2003 Bermuda Reports

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Course:       Offshore Passage Making, Norfolk to Bermuda
Date:           June 17-25, 2003
Vessel:        IP45 HALIMEDA
Students:     Jay Hawley, Brian Wheeler, Ted Taylor and Doug King 
First Mate: Don Kinney
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.   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, but we would be encouraging sailors senses, as the wind instruments weren’t working, and the parts to fix them wouldn’t arrive in time for the trip.   

6/17     Tom departed, and the new crewmate Don Kinney, Jay Hawley, Brian Wheeler, Ted Taylor and Doug King were all on board to begin training at 0830.  Weather cooperated only a bit, as it let us set, reef and strike all plain sail, as well as the storm trisail in the morning, but rained most of the afternoon, in an unseasonably cool, dreary day.  Lots of time to review the manual, operating procedures, and the drills.  

6/18     Better weather lets us go through the sea anchoring gear and process, inventory and safety checks of gear and rigging.  We also spend some time on the cruise plan, and the projected weather, which is a bit dire.  Low pressure coming our way from the west, lows to the east and gale warnings along our route.  When to leave?  Get slammed early, or late?  Or maybe slip through dodging the worst of it?  We’re provisioned, fueled, and ready to go, and we make the decision that leaving this evening may be better than waiting 'til morning, and we do.  The weather is not bad at the moment, and in late evening we decide to shake out the reef we left with, but a crewmember confused the mainsheet with the main halyard and broke the boom topping lift in the process. So, first night out I get to go to the masthead to unfoul the flogging end of the topping lift and relead it.  Then on. 

6/19     Next day dawns clear and light, and we have full sail on, but still need the iron stays’l to make way, though by noon wind is picking up and we’re back to reefing.  We’ll be getting lots of practice at that before the trip is done.  Report calling for 20 - 30 knots, but from the southwest - a favorable wind!  Halimeda is moving well, though just how well is anyone’s guess - the speed log has joined forces with the wind instruments, and enlisted the autopilot, too.  None are working, so it is especially fortunate that the crew is working so well. Ocean temperature has been a steady 75.9 from Norfolk right through the Gulf Stream.  Hmmmm. 

6/20     Wind continues to pipe up, and we make excellent time under double reefed main and genoa.  Later the wind eases to the point of motorsailing again between squalls.   By evening, we're again making great time under double reefed main and genoa on a close reach.  The crew is now pretty well used to sleeping, cooking, eating and the rest with the boat on its ear.  Pipe and wane, pipe and wane - with a good bit of rain.  

6/21     With all the spray and rain, the soles have gotten slippery, and as the captain rises from his berth, his left foot slips, gathers speed, and comes to a dead standstill against the bulkhead.  Ouch!  Color not too good, but nothing seems broken - a bit of ice and full steam ahead.  And let’s get all the cabin soles clean as often as they need it - not just at morning cleanup.  Mid trip  call to Tom via the single sideband radio and the WLO Marine Operator to let him know how things are going.  On the whole, quite well.  Difficulties, but manageable.  By late afternoon, genoa is too much, and we strike it and set the stays’l.  

6/22     Worst of gale has passed, and by dawn, we were again using the iron stays’l to augment our speed.  Luckily, just about all the weather we’ve seen has been out of the southwest, which has made for great progress toward Bermuda.   Until now.  A light wind on the nose calls for a few hours of motoring before clocking back to the SW, letting us set everything out to dry and reach.  By late afternoon we’re reefing again, and getting used to using the forward head in seas, as the aft head has packed it in, so to speak.  Redundancy is such a comfort in comfort stations.   Forecast calling for easterly winds, after the passage of a cold front, but with a bit of luck, we’ll be rounding Northeast breakers on the Bermuda bank by then, and can welcome it. 

6/23            Southwest wind holding as we continue to reach toward Bermuda, and by evening we are seeing the loom of Bermuda over the starboard bow.  Wind before the front still strong, and we’re back to double reefed main and stays’l, after having been able to carry the genny most of the day.  Just before midnight we check in with Bermuda Harbor Radio, and give them our ETA at the Spit Buoy.  We’re arriving about the same time as the Marion to Bermuda race boats, but see none on our horizon. 

6/24     By 0230, we’re dropping anchor at Powder Hole, in the harbor at St Georges, where we lie peacefully as the front passes, without much fuss.  At 0830, we weigh anchor and shift to the customs dock for entry formalities, and on to a very comfortable berth beside Trimminghams.    Clean ship and out to breakfast!   Five days and seven hours - a pretty fast passage, full of a good variety of sailing conditions, mostly from favorable directions.  Not much opportunity for celestial work on this trip, as we saw a grand total of about six hours of sun - can’t have everything, but learned a lot about handling heavy weather.   Well done! 

Captain Jack Morton
St Georges Harbour, Bermuda
June 25, 2003

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