Photo of the Week: Sunrise on the Bay
Travels by Canoe

Travels by Skipjack

Summer Student Leadership Blogs

CBF's Education staff run week-long student leadership trips over the summer, where students can get up-close and personal with the Bay and their environment. This summer, some of the courses involve the students blogging about their activities. Here is the first.


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Sunday, June 26

We are spending our first full day of the trip learning the basics of Coastal Piloting and Navigation. Our destination tonight is the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, MD. The boat was anchored in Harness Creek off of the South River last night, so we have quite some distance to cover.

One of our discussion topics for the evening was the leadership traits that we will be working on during the week. There is a full list below. Today we worked on Expedition Behavior and Monday will be Competence.

The entire crew slept on the deck of the skipjack last night. The forecast was for a cool night, light breeze, and clear skies. Never trust the weatherman! Some of us awoke around 1 a.m. to some very light sprinkles; enough to annoy, but not to get wet. A few tarps were hastily hung and we were back to bed.

Check out Google maps to watch our progress. 


Leadership Traits

  • Expedition Behavior
  • Competence
  • Communication
  • Tolerance for Adversity and Uncertainty
  • Self Awareness
  • Vision and Action
  • Judgement and Decision Making


Monday, June 27
Written by Maddie

Our route Day 1We made an early night of it and snuggled into our sleeping bags expecting darkness to creep over us and a full eight hours sleep. Getting used to sleeping on the boat was hard—especially because many of us had to deal with light, even all through the night. We also had to deal with the hot stickiness and bugs—monsterous amounts of bloodsuckers. Then the unexpected hit and rain fell. A positive for the rain was that the bugs disappeared—but at 1:30 a.m.  Dave, Paul, and Christy all set out to raise tarps, waking half of us up, but keeping us dry.

The day got off to a great start, after waking up in Harness Creek. We learned navigating skills from Dave and calculated our own routes for the trip to St. Michaels. Gathering the gear and bringing us back to work, today's student navigator Kayla, skipper Taylor, and mate David, all started to learn how to steer the skipjack. At first we traveled in multiple circles—soon we got on our way.

Hauling in oystersWhen we arrived at the Maritime Museum we set up camp and were already looking forward to the running water and flushable toilets in the AIR CONDITIONED buildings. We grabbed all the gear off the boat and threw it in our tents. We started to make dinner, helping out our kitchen crew, because there was a lot to do in order to have stir-fry. We sat down to a huge amount of food which we all enjoyed before Paul talked to us about competance. After our team talk, we ran over the next day's schedule and now are all excited for activities to come. We are starting to settle down once more, taking showers and changing—all waiting for what comes tomorrow.

Check out Google maps to watch our progress. If you zoom in on the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum you can see our skipjack at the dock.


Tuesday June 28 - AM edition
Written by Rachel
The "Village" at the Maritime MuseumLast night we camped out in a field at the Maritime Museum at St. Michaels. We awoke bright and early (7 a.m.) because we had to eat breakfast and be out of the area before a bunch of kids came in for their sailing camp that started at 8 a.m.

Sprucing up a boat for the Maritime MuseumNext we headed out to do some work for the Maritime Museum to thank them for allowing us to stay on their grounds and also to get more experience/ideas for our action projects. We ended up helping paint an old steamboat named "Thor." Thor was rescued from underwater and restored by the museum. We helped re-paint (well, actually re-stain) the boat to make it more presentable for the rapidly approaching 4th of July celebration that the museum hosts every year.

At the top of Hooper Straights lighthouseAfter working on the boat restoration, we explored the museum. We did a scavenger hunt where various clues lead us to different locations and parts of the museum. We learned more about oysters and oyster depletion, the crabbing industry, different types of boats, etc. The museum also had many hands-on exhibits such as boats we could climb in and explore. Lastly, most people explored the Hooper Straight lighthouse, which is also part of the museum.

Tuesday June 28 - PM edition
Written by Mason 

Learning about lighthousesWaking up on the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum grounds was different than our first morning on the Stanley Norman. I myself liked how the tent prevented us from getting rained on like the previous night. After breakfast we went over our leadership trait of the day—communication. Then we got ready for the day, putting on clothes that we could get dirty. We walked over to the boat restoration house and learned that we would be painting part of a buy-boat's edge red, white, and blue colors for the upcoming 4th of July celebration at the museum. After about an hour, we were content with our work and "tried" to wash the paint off our hands, arms, and even hair. We were then given a scavenger hunt with cards that gave us hints on places to search for things in the museum. We explored the lighthouse, steamboat house, oyster house, and the crab house. I liked the crab house because we got to look at crabs and pick them up. Oyster tonging off the dockWe even got to use tongs to pick up oysters out of the water.

After lunch we did a town tour of St. Michaels. We were given a list of questions to ask three townspeople about the area and the bay. We split up into groups and were off roaming the town asking people for information. We learned how the town was given the title of "the town that fooled the British." This is because when St. Michaels was being approached by the British soldiers, the townspeople put lights up in the trees. So when the soldiers fired upon the town, they hit the trees and not the houses! Only one house got hit by a cannon ball. The house was then appropriately given the name "Cannon Ball House."  After we gathered our facts about the town, we all met up at Justine's Ice Cream. We were each surprised with a single scoop of ice cream.

Crab dinner on the dockWe then decided what our next two dinners would be, and we went to the grocery store to buy the supplies. We decided on taco night and spaghetti night. When we got back, we had an hour of free time. Most of us went to find air conditioning. We are now making dinner and then we are getting ready for bed. I am excited to be back on the boat tomorrow.


 Cleaning our catch  Rounding Bloody Point
Bucket O' Eels Pulling up a crab pot

Wednesday June 29
Written by Paul 

Fixing our position above Poplar IslandWaterman’s breakfast! In preparation for our longest day on the water (36 miles), we started with donuts and scrapple and egg sandwiches at the local breakfast/seafood/tackle shop. There were a few locals, but most were already out crabbing.

The wind was a little too light for sailing, so the motor pushed us at a steady seven knots. The two decision points came when we decided to run the shallows in between Poplar Island and Tilghman instead of going the long way around and to cut through the Knapps Narrows on Tilghman Island on our way to the Choptank River and Horn Point near Cambridge.

Plotting the course through the NarrowsIn the Knapps Narrows we saw two abandoned skipjacks rotting away in the marsh. On the Choptank River, Captain Wade Murphy was out sailing in his skipjack the Rebecca T. Ruark. After dinner on the bluff of Horn Point we saw another skipjack sail out of Cambridge, most likely the Nathan of Dorchester.

The wind finally picked up as we went to bed, finally a cool night. The crackle of VHF radio woke us around 4:30 a.m. as a waterman trotlining for crabs eased past our campsite. We have just finished breakfast and are preparing for a tour of the oyster restoration hatchery at the Horn Point Laboratory followed by some labor to help with the restoration effort. After that we set sail for Severn Marine in the Knapps Narrows, our last night spent on the Eastern Shore.

Thursday June 30
Written by Paul Bayne

Today, the students are involved in their "challenge" day. The crew left the Knapps Narrows on Tilghman Island this morning. Once the boat was just south of Poplar Island, Captain Dave handed the boat over to the students. It is their job to navigate and sail back to Tolly Point, just outside of Annapolis. They have been practicing all week; they are ready and excited!

Written by Rachel
Sorting oysters at Horn PointToday we camped out on the grounds at Horn Point. We were right on the edge of a bluff and we had an absolutely amazing view. We could see a wide panorama of the Chesapeake and apparently the sunrise was amazing though, sadly, I missed it. We had one minor adventure relating to this camp site. While we were sleeping, raccoons ate some of our food! But we still had plenty and we bought more later that day.

After we finished packing up our tents and personal stuff, Captain Jessie (the CBF island center manager) gave us a ride from the camp site to the boat because it was a long walk and we had lots of heavy stuff. Because we had some extra time before our tour of the Horn Point Laboratory, Captain Jessie entertained us with some of his escapades. 

Once we were done listening to Captain Jessie's stories, it was time for our tour of Horn Point! They showed us around the laboratory and explained all of the equipment to us. Essentially, their mission is Sorting oysters at Horn Pointto produce large quantities of oysters that they can introduce into the Bay in order to increase the oyster population and thus improve the health of the Bay. Oysters have many benefits including their filtration capacity. One statistic says that one oyster can filter 50 gallons of water every day! So they contribute to the ecosystem and help filter the bay. But as we also learned, today's population of oysters is only two percent of the original oyster population in the Bay, so there's still much work to be done.

The technology at Horn Point is rather impressive. Everything is run by a huge computer system and they have a lot of technology that they use to reduce the amount of labor necessary. For example, they have machines that move larvae into the tanks with the oyster shells that they attach to. I thought the scale at which they were doing their work was really fascinating; they are able to produce an amazing number of oysters.

Sorting oysters at Horn PointAfter our tour, we did a small action project for the museum. We helped sort and count dead and live oysters. It was nice for us to be able to help them out and also to see and participate in some of the work they were doing. Overall, I think it was a good combination for us to learn some and to get some hands-on experience.

Once we were done at Horn Point Laboratory, we sailed to Tilghman Island where we were staying that night. It was a boat yard and there were lots of crabbing and fishing boats there. Alana and I actually got to help some crabbers pack clams into bags to use as bait! It was a fun place to stay because it was pretty different from everywhere else we stayed.

Friday, July 1
Written by Rachel

Today was the day! It was the day we were all supposed to work together and sail/motor without the help of Paul, David or Christy. We started off the day by plotting our course from Tilghman Island to Tolly Point Shoal. We figured out that it was approximately fourteen nautical miles, which takes about three hours when driving at five knots. We started motoring at nine in the morning and we were told we needed to be at Tolly Point by three o'clock, so we thought we'd be totally fine. After all, when using the motor, we can go up to about six-and-a-half or seven nautical miles.

Setting the mainBut right at the beginning of the trip we had one small technological malfunction; our GPS suddenly died. (Well actually, Dave covered it with a paper bag and told us that it wasn't working, but same difference!) Luckily, we had practiced navigating a fair amount, so we were fine doing that. So we navigated our way past a few buoys and were doing great. I was so excited; I had almost reached our second to last buoy. But right before I got there, our motor "suddenly died." (Again, Dave reached down and turned it off). So we had to rely on our sails. When Dave turned off the boat, the wind was eleven or twelve knots. But by the time we had (almost flawlessly, I might add) raised both sails just a few moments later, the wind was down to three or four knots. And sadly, it was going in the wrong direction. So we ended up trying to tack, which is when you drive somewhat to the left of where you want to go and somewhat to the right of where you want to go with the purpose of trying to go towards your destination. Sadly, we had some issues with this, and ended up drifting backwards somewhat. Luckily, about an hour later, our motor was magically repaired! So we ended up motoring the rest of the way to our destination.

Setting the jibOverall, I think everyone enjoyed working together and controlling the boats all by ourselves. We all did a really good job of coming together as a team and using our group knowledge to accomplish our tasks. And we didn't even make any major or even minor mistakes; there were merely a couple questions that we had. It was a really great culmination of our trip for us to be responsible for the boat and getting to our destination.


Saturday, July 2
Written by Rachel

Sniff. Sniff. Sniff. It's hard to believe that today is our last day together on the Stanley Norman. Even though we've only been together for a week, I know I've had a great time working together with everyone as well as of course hanging out and getting to know each other.

This morning, a bunch of us got up at 5:30 (no one should be up at that hour, but it was worth it) to see the sunrise. We all went down to the dock right near where we were sleeping and watched the sunrise. It was really pretty and we had a great view. Plus, I was all snuggled up in my sleeping bag out there, which was nice and comfy.  It was fun to see the beautiful view and it was a great way to start our last day.

I have had an amazing time and we've gotten to do a ton of really cool stuff! We are going to go learn our last leadership trait, so this is all I will say about today!


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