Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Alright, I know everyone is waiting to hear how everything went. All in all we had a great event, nobody was hurt and both the boat and the crew made it across and back safely. Like any event with so much riding on it, it was not without its hangups. So, lets start with a summary, directly from the boat's log:
**** 14 May 2010 ****
1930 - Underway, First Landing State Park Beach, worked into Chesapeake Bay under oars.
1937 - Set Sail, course NNE.
1958 - Navigation lights rigged.
2000 - Chesapeake Bridge Tunnel Thimble Shoals Channel Tunnel N. Island bears NW.
2004 - Sounding taken, five fathoms.
2031 - Entered Thimble Shoals Channel.
2038 - Exited Thimble Shoals Channel.
2100 - Cape Henry Lighthouse bears SExS.
2108 - Rigged Aldis Lamp with tape, made Bat Signal on sail, much to the enjoyment of the crew.
2205 - Entered Chesapeake Channel at the tunnel, observed heat lightning to the North.
2208 - Exited Chesapeake Channel.
2209 - Change Course NExN.
2245 - Lightning bolt observed due North beyond the horizon.
2255 - Lightning bolt observed due North on the horizon.
2300 - Change course NE.
2301 - Kiptopeke lights bear NExE.
2312 - Lightning observed in vicinity of Cape Charles (city). Thunderhead observed during lighning strike.
2331 - Lightning observed in vicinity of Kiptopeke.
****15 May 2010 ****
0012 - Squals from the North, bore up and reefed.
0020 - Encountered rain squall.
0045 - Change course ExS, shook reef.
0105 - Winds light and variable.
0115 - Pulled weather oars.
0133 - Kiptopeke green light bears ExS.
0152 - Took in sail and proceeded under oars.
0158 - Passed between breakwaters at Kiptopeke.
0206 - Beached at Kiptopeke State Park, South Beach. Made fast with best anchor trailed astern on eight fathoms cable and made fast, tow line bent onto bow line and made fast to fence post ashore.
0905 - Underway from beach.
0912 - Spoke two concrete ships aground off Kiptopeke. Ships had nothing to say.
0920 - Moored at Kiptopeke Ramp North Dock with bow and stern lines. Discharged V. Keranen and S. Hendricks. Received onboard A. Green and C. Flores. Took on water and provisions.
1015 - Underway from Kiptopeke under oars, course WxS.
1047 - Change course SxE.
1100 - Chesapeake Channel Tunnel North Island bears SW.
1107 - Lost vang bucket over the side. Rigged second bucket.
1218 - Winds decreasing, holding NxE.
1220 - Passed under North Channel Bridge.
1224 - Changed course SWxS.
1305 - Thimble Shoals Channel Tunnel Northern Island bears WxS.
1340 - Winds light and variable.
1349 - Took in main sail, proceeding under oars.
1355 - Made sail on light wind from NE. Lost starboard oarlock, #2 thwart.
1402 - Becalmed, pulled weather oars.
1405 - Signalled chase boat to pass tow line, towed SxW toward Cape Henry.
1412 - Sprung the leeboard 14" below the gunwale.
1455 - Cast off tow line, proceeding downwind under sail on light NE breeze.
1500 - Cape Henry Light bears SSW.
1524 - Signalled chase boat to close and pass tow line, towed W against ebb tide.
1600 - Cape Henry Light bears SE.
1608 - Cast off tow line, proceeding WxS under oars.
1648 - Change course SWxS, made sail.
1657 - Took in main sail, proceeding under oars toward beach.
1712 - Beached at First Landing State Park. Best anchor trailed astern with six fathoms cable and made fast. Bow line handed.
We started with a great crew. Our total crew strength was 12 people, with two people leaving and two joining in Kiptopeke. Each had met several wickets in order to participate, the foremost being attendance at a training event where they had to qualify in all the basic skills required for the trip. All had gone through the evolutions, from rowing to sailing, anchoring, being towed, beaching and getting underway through surf.
One newcomer was veteran sailor Mr. Victor Keranen. A 78 year old cancer survivor, Mr. Keranen is a veteran of the US Navy and Merchant Marine - and one tough old salt. Of course there was a moment of pause when the idea of having a 78 year old gent - whatever his age - would be advisable, let alone safe. So amongst the controversy Mr. Keranen volunteered to help with shore-side support instead. He did participate in the towing of the boat from the launch site to the beach at First Landing, which was thought of as a compromise between his initial request and our reservations. But it was on that transit that we realized that our reservations were crap. Because while Mr. Keranen had the experience and knowledge of an old veteran, he had the spirit and abilities of a man half his age! Needless to say that when one of our crew members dropped out with Bronchitis, Mr. Keranen joined in his place. All was right with the world, and we were stoked.
Friday night was some of the best sailing I've yet had in the Monomoy, with a fine steady 10 knot breeze from the Southwest carrying us steadily toward our goal. We steered NExN and let the flood tide push us up the Chesapeake Channel, right over the tunnel. From the beach to the tunnel we made good about three knots, and we were doing quite well. From there things started to change.
Just after crossing over the tunnel we began to pick up speed. The change wasn't much apparent to anyone in the boat, as we were running well with the wind - the apparent wind not much changing. But word from the chase boat afterward was that we had a significant bow wave and a great slick running aft. Around the same time we started to see lightning in the distance to the North, but that was pretty much concurrent with the weather forecast - they should stay well to the North. Just after midnight the wind dropped away, then suddenly came howling out of the North. Heeling well over we bore up and reefed, then resumed our course, hauling ass toward our destination, the steering oar vibrating with the speed. Around this time began the confusion about the location of our destination. Navigation aids on the Eastern Shore are few and far between, and those that do exist are rather difficult to find. We sailed toward what we thought must surely be Kiptopeke, only to find later that we overshot by more than four miles. As soon as we realized our error we turned and headed ExS. Oh yeah, and we did all this in the rain while lightning streaked across the sky. Lesson learned: Kiptopeke's navigation aids are very difficult to see - so steer for the parking lot lights instead.
We got in around 2 AM, secured the boat and broke out our tents. I should mention here some particular thanks and immense gratitude to our support personnel - who transported our tents and camping gear to Kiptopeke, along with water, provisions, fuel for the chase boat, sunscreen, bugspray - well, everything. We definately could not have done this without you guys!
Despite the fatigue of the previous night, everyone was up by 7 AM. We had breakfast and relaxed a bit, then cleaned up and got underway to have a look at the sunken ships that form the breakwater. We then tied up to the launch ramp docks to take on provisions and swap out a few crew members.
We got underway just after 10 AM and stood out a bit away from shore. We sailed downwind, keeping to the Beach Channel to pass beneath the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. We made good speed, about 4 knots all the way to the bridge. And just like the day before, the wind changed at that point, this time dying off to a faint breeze. Our speed dropped right off, and before long we were becalmed, breaking down the sailing rig and rowing for our objective. But by that time, the ebb tide had caught us and we were quickly drifting out into the Atlantic. That was when we called uncle and called in our trusty chase boat to take us in tow. Of course, it was during this tow that we heard a resounding crack, that being our leeboard cracking about a foot below the gunwale. Oh well - that just means we can only sail downwind.
Once back safely inside the bay, we took up rowing again. Despite the difficulty of pulling against the tide, we once again proved our worth and darted toward the beach, using the swells to help us make headway. As we approached the shallows, we'd turn and fight out again, then turn and row back. We did this for about a mile, all the way back to First Landing. As we cleared the last fish traps on our run Westward, we set the sail for a short run on the Northeast wind, then took in the sail, stepped the mast and rowed the last few hundred yards to the shore.
A word about the difficulties. Obviously the thunderstorm and squalls on the way North, and the flat calm on the way south were troublesome. But we had one more issue on the way South - my temper. We were all quite tired, and moving more slowly than usual. So it shouldn't have been a surprise when things didn't run as smoothly as they might have during some evolutions. I snapped at the crew, yelling at one person in particular, and opened up on the boat very much like the thunderstorm had the night before. The heat, near total exhaustion and lack of sleep certainly played a factor, but the fact is that it was improper of me, and no way to deal with a difficult situation - I appologize to you members in the crew for that. Of course the person I got into it with happens to be a particular friend of mine (Ted, our Bow Hook and second in command of the boat), and a few bottles of water, some electrolytes and energy bars later, there are no hard feelings.
Point is that you all know you are $*&t hot, that last stretch of rowing along the beach, setting sail rapidly then breaking down just as fast and rowing in to storm the beach proved it. It was awesome. I am exceedingly proud to be a part of the whole thing, and am looking forward to the next event in June.
More information and lessons learned to follow - this is long enough an entry as it is.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Thursday, May 13, 2010
The time has come and now we get to put all of our training and preparation to the test!
First, a weather update. Tomorrow is expected partly cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms in the evening. Chance of isolated showers, 20%. Winds SW at 8-12 kts.
Saturday, much the same as Friday, winds veering N, 6-8 kts. Not great wind to go north by.
And because of the weather, the NEW schedule: (PLAN B is in effect)Friday May 14
1300-1500 Meet the crew and see the boat at the First Landing State Park Offices
1515 Proceed to Lynnhaven Inlet for launch, tow to beach
1600-1830 Meet the crew and see the boat, First Landing State Park Beach
1900 Depart First Landing State Park
2400 Arrive Kiptopeke State Park
Saturday May 15
0800 Kiptopeke Cleanup with the crew
0900 Depart Kiptopeke State Park
1500 Arrive First Landing State Park, trip complete
Last, a list of improvements made to the Monomoy in the last two weeks:
- sail was trimmed and the leach re-roped to take up the slack in the leach and clew of the sail. This should provide better performance to windward.
- new yard produced, laminated from close grain fir, tested to withstand 300 lbs lateral load at the halyard tye.
- leeboard now has one roseline and one brail vice two roselines.
- equipped with beach anchor and shackle, to bury the bow line in the beach
- recieved and put aboard electric light package, battery powered, for night sailing
That's it, we're on our way. Watch the local news and media for more about our crossing until we get back.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Monday, May 10, 2010
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Getting underway from the MWR Marina at Naval Station Norfolk around 1000, we stood Northwest for Strawberry Banks in Hampton. Sailing well, we made about 6 knots as we entered Hampton Roads. However, it was there that we met our first challenge, when the yard sprung at the halyard tye. After unbending the sail from the yard, we bent it onto one of our oars, and hoisted that instead. The oar served well as a yard for the remainder of the trip, despite the unsightly oar blade protruding forward of the sail.
Our next challenge was on landing at Strawberry Banks, where our tandem anchor rig fouled and caused some confusion. Designed to moor our chase boat offshore, the messenger line became twisted at the buoy block. The monomoy crew re-embarked, got underweigh and fished the anchor and re-rig the messenger line, maneuvering without the aid of the steering oar with great success. Rack up one more victory for teamwork and good oarsmanship.
Getting underway from Strawberry Banks, we rowed Southwest into Hampton Roads and anchored for lunch. The transfer of stores from the chase boat to the Monomoy went much more smoothly than last weekend, the packages being securely sealed and tossed from boat to boat as the chase boat made a quick pass.
On the way back to Norfolk, we made good time until swept by the ebb tide over the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, where we stepped our mast and rowed back into Willoughby Bay under the East bridge. Again, some teamwork and a hard pull at the oars managed to get us the half-mile into the bay directly into the wind and a three knot current.
Hard rowing, great sailing, repairs on the fly - a great session.
So to all who came out, thanks for another great day on the water!
A new yard for the Monomoy (a solid piece this time) is being measured and trimmed from one of our spar blanks later today. The shop will be open from 3-7 pm, so come on out and lend a hand.
All Monomoy crew for Conquer the Chesapeake have been notified. Due to privacy concerns, we are not posting the names online. Stand by for more information about event preparation later this week.
That's all for now!