Schedule of Courses
Ocean Training Cruises
Thursday, September, 14-The Captain and several of the crew arrived early enabling us to get a head start loading aboard provisions and ocean passage emergency gear. Gerry and John helped with this operation, as did Greg when he arrived a bit later. By 1800, Carole had joined us as well and the crew went out for dinner.
Friday, September 15- By 0900, Mike Ryan arrived so the entire crew was aboard and we began the seminar. Ron Mckie, another Delmarva Skipper/Instructor joined us for the day’s activities. At 0900, Tom Tursi arrived to give us all a primer in the peculiarities of HALIMEDA’s whisker pole rig. After this, we finished the seminar discussions, made billet assignments noted above and broke for lunch.
During the afternoon we set about surveying the vessel and doing the pre-sail checks. We determined we might have difficulty leaving the Swan Creek Harbor on Saturday due to the low tide, so we moved HALIMEDA to Rock Hall Harbor on the other side of town. Once there, we continued pre-sail checks and Boson Carole went up the mast to survey the rig. Captain David, attempting a photo, was backing up along the dock and stepped off the end of the structure. In doing so, he sustained a dislocated finger and laceration to his left hand, which required medical attention at the Chestertown Hospital. While he addressed this wound, the crew continued pre-sail checks and finally broke for dinner.
Saturday, September 16- Greg determined the currents would be most favorable later in the day and the tide would be high for crossing the Swan Creek Bar at about 1130. So we went about our final checks at a leisurely pace. Tom Tursi assisted the crews in the preparations while Captain David returned to the hospital in Chestertown for a tetanus shot and medication.
At noon all was ready and we finally got HALIMEDA out of the harbor and on her way to Chesapeake City. On the way we conducted various navigation and safety exercises, including an MOB drill. At 1800, we approached the C & D Canal, furled sails and prepared dock lines for the fuel dock and the starboard anchor in case we decided to hold up for the night. At 1900, we docked at Schaeffer’s and fueled, taking on 8.7 gallons of diesel, topping off the water tank as well. We then paused on the dock for dinner, and planned to leave with the favorable current at about 2300. But at 2200, the Captain decided it would be better to hold off until morning. Given the crew’s inexperience and the general fatigue of all, it seemed prudent to forgo this current for the next and get a good night’s sleep and transit the tricky Delaware Bay in daylight. So we turned in for the night.
Sunday, September 17- At 0630, we were up and by 0700 we had completed our daily boat checks, noting coolant level was a bit low. By 0800, we were underway in slack current and Mike cooked eggs to order as we passed through the canal. We had a meeting discussing the general experience so far, the watch schedule and the log keeping procedures. We rigged the offshore safety gear at 0900 and at 0920 we reached Reedy Point and entered the Delaware Bay, and paralleled the shipping channel, passing green to port on our way toward the ocean.
By 1030, the SW wind had freshened to the point we could secure the engine and close reach on full sail, maintaining our course paralleling the channel. The breeze freshened further to 18+ knots and at 1545 we put in the 2nd reef. By 1800, we were off Breakwater Light at Cape Henlopen and into the ocean preparing for an evening cruise down the coast.
Monday, September 18- Good winds persisted through the night and we continued to average 6 knots or better. At 0140, we responded to a call from a US Navy tug hailing a vessel in our vicinity. We gave our position and were thus assured that we were not the vessel with whom he wished to discuss maneuvering issues.
At 0700, we discovered a reef point had pulled out of the main at the 2nd reef and we patched the small tear in the sail with a sail repair patch. At this time, we also noted the batteries were low and took this opportunity demonstrate the operation and procedures involved in running the generator to recharge batteries.
Through the day, we continued navigation exercises and used our rough DR position to find our way to the Chesapeake Bay Entrance. By 1700, we had established our position outside the mouth of the bay, studied the approach charts and planned our strategy for entering through Thimble Shoals Channel. By 1830, we were crossing the Tunnel there and at 1900 we were between the Little Creek entrance jetties. At 1930, we docked at Taylor’s Landing Marina ready to shower, dine ashore at the Surf Side Restaurant, plan the next day’s voyage and rest for the night.
Tuesday, September 19- Underway at 0735, we cleared the dock and headed out the Little Creek channel. Southwesterly winds in excess of 15 knots made using the engine unnecessary this morning. In fact, through the morning hours and through the day, the SW winds continued to build, giving us opportunities to reef and practice some heavy weather techniques along with our navigation exercises.
Captain John and Navigator Carole set Solomons Island, MD, as our destination and the strong winds seemed to predict we could make the 85+ nautical mile trip with ease. In fact the strong winds gave us more power than we needed, and thus afford us a number of chances to practice as well as discuss heavy weather and down wind sailing techniques, including various configurations of preventers. Everyone got ample experience at the helm in substantial following seas, up to 5 feet at times, and choppy.
At 1455, a down bound submarine appeared to starboard. It was disconcerting at first because only the sail was visible and at a distance it appeared to be a buoy of some sort. Checking the chart the crew found none in the area, and it resembled nothing in the Chart 1 index. But as it approached, its wake became apparent, and we could correctly identify it and determine it would pass clear to starboard.
By 1800, we were in the vicinity of Point No Point, making plans for our night entrance into the Patuxent River and Solomons. We proceeded with this exercise slowly, after at first misinterpreting our position by miscounting the period on a couple of lights. We then obtained a good fix and made a good clean entrance, tying up for the night at the Tiki dock.
Wednesday, September 20- Our morning checks of the rig revealed the strong winds of yesterday had caused additional damage to the mainsail. A couple of slug straps at the headboard had torn loose and one of the plastic slugs at the head had broken. Repairs were needed soon. We contacted the sail maker by cell phone and learned we needed to drop the main off early Thursday morning to insure repairs could be made. So we adjusted our plans to include our night drills taking place in the Chester River area near Rock Hall, followed by a night entrance into Swan Creek.
We proceeded up the Bay, and into the Choptank River for a little sight seeing in Knapps Narrows as well as some navigational exercises. We passed through the narrows behind Poplar and Jefferson Island into Eastern Bay. Then it was around Bloody Point and across the bay to Thomas Point for a "photo-op" as we passed the picturesque lighthouse.
At about 1500, with some spare time since we planned to enter the Chester River after dark for night exercises, we decided to make a quick tour of Annapolis. First time bay sailors Carole, Gerry and John got a fast orientation to the sights of the middle bay in the bargain!
At dusk, we approached the mouth of the Chester River, passing Love Point and the aides to navigation there that we would use to orient ourselves as we attempted to find unlighted buoys, cans and nuns, as well as a fish weir hazard in darkness. The crew did well under John’s navigational guidance, finding all these objects. We also practiced the Williamson turn maneuver for nighttime MOB recovery before finding our way into Swan Creek and docking in the dark in our home berth at 2230. It had been a very full day and the crew adjourned for a richly deserved beer or two before retiring for the evening.
Thursday, September 21- After an early breakfast, Bosons of the day Greg and John removed and folded the main and we took it to the sail maker by 0900. The crew then spent the rest of the morning reviewing their experience and using what they had learned on the voyage to prepare for the ASA 106 exam. During the afternoon, the crew took the written exam and, once completed, went over the questions with the instructor as he graded it.
Friday, September 22- Another blow out tide had removed the water from HALIMEDA’s berth and she sat hard aground again precluding any chance of getting her to Haven Harbor for fueling. So we cleaned her up and finished the paperwork from the class said, our good byes and went our own ways, each contemplating the rich experiences the last eight days had provided.
Captain David Appleton