2002 Bermuda Reports

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Course:       Offshore Passage Making, Norfolk to Bermuda
Date:           June 27-July 5, 2002
Vessel:        IP45 HALIMEDA
Students:     Bud Thomas, Kris Thomas, Bill Tracy, Tami Wietfeldt
First Mate: Jim Bortnem
Captain:      Jack Morton 

June 27, Thursday 
New crew on board for training includes Bud Thomas, a retired engineer, and his son, Kris Thomas, a carpenter, and Tami Wietfeldt, a teacher. Bud has sailed most of his life, and while Kris had not done any for some years, he got into it again big time when he and Tami bought a Westsail 32 to live aboard, and perhaps sail into the sunset. Crew rounded out by the addition of Bill Tracy, who didn't get enough of this Bermuda cruise business with the Maryland School a few years ago, and has come back for more. First mate is Jim Bortnem, a veteran of several ocean cruises with the Maryland School, the most recent one being last week on the outbound trip.

Training on the first day ensures that all crew can set, reef or strike all plain sail as well as the storm trisail. We also addressed storm tactics and gear, as well as the major disasters - MOB, fire, collision, sinking and abandon ship - that we want to be prepared for even as we avoid them. Briefed people, too, on more routine things - electronics, engine, genset, and the like.   

June 28, Friday
Continued crew training with crew going over individual checklists and rig inspection to ensure that all was ready for sea. Gathered crew for an introduction to the galley and provisioning, followed by a walk to Somers Market in St George to round out the provisions with fresh goods. As the weather was favorable, and crew ready, we cast lines about 1800, and by 1900 were close hauled above the northern edge of the Bermuda bank, enroute to the US. Perhaps anticipating the 4th of July, there was a fireworks display on the island that looked grand from ten miles out.

June 29, Saturday 
What a delight to be able to hold a course close hauled just a bit below the rhumb line, with an immense high pressure system in place to offer the prospect of continuing favorable winds. Most crew feeling OK, and all able to stand their watches. By the time of the scheduled departure this  morning, we were 70 miles farther along our route.  

June 30, Sunday 
As the wind waxed and waned, the reef was set and shaken, to keep the boat moving well, and we kept a sharp eye to weather, as distant lightning alerted us to the prospect of squally weather, even though ours seemed benign. Crew in good spirits as we eat up the miles. Bill is getting the celestial work done to make his rating, and others refreshing their memories of it, and in Tami's case, learning it for the first time.

wxfax.jpg (29783 bytes)

Weather Fax, June 30

July 1, Monday 
Squalls finally caught us, and we struck main and genny until it passed, but kept making way under the staysail. As the high settles in, winds diminish, and we motorsail.   

July 2, Tuesday 
Winds light and variable, though mostly still from the southwest, and intermittent showers give us the excuse to do a bunch of sail changing. At one point, everything seems to be happening at once. As we are rolling in the genoa in anticipation of a coming squall, a fish strikes, and we heave to under half genoa to fight it. Fifteen minutes of struggle bring a fifteen pound dolphin to boatside, where the captain isn't happy with the first gaff, and as he tries for another, the leader slips out of its crimp, and the fish gets a pass. Beef stroganoff  (read hamburger helper) for dinner. Grrrrrrr.

July 3, Wednesday 
Dawn finds us becalmed, and motoring. With no seas to contend with, as little as 1800 rpm on the engine gives us good progress along our way. After a long day of the engine, some wind again fills in from the southwest in late afternoon and we are again able to sail. Wind has veered a bit, and as we enter the Gulf Stream, and it isn't certain that we'll be able to avoid being swept north of the rhumb line. Careful current diagrams and crossed fingers help.

July 4, Thursday 
Happy Birthday America! Wind held fair, and around dawn we crossed the west wall of the Gulf Stream almost exactly on the rhumb line, with southwest winds that let us hold that course comfortably close hauled at 6 plus knots all day. Still, not quite enough to see the fireworks as we close on the coast. Only able to catch the occasional booming, and see what looks like distant lightning as the fireworks along the coast light up the hazy overcast to the west.    

July 5, Friday 
In lighter wind, we are able to sail to Cape Henry, and motorsail the last few miles from there to Little Creek, where we tie up at about 0500.Too late to sack out, so we turn to, and have the breakfast done and the boat clean by 0900, and the crew exchange goodbyes and take off to home.    

Captain Jack Morton
Little Creek Harbor, Norfolk, VA
July 5, 2002

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