2001 Bermuda Reports
Schedule of Courses
Ocean Training Cruises
HALIMEDA had just completed an ocean training cruise from St. Thomas, USVI to Norfolk with Captain Hal Sutphen and was now resting quietly at her berth in Little Creek Harbor, Norfolk, VA. I arrived late on Monday, May 21st and promptly began my inspections in preparation for our next series of training cruises between Norfolk and Bermuda. This kept me occupied for the next few days, and on May 25th my crew began to arrive. These included First Mate Ron McKie a USCG Licensed Near Coastal Master who has sailed HALIMEDA for us on advanced coastal training cruises both around the DELMARVA peninsula and in the Virgin Islands, and is scheduled to sail her on a training cruise from Norfolk to Mystic, CT in July. The others included Rob Tamblyn from Canada and Dr. Ken Fine from Maryland who served as Bosn's; Don Bryan from North Carolina who served as Emergency Coordinator and George Donnegan from Massachusetts who served as Engineer.
Saturday, May 26: We got busy with an early start
discussing the cruise plan, navigation and onboard procedures then spent several
hours going over the entire sail inventory including the mainsail, staysail,
genoa, trisail and cruising spinnaker and practiced raising and furling sails,
reefing, winch procedures, line coiling and certain key knots essential to safe
operation at sea. Subsequently, we rigged the sea anchor and did a mock
deployment by dragging it out along the dock and practiced with the man
overboard equipment and abandon ship procedures. We topped off this busy day with a discussion of watch keeping and log book
procedures and DR navigation procedures to be used during the cruise. We then
cooled off with a dip in the marina pool and relaxed with dinner ashore.
Sunday, May 27: This was another early day starting
with me going aloft to inspect the rig and to install a new Windex to replace
the one blown off during the previous cruise. All was well aloft with nothing
but minor chafe noted; all primary hardware was in good order and all lights
were checked and worked properly. Each crewmember then proceeded to verify items
on their checklists to ensure that all else was in good order. Of particular
interest was the condition of all standing and running rigging and hardware at
deck level especially shackles and cotter pins as well as lifelines. Also of
particular importance were the condition of the main engine and generator and
all through hull connections and valves. A complete inventory was done of all
spare parts, tools and food provisions and checked against the master inventory
lists and shopping lists were drawn up. We then shopped for the remaining items
needed and were nearing completion of our preparations. We then received the
latest weather reports via the USCG voice broadcasts over NMN on SSB radio and
also NWS over VHF radio plus we received Fax copies of the weather plots
downloaded from the internet by our office.
Monday, May 28: I made watchkeeping assignments for
the cruise. With six crew members onboard, we setup our usual two people per
watch for 4 hours on and 8 hours off twice per day. Watch Section I from 12 to 4
was manned by Rob Tamblyn as Watch Captain and Ken Fine; Section II from 4 to 8
with me as Watch Captain and Don Bryan; Section III from 8 to 12 with Ron McKie
as Watch Captain and George Donnegan. We then received a final weather report
which gave us a go, did an abandon ship walk through and cast off for sea at 10
am. At 1235 we passed out of the bay and slid by the Chesapeake Bay Junction
buoy, turned to a course of 115 degrees True and headed for Bermuda. At 1330
we conducted a man overboard drill and by 1500 the wind filled in from the south
at 20 knots and we sailed merrily along with reefed main and full genoa.
Tuesday, May 29: Winds remained S to SW through the night, but abated after sunrise and became light and variable. We motored until noon when our log showed 123 miles covered since departure; the winds filled in again from the S at 10 knots and gradually built to 20 knots as the afternoon wore on. Winds then veered to N by 2300 and steadied out at 10 to 15 knots for most of the night as we sailed the rhumb line on a broad reach.
Wednesday, May 30: Continued sailing on a broad reach starboard tack in winds from the N at 15 to 20 knots. We made an additional 133 miles as of noon since noon yesterday. Conditions were perfect for poling out the genoa to windward which we did and got a rollicking nice ride. Then at 1330 the whisker pole end fitting failed and the pole came crashing down; no additional damage occurred. This is a Forespar Carbon Fiber pole and failure resulted from poor construction; the end fitting was riveted to the pole with insufficient edge distance and the rivets tore out of the fitting breaking the edges of their holes as they did. We lashed the pole on deck and continued broad reaching sans pole.
At 1500 winds became variable then backed to SW. The weather forecast spoke of two separate cold fronts traversing our position today. One had passed us in the early morning hours and accounted for the wind shift we experienced last night from S to NW. The second was forecast to move SE from the US coast and to reach our position by evening. At 2100 we were hit by a sudden, fast moving squall line ahead of the front that brought torrential rain and a wind shift to the NE at 30 knots and a cooling and freshening of the air. After an hour, winds abated to 15 knots and we settled down a comfortable sail for the rest of the night.
Thursday, May 31: Winds gradually clocked to E and dropped to 7 knots by noon at which time we had completed an additional 122 miles since noon yesterday. After noon winds became light and variable and disappeared completely by late afternoon and remained light through the night with only occasional teaser puffs that encouraged us to put out sail and disappear again shortly after the sweat of sail handling evaporated. We motored a lot this day but the clear skies and calm seas encouraged dedicated celestial work by several of the crew and we made really god progress on these skills. We've been keeping a good logbook throughout the cruise and all the crew participated in keeping the ship's DR plot which became the basis for our classical navigation by celestial methods.
Friday, June 1: Winds remained light from the E at 5
to 10 knots and, since our course was ESE we continued to motor most of the
time. But with clear skies, calm seas, occasional visits by porpoise and
excellent meals from the galley, life was great! By noon we had covered an
additional 127 miles of our route and about 130 miles remained to our
Saturday, June 2: Winds remained light from the E and we continued to make steady progress toward Bermuda. At 0900 we sighted the island (Land Ho!!) and began preparations for port entry a few hours hence.
At 1045 we called Bermuda Harbour Radio to advise of our position and to report on the usual information that they request including yacht description and flag, number crew members, last port of call, safety equipment, planned length of stay, etc. They tagged our blip on their radar computer to enable tracking until we actually entered port, and requested that we call them on reaching the sea buoy for final entry instructions. This we did and by 1500 we entered Town Cut Channel and docked at the customs wharf. After clearing in, we went to the ESSO station and fueled and watered then tied along side the ship dock just W of Dowlings. From there our crew tested their land legs after five days at sea and we went to the Waterfront Tavern for a nice cold beer and some sea stories.
Captain Tom Tursi