Watch Captain/ Cruising Skipper Instructor Jim Openshaw emailed his students in early August to notify then of an unexpected task: “your next challenge: figure out how to sail an unfamiliar boat in unfamiliar waters. “ The unfamiliar boat: “Gone Away” belonging to long time ANSA member Gary Pritchard.
Gary was kind enough to offer this boat, a 33’6″ Gemini 105Mc catamaran, so that the students could broaden their horizons beyond Annapolis and get at taste handling of a boat complete different from Fantasea. One aspect of the difference is that Gemini 105Mc catamarans are equipped with retractable centerboards that provide plenty of grip while going to windward, but can be raised sailing downwind to minimize drag and maximize performance.
Seven students (Dave, Todd, Jan, Vilma, Sack, Anne and Jason) from the Watch Captain/ Cruising Skipper class met on 15 August at 0930 at Herrington Harbor Marina in Friendship, Maryland, 23 miles south of Annapolis. Gary and Jim first familiarized the class with the boat, including how to lower and raise the outboard 27hp Westerbeke Diesel engine. Next the crew motored Gone Away forward out of the dock, north into the calm waters of the Chesapeake, then into Herrington Bay and east on a course for Poplar Island.
While underway, the students rotated duties. One student would take the helm while two others stood watch as lookouts on the bow, two others shared duty as navigators taking fixes every 15 minutes and getting GPS coordinates from the helmsman every hour and plotting the resulting positions on a chart. The students spent a great deal of time learning how to rig, reef, and master the art of trimming, frequently tacking Gone Away, so no one was idle for long.
Two weeks later, on August 29-30, Gary again allowed the class to train on Gone Away, this time for an all night cruise. Under the leadership of Gary, Jim and Dave Wilson, five students participated: Dave, Todd, Jan, Vilma, and Caroline. After a crew briefing, the class sailed out of Herrington Harbor and into the Bay to practice anchoring. This was quite a task as 2-4 waves started to wash up over Gone Away’s bow. Although the initial plan was to sail south to Drum Point and the mouth of the Patuxent River, the wind increased and was forecast to gust to over 20 knots, so the crew chose safety over adventure and diverted to the relative calm of the Chotpank River.
The crew split of into two watches. Group A stood watch from 1800-2200 and again from 0200-0600. Group B stood watch from 2200 to 0200 and 0600 until training began. After sunset, the watch conducted night sail operations by “Buoy Hopping” from point to point in river. Group B experienced a particularly enchanting watch as the wind diminished greatly, and the moon rose and broke through the clouds, it’s light shimmering on the now gently rippling waters.
After sunrise and a hearty breakfast, the students learned how to moor, anchor, and maneuver in shallow waters. Todd gave excellent presentations on docking, towing and being towed. After the class, Sunday, the students, under the direction of Mr. Pritchard, crossed through Knapps Narrows, called the bridge master to raise the bridge and sailed back into the Bay. The crew sailed Gone Away back into Herring Bay. Before entering the marina, the class conducted everybody’s favorite drill, man-overboard.
Returning to the dock, the crew put away the boat and stowed their gear in their cars. Jim and the students then met to share lessons learned, then part of the class left for home while those without pressing home duties retired to Herrington Harbor Marina’s Mango’s Bar & Grill to share sailing stories. A good time had been had by all. We thank Gary for allowing ANSA to take advantage of this great opportunity.