2017 Chesapeake Bay Cruise

Course Descriptions
School Yachts
Schedule of Courses
Ocean Training Cruises
ASA Certification
Registration Info
Our Location
Our People
Contact Us


ASA104 Intermediate Coastal Cruising Course


September 13-17, 2017


S/V Scholarship, IP32


Chad Atkins, Dan Davis, Guy Dugan, Marianne Shepard


Frank Mummert

The first day of our trip started in rain, but as we reviewed the navigation plan, checked out the boat and gathered our supplies at the local grocery store, the clouds cleared up and the sun came beaming down.  We left Lankford Bay Marina a little after lunch and headed for Queenstown Creek.  After a lazy run down the Chester River, we crept in the very narrow and shallow Queenstown Creek Channel and found ourselves an anchorage near our sister ship, Acadame.  After chatting with her for a few minutes about the local conditions, we watched a beautiful sunset and had a quick dinner before shutting down for the night.  

In the morning, the clouds were back and between sunrise and our departure, the rain poured, letting up just as we pulled up the anchor.  We said goodbye to Acadame and headed out of the anchorage, setting our course for the Kent Narrows Bridge.  We made it to the bridge at high tide, a boon for traveling in the dogleg channel that approaches Kent Narrows from the north, but the current was ripping.  As we made the trip through the opened drawbridge, it took more than half power just to keep us moving through the current on our bow.  

After passing the Narrows, we took advantage of the wind to set our sails and head for Saint Michaels.  After a few hours of sailing, we moved into the lee of Tilghman Point and the wind became too light and variable to continue.  Reluctantly, we dropped the main, furled the genoa and motored the rest of the way into St. Michaels Marina, where we spent a lovely evening enjoying the local scenery and shopping.

Morning found us up and excited to get on our way.  As is so often the case on a sailing trip, the wind had clocked around while we slept and, while still fresh, it hung decisively on our nose as we motored out once again toward the Chesapeake Bay.  It dropped significantly as we came into the Bay itself around the dreaded Bloody Point Bar at the southern tip of Kent Island and we watched as the depth meter showed we were passing over one of the deepest points in the Chesapeake Bay, a spot over one hundred feet deep.  None of the students aboard had ever seen a three-digit depth!

Coming into the Annapolis Harbor, we were greeted by the sight of dozens of small sailing boats, practicing for the regattas that would commence the next day.  As we picked our way carefully between them, we called the Harbor Master and confirmed that we could take a ball in the mooring field.  Once tied up, we had a little more "class work", then tidied up and went ashore to discover what the night life in Annapolis might hold.  After an excellent dinner and more shopping, we caught a water taxi back to the boat and snugged down for the night, safe and comfortable, although a little warm.  The temperature had been coming up as the wind had died off.

In the morning, we headed out for the Chesapeake Bay again, passing the Naval Academy as the morning colors were being called.  We dropped our speed to neutral and held the boat at attention as the National Anthem swelled across the water from dozens of public address speakers ashore.  Once the flags were up, we proceeded on, a happier crew for having been part of a ceremony that goes back more than one hundred years.  

As we approached the Annapolis Bay Bridge, we began to hear radio calls over channel 13, indicating that two commercial vessels would be transiting the bridge shortly after we did.  Heeding the message, we cleared the channel as rapidly as we could and watched as a tug pushing a huge barge passed southbound, soon to be dwarfed by a massive Roll-On/Roll-Off cargo ship headed for Baltimore.  As we left the bridge area and headed for Swan Creek, the commercial traffic dropped but we were soon in the midst of a wave of recreational vessels, both power and sail, headed into and out of the popular anchorage and marina area.  While transiting the crowded channel, our instructor pulled a sneaky trick and secured the engine unexpectedly, forcing the crew to confront the "104" problem of a failed engine in a crowded channel.  The crew hopped to the problem and we were soon sailing on main and headsail, while the mechanically inclined aboard attempted to troubleshoot the problem.  The solution was soon found and powered restored, but it was the general consensus that it was better that this was a drill and not a real problem.

Once anchored on a Bahamanian moor in the crook of Swan Creek, it was dinghy trips ashore to get ice and gas for the dinghy (a necessity caused by running OUT of gas for the dinghy, resulting in a tow from a friendly passing fellow cruiser).  After experiencing a boisterous night in both St. Michaels and Annapolis, the crew was looking forward to a quiet anchorage, but a wedding reception ashore kept the joint hoppin' until the middle of the night - well, 10:00 pm, but dawn comes early on a boat!

At a half-hour before sunrise on Sunday morning, the Captain of the Day roused her sleepy crew with the sounds of "Good Day, Sunshine" blasting from her phone - take that, wedding party!  We were up, bright-eyed and ready to go, by the time the sun had finally gotten around to rolling out of bed.  Of course, we could not actually see the sun; the clouds had rolled back in during the night, stealing the wind as well.  We motored out of Swan Creek and into the Chesapeake, clearing into the Chester River as the sun finally put in its appearance.  By the time we were off of the Kent Narrows North Channel, the sun was up and clear and we had just enough winds to fill the sails.  So, once again, our instructor decided it was time for some disasters and we spent two hours chasing phantom crew members who had not been able to stay aboard.  After finally rescuing all of these clumsy sailors and experiencing the work involved in actually cranking someone back on-board using the main halyard winch (our instructor "volunteered" to be the "body" in this case), we figured out our position using a three bearing fix and set our path for the bend in the Chester River that would allow us to see our way home.

Dousing the sails in the non-existent wind (hard to believe that we were between two different hurricanes in both time and space), we headed back to Lankford Bay Marina to clean up, sort out and head back to our lives, full of new-found knowledge and confidence.

Captain Frank Mummert
On board S/V Scholarship
Rock Hall, Maryland
September 17, 2017


© Copyright The Maryland School of Sailing & Seamanship, Inc., All rights reserved.
Web site design by F. Hayden Designs, Inc.