2005 Bermuda Reports

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Course:      Offshore Passage Making, Bermuda to Norfolk
Date:          June 28-July 5, 2005
Vessel:       IP45 HALIMEDA
Students:    Jim Landers, Bruce Leinberger, Kevin Murphy, John Williams
First Mate: Jochen Hoffman
Captain:       Jack Morton 

As the cruise out had been kind, and the boat well found and in good shape, our lay time in Bermuda had required only a few minor sewing repairs, and some routine engine maintenance, we were ready begin with our new crew who mostly moved aboard the night before the course began.  That makes sleeping space tight, but lets us talk shop all the time, and get much of the training done in good time.   Jochen Hoffman, a former student on this cruise who gathered lots more experience and now teaches inshore courses for the Maryland School was again the Mate on the return trip.  Kevin Murphy, John Williams, and Jim Landers joined the ship on Monday the 27th, and were joined by Bruce Leinberger on the morning of the 28th.  Boat owners all, they brought a wealth of coastal sailing experience aboard.    

6/28/05   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.   

6/29    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 Somers supermarket to stock for the cruise.   A quicker trip than stateside, since we had stocked ahead on many items in Norfolk, where selection and costs were better. Pre-departure checks included a trip up the mast for me and those who wanted the grand view of the St. Georges harbor, as well as standard pre-departure checks of engineering, deck and safety gear and spares.  Weather was fair, the boat and crew were ready, and we departed at 1520, leaving Kitchen Shoals, Northeast Breakers, and other dangers of the bank to port.  Wind was light, under the influence of a strong Bermuda high, and motorsailing soon gave way to motoring, which carried up pretty well through the evening. 

6/30     By midnight, we had enough breeze to set sail, which boosted us along.   Encounters with some traffic, some dolphins,  and Jochenís sights of Mars and Jupiter helped to distract us from too much motoring.  

7/1       Wind rising out of the SW made for better sailing, accompanied by occasional showers, and a nasty fouling of the genoa in the early morning hours as it was taken in in anticipation of one of the rain systems.  A reminder to maintain some tension on the sheets as the sail is furled.  As the wind rises, the main is reefed, and we boom along at 6 + knots, dodging showers and rolling up  the genoa from time to time throughout the day, as needed.   By midnight, the wind is in the upper 20's, and the going is getting a little sloppy.  A call to Tom gives our position, and the word that despite bouncy sailing, progress and spirits are good.  

7/2       By morning, wind has abated, and begins clocking to the NW.  Reefs are shaken out, the genoa is set, and and we have a day of nearly ideal sailing.   By midday weíre about the halfway point, an even 300 miles out, are seeing Bermuda longtails, the beautiful tropic birds that nest on Bermuda in summer.  Not expected from the current predictions we have is a day long tail current of about a knot that adds to our progress.   The influence we expect from a cold core eddy doesnít materialize, and reminds us that predictions are not guarantees. 

7/3       Wind is on again, off again, and motorsailing punctuates the day.   The low that was ahead of us has stalled, and will move north before we get to it.  Crossing the Gulf stream is uneventful, with no traffic, weather, or strong wind.   There is one remarkable event in crossing the stream - while still being carried NNE, we note a drop in water temperature from 85.9 F to 78.4, which we initially take to be a sign that weíre leaving the stream.  But the current doesnít let us go, and about an hour later the temperature goes back up to 82+ for another few hours, and it seems that what weíve experienced is a cold core eddy embedded in the stream - something Iíve never encountered before.  

7/4       Happy Birthday, America!   Too far offshore to expect to see any of the fireworks, and we donít, but are rewarded with more Bermuda longtail sightings, and more spectacular, sightings of dozens - maybe hundreds - of pilot whales, in several separate pods.   Most donít come very close to us. 

7/5       More pilot whales, and after a good while of calm, a wind shift to NE.  Though still light, it lets us give the engine a rest, and as we make the final approach to the Carolina / Virginia coast, are able to sail again.  Pass the bay-bridge tunnel in early afternoon, and are securing at Taylorís Landing in Little Creek before 1600.  The log shows 692 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.  Another voyage well done, with no damage to ship or crew.

 Captain Jack Morton
Norfolk, VA
July 6, 2005

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