Student Logs

The following entries are students’ written responses expressing their personal experiences and reactions to sailing classes with R&R Charters and Sail School.

Students’ entries will not necessarily be written in a formal log book style. The goal is to have R&R Charters and Sail School students share their experiences with other students as well as with future students. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as the students enjoyed sharing.

From Deltaville to Kent Narrows, April 2015

(continued from BoatBuzz)

The sound of motorboats revving up their engines and zooming off was what awoke us early that morning. The watermen were on their way to work, fishing the sounds of Tangier. Our boat bobbed side to side as each fishing boat whizzed past in a hurry to begin the day. The BIG question on our mind was: where was the dockmaster? After a few eggs, toast, and a fried avocado, Damian set out to find this mysterious dockmaster. I got to work cleaning up the dishes. Mind you – this was quite an ordeal since we were using only bottled water.

Did I tell you we were afraid to use our water tanks? Oh yes, that was another naive concept we had worked ourselves up about! The boat had been winterized when we bought it, and the surveyor had given us doubts that our water tanks may have leaks. And since he did not do anything to actually confirm this concern, we erred on the side of safety and were waiting to fill our tanks once we had made it home to Kent Narrows and had the direction of Dave, our sailing dad, and other O-dockers to aid us if something bad happened. Oh – and that’s another thing – the reason finding the dockmaster that morning was so important was to use the bathrooms at the “marina”. You see, we weren’t using the head yet either, and we were needing to use real facilities for our morning “duties”.

I heard some conversation outside and peeked out of the companionway to see Damian talking with a very, elderly gentleman on the dock. The thing that surprised me the most was this man was saddled on a bright, blue scooter – not a motor scooter for old people – a moped-like, motorcycle scooter! This man was none other than the infamous Milton Parks! He was so friendly, and told us we had docked the boat in just the right spot, and not to worry about a thing. He invited us to use the bathrooms up at his house, because the water was not yet running in the marina bathrooms. We were both so grateful and followed him down the dock toward a one-story brick house with a few steps leading to the front door. He parked his bike and led us into his home which was still completely set back in time from thirty years before. He had mentioned his wife had passed away in conversation, but it was clear that he missed her dearly as the house d’cor reflected that he had not touched a thing since the way she had left it.

After freshening up in the most hospitable accommodations, we met up back outside near where our boat was docked. Milton talked to us about his family and his life here on the island. He had lived his whole life here, and even though his children had moved away, he could never leave. Tangier was his home. You could tell he was lonely for visitors as he truly did not want us to leave. He finally told us we had better get going since the wind was in our favor for heading north. We boarded our Gem&I and promised him that we would return someday.

On to Solomon’s

We motored from Tangier Island to Solomon’s on Friday, April 3. The skies were grey, and it rained off and on. We kept Milton Parks posted every hour on the radio about where we were and how things were going. Milton had wanted to keep in contact with us over the VHF every hour, and it was comforting to hear his voice as we continued our trek northwest into the unknown. Despite the steady winds, we were reluctant to raise the jib or main. This was yet another thing the surveyor had not tested, and we were nervous about the condition of our sails.

However, this day of “sailing” lent itself to acquiring enough courage to attempt to use our auto helm. We figured at worst it would not work, and we had already experienced traveling without it the day before. After a few continual beeps and locking down the wheel, we felt the wheel jerk its way side-to-side. The auto helm directed the boat back and forth between the coordinates we had punched in. The boat was steering herself! We were so thankful for the auto helm, which kept us on track with what direction our boat should be headed. This way of “sailing” was much more manageable than the day before when we had fought to keep the wheel in the center of the compass coordinates with our own muscles for hours on end.

Because of the rain, we donned our wet-weather gear which included boots, jackets, and pants. We were very content with how they kept us dry. I was also very impressed that Damian took it upon himself to find the Bimini canvas and fitted it over the metal poles to lock it into place. Putting on the Bimini without a how-to guide or “completed picture” was like doing a puzzle without the front of the box, but after working with it for some time, we had it secured. The Bimini sheltered us like a tent from the constant drizzle. Overall, the journey that day was calm with very light wind. The waves were significantly less violent than they had been the day before. We used our Chesapeake Bay charts religiously and followed the path that Damian had penciled out the night before – from one compass direction and navigational aid to the next. We both stayed in the cockpit during the duration of our travel, since we were excited to be out in the weather and motoring our boat on the sea successfully.

I loved scanning the horizon for the next buoy or marker to track our progress, and that is when I saw it! An island! A small grey shadow rising up from the water with a faint outline of what looked like trees or perhaps a building against the skyline. I watched foaming white movement near the surface of the water and was convinced that these were waves crashing on the shoreline rocks.

“Look, an island!” I called out to Damian, who turned is head in the direction I was pointing.

“That can’t be an island. It’s not on the chart,” he said peering out.

“I really think it’s an island,” I told him emphatically.

“There’s no way it’s an island,” he retorted with a grinning gaze.

“Why not? Don’t you see that grey out there in the distance, and the waves crashing on the rocks?”

“That’s not an island, honey. That’s a ship.”

Boy, did I feel dumb! First ship I had seen from out on my boat, and I thought it was an island. I guess everybody has moments of complete stupidity out on the water, and this was definitely mine for the day! Sure enough, the closer we got to the ship I had thought was an island, the clearer the outline became. It was obvious that the military vessel was moving at a rapid rate so its bow and sides were cutting the water, causing it to foam and spray around it, sending large wakes in our direction.

With our destination of Solomon’s Island, we browsed the Chesapeake Cruising Guide for the available marinas so we could call for a slip before we arrived. There were three that the guide advertised. The closest one to the mouth of the river where we would be pulling in looked good enough, so I gave the number a call on my cell phone. The dockmaster answered and said we could pull into any slip we wanted when we arrived, and he would take payment in the morning since we would be getting in later. It took us about ten hours to motor from Tangier to Solomon’s Island. We were quite exhausted to say the least. I remember craving a hot, relaxing shower, because the sponge baths the night before had not done me justice. I longed to feel fresh and clean again. We motored into the mouth of the river; the current was definitely against us as it took nearly a full hour more to make headway up toward the island. Of course, everything takes forever when you’re eager for the day to end!

The marina we had chosen was Harbor Island Marina. We pulled into a slip at the end of the second dock that jutted out in front of a large catamaran and across from a houseboat. The houseboat was definitely preparing for a party that night, and we heard loud music and the smell of cookout food on the back porch grill where its two residents were sipping on a few beers as they watched us coming in. Docking into a slip was not a second-nature process to us, and we were both incredibly nervous about “doing it right”. We had only practiced a handful of times on the Hunter 28 the past fall, but our boat seemed much larger and “beamier”, and that made our nerves even more tense as we backed our way slowly into the slip. The lines were all a clutter, and pushing us off the front two pilings became my main job on the bow. Damian kept her from plowing into the back pilings as the current dragged our boat backward faster than we could control. After several attempts to get the lines right, we secured the boat enough to convince ourselves she would not be moving.

It was finally time for my long-awaited shower. The question was: where were they? Damian has a habit of taking exploratory walks around the docks and striking up friendly conversations with other boaters to learn about the area and the different boats. I am grateful for this, or we would be lost much more often than not if it weren’t for his “wanderings”. After talking with a balding live-aboard of a mucky yacht on the dock behind us, we learned that the marina bathrooms were above a restaurant alongside the shoreline. The live-aboard had a toothy grin as he puffed away like a smokestack on his cigarette. He seemed nice enough and advised Damian to let me use the bathroom on the right of the steps, since that shower had better water pressure than the other. We made our way past a work yard that was full of hauled-out, rusting boats, tools, and old cars. To me, the area seemed like a “back alleyway”, and the yard gave me the creeps. Damian did not seem phased, and we walked around to the back of the restaurant where a cook was taking a smoke break. We pushed open the back door, which led to a stairway that suffocated me with the severe, foul smell of a smoker’s lounge. The stairway truly reminded me of a horror movie as each wooden step upward creaked worse than the one before. We made it to the top, and I turned right and Damian turned left. A grimy bathroom that was covered in filth and stench awaited me. That enjoyable, hot shower I had dreamed about didn’t seem as rewarding or pleasant anymore. My goal was to get in and get out as quickly as possible without touching anything longer than I had to!

“How was your shower?” Damian asked with a smile when he met me at the top of the steps afterward.

“Awful,” I admitted. “That bathroom was horrid.”

“I thought it was great!” He said with a laugh.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I retorted, somewhat surprised.

“It really didn’t bother me much,” he told me.

I guess we learn new things about our partners everyday. And that day I learned: Damian’s standard for a quality bathroom fell much lower than what my standard had been and continued to be. We turned our attention to getting dinner. At least that could be the rewarding experience to end the day of hard travel on the water, since the shower had been such a disappointment.

We decided to try the restaurant below the bathrooms, since the lovely exterior seemed inviting enough. The porch was outlined in glowing white lights, and the picnic tables that sat outside overlooking the marina were covered under a veranda with large, sheer curtains that billowed in the evening breeze. The restaurant was called the Charles Street Brasserie, and it definitely did make up for the depressing shower experience I had endured from earlier. It ended up being a beautiful evening of fine dining as we discovered that this restaurant prided itself in a tapas menu where lots of large-portioned appetizers were encouraged for a couple or group to share and try an assortment of various dishes for the meal. The best part about it all was “going home” that night from the restaurant. We weren’t going to an unfamiliar hotel room or an uncomfortable camping tent – we were going to our cozy little boat that we were making our home.

I woke up in the early morning to feel the boat rocking severely from side to side and the howl of the wind playing wildly with the rigging on the mast. Were the lines we had tied to the pilings going to hold us against this wind? Should we have added an extra line to secure us in case of a storm? I shook Damian awake and asked him to go out and check our lines, since the wind had obviously picked up. When he lifted the companionway boards, a gust of air flew through the cabin – this was a mighty wind. Damian tied us down with a few more lines to keep us extra secure in the slip. And we both slept better knowing we were better protected. A few hours later when we got up to start our coffee and make some oatmeal for breakfast, the wind had not died down. We watched as a blue-water sailboat that had moored in the harbor beside us headed out with a reef in her main sail and a storm jib securely fastened on her bow. This boat wasn’t taking any chances in this kind of heavy wind. We realized that our frail little sailboat, which had no storm job and did not have a crew who were confident reefing her yet, would not be safe heading out in this wind. So we made plans to lay low that day and investigate the island.

After paying the dockmaster of Harbor Inn Marina, who introduced himself as Lenny, we went on a morning walk – windy and cold but sunny with blue skies and a hint of springtime hope in the air. The island, a small strip of narrow land that juts out in an L-shaped angle, was rather crowded with visitors as it was Saturday, and the shops and restaurants were busy with activity. The boardwalk along the Patuxent River was the first attraction to catch our eye, and we gladly made our way to it from the other side of the street. We watched a windsurfer brave the cold in his wet suit as he scooted along the water’s surface. We popped our heads into various shops and browsed the trinkets and souvenirs that were on display. We followed the road down to Stoney’s Kingfisher and shared a delicious lunch of fish and chips and a tuna sandwich with fries and Yuengling besides. Later we stopped for a drink with live music at Kim’s Key Lime Pie and Lotus Kitchen. Further back toward Harbor Inn Marina, we discovered an art gallery full of photography captured by a friendly, local enthusiast named Terry. We wrapped up our day watching the sunset over the marina and then had dinner at the Lighthouse Restaurant.

An Easter to Remember: From Solomon’s to Mears

Easter morning 2015 was bright and clear with a blue sky and a fair wind. Even though we had both been raised to attend an Easter Sunday service on this particular religious holiday, we opted to celebrate in our own private way aboard our Gem&I that morning by reading the Easter story together from Matthew 28 over coffee down below. As the early sunlight streamed through our cabin windows, we sat on the benches around the table and pondered the Resurrection as Damian read aloud from his little, black leather-bound bible that had been given to him by an uncle years ago. It was just enough to satisfy our souls before we began preparing the boat to ship out. I picked up in the galley, and Damian unattached the electric. Before long, we were ready to go.

But the engine would not start. Damian warmed it up by giving it some gas with the click, click, click of the glow plugs. But when he held down the starter button, the engine whirred and choked, struggling to find a steady rhythm to turnover. But nothing. After giving it some time to rest, we tried again; this time, the engine did not choke or struggle – it made no sound at all. Had the engine died on us? Was it just too cold to start? What was the battery situation like? What could we do to get her started again? These were all the questions going through our minds as Damian climbed down below to assess the batteries and the instrument panel. It did not take long for him to realize that the starter battery was dead. We both were grateful that we at least had identified the problem for our engine’s failed start; however, what store would be open at 8am on Easter Sunday morning on a small, resort island that would sell marine batteries?

We googled on our phones possible locations nearby that may have what we needed and discovered a West Marine not too far in the neighboring town. Though from the website, it was unclear what time the store would open on this holiday. In faith, we walked to the West Marine hoping that it would be open despite being Easter morning, when we needed a miracle of our own. We trudged from one side of the island to the other in the bright, crisp morning. The breeze’s chill wafted off the river water and stung our faces as we walked. We passed the Methodist church ready for the morning’s celebration service and watched as members stepped out of their cars wearing their Easter best. Our sailing attire was no match, and we definitely did not fit in to the scenery around us. Further down, we heard the bells ringing in the Catholic belfry as they declared the new hour on this glorious day. The Catholic service wasn’t until later in the morning, but already the greeters and church volunteers were putting their final touches on the magnificent Easter decorations that boasted the crowning grandeur of the church’s religious calendar. And there we were, marching on to West Marine – on a mission of desperation to get ourselves home before sunset. We were cutting it close and had already lost the day before with the intense wind, leaving us only 24 hours before we were expected back at school to teach on Monday. We were feeling the time pressure and that turned our hope into an anxious prayer that the store would be miraculously open. We just kept walking.

As we came into view of the West Marine, we still could not see in the morning brightness if the lights were on within and too far away to read an “open” sign if there was one. I remember praying constantly under my breath that somehow the doors would be unlocked when we arrived. Amazingly, they were, and to our relief the store clerk was ready to help us as we were most likely his first customers of the day and his only customers until the hoop-la of the church services had ended and weekend normalcy would return to the day for the boat shop. We purchased a new battery. Damian affirmed with a quick check from his phone research that we had what we needed to get our engine going again. And yet at the same time, we were both nervous that this was not the only problem that was preventing her from starting – and we told the store clerk we may be back later if the engine needed something more.

Damian hoisted the battery up on his shoulder to carry it back to where our boat was docked on the furthest end of the island at Harbor Inn Marina. A whopping 1.5 miles from the location of the West Marine! Let’s just say one and a half miles may not seem like a long way, but it does when you are carrying a forty pound load while the cold wind whips across your face. We hiked back, passing the same Catholic Church that was now busy with activity as the members flocked into the building ornate with its Easter splendor. Damian shouldered the heavy battery from one side to the other as we kept plodding past shops, restaurants, and the Methodist Church again. We were quite the spectacle for the churchgoers to witness on their fine morning – two poorly clad nomads trekking along the sidewalk toward the “trailer park marina” with a marine battery slung over the shoulder of one. A small red car zoomed passed. We hardly noticed that it turned around and slowed down beside us to observe the odd sight that we were.

“What are you doing, wild man?!” We heard the shout coming from the rolled down window of the red car following along beside us. Somewhat startled but all in good fun, we recognized the bald man of the old yacht from the dock behind where Gem&I was tied at Harbor Inn Marina! He was laughing at us as we strolled along, his big toothy grin. How could we not laugh along with him? We were a sorry state.

“Want a ride?” He offered. “I can fit one of ya in here.” His two-door car only had minimal seating space, and it was cluttered with live-aboard supplies. “Maybe put her and the battery in “ere.” He pointed to me and looked up at the heavy load on Damian’s shoulder.

“Thanks, but I think we’ve got it. Only a little-ways more. Almost there,” Damian acknowledged with a kind and affirming nod. It was true – we were about to round the corner to enter the marina’s parking lot.

“Allrighty then,” came the answer. “But don’t say I didn’t offer,” he trailed off.

“I won’t. We really appreciate it. Thank you – really.” Damian told him with another smile. With that, the little red car zoomed back around and headed off in its original direction.

After installing the new battery, the engine still would not turn over. Our worst fears had come true. We were doomed. No start – no go. We’d be stuck here to figure out what else was wrong with this engine. Damian had worried the whole time that something like this would happen – and now it had. I remember watching his face, desperate for an answer that would give him some sort of direction as to what to do next. He had done everything he knew how to do and still the engine was giving us no sign that it would resurrect itself to life for us. We needed a miracle. And there was only one way I knew how to ask for one. So we prayed and asked God to do something for us, because there was truly nothing else we knew to do to get her going again and get us home. Damian looked at me. I looked at him.

“Let’s try it again,” I said, trying to believe that the Almighty had heard an insignificant girl’s desperate, trivial prayer. Damian revved her up again, and we heard the churn, churn, churn as the engine choked back to life and caught into a consistent drawl of abrasive noise that made our hearts soar! I am honored to say that the Lord came through for us that day and heard our prayer as inconsequential as it was in comparison to world hunger and world peace. But He performed a miracle for us, and that’s all I can say! I threw up my hands in thanksgiving for what He had done for us on His Easter morning! Damian beamed and looked up toward heaven, knowing that it had not been us; it had been Him. How glorious!

We motored out into the Patuxent River and rounded the corner of Drum Point, heading North towards Kent Island, our final destination. The day was chilly but beautiful for sailing. We both knew it even if we had not spoken it to one another. Out in the open waters of the Chesapeake Bay, Damian confirmed what I had assumed he had been thinking for some time: “Want to raise the sails?” I was overjoyed with excitement and nodded my head with delight. We untied her sail ties, pointed her bow into the wind, and set up the main halyard around the wench to begin her ascent and unfold her for the very first time! I was at the helm as Damian cranked the halyard up, up, up. The head of the main sail flew up into the air along the edge of our mast higher and higher! We both watched her take flight.

Then to our surprise, we were showered from above with small pieces of dried seaweed, twigs, and feathers! As each batten unfolded, we saw a heap of junk fall out of the sail folds. An old bird’s nest! What a mess! All over the deck and partially over the cockpit were the remains of this old nest. Damian took most of the nest mound and dumped it overboard, but not even a leaf blower could have taken care of the billions of twig, leaf, seaweed, and mud particles that had been emitted all over our boat from the hidden surprise package that had been waiting for our discovery within the folds of our main sail.

Midday turned to afternoon as we charged passed the Little Choptank and the Choptank River. The wind remained steady, and we took advantage of it cruising further northward on our way home. With our motor whirring and our sails blowing, we were making good time, and we were sincerely grateful as we had lost the early morning hours with the starter battery fiasco. We were rather stunned to see so many commercial vessels making their way up and down the Chesapeake on an Easter Sunday afternoon, but for the most part we stayed out of their way, and they stayed out of ours.

A short while later, Damian noticed the wind picking up as we turned her east off the coast of Bloody Point. We saw a giant freighter chugging behind us in the channel and decided it was time to put the sails down to gain better control of our course home. I took the helm, and Damian took his place to bring in the jib first and then her main.

“Ok, turn her into the wind,” Damian gave the orders as I spun the wheel gently to rotate the boat to face the wind. As I did this, a gust of wind took the boat with it and thrust her through “irons’ and past “close reach” into a “broad reach” on the opposite side she had previously been. “What are you doing?” Damian shouted, trying to understand the wayward glide of my apparently lacking helmsman skills. I wrestled with the wheel with every fiber in me to get her bow to push back into facing the wind. But the current and the wind were in no mood to cooperate, and the wheel was completely locked without any leverage to manipulate her back into place.

“I”m trying to get her into the wind,” I called back to him. ‘she’s just not turning.” Still naive and green to handling the wheel, I was unaware that there were things I could do to get control of her again. If I just put the wheel back to its center and played with her from side to side, I could possibly get some adequate steerage. But that’s all in hindsight and the freighter behind us was unforgiving as it lumbered forward at full speed ahead.

Aware of the closing time window we had to avoid a collision with a the relentless steamship, Damian let the jib sheet loose as he pulled in the roller furling line to roll up the jib sheet despite our position of not being in the wind, the way we had been taught. The jib filled with air and flapped wildly as he pulled it in, and it was then that I noticed the shreds of material along the edge, revealing its tattered state. Whether it was at that moment that the jib had ripped, along or journey north that day or the day before, or whether the sailboat had been purchased with the torn jib – we would never know.

From there, Damian took back the helm and attempted to move her out of the freighter’s intended path. Our blood was rushing and our heart’s were beating at an increased rate as we avoided the evident danger with the massive ship. Gem&I was just a tiny pawn chip next to the gigantic vessel, and it definitely gave us a sense of helplessness out there on the water. In a swift gesture of leadership and heroism, Damian got control of the helm with one hand and lowered the main sail down with the other. I just tried to stay out of his way as he maneuvered around the cockpit in a fury of activity. I clearly had not been much help.

But with lowering the main sail, we were faced with another problem: with no jack stays to keep her in place, the main sail dropped in billowing piles all over the deck, flowing off the boom and fluttering in the gusts of wind. The stanchions couldn’t keep all of the colossal folds of sail on the deck, and I could see it sliding off through the gaping holes between the lifeline and the deck towards the water below. The wind just kept blowing and seemed to howl over top of the vibrating motor hum. Without a second thought, Damian jumped up on deck and began gathering the main sail under his arms. He piled the sail folds on top of the boom, tying her on to the boom with the sail ties as quickly as he could manage. The boat lurched from side to side, and my heart worried he would fall right off the side along with half the sail. The water was frigid, and he would certainly die of hypothermia before I could get the boat to go back and pull him out. Why wasn’t he wearing his life jacket? And why wasn’t he tethered to something secure up there?

The main sail was a heaping pile of haggard mess hanging on with the sail ties to the jib – no perfect fluffing process that time. I didn’t care. All that mattered to me was that Damian was back in the cockpit safe and sound. We were in the last stretches of our journey and had traveled over one hundred miles so far. The Eastern Bay looked so manageable on the chart as we retraced our plotted course. But following that course line from one green to the next dragged on hour after hour. We finally changed direction from east to north and began seeing sites on the shores that had a vague familiarity to them. This is when we became unable to keep our excitement contained, and I eagerly texted our ‘sailing parents’ that we were almost back to the Narrows. In actuality, we were still over two hours more to go. The sun inched its way further down the sky, and we knew that we would be cutting it close, as there would be little daylight left.

To our relief, we began to see signs of home forming along the crest of the northward horizon – the large red warehouse building behind Crab Deck and the grey outline of the townhomes along the starboard shoreline. And then we approached the narrow channel before the bridge. No call was needed to have the bridge open for us, since it was still under construction and had been permanently left open for the time being. I was on the helm as we crawled our way through the slim gap between the towering supports of the bridge. The swirling current beneath the bridge was deep and dark in the lingering shadows of the setting sun. I kept her steady and brought our Gem&I into the Narrows!

“Let me take it from here,” Damian requested, eager to take the helm and bring her into her new home: Mears Point Marina. Past Harris’ Crab House, Red Eyes Dock Bar, and good ole Annie’s. These were the familiar places we had dined in only less than a year before while we were learning to sail. It all felt surreal, realizing that in such a short time, we had accomplished so much in pursuing our dreams.

Damian’s face told the story – he was beaming with pride and joy and a sense of accomplishment. He turned her into the marina, and as we passed the entrance sign, I cheered! We had made it home. Home to the place where it had all begun for us, where we discovered our hearts desire to sail and to own a sailboat of our own “one day.” Who would have guessed that our “one day” would be only nine months away. We coasted her towards the very slip that housed the little Cal 22 we had boarded on the first day of our first sail class. O Dock would be where we would keep her – across from our “sailing parents”” slips. Damian backed her into the slip that he had prepared with Captain Dave a few weeks before. There were the lines, awaiting our arrival. We had finally made it home just before dark!

As we cleated the final line and turned off the engine, we had tears in our eyes. We had done it; we had brought our Gem&I home to Kent Narrows, where she now belonged. The journey had challenged us to trust God no matter what, because we could not have done it without Him!

We both know that this experience changed us as people. My trust and respect for Damian’s leadership and decision-making soared, and his reliance and admiration of my courage and strength amidst the “storms” we encountered grew. We value one another as teammates on the journey of becoming the sailors we want to one day be.


ASA 104 – May 10, 11, 12, 13, 2013

Annapolis, Maryland is really beautiful and was so much fun to visit. We spent 4 days aboard Zufrieden, a 37-foot sloop rig with our captain Dave. We were going for our ASA 104 Bareboat Chartering certification, which we accomplished with flying colors. This trip was a little bit different than our last one to the Florida Keys because it was more about the inner-workings of the sailboat. Yes, we did a lot of sailing, but it was more about how to work all of the systems aboard the boat, and how to maintain them.

It’s important to remember that when you sail, your boat is your island. You need to understand how everything works, and more importantly, how to fix everything, should there be a problem. You have to be your own safety-net at sea. So, our course this time focused more on boat maintenance, cooking, engine repair, navigation systems, charting, plotting a course, navigating through channels (almost like heavy traffic in the ocean) and so much more.

This trip was definitely an adventurous one. Every day we had stronger winds than the day before, and one day we had such strong winds we had to drop the sails and motor to our location, because the boat couldn’t handle the weather. It was a lot of hard work sailing in heavy weather, and we also learned a lot more about what kind of boat we’d like to sail. This sailboat was smaller than our last one, so it was more effected by the wind, waves and weather.

Jake & Jill

ASA 118 – Docking Endorsement – August 19, 2012

The Docking Instruction has dramatically improved my ability to handle my vessel! I’ve had a chance to employ many of the techniques you showed me, in a range of conditions, including some of the warping approaches. Everyday docking has been night and day since, after learning how to properly back a sailboat into a slip, and Gina rarely has to be involved in the docking process – unless of course she wants to be!

This weekend, as we were moving the boat from the South River to the Patapsco for the winter, I realized that many of my seamanship skills beyond the basic mechanics of sailing, such as navigation, docking, safety procedures, etc. are a result of your instruction. Thanks again for all of the excellent teaching – I’m looking forward to sailing with you in the future.


ASA 104 – September 16, 17, 18, 19, 2011

Our ASA 104 Bareboat Chartering class was a truly memorable and fun-filled adventure. On the first day we started with a sail from Kent Narrows to the Wye River, where we had a very peaceful and picturesque overnight anchorage surrounded by a bird sanctuary.

Our second day destination was Annapolis. While underway, we monitored our plotted courses by taking hand-held compass bearings. In Annapolis, we picked up a mooring in the harbor right off the seawall at the US Naval Academy. After launching the dinghy, we motored to shore, enjoyed a great dinner, and walked around the historic downtown.

On the third day, the wind began to increase and we learned to beat into it with a 30″ heel while sailing under the William Preston Lane Bridge (Bay Bridge). I even managed to prepare a special Russian lunch while the boat was enjoying this fantastic heel! That night we decided to anchor in the Chester River.

It is just amazing how different and beautiful the Chesapeake Bay can be – three nights; three different experiences. I must say that we learned a lot. The course was packed with very useful and practical knowledge. I truly appreciate the mentoring from our Captain David Renoll, and look forward to more sailing with R&R Charters and Sail School.

ASA 101 Students –
have three days of leaving the dock and learning the basic sailing skills, taught mostly in the Chester River.  Each afternoon we return to the slip and students have the evenings to enjoy the restaurants and nightlife on the Eastern Shore and Kent Island.

ASA 103 Students –
also have three days of leaving the dock and learning to handle a sailing vessel under power, and continuing to develop the sailing skills, which they were introduced to in the basic keelboat class.  The 103 students have the evenings to enjoy the fine local atmosphere.

ASA 104 Students –
plan a four day cruise to the Wye River, Annapolis, and the Magothy River.  During this class they plan and provision for their meals, plot the courses to our locations, and experience anchoring in the Wye River on the Eastern Shore, and the Magothy River on the Western Shore.  In Annapolis, they pick up a mooring and enjoy a fine dinner at one of the many restaurants around the harbor.

ASA 106 Students –
plan a seven day circumnavigation around the Delmarva Peninsula or down the Chesapeake Bay, out to Chesapeake Light, and back up the Bay to our marina.  While on this cruise, they experience night and ocean sailing, entering into anchorages at night, and also departing anchorages at night.  During the seven days, it is not usual for them to experience some heavier winds and weather than they would have had in their other classes.

ASA 108 Students –
plan a ten to twelve day offshore passage. Depending upon the time of year, the passage will be either from our marina to Block Island, RI (spring and early summer) or from Norfolk to Bermuda or the Virgin Islands (late fall). During this offshore passage the students will experience a watch system, practice celestial navigation, run emergency drills, set a sea anchor to mention a few of the activities. During this longer passage, the students will definitely experience some heavier weather sailing.

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