Captain’s Report: 2006 Navigation and Operations Summary
Total Distance: 1,741.5 NM
Total Time of Passages: 446.5 hours (18.6 days)
Average Speed: 3.9 knots
Distance Sailed: 497.5 NM (29%)
Distance Motored: 1244 NM (71%)
Sailing Time: 162 hours–or- 6.75 days (36%)
Motoring Time: 212.5 hours – or- 8.8 days (48%)
Time at Anchor: 47 hours –or- 2 days (10.5%)
Time at Other Port (Safe Harbor): 57.5 hours –or- 2.4 days (12.9%)
The summer arrived with its fair amount of growing pains. Being only the first year in operation as a sailing school vessel, we still had a lot of learning to do about how to reach our target market with advertising. By late spring we had filled only about a quarter of the berths available for the duration of the summer sailing season will full tuition-paying trainees.
The strategy was to market to parents of young adults by listing advertisements in prominent nationally distributed sailing magazines such as Wooden Boat, Soundings, and Spin Sheet- a local magazine in
Annapolis, MD. Ironically, we did not receive any applicants through our paid advertising. All of the applicants we received applications from either saw the ship in another port, previously visited the museum, or heard about the program through our website or from a friend.
This year we are trying a different approach. We will focus more locally, and advertise through smaller local publications such as college newspapers and yacht club newsletters. We will also continue to improve our website and attempt to expand internet advertising through publishing articles and photos on prominent websites.
The spring fitting out went well with only a modest few set-backs. Each year there is a risk that something will go wrong that might affect the sailing schedule. This year we sprung the jibboom while tuning its standing rigging. It was destined to break at some point due to imperfections in the spar’s grain and many years of exertion upon it.
Good fortune was with us in several ways. The carpenters were able to make a quick and permanent repair to the broken spar in only two days time. The entire seasonal crew started work on April 15th, so we were able to absorb and make up for the set-back in the allotted six-week rigging up period. We were also fortunate to have a very capable full-time chief mate again and the rigging up was left largely to Jamie Trost’s planning and direction.
The shakedown cruise on Friday, May 26th was hampered by thick fog. While it was unfortunate that we could not set more sail because we would charge off sailing into the poor visibility, it was a great exercise for the officers managing the bridge and navigation. It was also good practice for me to bring the ship into her berth with only a ship-length of visibility. We couldn’t see the pier at Rum Runner’s until we were nearly past it. A navigation challenge that early in the season helped to quickly stimulate proper bridge resource management.
The following week we prepared for and had a successful annual US Coast Guard inspection. The inspectors were sufficiently impressed by our operation of the vessel and safety drills, that the inspection was quick and rather effortless. The key item on the inspection was the approval of the new generator we installed in the engine room just weeks before. The generator worked well and passed inspection without a hitch.
During the months of June and early July we spent each week training the new arriving trainees on Fridays and Saturdays, then conducting one-day training sails on Sundays and Mondays. Then on most Monday evenings we departed on overnight training sails, which returned to the dock on Tuesday afternoons.
The trainees that sailed onboard were a mix of Erie volunteers, paid trainees from all over the country, and apprentices who joined the ship largely from other maritime organizations such as the Mystic Seaport Museum, USS Constitution Museum, and other tallships from around the country.
The “Erie volunteers” are local residents from the Erie vicinity who donated maintenance hours during the winter to pay for their tuition to sail onboard as trainees during the summer. They serve a critical role in the maintenance of the vessel during the winter, and this year (once again) they helped greatly to provide the critical manpower needed from trainees to sail the ship properly.
Later in the summer we had four apprentices from the German ships Alexander Von Hombolt and Roald Admundsen as part of an international crew exchange that was facilitated by Claudia Bankhert a
Niagara volunteer from Cleveland.