2017 Chesapeake Bay Cruise

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ASA104 Intermediate Coastal Cruising Course


 July 14-18, 2017




Ken Ede, Tom Gotthold, Jon Sargeant


Andy Barton

Day 1:
 After introductions and a brief orientation, our primary goal was provisioning. We put together a meal plan and budget, then Tom and Ken went shopping. Jon and Captain Andy set up and tested the dinghy and outboard. The crew returned with our provisions and we had a nice lunch of sandwiches and fresh hoagies from the deli. After lunch, we reviewed the weather forecasts and cruise planning. The forecast for the afternoon and evening was strong thunderstorms with potentially damaging winds or hail associated with a passing cold front. We opted to stay put for the evening and reviewed ship systems, engine operation and maintenance, electrical budgets, and navigation. This turned out to be a wise decision as we rode out heavy downpours and strong winds safely secured in the marina.

Day 2: 
Off to an early start today after a breakfast of bagels with cream cheese and strong "chewy" coffee. Jon was skipper today, Ken was navigator, and Tom was bosun. Forecast was for a slight chance of morning storms, clearing around mid-day. Winds out of the west northwest provided a nice reach down the Chester River to Kent Narrows. Navigating the Narrows can be tricky with strong currents and shoaling to 4 feet.  We timed our departure to pass through the Narrows shortly after high tide with a nearly slack current, and saw no less than 7ft. A dark cloud to our northwest caught our attention, so we kept a close eye on its development. 

Shortly after clearing the Narrows, the VHF sprung to life with reports of a waterspout. Sure enough, we spotted two funnel clouds a couple of miles away. The storm was tracking just barely north of us, so we struck our sails, put on our harnesses, tethered in, and motored quickly southward to maximize distance from the storm, noting danger bearings and safety bearings in case we lost visibility. All turned out well as the cell passed a mile or two north of us. Once the weather passed, we also checked in with our sister ship, Scholarship, who was traveling from Rock Hall to Annapolis to ensure they weathered the storm, which they had. Sails up again and onward to St. Michaels! We arrived in good time, so decided to explore the Miles River a bit further beyond St. Michaels before heading in to dock for the night. Jon, Ken and Tom did a nice job gybing up, then short tacking back out of the river in 10-15kn winds. All enjoyed touring the maritime museum, waterfront dining at the tiki bar, and a stroll through the town. Before turning in, the crew planned tomorrow's navigation to Annapolis.

Day 3: 
Today's forecast was for clear weather and light winds out of the northeast.   After some more "chewy" coffee, we departed. Tom was navigator and guided us around the large shoal in the middle of the Miles River entrance into the Eastern Bay. Full sail was set. In the light winds, our speed was falling below two knots, and every time we hit a powerboat wake, we lost momentum. Motorsailing it is then!  A perfect day to practice our navigation skills underway. Ken, Tom and Jon all contributed to obtaining fixes, plotting our DR position, and determining course corrections. It's a summer weekend, so boat traffic as we near Annapolis is buzzing, providing numerous learning opportunities for rules of the road. We see a large regatta and decide to pass south of the racing fleet on our way in. After a quick stop at the fuel dock to pump out, we passed through the drawbridge and picked up a mooring in St. Mary's Cove. After settling in, we hailed the water taxi and enjoyed a fabulous dinner at a local sailor pub.

Day 4: 
We are off to a relaxing start this morning. Captain Andy made pancakes while Jon (today's navigator) planned our voyage to the anchorage behind Gibson Island in coordination with Ken and Tom. Weather forecast was for SE 5-10 knots with a chance of afternoon storms. We caught the 0900 bridge opening and set full sails once in open water. We had a nice beam reach to the Bay Bridge which provided an excellent opportunity to review advanced sail trim. Another larger sailboat left Annapolis headed for the bridge at the same time, so the race was on!  The crew stepped up to the challenge, getting the telltales flying and tweaking sail twist to maximize efficiency --- and yes, we were under the bridge first. 

Once under the bridge, we had a run to the mouth of the Magothy River and set up the whisker pole to keep the genoa flying well in light air. After entering the Magothy, sails were struck and we tucked into Eagle Cove to anchor. Different types of anchoring techniques were reviewed. We let out some extra scope in case storms developed, then Captain Andy reviewed test topics one more time. After a light dinner, it was time for the written test. Ken, Jon and Tom had to relocate from the cockpit to belowdecks mid-testing as a storm was brewing. The wind picked up but we were spared any rain --- perfect as it cooled down the boat nicely for sleeping on the hook!

Day 5: 
Time to go back home now. Weather forecast is for South winds at 0-5kn and chance of afternoon storms. The mainsail is prepped, but never raised as we motored back across the bay and up the Chester River in glassy conditions. The crew has really come together as an efficient team, each contributing to the navigation along the way. Time to relax, share a few stories, and talk about future sailing plans. Arriving at the marina, we pump out, take on fuel and water, and make the boat tidy for the next trip!

Capt. Andy Barton
Rock Hall, Maryland


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