2017 Chesapeake Bay Cruise

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ASA104 Intermediate Coastal Cruising Course


 June 21-25, 2017




Mike King, Aiden Padyk, Paul Padyk, Sarah Williams


H. Jochen Hoffmann

Wednesday, June 21, 2017, Day 1
All arrived on time and are eager to go cruising. We meet briefly at 0900 in the classroom to get to know one another, discuss cruise plans, and listen to the NOAA Weather report for today: SW 15, gusts 20, a frontal boundary in the evening with gusts to 30 knots. After line handling and dinghy practice in the harbor (even small boats can present challenges), Paul and Mike shop for provisions while Sarah, Aiden, and the Captain work on the navigation plan and boat preparations. All aboard! We’re off. While tacking down the Chester River, and finding the wind diminishing during late afternoon, we plan to and anchor in Queenstown Creek on two anchors and make a hopefully workable plan. Of two boats moving ahead of us in the channel, one runs aground. Mike at the helm correctly concludes that “she’s not on the range,” i.e., she has not lined up both the buoys ahead AND astern. As she is motoring off, we invite her to follow astern, which she did and all ends well. 

Day 2
Our anchors held us well overnight, and, Aiden at the helm, calls for anchors aweigh, takes us safely through the channel, and conducts the first of several COB (Crew Overboard) exercises. As winds are calm, there is time to learn about GPS latitude/longitude values to find nav markers. It is time well spent. With electronics off, crew also learns that they can find markers like G “9” Fl G 4s in the Chester R by following the 30’ depth contour. Waters being flat, we now concentrate on developing a deviation table for Acadame in 30º increments around the compass. Using a hand-bearing compass at the bow as a less-then-perfect technique, the results all fall between 0º and 4º West deviation and none toward the expected East deviation; so don’t trust the results, discard our efforts, and make our way to Annapolis. Once in the Severn River, we practice landfall entering Chesapeake Harbor, with Mike navigating us in. There we take on water, and Sarah navigates us back out. Finally, we pick up a mooring in Annapolis, shower ashore and meet at Pusser’s restaurant for a Caribbean dinner. 

Day 3
This student crew, already adept at plotting in True North rather than Magnetic North, is now making short work of today’s navigation plan past Thomas Pt Light to G “1A” Fl G 2.5s at the entrance of the West River. Now, on to engineering topics related to the power plant of an auxiliary engine and its electrical plant. Last afternoon, and again this morning, all get VHF radio communications practice hailing the pumpout boat on Ch 17 and, later, Annapolis City Marina on Ch 09 to buy ice to ease the load on our refrigeration system. In a brisk breeze with one reef in the main sail and Sarah at the wheel, we make a long leg at 130ºM across the Bay and a tack on to 265ºM. Now Aiden at the wheel takes us to G “1A” as the breeze freshens.  It's now time to take in sails and negotiate the narrow, winding channel—with precise courses plotted by Paul and Mike—to Pirate’s Cove in Galesville. We then dock in slip No. 33, closely watched by fellow Maryland School sailors aboard S/V SCHOLARSHIP, which had arrived here minutes earlier.  Hot showers and a good dinner ashore revives us all. 

Day 4
We begin this day by taking the ASA104 written test. All pass with flying colors. Next, Sarah and Aiden are getting their first taste of taking on the responsibility of skipper. Sarah asks Paul to lay a DR course to Bloody Pt Lt and Aiden asks Mike to plot a DR course from G “1E” Fl G 4s S off Bloody Pt. Winds are favorable for an exciting evolution: We set the whisker pole for the genoa on starboard with mainsail on portside providing a photo-op for some to take photos as we glide along sailing wing-on-wing. On our way, we hail a southbound pusher tow to arrange safe passage. Once in Eastern Bay following a course change, Aiden wonders whether our pole is still useful. He is right; down comes the pole. From R N “6” off Tilghman Pt and steering 185ºT, Sarah has calculated a hand-bearing compass direction of 320ºM to Tilghman Point as our turning mark to secluded Tilghman Creek. As we arrive in this beautiful anchorage, we cancel plans for a fore-and-aft anchoring (no swing) exercise when a trawler arrives ahead of us and sets a single anchor with a potential swing of 360º. Time to cool off with a swim, the occasional jelly fish notwithstanding. Paul’s superb pesto and beans dish is rightfully applauded. 

Day 5
Today, Paul will be skipper until we reach Kent Narrows Bridge, followed by Mike for the final leg to home port. To get an early start, Paul and the Captain get us underway at 0600 and all enjoy a final breakfast in the cockpit. Winds being light from the S, we motor and Paul has the is crew concentrated on the navigation plan to and through the winding, challenging Narrows. While our VHF communication on VHF Ch 13 with the Bridge tender ensures there is no southbound traffic, a boat of weekend fishermen cuts across our bow as Paul approaches the open bridge. The fishermen apologize profusely. Paul keeps his cool, and we are safely through. Now Mike, conscious of the strong current, posts two lookouts to ensure we are not pushed outside the still winding channel. In the freshening breeze, he asks for full sails to be set, and we make it on a broad reach all the way back to the Marina. Here, the Maryland School's ocean boat NAVIGATOR, arriving from Norfolk, hails us and we agree on taking turns pumping out and topping off fuel. Mike docks Acadame safely in our slip where, after cleaning the boat, we all bid each other a fond farewell. Well done, shipmates. 

Captain H. Jochen Hoffmann
On board S/V AcaDame
Rock Hall, Maryland
June 25, 2017


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