2005 Bermuda Reports

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Course:      Offshore Passage Making, Norfolk to Bermuda
Date:          June 17-24, 2005
Vessel:       IP45 HALIMEDA
Students:    Walter Breuhs, Gray Jones, Cindy Loveless, Vijay Nilekani, 
First Mate: Jochen Hoffman
Captain:     Jack Morton 

On arrival at Taylorís landing I was able to meet with Tom Tursi, the skipper for the previous round trip cruises to Bermuda, which is always a great advantage to an oncoming skipper and crew.  Tom and I were both delighted that he was able to tell me pretty much everything was working as it should be over a great dinner ashore where we met with several of the oncoming crew.   Gray Jones and his wife, Cindy Loveless, were doing the cruise in anticipation of taking delivery of a new boat shortly after their return.  Vijay Nilekani came to us after owning several boats of his own, as did Walter Breuhs.  A former student, Jochen Hoffman, with whom I had sailed on this cruise several years ago,  joined the crew as Mate.  He has continued to add to his offshore experience in the meantime, and now teaches some of the beginning courses for the Maryland School, and I was grateful for his contribution. Experienced crew, all, which is always a good omen.  

6/17/05   Met with all crew at 0800 to begin pre-cruise training by raising all plain and storm sail, as well as introducing folks to the standard housekeeping and ship procedures that would govern our lives for the next week or so.   

6/18    Continued sail training, with emphasis on the disasters we want to be ready for but not experience - MOB, fire, abandon ship and the like.  Also had discussion of cruise planning, pilot charts, and  provisioning, with some practical experience of the last as we sent shoppers to the supermarket to stock for the cruise.   Pre-departure checks included a trip up the mast, where we answered the old question - how many sailors does it take to change a bulb at the masthead.  The answer, of course, was all of them.  Weather was fair, the boat and crew were ready, and we departed in early evening on the last of the flood tide.  

6/19    Wind was light to start, and reefing the main was more to limit the amount of sail moving when the rolling backed it, but by 0700 a fair wind developed, and we were able to secure the engine in favor of good reaching under full sail.  As the morning bore on, the wind piped up, and the reef went back in for the more usual reasons.  By evening, staysíl replaced the genoa, and we were moving well through sloppy seas.  

6/20    Wind still heavy, gusting to thirty knots, but fine on the bow, and our progress toward destination not so great, and some folks beginning to notice how different ocean waves are from whatís experienced in the bay.   Fortunately, or not, depending on your view of it, the winds abated some by midday, and the genoa came out again, as the weak low that had been giving us our wind moved north out of the area.   Before leaving, we had pencilled in the projected position of the Gulf Stream, and were able to stay in an atypical part that was pretty much moving due east for more than minimum time, which worked to our advantage.   Unfortunately, I was below for a brief sighting of a great whale, which sounded before I got to the deck.  With calmer seas, we enjoyed the steak dinner that had originally been planned for the first full day out.  

6/21    We enjoyed the solstice with a nearly full moon, and fair sailing along a course pretty well parallel to and not far from our rhumb line.  Before dawn, the wind got light enough that we had to put the iron staysíl to work, but after breakfast the wind came back, and we were able to secure it and sail through a day of occasional showers with reefed main and full genny.   As the wind by this time was mostly behind us, we tried sailing wing and wing, which gave us progress, but a good bit of rolling.  As people had been careful of our water supply, we were able to indulge in quickie showers - a welcome treat.  

6/22     More light wind from astern, which encouraged us to play with the whisker pole and more wing and wing sailing, augmented at times with the engine, as the wind was pretty light.  The Bermuda high is a mixed blessing, that brings fair, but light, weather.   Sighted Bermuda longtails - we must be going in the right direction. 

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 6/23    Still more light wind from astern, and we experimented with and set the cruising spinnaker.  Lots of fun, and some good pictures, but with the wind in single digits, not much boat speed.   Motorsailing.   Finally got a light breeze from the NE, which ended the whisker pole games.  

6/24     Final approach to the Bermuda Bank, and our northeast wind held light as we passed North Rock, Northeast breakers, Kitchen Shoals and entered Town Cut to tie up at the Ordnance wharf to check in with Customs about 1305.  The log showed 665  miles for a trip that runs about 640 miles as the crow flies testifies to the fact that we had virtually no beating along the way.   Although some of the docks still were damaged following hurricane damage last year, we were able to find a space to tie up near the heart of town just down from the now unusable section of dock by Trimminghamís clothing store.  Discovered to my dismay that after 165 years, Trimminghamís - a Bermuda icon - was going out of business.  Plus ca change, plus cíest le meme chose. 

Captain Jack Morton
St Georges Harbour, Bermuda
June 25, 2005

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