2005 Bermuda Reports

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Course:      Offshore Passage Making, Norfolk to Bermuda
Date:          June 6, 2005
Vessel:       IP45 HALIMEDA
Students:    Garner Bennett, Hunter Botto, Lee Garing, Steve Runals
First Mate: Jerry Nigro 
Captain:      Tom Tursi

Departed Bermuda: June 8, 2005 @ 0800
Arrived Norfolk: June 13, 2005 @ 2245
Elapsed Time: 131 hours = 5-1/2 days
Rhumbline Distance: 630 NM
Distance Sailed: 717 NM
Engine Use: 72 hours
Generator Use: 8 hours
Diesel Fuel Used: 45 gallons
Fuel Rate = 45 gal 72 hrs = 0.63 GPH
Speed through water = 717 NM  131 hours = 5.5 knots = 131 MPD
Daily nautical miles through water:
6/8            78
6/9            115
6/10            101
6/11            124
6/12            151
6/13            148

We arrived in Bermuda aboard HALIMEDA on June 4th on the outbound cruise from Norfolk and anchored on the south side of St Georges Harbour. Our outbound crew departed and First Mate Jerry Nigro and I proceeded to clean up the boat, do laundry and take care of minor maintenance jobs including engine oil change and repair to the GPS power supply wire. Otherwise, things were in pretty good shape and we awaited arrival of our return crew some of whom were already in Bermuda playing golf and staying ashore.   

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On Sunday, June 5th our return crew arrived onboard including Garner Bennett from Virginia who had sailed the outbound Bermuda cruise with us last year; Hunter Botto from New York and a neighbor of Jerry's; Steve Runals from Virginia who teaches with the Maryland School at the beginning level; and Lee Garing from Pennsylvania who was a late addition to the crew. Since we were anchored out, Jerry ran a taxi service back and forth to shore with our souped-up dinghy at speeds calculated to soak the unfortunates who sat in the forward part. 

By 0800 on Monday everyone was onboard and ready for work. Weather was bright, calm and cool. We deployed each sail, inspected them thoroughly to understand how they functioned and how to handle them, and reviewed line and winch handling procedures. Reviewed use of the main boom preventer and procedures for safely gybing in strong winds and emergency action in the event of an accidental gybe. Bent on the storm trysail and, after dropping, left it attached to its dedicated track on the mast and bagged it at the base of the mast ready for emergency use. Rigged the boom crutch used to safely immobilize the boom when the trysail, which is not rigged to the boom, is being used. Discussed heaving to in heavy weather conditions and rigged the sea anchor for training, and rebagged and stowed this important piece of ultimate safety gear. Reviewed the Maryland School's Offshore Training Cruises booklet including personal gear requirements and watch keeping procedures. Discussed cruise route planning and prepared the navigation logbook and dead reckoning (DR) plotting sheets. By this time it was late afternoon, and after a swim overside, we dinghied ashore and went to a local restaurant for dinner. 

Tuesday, June 7th was another bright, clear day with NE winds at 10-15 knots and we continued with pre-departure preparations including the remainder of the Offshore Training Cruises booklet topics. I assigned Hunter and Garner as Bos'ns to work with First Mate Jerry Nigro on additional inspections of deck hardware and equipment; also, they climbed the mast and verified all rigging and fittings aloft and at deck level. Steve was assigned as Emergency Coordinator and charged with inspecting and verifying all emergency equipment and procedures including abandon ship, fire, flooding and man overboard. Lee was assigned as Engineer responsible for inspecting and verifying all machinery and belowdecks equipment prior to departure. 

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We also did a belowdecks inspection of all equipment and stowage; reviewed abandon ship procedures and conducted a simulated abandon ship drill. Then we reviewed man overboard procedures and equipment, and discussed celestial navigation theory. Later in the afternoon we inventoried food provisions currently onboard and developed a meals menu taking into account personal preferences of the crew, cruise duration and extra meals needed in case of delay enroute; Jerry and I shopped for the needed supplies and lugged them back in the dinghy. 

By late afternoon we were pretty much ready and the weather forecasts looked good for departure tomorrow. Went ashore for dinner and cleared out with Customs after promising that we'd depart tomorrow at 0800 local time after the expected cruise ships made their entry into the harbor. Steve and Lee setup the navigator's logbook and the plotting sheets used offshore, and laid out the exit route and rhumbline back to Norfolk. And, I assigned watches as follows: 12-4 watches, Garner and Steve; 4-8 watches, Lee and Tom; 8-4 watches, Jerry and Hunter. 

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Wednesday, June 8th: At 0630 we raised anchor, went to Dowling's to fill the water tank, secured the dinghy for sea, by 0755 cleared out with Bermuda Harbour Radio, and at 0807 exited Town Cut Channel and headed for Norfolk! Weather was clear and bright with winds NE at 10-15 knots, and a forecast of high pressure remaining for several days producing NE to SE winds of 10-15 knots through Saturday. Once clear of Town Cut Channel we raised the mainsail and motorsailed around the reef ever turning NW. At 1032 we passed our departure point at 3230'N-6442'W, set a course of 295T along our rhumbline, and secured the engine for a pleasant sail. At this point we began keeping our DR logbook hourly entries, and plotted our DR at 4-hour intervals. 

At 1110 we were off soundings and the depth meter began its usual nonsensical readings, which would last until we found bottom again. At mid-day I took a Sun line and plotted it on our chart; later that afternoon we began celestial shot accuracy drills with Steve, Hunter and Lee taking repetitive shoots to hone their skills and shot techniques. At 1600 I took another Sun line and a running fix that placed us about 3 miles S of our rhumbline. That evening, Hunter and Garner thrilled us with a dinner of tender, succulent steak, mashed potatoes and garden salad fresh from Bermuda. At 1830 I ran the generator to charge batteries for an hour, which I usually do twice per day when sailing. Continued to sail on starboard tack on a course of 293T with full main and genoa in NE 10-12 knot winds. 

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Thursday, June 9: Weather continued clear and comfortable with winds NE to SE at 10-15 knots and forecast to continue this way until Monday. If so, winds will probably weaken as is usual in a persistent high. Tropical storm Arlene is developing in the southern Gulf of Mexico and traveling N; she's expected to continue N into the Gulf coast, but bears watching as it's not unusual for such storms to turn NE and cross Florida into the Atlantic, which would be a problem for us. Continued on with fine off wind sailing. At 0830 I took a Sun line and another at 1230, which produced a running fix placing us about 4 miles S of the rhumbline and on track for Norfolk. Later, Garner and Lee took more Sun shots for accuracy and technique practice; Steve took some shots and worked on calculations. Steve was assigned as weather guru today and responsible to obtain voice weather reports from NMN over SSB radio, compare these with the weather Fax printouts, and analyze our route and sailing strategies in view of expected weather. 

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At 1400 we broke out the cruising chute and flew it on starboard tack. After a short time I got a little concerned about some deep chaff on the halyard; so we dropped the chute, changed the halyard and rehoisted the chute. In late afternoon, I took a turn in the galley and prepared a chicken and tomato stew with rice and veggies for dinner. By 1900 the wind had veered further to SE and forced us considerably north of our rhumbline; so we dropped the chute and deployed the whisker pole to allow wing on wing sailing downwind on starboard tack with the genoa poled out to starboard. This allowed a course of 300T with an apparent wind of 165 on starboard. Current was setting us 10N of our steered course. Continued wing on wing over night as conditions remained steady. 

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Friday, June 10: Weather continued clear and comfortable; winds SE 10-12. Sailing wing on wing overnight and all day. As winds moderated our speed dropped below 4 knots by evening. At 2320 turned on engine for motor sailing; first motor use since passing departure point near Bermuda. Weather forecast continues the same with SE 10-12 through Monday; tropical storm Arlene proceeding N toward Gulf Coast with no sign of veering NE. I took morning and mid-day Sun shots and a 1226 running fix placed us squarely on rhumbline. Hunter practiced celestial shot accuracy; Steve took several additional shots and plotted lines of position. Wind direction is forcing us N of our desired course. Garner was weather guru today. Hunter and Steve cooked modified Dinty Moore beef stew for dinner. 

There's a huge Gulf Stream eddy about 100 miles ahead and its northern edge is close to our rhumbline. Since it rotates counterclockwise, we wanted to stay on or north of the rhumbline otherwise we could get entangled in its strong opposing currents. This requires us to stay on starboard tack and run a higher course than desired. Otherwise, we'd gybe and sail downwind on port tack to get well S of the rhumbline before entering the Gulf Stream, allowing us to cross the stream at a better angle and at its narrowest point. But, since we didn't want to tangle with the eddy, we elected to stay north and take chances later with the Gulf Stream. 

Saturday, June 11: Overnight, winds remained SE 10 and by 0700 they veered to SW 10; dropped the pole and motor sailed on port tack with mainsail and genoa. Hunter was weather guru today. Weather forecast predicts light SW winds for next couple of days; tropical storm Arlene safely heading toward Gulf coast. Running fix at 1253 placed us 12 miles N of rhumbline and on the northern edge of the eddy in its favorable current. Entered Gulf Stream at 1700; sea water temperature rose to 81.6F from 75F a few hours earlier; current 60M at 1.6 knots which is expected to increase considerably as we enter deeper into the stream. Motorsailing on beam reach in light air on course of 300M; COG = 305M; bearing to Norfolk is 307M. 

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Sunday, June 12: Overnight, Gulf Stream current continued to increase reaching 4.9 knots at 095M by 0500 making our COG = 335M on a course steered of 310M; boat speed = 6.5 knots and SOG = 3.5 knots. Sea water temperature = 83.8F. This is the price we're now paying for not being able to get further south of the rhumbline before entering the stream. Lee is weather guru today. Weather forecast continues to indicate clear skies and winds SW at 10-15 knots for a few more days; tropical storm Arlene now inland over Tennessee. 

By 0900 sea water temperature dropped to 75F indicating that we were exiting the Gulf Stream but continued to have opposing currents of 3.0 knots. At 1410 a Sun-Moon fix placed us 15 miles N of the rhumbline. 

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At 2000 sighted a Naval aircraft carrier directly ahead at what appeared to be 2 miles; we could clearly make out her flight deck, superstructure and bow shape visually, but radar indicated that she was 12 miles away. We were heading into the setting sun at this point and I assume that light refraction made her appear close; in fact she looked so close that I was ready to take evasive action. Contacted the carrier on VHF and she confirmed her position and distance as 12 miles and her identity as CV-69; she was on a course of 240M and ours was 295M; we agreed to pass to the north of her. 

Monday, June 13: Conditions remained steady overnight with winds SW 10-15 and clear skies. Continued motorsailing on port tack at 6 to 7 knots; current favorable at 1 knot. At 0800 CV-69 announced a "live fire exercise" over VHF-16 and gave her position and instructions for all ship traffic to stay clear by 5 NM or more; we were 20 NM distant at the time and pulling away. Steve laid out the port entry route and waypoints that would take us through the southern Traffic Separation Zone past Virginia Beach; across the Danger Zone where the N and S separation zones converge; into the inbound auxiliary channel adjacent to Thimble Shoal Channel; through the Chesapeake Bay Bride Tunnel opening to red buoy "12"; left turn toward Little Creek Harbor and the outlying sea buoys; and between the rock jetties with their tall quick green and quick red lights. 

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At 1546 a sun running fix placed us on track just two miles below our original rhumbline. At 1700 contacted Virginia Pilots on VHF-16 that we were entering the Traffic Separation Zone and would proceed to Little Creek Harbor. At 2030 contacted US Customs 24-hour Duty Officer by cell phone and advised that we were a US yacht returning to Norfolk from Bermuda; after answering numerous questions about the yacht, equipage, crewmembers, route and more we were given entry clearance by phone. 

At 2245 we docked at Taylors Landing Marina at Little Creek, tied to the fuel dock, had a few beers in celebration of our enjoyable cruise and swapped a few new sea stories. By midnight Steve, Garner and Lee left for home. The rest of us sacked out for a welcome rest. 

Tuesday, June 14: Hunter left at 0500 to catch an early flight. Jerry and I proceeded with boat cleanup; topped the fuel; moved to a slip. Jerry tried valiantly to get an early flight out and returned from the airport after the flight that Delta scheduled him for to New York was actually destined for Holland. He went back to the airport later for his scheduled flight only to find that it was cancelled; back to the boat and return to the airport at 0500 the next day, and finally got home. Thus ended a very pleasant ocean cruise... 

I then prepared HALIMEDA for arrival of Captain Jack Morton and his crew for the next Bermuda cruise. 

Captain Tom Tursi
Little Creek Harbor, Norfolk, VA
June 16, 2005

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