07 September 2009

Storm Heads to the Great Lakes

On Thursday, the diverse crew of two power squad skippers, Peter Kaple 11’ Jeff Musselman 12’ one crew team captain Sam Diedrick 10’, and a sailor Chuck Floyd-Jones 10’ piled into a van and headed to Albany, NY to start what turned out to be an eventful and incredible weekend. Storm is being transferred to NOAA and is being taken ultimately to Muskegon, MI; we were tasked with getting her a third of the way there to Buffalo. Storm departed KP for the last time Thursday morning crewed by Rich Cain and Denis Donahue Marine Superintendent for the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory and headed for Albany. The Midshipmen crew then jumped in the van after class Thursday and met them in Albany where we would trade Rich Cain van for boat and start our journey to Buffalo. 0600 Friday morning rolled around and the crew was ready to go, the dense fog however had other plans for us. One hour went by and the fog had lifted just enough that the crew, now of midshipmen and Denis Donahue (who was great in helping us learn and leaving the major evolutions to the midshipmen) felt comfortable enough to get under way. With lookouts on the bow we slowly made our way through the beginning of the Erie Canal and made it to our first lock. Right about this time the fog had lifted and everyone could relax a bit. Friday consisted of a full day of locks, sunshine, and no wake zones which allowed all the crew to experience a beautiful part of New York that none of the Midshipmen had seen before. The long day landed us at the outlet of the Erie Canal on Lake Oneida at 2200 Friday night. Saturday morning again came early getting under way around 0500 to make our way to Lake Ontario. For some this was the first time seeing any of the Great Lakes and the weather for our 5 hour cruise on the lake could not have been better. After and evening swim and shower in the clean and refreshing Lake Ontario, and crew member Peter Kaple 11’ wondering where the salt was… we continued on to the Welland Canal. We began the 24 mile transit through the canal around midnight and were in Lake Erie by 0500 the following morning. This could not have been a worse time to lose the GPS, but we did. With only paper charts and radar we made our way in the dark from the south end of the Welland Canal into Buffalo Harbor where we would leave Storm in the hands of NOAA and get in a van to make the trip back to KP. The weekend was amazing experience for the entire crew. The 310 mile trip consisted of countless hours of boat handling experience through canals and tight spaces, night navigation into a new port and in foreign waters, restricted visibility, VHF communications, and fairly consistent maintenance issues which forced good teamwork and the use of our skills learned in the classroom and at the waterfront. 

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