot a course of 057° True up Eastern Bay from G “1E” Fl G 4s to R “4” Fl R 4s N of Tilghman Island. Now, Wayne plots a waypoint at 38° 85.450’ N; 076° 23.533’ W to which we steer and then turn toward Claiborne and our secluded anchorage at Tilghman Creek. Here we practice setting two anchors off the bow before enjoying dinner in the cockpit under a golden evening sky. 

Day 5
Connie is skipper for the first half of our trip north, followed by Mike. Her first course is 068° psc (per ship’s compass) past Rich Neck where she will ask for a turn toward Parsons Island as soon as R N “6” is bearing 000° on our hand bearing compass. It works! Multiple tacks take us past Parsons Island where we decide to furl all sails and motor to catch the 1030 Kent Island Bridge opening. Kent Island Bridge is a two-leaf bascule bridge (think Tower Bridge, London) where pre-planning for transiting the entire Kent Narrows channel is a must. Mike calls the Bridge Tender on VHF Channel 13 to verify our timing, takes the helm, and we crosses safely at center-channel against a strong current. Lining up the center-channel bridge nav lights of the higher, fixed bridge helps. Multiple tacks up Chester River under warm, sunny September skies make for an enchanting final run to our marina. We get there just before the 1530 fuel dock closing. Next, we pump out and dock safely one last time in our slip. 

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

Captain H. Jochen Hoffmann
September 22, 2016
Rock Hall, Maryland




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