2017 Chesapeake Bay Cruise

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ASA104 Intermediate Coastal Cruising Course


 Sept 29 to Oct 3, 2017




Terry and Sarah Grainger


Andy Barton

Day 1: After brief orientation and introductions, we put together a provisioning plan and reviewed what was still needed. Sarah and Terry made a run to the grocery, and upon their return everything was stowed. A discussion of the deck layout, controls and safety equipment was followed by a review of the ship's engine, electrical and plumbing systems below.  Next, we started a basic cruise plan, with the students expressing an interest in visiting both St. Michaels and Annapolis.  Our best opportunity for getting to St. Michaels was to take advantage of the slack/ebb current after high tide through Kent Narrows, which was mid-afternoon today. We departed Lankford Bay shortly after noon and motor sailed in light winds to Kent Narrows.  Our timing was a bit off, and we needed to wait about 20 minutes for the next bridge opening. An ebb current pushed us along through the bridge and down the Eastern Bay, arriving at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum docks around 1800. It was crowded and our slip assignment was challenging just inside a T-head with shoal water and a floating dock as obstacles. Sarah was patient with a slow controlled approach as she executed a partial standing turn to position us to back stern-in between the pier and obstacles. After securing the boat, we explored the town, found a nice restaurant and had wonderful shrimp risotto and tuna for dinner. Yum!

Day 2: Weather forecast is NNE winds at 15-20 knots, gusting to 25 with 3 ft waves. A Small Craft Advisory is in effect. Sarah and Terry are up for the challenge of crossing the bay in these conditions, so we plot a course for the Rhode River. Winds are initially on the nose, so we motored out of the Miles River until turning the corner to head WSW. A single reefed main and reefed jib were set, and we made 6 to 7 knots on our way to Bloody Point. Steering in the waves was challenging. Terry was able to get a feel for it and soon was steering a steady course as Sarah was navigating. We took the opportunity to practice obtaining fixes with two lines of position, and determining revised courses to steer.  Once past Bloody Point, the full fetch of the bay was generating 3 to 5 foot waves and gusts up to 30 knots. The crew and our Island Packet 32 were getting bounced around, but handled it well. 

Our course to the Rhode River was close-hauled. The combination of an ebb current and leeway put us too far south to make the entrance, so we had to tack back out into the middle of the bay then tack again. Once again we were too far south of our G"1" entrance mark. As it was getting late in the day, we opted to use the motor to help us make the last mile or so to windward and turned to head down the West River on our way to the Rhode. Suddenly, our engine bogged down --- was it a crab pot we didn't see?  No, our fuel filter had clogged due to tank sediment being stirred up in the rough conditions. We set sail and altered our plan, finding a protected cove along the western shore of the West River to drop the hook. While Sarah and Terry started preparing dinner (cheeseburgers!), Captain Andy changed the fuel filter, and our engine was back to life! Time for a good night's rest.

Day 3: What a perfect sailing day! Clear crisp air, sunshine and North winds at 10 to 15 knots. Today's focus is on dead reckoning, plotting and sail trim.  Full sails are set once we pass the shoal at the entrance to the West River. We pass by Thomas Point Light on our way across the bay toward Kent Island, dealing with some commercial traffic. We tack back toward Annapolis and find that we cannot make the Harbor on this tack, so tack back toward Kent Island again. Terry does a nice job of determining the layline for our next tack into Annapolis. Our wind is fading, so we opt to motorsail in hopes of getting in early enough to find a mooring. Annapolis is buzzing with activity in preparation for the upcoming boat show, and the mooring field is half closed, with the remaining moorings already taken. We decide to pass through the draw bridge and look for a mooring or spot to anchor on Spa Creek. It is crowded!  We eventually found a small cove with just enough room for one boat to anchor if you set up a forked mooring with two anchors to limit swing, which we did. It was tight, and we knew there was a possibility that the Harbor Master would ask us to move. He passed by once and looked our way, but let us be. We hailed the water taxi and it's off to town now for dinner and (of course) ice cream!

Day 4: We are up early to make the 7:30 draw out of Spa Creek, then stop for fuel and pump out on our way out. It is a clear day with very light northerly winds. Motoring all the way today. Today's navigation challenge is to set a course to the RW "LP" safe water buoy a few miles north of the Bay Bridge on our way to Rock Hall Harbor. It is no challenge for this crew as we see the buoy appear just off our port bow.  We get a surprise on our way into Rock Hall Harbor - the ATONs do not match the charts!  Shoaling has occurred and the green day mark is now a danger shoal mark. It has been replaced with a new floating can further south of the original location. This was not mentioned in the recent Local Notice to Mariners, so it must be new. Cruising guides suggest to favor the red side, which is consistent. We saw no less than 6.8ft on the way in. Time for a hot shower and review before testing. Both students pass the written test, and we head out for a celebratory dinner.

Day 5: Forecast calls for East winds at 5 to 10 knots. It is a clear sunny day, but quite calm. We have a relaxing morning and are underway around 0900. There is some confusion (among the students) about the location of the marks as we are leaving the Harbor. Sarah holds the boat in position while we figure it out. There are two R"4" marks (Swan Creek and Rock Hall Harbor). With that mystery solved, we continue motoring in calm seas.  Back home at Lankford Bay, we pump out, fuel up, top off the tank and clean up. We take a few minutes to reflect on our accomplishments, sign log books and other formalities. Another cruise comes to an end.


Captain Andy Barton
On board S/V ACADAME
Rock Hall, Maryland
June 8, 2017


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