2002 Bermuda Reports

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Course:      Offshore Passage Making, Norfolk to Bermuda
Date:          June 6-13, 2002
Vessel:        IP45 HALIMEDA
Students:     Mark & Cindy Bedwell, Gene Grochowski & Edmond Martinez
First Mate: Jerry Nigro
Captain:      Tom Tursi

We arrived in St Georges, Bermuda on June 3rd and tied up stern-to, Mediterranean style, at Captain Smokes Marina, which can handle a maximum of five yachts. It's fairly rustic there and it's a half-mile hike into town, but it does have showers and rest room facilities. Our outbound crew departed for home and First Mate Jerry Nigro and I set about cleaning up HALIMEDA in preparation for our next team of student ocean sailors. 

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June 5, Wednesday
Our new crew arrived at various times in the afternoon and we introduced ourselves and showed them around the yacht and where to stow their personal gear. I personally knew all of them from previous contact and three had taken earlier courses with the Maryland School. Gene Grochowski is an MD who recently purchased a 40-foot sailing yacht and plans to sail off into the sunset some time soon with his wife, Lorna. Mark & Cindy Bedwell own  a 38 foot sailing yacht and are also preparing for long distance cruising in the future; they both took our entire series of onboard courses and Mark also took both coastal and celestial navigation with us. Edmond Martinez also owns a 40 foot sailing yacht, and he too plans to sail off into the sunset with his family and is using this cruise as training and preparation for that event; Edmond also took both the coastal and celestial navigation classes with us. So we had a very experienced crew with serious plans to extend their sailing horizons in the future. 

June 6, Thursday
This was the first of our pre-departure training days and we began by deploying all sails, one at a time, at dockside to ensure that everyone knew how to handle the lines and winches and to be aware of the potential pitfalls and hazards of handling a big rig like this at sea under possibly severe conditions. This included the mainsail, genoa, staysail, trisail, whisker pole and boom crutch and took the better part of the morning to cover all details. We subsequently proceeded with detailed inspection and checkout of the remaining yacht equipment, tools and inventories. For this, Mark & Gene completed the Boatswain check lists; Edmond, the Engineer inspections; and Cindy the Emergency Coordinator inspections and procedures. This took us into late afternoon, and we were glad to finally break around 6:00 pm for washup and dinner ashore. 

June 7, Friday
We started out this day with heavy weather instruction and rigging and deployment ashore of the sea anchor; this is rugged and heavy equipment designed to help us ride out heavy weather of storm or hurricane conditions. We then discussed man overboard rescue procedures and demonstrated deployment of the rescue gear including horseshoe, strobe, pole, lifesling, throw rope and activation of the GPS man overboard feature. Then we had a discussion of abandon ship potential causes, procedures and equipment and a complete walkthrough of assignments including damage control procedures, life raft, PFDs, grab bags and radio Mayday call procedures. After this, we reviewed onboard food inventories and prepared shopping lists; obtained weather reports both from the onboard radio and weather fax and also from the Bermuda meteorologist; and prepared our navigation plan for the cruise. All together, a fun-packed day, but we felt that we were ready for sea and the weather looked favorable for a morning departure. So, we freshened up and went to town for our last supper ashore. 

June 8, Saturday
At 0915 we departed Captain Smokes Marina and motored to Dowling's Shell station to top up our fuel tanks, then called Bermuda Harbor Radio on VHF16 for permission to depart St Georges Town Cut Channel. This is a very narrow channel, which is traversed by super-sized cruise ships and all movements through it are strictly controlled.

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Mark had previously laid out our course around the north side of the island, and we practiced our coastal piloting skills as we proceeded past the Spit Buoy, Kitchen Shoal and Northeast Breaker, which we used as our departure point, and set our rhumbline course of 295 degrees True to Norfolk across 625 miles of open ocean. Winds were very light from the NW and we motorsailed for most of the day. Skies were clear so this afforded us the opportunity to concentrate on the basics of celestial navigation and weather forecasts and analysis. With a big high pressure ridge entrenched along the US East Coast, there was not much likelihood of a change in this weather for the next day or so. By midnight, we had made 70 miles since departing Bermuda. 

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 June 9, Sunday
Winds continued light from the NW and we continued to motorsail at about six knots. Clear skies. Warm sun. It's beautiful out here as always. Excellent opportunities for celestial shot practice. We're keeping a good logbook and a good DR plot, which serve as the basis for our ocean navigation process. At 1830 a light rain squall passed over us and we had great hopes in a change in conditions, but after it passed, winds resumed light from NW... directly where we're going to! Motor sailing on port tack at 1800 rpm, we maintained a boat speed of 6 knots, but with an opposing current of one knot, we were only able to make 5 knots over ground and 3.5 knots toward our destination (VMG). At 2100 we tacked to starboard and motor sailed on a heading of 270 degrees at 5.5 knots, but the 1.2 knot opposing current continued to slow our VMG to 3.5 knots. All very frustrating but part of ocean sailing. Made 127 nm today. 

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 June 10, Monday
Over night winds remained light from the NW, but the 0530 weather forecast promised that winds would back to SW and increase to 10-20 knots by tomorrow and 15-25 by Wednesday. At 0630 winds had increased enough to allow sailing with mainsail and genoa, engine secured, on a course of 290 degrees. By 0700 winds clocked to N and increased to 12 knots and we were sailing at over 6 knots toward our destination. 

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Weather Fax for June 10th

June 11, Tuesday
Dorado!! At 1400, Edmond hooked into a beautiful 10 pound Mahi-Mahi, which we boated, skinned and filleted ready for dinner... and a superb dinner it was with fish about as fresh as you can ever get it! It was exciting and a good omen as the winds backed to SW at 12 knots and we were sailing toward our destination at 6.5 knots with all sails full. Made 128 nm today. 

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 June 12, Wednesday
During the night, winds remained at 12 to 15 knots from the SW and we continued with fine sailing on a port tack reach. By mid-day the winds increase to 20 knots SW and we charged along at 8 knots in brilliant sun and cumulous clouds... wonderful sailing for hours and hours on end! Just after noon, we entered the eastern edges of the Gulf Stream with an increase in water temperatures and a 1-1/2 knot current setting NE. During the late afternoon and evening we experienced an opposing current and 6 to 9 foot waves, but by 1700 hours the current returned to a NE set at 3-1/2 knots giving us ground speeds of 11 to 12 knots. At dusk we noted 103 NM to the Chesapeake Bay entrance. 

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June 13, Thursday
Favorable winds continued until 0300 hours and then began to decline and by noon were light and variable and we turned on the engine and continued motor sailing. At 2020 hours we passed over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. At 2100 hours I called the US Customs service on my cell phone and received entry clearance. By 2130 hours we were tied up at the marina in Little Creek, Norfolk, VA. We then all went ashore for a welcome home dinned and our crew, our close friends for the past 8 days, went their separate ways to home and life ashore. 

Captain Tom Tursi
Little Creek Harbor, Norfolk, VA
June 14, 2002

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