2017 Chesapeake Bay Cruise

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ASA104 Intermediate Coastal Cruising Course


 Aug 22- 26, 2017




Gerry Headley, Ray Pavlovskis


Steve Runals

Aug 21, Monday: Captain and Ray just finished a ASA103 class that included anchoring out to watch the solar eclipse. A great way to finish out that course. Gerry arrives by late afternoon and we develop a cruise plan that takes into account the weather and a supporting meal plan. A unique aspect of this class is that one of the other school instructors will be spending a day with us so he can refine his own navigation skills.  Dinner at Fords provides a good opportunity to get to know each other. Back on the boat we review safety procedures and settle in for a quiet night after securing and storing the dingy on the foredeck. 

Tuesday: All are up early for a full day.  Following breakfast at Fords, we finalize the cruise and meal plans and get our provisions.  With provisions stowed, we review the ASA104 course standards, USCG rules of the road, the buoyage system and MOB procedures.  Once complete, we go over all boat operating systems and check all equipment/rigging both below and on deck.  After lunch, we review procedures for maneuvering under power before Gerry, our Captain for the day, takes us out of the slip.  Ray, navigator for the day, has laid out our course to Swan Creek.  The wind is as forecast - south at 10-15 with gusts to 20 knots.  

After executing several MOB drills under power, we put a reef in our main sail, hoist our sails and take up a close hauled course south in the gusty conditions.  Along the way we practice all points of sail while Ray tracks our progress.  We quickly see that in these gusty winds a second reef and playing the traveler is necessary to keep the boat balanced, reduce pressure on the helm and stress on the boat.  Matching sail combinations to wind and sea conditions is a key aspect of cruising. Once down to the horseshoe bend in Chester River, we fall off to a broad reach and then a run where we hoist the whisker pole and sail wing-on-wing north past Rock Hall and into the anchorage in Swan Creek Ė a great ride.  Once securely anchored, Gerry plots our course for tomorrow, south thru the Kent Island Narrows to St Michaels while Ray prepares dinner.  A quiet night in this secure anchorage provides the back drop to review the dayís events.  Despite the threat of thunder-storms, we have a quiet night for a well-deserved nightís sleep.  

Wednesday:  We raise anchor and head over to Gratitude Marinaís fuel dock to meet an additional crewmember for the day, Captain Frank Mummert, one of the schools instructors, who will join us for our trip south.  The challenge for today is to time our arrival at the entrance to the Kent Island Narrows with its shallow entrance, strong currents and timed bridge lift.  Gerry and Ray have worked together to identify the earliest and latest times for arriving at the bridge.  The passage of a frontal system has reversed the winds, cooled the temperatures and dropped the humidity.  Once out in the Bay, we initially find light winds that build with a rising sun until we again hoist the whisker pole and are sailing wing-on-wing.  

We arrive off the entrance to Kent Narrows a little early so we heave-to.  Gerry gets us into position to await the opening of the Kent Island swing bridge while Ray positions the boat to await its opening.  Once past the bridge, we enter Eastern Bay and again find we can sail on a broad reach along our course line.  Gerry takes several two-bearing fixes to confirm our position.  Off the entrance to St Michaelís, Ray contacts the marina by radio.  Itís a busy place today as we await our turn at the pumpout dock.  Ray then gets us easily into our slip.  After securing the boat, we head over to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum to explore this treasure. Showers and dinner ashore provide a great way to finish out this great day on the water.

Thursday: After a review of marine weather and pre-operational checks, Gerry gets us out of a very crowd St Michaelís Marina.  Ray has plotted our course to Annapolis and determined the state of tide and current along the way.  We have an ebb current taking us north to Tilghman Point but fight a building flood down Eastern Bay and then turn north to Annapolis. Great sail north to Tilghman Point in winds of 8-12 knots in a very much cooler, sunny day.  Ray tracks our progress by taking several two-bearing fixes as we round the point and sail south toward Bloody Point in a dying wind.  Along the way we pass many boats headed to St Michaelís.  

Despite our best efforts and careful attention to sail trim, the dying wind and adverse current finally force us to motor sail till we pass Thomas Point Light.  There, the wind again fills in for a short sail getting us close to the mooring field at Annapolis.  Gerry and Ray set up our mooring line and secure us to one of the many empty city-maintained moorings.  Once secure, we launch the dingy and head into town for a walkabout before heading to Pusserís for dinner outside overlooking Ego Alley. Dinner provides a great opportunity to observe the varied activity of this busy harbor Ė to include watching several Dragon Boats underway, and to review the events of the past several days.  Back aboard, Gerry plots our course up the Bay and into the Chester River for an anchorage in Queenstown Creek.  A quiet night.

Friday: The forecast for today is for light winds and an adverse current if we arrive at the Love Point Light before 1300 so we take our time getting ready to depart.  After breakfast and pre-operations checks, we head over to the Annapolis City Marina to pumpout the holding tank and then head north along our course line.  North of the Bay Bridge the wind picks up and we have a nice reach almost to the Love Point Light where the wind again turns light.  Along the way we review ASA104 topics. Queenstown Creek has a very narrow entrance with little room for error.  We follow the advice of the cruising guide and the Active Captain cruiser reports, and we are soon securely anchored.  We discussed the procedures for rafting sailboats at anchor.  We find an example of the procedure close by.  Itís a quiet spot that is soon enjoyed by several other boats.  Ray and Gerry spend the remainder of the afternoon studying till its time for dinner.  The cool evening and secure anchorage provides a comfortable backdrop to discuss the dayís events and plan for our return to Langford Bay Marina.   

Saturday: After breakfast, Ray and Gerry take and easily pass the ASA104 test.  Then itís up anchor and carefully retrace our steps back into the Chester River.  The wind is up so we are able to sail the majority of the way home, practicing an MOB drill along the way.  In dying winds, we motor to the pumpout and fuel docks and finally into our slip taking turns at the helm to practice docking procedures.  Each maneuver demonstrates a renewed confidence in boat handling ability.   Boat cleanup is followed by a final course review in which all agree this has been a great trip.  Each day provided a good opportunity for sailing, maneuvering under power and practicing navigation skills. All agree the course accomplished or exceeded all expectations, whetting appetites for more. Well done to a great crew! 

Captain Steve Runals
aboard IP-32 ACADAME
Lankford Bay Marina
Aug, 2017


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