Time for the next phase in our adventure learning to sail. This phase added training for ASA 104 Bareboat Cruising and ASA 114 Cruising Catamaran. We started our day planning our four-day cruising voyage (Aug 18-21). Captain Roy walked us through charting a course based on where we’d like to go given wind and weather forecasts. He showed us a great app called PocketGrib that can show wind speed forecasts… and it looks like the winds will be light (~ 5 knots) until Sunday when they will pick up throughout the day with a possible Small Craft Advisory later in the day. So we decided to head in a counter-clockwise route saving a close reach/beam reach for the trip home on Sunday.
Here’s the cruising itinerary we came up with:
- Annapolis to Pirates Cove (anchor)
- Pirates Cove to St Michael’s (anchor)
- St. Michael’s through Kent Narrows Bridge to Rock Hall (anchor)
- Rock Hall under Chesapeake Bay Bridge to Annapolis (return before 4pm since advisory after 6pm)
Day 1 – Annapolis to Pirates Cove (anchor)
- We cast off and motored across the Bay to Kentmorr. We had heard rumors of clear water but were unable to find the alleged fountain of bay clarity.
- From there, we motored past Thomas Point lighthouse up West River and anchored in South Creek then dinghied in to eat dinner at Pirates Cove .
- Returning from dinner, we attempted to turn on the generator and got “Error #7 Loss of Raw Water flow” and determined the likely cause was a failed impeller.
- An opportunity to learn about Onan Genset maintenance and repair. Checked and cleaned genset strainer – primed with bucket to attempt restart – no go.
- Impeller determined to be damaged. No spare. Called Ken at ACY to arrange drop off of impeller at St. Michael’s the next morning.
- Went to bed hot
Day 2 – Pirates Cove to St Michael’s (anchor)
- GenSet maintenance: The teenagers took apart the genset with a little help from Dad and the Captain and removed the bad impeller. Note to self: Remove Onan top plate earlier to access water pump. Also learned that the hoses need careful use of a dull screw driver in order to remove them from the pump. It is critical to account for all missing impeller blades – we were missing three – had to remove the heat exchanger panel to find 2 more blades and used an air pump to magically find the last missing impeller blade!
- Left Pirates Cove to meet Ken at St Michaels by 4pm
- Practiced taking bearings and played with the autopilot. AWESOME.
- Anchored just outside St. Michaels and dinghied over to pickup Ken from Atlantic Cruising Yachts who brought the spare impellers and was kind enough to help our son Tom replace the impeller and reassemble the generator.
- Ken also added a check valve in the supply tubing that runs from the strainer into the generator pump so that the impeller should always stay wet.
- All 6 dinghied over for dinner and ran out of gas. Lesson learned: Always check the gas tank in your dinghy before you leave. Dad and Ken had to paddle to gas dock.
- We walked around St. Michael’s and ate dinner at Ava’s – had an amazing Italian hoagie pizza. (Thanks for the recommendation Ken!) Also, swung by Acme for more provisions.
- Dinghied back to the boat with a full tank of gas and ran the AC all night on the newly repaired genset!
- The anchorage was smooth as glass. We heard Shaw Bay just up the Wye River is also a fabulous anchorage – next time!
Day 3 – St. Michael’s through Kent Narrows Bridge to Rock Hall (anchor)
- Next morning we woke early to prepare to take the ASA 104 test. Boom! Everyone got an A. Scores: Dad 98; Tim 95; Tom 96; Mom 91
- We motored to Kent Narrows to try to catch the low slack tide bridge opening (1400). The Kent Narrows bridge has a 65 ft clearance, the FP Lucia 40 has a 63.5 ft mast height and I wanted to navigate a bridge opening with a trained skipper on board since we had never done one and were considering visiting some places along the ICW. Well, we wound up taking longer to get to the bridge than we planned and had to stand in place waiting for the next bridge opening (1530). Lesson learned: The fixed bridge at Kent Narrows truly is 65 ft and I imagine they call it the narrows for a reason – our 23.5′ beam takes up a good portion of the bridge opening and we ended up pinging the center light on the bridge with our masthead VHF antenna. Holy crap! And not one family member took even one picture! Lesson learned: Go around!
- Once through the bridge and around the extremely narrow channels we motored to Rock Hall and anchored outside of the marina breakwater and dinghied in to Waterman’s Crab House for dinner. Great crab cakes!
- Caught a great sunset after dinner and spent the night studying ASA 114 in the fabulous breezes on the bow couches. Slept without AC on a really rolling anchorage (our first).
Day 4 – Rock Hall under Chesapeake Bay Bridge to Annapolis (return before 4pm since advisory after 6pm)
- Morning review of ASA 114 material and test… all A’s again! Scores: Dad 97; Tim 97; Tom 96; Mom 91
- The Forecast for “small craft warning” was advised for 6pm but wind was going to build steadily throughout the day. We decided to get underway at 1130 and put sails up at anchor and motor sailed out with just the mainsail up and hit rain and wind immediately before even getting out of Rock Hall’s shoal channel.
- We planned to start our sail with 1 reef and no genoa, but had a “Genoa incident” where our son decided to let it all out; we quickly reefed it back and were on our way on a close reach towards the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
- The sail back to Annapolis was fantastic even with the visibility-limiting saturating rain and wind gusts to 33 knots. We tacked 4 times – and may have tacked too early – but was concerned about the gusts and wanted to make sure we had a good point of sail for the Bay Bridge crossing. Crossed under Bay bridge at 25+ knots of wind. Lesson learned: No one but dad put their PFD on- new rule… wearing PFDs at 1st reef is mandatory!
- After crossing under the bridge, we had the “dinghy incident.” There was some concern about the dinghy swinging around on the back of the boat so tried to winch up the engine side of dinghy – unfortunately the pulley system on that side was probably already at max – an extra few seconds on the electric winch ended up snapping the davit lift system and dropped the dinghy stern into the water while sailing in 25 knot winds! Our instructor was able to release the bow davit and retie the dinghy painter. Lesson learned: Need better way to secure the dinghy.
- Finally made it back to Annapolis where we pulled off another fabulous parallel parking job at the dock – which may have required a change of shorts.
Overall Lessons Learned
- Weather Forecasts and Anchorage Planning should be done in advance and is a critical part of trip planning process.
- Need to work on communications on the boat including assigning roles and establishing clear hand signals
- Safety: Reefs and PFDs