2003 Bermuda Reports

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Course:       Offshore Passage Making, Norfolk to Bermuda
Date:           June 28 to July 5, 2003
Vessel:        IP45 HALIMEDA
Students:     Bruce and Lin Olson, Dave Gifford and Brandon Jones
First Mate: Mark Johnson
Captain:      Jack Morton 

Following the cruise to Bermuda, I spent much of my time in harbor with maintenance issues.   The aft head had made headlines on the trip over, and we wanted to be sure it was not attention seeking on the way back.  Beyond that, I spent some time with Brookes and Gatehouse to get what we could of the striking electronics suite back on line, achieving  unqualified success only with the autopilot. 

6/28     The troops arrive.  Due to family concerns, Don Kinney, the mate of the first trip, had to return home following the first cruise, and was ably replaced by Mark Johnson, who dropped everything to join us before bringing a boat back from Hawaii, scheduled for August.   Veterans of the Delmarva cruises Bruce and Lin Olson were joined by Dave Gifford, who did the coastal cruising component out west, in the San Juans, and Brandon Jones, an about-to-be Island Packet owner whose purchase of an IP 42 was happening as we sailed.  Not evident from the foregoing was the strong Texas ambience this bunch rolled over their Florida captain with.  

First day of training let us set, reef and strike all plain sail, as well as the storm trisail in the morning, and haul the captain and other interested crew up the mast to inspect the rig before sailing.   In doing that, we discovered a small break in a plastic part of the halyard/mainsail winch, which let us use the winch safely, but not as conveniently for self tailing.  As the day and the people got hotter, we took breaks in the cockpit to review the manual, safety gear and procedures, galley safety and provisioning.  

6/29     Started Sunday by shifting berth a few feet to top diesel and water at Dowling's dock, followed by sending a provisioning crew to Somers, where they bought for the trip, with some emergency food to cover extra days if necessary, following good marine procedure.  Watches and roles were assigned, ship inspection commenced and people got themselves and the boat ready for sea.  Weather appeared fair, and we cleared HM Customs about 1700, and St Georges Harbor shortly after that.  Good to be at sea again, although winds were light enough that we were shortly motorsailing.  The bioluminescence stirred in the calm waters by the propeller is spectacular. 

6/30     By morning the wind has picked up enough to secure the engine for a bit, then back on as it faded. As it had been for most of the cruise out, the wind was southwest, and would be most of the way back, as well.   Occasional showers and rain bring then take away the wind.  Reefs come and reefs go.  People adjusting to the at-sea routine.  Although the autopilot is fixed, the wind, speed and temperature instruments are out, giving students incentive to develop age old skill in perception of wind, sea and weather conditions without benefit of instruments.  

7/1       About dawn we discover that pressure water, inadvertently left on, has cost us a goodly bit of water into the bilge.  All hands stand by to observe different possible sources of leakage as the system is repressurized, without shedding any light on how the water got from tank to bilge.  Renewed vigilance about pressurizing the system only when water is needed takes care of the problem for the remainder of the voyage.  The loss of 50 or more gallons does postpone any thought of showers for the crew, however.   That grim prospect is partially offset by the happy sight of whales to port! 

High seas voice weather and the weatherfax now forecasting passage of a weak front along our rhumb line, and strong winds as we approach the Gulf stream and the coast as the remnants of tropical storm Bill make their way up the coast.   Maybe worst is the prospect of strong west winds as we approach landfall, and the possible need to beat back to the Chesapeake.  

7/2       About midnight, wind has died, sails are struck, and we are motoring.   Calm seas, boring steering, and a crew grateful that the autopilot is available for times like these.   Ships pass.   After maybe 400 miles of trolling, a dolphin is finally brought to boatside, but spits the hook.  This is as close as we get to a fresh fish dinner.  A nasty looking cloud line marks our passage through the front, after which we get an hour of NE winds, during which we sight a tuna float, which occasions a man overboard drill, and we recover yet another tuna float for the school fleet.  

7/3       After a day of calm weather, about midnight the wind is again piping, and we’re making good time under double reefed main and the genoa.   Rain appears over for the time, but by breakfast is again coming in passing squally lines.   About the time we are reaching the edge of the Gulf Stream, the wind has gone west, and strengthened to the point that we can no longer carry a double reefed main and the stays’l, and the stays’l comes down.  With the seas reaching 12' - 15', we are making little time under the tiny patch of main, and we essentially heave to, with the engine allowing us a bit of forereaching, that takes us pretty much nowhere for the next 18 hours.   During one of the lightning squalls, after a strike that didn’t appear to hit us, we realize we’ve lost the GPS repeater, and later discover that the tankage indicator went out at about the same time; later, it's discovered that a new fuse corrects these issues.  

7/4       Happy Birthday America!   Wind still strong in gusts, but not constantly strong as it had been. By morning we are again able to set the stays’l, and make way, although because we are in the Stream by now, our progress is either dead in the face of the current, going nowhere, or heading NNW, actually going NE.  We choose the northeast, and finally exit the Stream about 1700, and are able to hold a close haul that will take us to CBJ, if our luck and the wind holds.  As the wind abates to a mere 15 - 20 knots, reefs are shaken and we clock some serious miles toward the Chesapeake.  

7/5       Our luck and the winds do hold, and we continue to eat up the miles between us and Cape Henry without beating, which could have easily added another day to the trip.  Skies are blue horizon to horizon for the first time this trip, and people finally get to use the sextants they’ve flown and sailed partway ‘round the world.  Keeping a good turn of speed on, we make landfall in early afternoon, and by 1800 are approaching the Bay Bridge tunnel, where we clear Customs and Immigration via telephone.   Secure at Taylor’s Landing, Little Creek, VA by 2015.   Another cruise well done!       

Captain Jack Morton
Norfolk, VA
July 6, 2003

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