2002 Bermuda Reports

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Course:       Offshore Passage Making, Norfolk to Bermuda
Date:           June 17-25, 2002
Vessel:        IP45 HALIMEDA
Students:     Bob Herbert, Jochen Hoffman, Mason Hulen, Eric Smith
First Mate: Jim Bortnem
Captain:      Jack Morton 

On arriving at Taylor's Landing, Little Creek, Virginia where Halimeda was berthed, I was able to meet with Tom Tursi, who had last skippered her on the previous Bermuda cruise. Being able to talk to the last master is always a great advantage for finding out what's working and what isn't, and what you have to do to make everything work well. Fortunately, just about everything was working well, and the main thing to be checked out was operation of the weatherfax, the newest addition to the electronic/weather suite of instruments aboard Halimeda.

June 17, Monday 
New crew arrived and training begins.  Jochen Hoffman, a program director at the US State Department, and Eric Smith, the new school superintendent for Anne Arundel County, arrived in the company of their wives, who were relieved and pleased to see how well founded and kept the yacht was. Mason Hulen, a software guru, and Bob Herbert, an auto parts magnate, completed the crew. All own boats of their own, and several had completed previous courses with the Maryland School or other sailing schools and were now ready to take on deepwater. Late in the day Jim Bortnem, a veteran of several long ocean cruises with the Maryland School arrived to take on the duties of First Mate for this cruise.

Training days are long and tiring, but necessary. The first day we ensured that everyone could manage raising, reefing or striking all plain sail as well as the trisail. Also covered emergency steering, and strategies for dealing with disasters such as man overboard, fire, collision and sinking. Fortunately, and probably partly because we deal with them in training, that's the only place we've ever had to address these issues. Wound up the day with a great dinner at the Ship's Cabin Restaurant.

June 18, Tuesday 
More training, with storm tactics, essential navigation, and food provisioning. Put the last part to work with a trip to Food Lion to set ourselves up to eat well for the trip. Equipment inventories by the bos'ns, engineer, and safety/quartermaster ensured that we had all we needed to go offshore, and visual inspection of the rig by captain and some of the crew confirmed that we were ready to go, and we did, casting lines at 1810. (Ten past six pm, for landlubbers.)  Light winds out of the southeast were an omen, and we were required to motorsail.

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June 19, Wednesday 
Those light winds out of the southeast continued, and we continued to motorsail, beating as best we can to stay near the rhumb line. As the day progressed, winds picked up, but still on the nose. Engine seems to overcharge the batteries, but first mate extraordinaire Jim is on top of it and wires in a way to cut out overcharging. The charging system gets the message, and overcharges no more.

June 20, Thursday 
With heavier winds out of the southeast, the direction that we want to go, we're reefed and still trying to beat our way close to the rhumb line. Winds to 20 knots build the sea substantially, before abating toward evening, without changing direction. Still beating. Despite the seas, crew all functioning well, and in good spirits.

June 21, Friday 
The summer solstice brings memories of midsummer's night festivities to crew who have lived in the far north. Have we mentioned that on a cruise where we ordinarily focus heavily on celestial navigation, we haven't seen the sun or any star for two days?  A most unseasonable overcast has persisted in the remnants of low that is giving us lots of clouds, occasional showers, but no really severe weather, although we did roll the genny in a few times.

June 22, Saturday 
Still beating into winds originating in Bermuda, as near as we can tell. To further retard our progress, we have noted by successive GPS position compared to our DR that we appear to be in an adverse current of greater than one knot, although none is predicted to be within 75 miles of us by the Gulf Stream information we got before leaving. Seems peculiar enough that when I call Tom to give him the halfway report, I ask him to check current Gulf Stream information, and he confirms that there are no eddies charted anywhere near us. The currents are unimpressed, and still push us away from Bermuda while we sail toward it.

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Gulf Stream, June 21

June 23, Sunday 
Finally some sun to polish up our celestial navigation, which confirms that the GPS error is minimal. Charging system has now swung in the opposite direction - no charge at all when main engine is on. Best we can figure is that the voltage regulator has gone belly up. Redundancy is one of the keys to flourishing at sea, and for the remainder of the cruise we use the Gen Set to charge batteries. (Replaced the regulator during the layover in Bermuda, after some tests to confirm that this was the problem.)  

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June 24, Monday 
Finally, a wind shift to put the wind behind us, and we alternate between downwind tacks and running wing and wing with winds to fifteen knots from astern. A peaceful evening sail broad reaching under genoa alone is interrupted by a loud bang. Quickly checking deck and below, we find that the headstay is loose, and that something has clearly let go up top. The rig is still standing, and since we are so close to St. George, I decide discretion is the better part of valor, and we strike all sail for the last few miles, and motor in.  

June 25, Tuesday 
Dock and clear customs in St. George, Bermuda, after the longest Bermuda sail I've done for the school. Crew depart, and Jim and I confirm that the top connector piece for the headstay let go, and begin to make arrangements to replace it, and have it inspected to find out why it failed. Within the next three days, it is replaced, as is the voltage regulator, and the ship is again ready for sea.

Captain Jack Morton
St Georges Harbour, Bermuda
June 26, 2002

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