We're currently wrapping up the day here in Norfolk, having the Monomoy Pulling Boat out again, this time for our first training session to cross Chesapeake Bay in May for our event "Conquer the Chesapeake".
We put in just after 0900 at Naval Station Norfolk, and had our crew on hand and mustered by 0945 for the safety brief. Overcast skies and a little light rain accompanied the breif, and we started donning rain gear. Luckily, as we started boarding the boat, the rain stopped and we didn't see any again the rest of the time we were out. At 1005 we got underway under oars and stood out of the marina basin and out into Willoughby Bay. There we stepped the mast and hoisted our sail, and making use of our new leeboard, crossed the two miles to Fort Monroe in about a half hour. We landed on the beach there, and hauled the boat about half way onto the sand to demonstrate proper beaching techniques. We then got back underway, rowing out to the Thimble Shoals Channel 22 Buoy to anchor and have lunch. We weighed anchor and proceeded back to Willoughby Bay, where we wrapped up our training tacking and wearing, practicing passing a tow line to the chase boat and being towed, and then rowed back into the basin at Naval Station Norfolk.
It was without a doubt our best sail yet. Everything ran smoothly - almost. It was a great time, nobody got hurt and there was no appreciable damage - but we were not without our additions to the blooper reel.
As we approached the beach at Fort Monroe, I ordered the bow hook, Ted, to let go the anchor, but I underestimated the distance to the beach and the cable ran clear out of the boat about 20 feet before we touched beach. Oh well. Luckily I had bent on the stern mooring line (which floats) and we had the chase boat to go over and recover it. Later, after we got underway again, we dropped anchor again near the 22 Buoy, but thanks to a strong tidal current and opposite winds - and our fantastic choice of a synthetic rode which is slippery to grip and doesn't float - we were pushed right off of our cable again. This time, however, the manilla stern line was not attached, and the cable went straight to the bottom with the anchor. Oops. Gonna need to requisition a new one of those. Our leeboard worked very well, but its rigging was also made with synthetic line which proved difficult to handle.
So not everything works perfectly. But what is working perfectly is our people. Everyone seems to be finding their niche and working very very well together. Rowing is getting better, and we're seeing better speeds with less fatigue. And they are just fun to be around. Its not only about having a great boat and being great sailors - its about the trip, and enjoying the ride.
Thanks, guys. One more training session next week, then a two week break, then the big one.
More soon. And remember, final crew list will be published May 2.