2004 Bermuda Reports

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Course:      Offshore Passage Making, Norfolk to Bermuda
Date:          May 26-June 2, 2003
Vessel:       IP45 HALIMEDA
Students:    Rod Bowen, Garner Bennett, Daniel Harding and Christopher Simpson
First Mate: Lew Jalbert
Captain:      Tom Tursi
Photos 2, 7, 8, 9, 11 & 12 by Christopher Simpson

HALIMEDA, our Island Packet 45 foot ocean sailing yacht, arrived in Norfolk on May 16th after a 1300 mile ocean training cruise from St Thomas, USVI. She berthed at Taylor's Landing Marina, and I arrived on May 19th to begin preparations for the cruise to Bermuda and return to Norfolk. I commenced with inspections and equipment checkout in advance of our new crew arrivals scheduled for May 25th. The previous captain had left me with a list of equipment issues to be dealt with, none of which was major and all of which could be resolved in the time remaining before cruise departure scheduled for May 28th. The most significant item required replacement of the staysail stay and its roller furling extrusion; this was necessitated by the looseness that developed in the extrusion joints over the past five years, which caused wear to the staysail luff tape. I hired a local rigger to do the work and he completed it in one day.   

Sea Anchor.jpg (39664 bytes)

On May 25th our ocean crew arrived including First Mate Lew Jalbert and student crewmembers Rod Bowen, Garner Bennett, Daniel Harding and Christopher Simpson. Over the next two days we thoroughly inspected the entire yacht from stem to stern and to the masthead including belowdecks; we went over every piece of equipment, all tools and spare parts; all procedures, both routine and emergency. We rigged the storm trisail, boom crutch, sea anchor, whisker pole, mainsail, genoa and staysail. We did a complete walkthrough of abandon ship and man overboard procedures. And, by the end of the second day, found that we thoroughly knew the boat, equipment, procedures and, importantly, each other. Assignments for this work were Christopher as Engineer; Dan and Rod as Bosn's; and Garner as Emergency Coordinator. 

Christopher.jpg (30355 bytes) rod.jpg (21629 bytes)

On May 27th we prepared our meal plan and food provisions list, and purchased what we needed. Weather forecasts were favorable for departing tomorrow; since a low pressure system had just moved out to sea several hundred miles to the NE of us, we could expect brisk SW winds since there was no trailing cold front associated with the low. We would be standing 4-hour watches with two people per watch as follows: Garner and Christopher on the 12 to 4 watches. Tom and Rod on the 4 to 8 watches. Lew and Dan on the 8 to 12 watches. We also setup the navigation plan, the logbook and the navigational plotting sheets. 

On May 28th we reviewed watchkeeping procedures and man overboard and abandon ship procedures, topped up our water tanks, did a final check of the weather, called home, cleared out with the marina and, by 1030 am, departed for sea. Skies were mostly cloudy and winds SW at 15 knots. We motored out through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and out to Cape Henry where our departure point, the Chesapeake Bay Junction buoy, came into view. 

As the bay opened out into the Atlantic Ocean, we secured the engine and sailed with full mainsail and genoa on a broad, starboard reach and set a course of 150šT which was below our rhumbline course of 115šT. This course kept the sails filled and allowed us to get further south of the rhumbline, which is generally desirable when crossing the Gulf Stream about 100 miles away. Later in the afternoon, winds clocked to NW and we deployed the whisker pole to starboard and sailed on a broad reach on starboard tack. The 1800 weather forecast called for SW 25-30 knots tonight shifting to NW 15-20. By midnight we had completed 51 NM since leaving the bay. 

lew.jpg (25148 bytes) dan.jpg (27659 bytes)

May 29th: After midnight, winds lightened and shifted to SW and we motored sailed. At 0800 winds shifted to N then NE and increased to 15 knots; we redeployed the whisker pole to portside and sailed wing on wing on port tack on a course of 170šT. In early afternoon we entered the Gulf Stream, which was flowing NE and directly opposed to the 15 knot NE breeze thus building up steep but moderate sized waves. With our wing on wing sail configuration we comfortably drove through the waves, and by midnight we were through the stream and the waves settled down to 2 to 3 feet. Christopher dragged a fishing lure through the stream and had a hit, but the line broke and we never saw the culprit... must have been a big one! Eventhough we had wind opposing the current, this was actually a very comfortable and uneventful Gulf Stream crossing as sailing broad-off with moderate winds and a good sail configuration kept the boat very stable. Skies were mostly clear and we had good opportunities for taking celestial shots. By midnight we had made 135 miles this day. 

garner.jpg (38528 bytes) sextant.jpg (32471 bytes) Christopher2.jpg (26498 bytes)

May 30th: After midnight winds shifted E and fell light and by mid-morning they shifted SE and continued at 5-10 knots so we motor sailed close hauled on a port tack heading pretty much straight south. Well, SE is where we want to go and the wind direction forced us to go either straight south or straight east neither being a good choice. By late afternoon we tacked over to starboard tack and motor sailed in light winds on an easterly heading. By midnight we had made only a meager 114 miles in the past 24 hours. 

May 31st: Southeast winds in the morning shifting to SW before noon with wind speed gradually increasing to 20 knots by nightfall. We continued sailing ESE on starboard and made good progress toward our destination. Water conservation's been good for the past three days and crewmembers took hot, freshwater showers... most welcomed by all. Also, spotted a Bermuda Longtail circling the boat. With the improved winds, we made good progress today of 146 miles as of midnight. 

longtail.jpg (45973 bytes)

June 1st: Wind direction remained SW overnight with wind speeds of 20 knots until noon and then gradually dropping to 10 knots by evening. This allowed us to continue sailing on a starboard reach toward our destination. By midnight we had made another 146 miles. 

June 2nd: Winds dropped to 5 knots SW after midnight and we turned on the engine and motorsailed toward our destination around the north side of Bermuda. At 1400 we came on soundings and at 1430 we sighted Bermuda; "Land Ho!" We requested entry permission from Bermuda Harbour Radio. At 1645 we entered Town Cut Channel and by1700 we were tied up at the Customs Dock and cleared in.   

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All in all, it was an easy, delightful cruise. Good sailing for four of the five days. An easy Gulf Stream crossing. No rain. No lightening squalls. No waterspouts. No near misses with ships. No injuries. No sea sickness. No equipment breakdowns. And, best of all, good shipmates who were a delight to sail with.   

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We were forced out of our way by the wind direction for two days, making the trip longer... about 680 NM compared with the rhumbline distance of 620 NM, but that's not unusual for an ocean cruise. Generally, when the wind blows against you for a couple of days, it will usually shift and eventually blow favorably... 

Captain Tom Tursi
Saint Georges Harbour, Bermuda
June 3, 2004

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