Schedule of Courses
Ocean Training Cruises
This is a report of a training course around the Delmarva Peninsula from Rock Hall, Maryland.
Day 1 After a review of cruise plans and each student's learning objectives, we proceeded with boat inspections and preparations and food provisioning for the cruise. At 1645, we got underway with June Wulff as Captain of the Day and Art Downey on the wheel. Jim and Barbara Murphy took over after we were clear of the harbor and we motor sailed to the Captain’s choice of anchorage, Fairlee Creek. The mouth of that harbor is a bit tight but navigable and it was an excellent anchorage. We had a discussion of how much rode to put out and settled on a scope of 6 to 1 with lots of chain.
Day 2- The instructor had the crew up bright and early and the Captain of the Day, Barbara, got us underway at 0800. We took a detour up the Sassafras River before finding the entrance to the Chesapeake-Delaware Canal. We had opportunities to discuss sound signals and noted that commercial traffic gives them verbally over VHF radio. As we completed lunch, we reached the end of the canal and set sail for the cruise down Delaware Bay. The high clouds of the morning were dropping and the sky in the west forecast rain. As we continued to sail down the bay, the rain came light and steady and then heavier with squalls. We reefed the main and jib and sailed toward Cape May. Captain Bill took the wheel in a squall and promptly bumped the bottom; we swung around and took a channel further to the south with deeper water. As we approached Cape May, the crew looked up the tides and determined that we could not make it under the bridge for another six hours so we rounded the point by the outside passage. The tiderip was very rough, but we were safely around and in the harbor by 2100.
Day 3 The weather prediction was calling for 10 to 15 knot winds and building in the evening to 20 knots north of Baltimore Canyon. We were counting on leaving early and getting far enough south to miss the heavy weather. Jim and Barbara took us out of Cape May and we set sail with a reefed main and full headsail. With the wind out of the south, we were not making any distance made good going east and at 1700 we tacked back. At this rate, we were going to be in the direct path of the front. The wind was picking up and we were going nowhere as we tacked back and forth in the rain under double reefed main and half of the jib.
Day 4 Preben and June Wulff were on the wheel watch when a squall hit at 0200. The wind held steady at 32 knots and the heavy rain beat down the seas; at 0215, we hove to until it eased. By the time Jim and Barbara came on watch, the winds were down to 11 knots and had clocked around to west by southwest so we were able to sail at 190 degrees. By dawn, the storm was past but we had light rain and no wind, so we motor sailed for the rest of the day. We saw lots of sea life this day, including tuna, dolphin, sharks, rays and many fishing boats. By midnight, the Cape Charles light was off our starboard beam.
Day 5 Just after midnight, a bird hit one of the ladies in the back of the head while she was steering toward the bridge. Then Bill had a little fun with the Barbara and June as they went under the two north spans of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. WULFF DEN has a 55-foot mast and the bridge is 75 feet high, but in the dark it really does look as though you are going to hit it. We continued on up the bay to Onancock on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. After a nice meal, a very wobbly crew went for a walk around the town. We reassigned crews so that June and Barbara were on one watch section, Art and Jim on another, and Preben and Bill were on the third. With our new teams assigned, we left Onancock to begin our overnight up the Chesapeake. We experienced a beautiful night of sailing, only running the motor to charge the batteries when needed. It was exciting as June and Barbara dodged the ships, tugs, and barges, and we listened on VHF to the tall ships from OPSail 2000 coming up the bay.
Day 6 Morning found us arriving at Solomons Island; June docked the boat and we all walked to the Maritime Museum Annex. After lunch, we motored, then sailed, and then motored sailed to Galesville in a building gale. The winds were still high upon our arrival, so we went through the drill of putting out two anchors. Then we had a review of our lessons to date. One of the crew (who shall remain unnamed) fell asleep, while the instructor droned on.
Day 7 This was our nicest morning yet. We sailed toward Eastern Bay, and hove to while the tall ship, CALIFORNIA, sailed by under full canvas. It really was a great day's sail. We arrived at St Michaels at 1800, just in time to feast on crab cakes at dockside. We reviewed the rest of our lessons and went to bed early.
Day 8 Art took us all the way to Kent Narrows, then Barbara motored through the lift bridge. We bumped bottom in the middle of the new channel just north of the narrows and then continued toward Rock Hall. Art brought us into the fuel dock at Gratitude and we were back to where we had started. It was a very fine week!
Captain Bill McClure