2006 Bermuda Reports

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Course:      Offshore Passage Making, Norfolk to Bermuda
Date:          May 26-June 4, 2006
Vessel:       IP45 HALIMEDA
Students:    John & Mary Ann Cogan, Tom Dickson, John O’Neal 
First Mate: David Griffith 
Captain:      David Appleton

Wednesday, May 24
1100- Capt. David Appleton and Mate David Gifford arrive and survey vessel. We spend the day orienting Mate to Captain’s procedures and preparing a voyage plan; purchased equipment needed for voyage, like fenders for the dock bulkhead in St. Georges Harbour and some navigation gear. Also note some discrepancies on HALIMEDA that need to be addressed. 

Thursday, May 25
Crew arrivals and vessel orientation:
0800- Mate and Captain continue preparing voyage plan and vessel clean up in preparation for crew arrival.
1300- Captain goes on provisioning scouting run. 
1400- John and Mary Ann Cogan from California arrive and immediately help with provisioning, joining Captain at store.
1530- John O’Neal and Tom Dickson arrive and we begin our crew orientation, assigning berths and stowage spaces.
1600- All gear and luggage stowed. Captain conducts a below-decks orientation, identifying spaces and special considerations related to of HALIMEDA’s design and stowage patterns.
1730- We break for dinner together at the Surf Rider restaurant right next to our berth.  During dinner we get acquainted and share our objectives for the voyage. John and Mary Ann have elected to stay ashore, as has Tom so we break for the evening after dinner.

 Friday, May 26
Seminar, Voyage Plan & Topside Orientation
0700- We meet and discuss voyage plan to meet the Gulf Stream at about 35°45' N x 75°10' W, cross it's NE setting current as quickly as possible, then head for a meander at about 35° N x 74°30' W, then on a cold eddy at about 33°30' N x 72°30'W. This will give us lots of boost from favorable currents if we hit them as planned.
0830- We convene topside for orientation. Beginning at the bow and working to the stern we note all equipment, rigging and procedures related to each. During the morning we cover all sails and use of whisker pole, storm tri sail and other specialized equipment.
1330- After lunch we discuss storm tactics and uses of various sail configurations and the equipment used for them. We finish the afternoon with a rigging and mock deployment of the sea anchor, using it in conjunction with the storm trysail to heave to keeping the vessel at a 30° to 60° attitude to the wind, thus minimizing vulnerability to breaking seas. Also review storm tactics and situations in which this configuration would be most appropriate.
1630- We break for the day, taking advantage of the marina's pool to wash away the  heat of the day and relax in late afternoon.

Saturday, May 27
Seminar, Crew Assignments & Specialty Inspections.
0700- Crew reports aboard and Captain makes the following duty assignments:  


John Cogan


Watch 3 Captain


Mary Ann Cogan

Safety Officer

Watch 1 Mate


Tom Dickson

Assistant Engineer

Watch 3 Mate


John O’Neal    

Assistant Navigator

Watch 2 Mate


David Griffith

First Mate

Watch 2 Captain


David Appleton


Watch 1 Captain

 0800- With duty assignments made crew sets about inspecting areas in their charge. Captain gets equipment for a couple of repairs to the starboard anchor roller and the main sheet traveler.  
0930- Engineer John C. leads crew through inspection of his areas of responsibility including all engine and electric equipment and damage control. 1100- Mate and Bosuns repair traveler and starboard anchor roller, and secure all topside gear. 
1300- We continue inspections and preparations finishing repairs, and rigging for sea.  
1600- Break for dinner, and last meal ashore. We meet at a restaurant where we hope for internet access, thus marine weather forecasts, but fail to connect. We have a good dinner anyway.

Sunday; May 28  
Embark; out of the bay and into the Atlantic  
0500- One final run for provisions and supplies. Captain scores a bargain on a 30 Lb. box of ripe bananas for $2.00... Crew proves less than enthusiastic and issues faint praise.  
0700- All crew is aboard and we commence final pre-sail checks.  
0800- Captain gets final weather fax from internet via marina internet connection.  
0900- Away; we clear the dock and Little Creek Harbor and head for Thimble Shoals Tunnel Channel and on to Cape Henry to begin our dead reckoning navigational plot at 1200 DR a t a point just off buoy "CH."  We enjoy watching military and commercial traffic passing to our port.  
1230- Winds pick up and we are finally able to shut down the engine and sail.  
1250- We begin drills with MOB executing the quick stop  maneuver  for a quick recovery. We follow this with practice in reefing and heaving too. Crew quickly mastered HALIMEDA's sailing rig.  
1400- Mary Ann conducts safety equipment briefing and outlines emergency procedures and abandon ship assignments.  
1700- Dinner... Captain's Famous Skid Row Stroganoff meets with approval. We then practice water conservation measures, washing dishes in a bucket of sea water on deck followed with a  rinsing in hot fresh water in the galley.  
1915- Fog rolls in, probably related to GS proximity, giving us the opportunity to review use of radar for collision avoidance and plotting of CPAs for contacts. We also put one reef in the main for the night as easterly winds enable us to sail with good speed toward to our waypoint.  
2015- Watch Captain John and Tom alert Captain that a large vessel is approaching from astern. Captain contacts m/v HAKAMA and she agrees to alter course to port to avoid us; she does so and pass safely by 3/4 mile. But I would prefer at least a mile for any CPA out here. I advise the crew that here, in the vicinity of Cape Hatteras, we will probably encounter traffic all night so we need to be sharp, especially on this our first night out.

Monday, May 29  
Encountering Gulf Stream  
0000- Sailing with E winds 10 to 15 knots and making good SE progress toward our planned Gulf Stream entry point jut to the NE of Cape Hatteras. 
0200- Winds lighten and we shake out the first reef in mainsail. 
0230- With multiple contacts astern we monitor radar at 20 minute intervals, sweeping for 2 or 3 minutes, then returning to standby mode to conserve batteries. No contacts.  
0255- Moran tug & tow appear to be heading toward a close approach. We contact them on VHF 16 and make agreement that she will pass well astern of us. No problem, but it's always good to make sure. Tugs are notoriously cooperative in making contact in such close approach situations. I've found Moran to be especially helpful.  
0600- Swells and water temperature on the rise a couple of degrees each hour. We are approaching the NW wall of the Gulf Stream.  
0800- High swells and water temperature at 81° indicate we are in the Stream.   
0940- After breakfast and cleanup we convene for a class session discussing the Gulf Stream, our voyage plan, and reviewing watch keeping and ship board procedures as practiced so far. Seas remain moderately rough to 8'  in Easterly winds through the day, giving us a good feel for what the GS is and could be like.  
1600- Winds die and we reluctantly start the engine. We note irregularities in the battery charging and try to diagnose problem but cannot figure it out.  
1720 -- Batteries seem to be charging normally.  After dinner and clean up Engineer John C. checks the packing gland, which had been tightened during last maintenance in Norfolk. It is cool to the touch and dripping at about 1 drip every 3 seconds, a decent rate.  
2300- Watch John C. and Tom note adverse Northerly current at about 0.3 knots.  Our Meander is not working for us! Or we're not there yet.

Tuesday, May 30  
Through the Stream and on to the Meander! 
Today we hope to encounter that Meander we noted on the Gulf Stream Report as its current should assist us. Unfortunately this does not work out as we had hoped and the current boost is minimal. 
0000- Motorsailing on full main and no headsails. Skies clear and winds light. Current seems about neutral.  
0930- After a rather uneventful night motorsailing, we have breakfast and ship clean up followed by class with a general discussion of Watchkeeping experiences over the last couple of days and a discussion of Celestial Navigation. Captain and First Mate conduct the orientation to celestial nav at sea and general sextant use and practices in making sights from a rolling, pitching vessel. We followed this with a session of practice sights with the 4 sextants aboard.  
1310- Thar she BLOWS!!  We sight a pod of whales about 2 miles off starboard.  Perhaps 6 or 7 small whales soon disappear.  
1430- After lunch and ensuing naps for the off watch, we return to discussions and practice of celestial navigation. We also spent some time on marlinspike seamanship.  Bosuns Tom and John seemed especially interested in mastering a number of knots, bends and hitches; that is, I promised to teach them the trucker's hitch if they mastered the 8 or 10  basic knots that they should know cold at this level. They demonstrated proficiency in all in very little time. An eager bunch!  
1700- Mary Ann stunned us with a Chicken South West dinner marinated in orange sauce and served over a rice and corn mix with black beans and onions over rice on the side. This was a nautical culinary triumph! The crew applauded long and hard!  
1940- I contacted Bermuda Radio on the 4 meg safety frequency, 4.125 MHz. My friend and mate Danny Little was on watch and had anticipated this prearranged contact. After switching to a working frequency, we discussed weather between us and Bermuda which was not good for the next few days. Winds would be mostly easterly though Saturday.  
2015- Navigator David and his cohorts, mainly his watch mate John, were able to get evening stars and make some good sight reductions to plot on the DMA plotting sheet on which we keep our DR course track.

Wednesday, May 31  
Meander to Cold "Fast" Eddy...we hope!  
0000- Motorsailing on the bottom side of the Cold Eddy, we think. Winds back to ESE so we have to head 090°M for a while; continue to fight SE winds through the night. We have to commit to motorsailing with mainsail to make reasonable progress toward Bermuda.  
0800- Light seas. Breakfast of bacon and egg omelets courtesy of John C. Excellent.  
0900- Cleanup followed by surprise MOB drill. John C. at helm with watch mate Tom.  Quickstop maneuver failed at first due to reaction time, but recovery ensued and we finally got "Oscar" aboard in just under 3 minutes...  Not too bad.  
1000- Continued discussion of a variety of topics including the Trucker's Hitch... The Bosuns master this quickly and expressed interest in passing this newfound wisdom on to shipmates, which they do with enthusiasm.  
1235- Copy Bermuda Radio weather from SSB radio; it's more of what Danny had told  us last night, easterly light to  moderate winds to persist.  
1300- We try motorsailing on both port and starboard tacks to find the most efficient course, finally settling on 130° PSC.  
1430- Continue celestial exercises and instruction under Mate David's guidance. We try a few more sites with some success. Practice makes bringing down the Sun easier.

Thursday, June 1  
Slow progress and..... A Magnetic Anomaly!!         
0650- Stopped engine for daily checks. Engineer John C. finds all well but notes some water dripped on the clean engine diaper. We find evidence of a minor coolant leak at the thermostat, which seems to have fixed itself.  
0900- In today's class we review damage control assignments and procedures, as well as abandon ship assignments. This is followed by review of radio operation and procedures related to emergencies and general operation and frequencies used on SSB radio.  
1045- Contact Tom Tursi via the WLO Marine Operator over SSB radio, making a radio telephone connection. We report our position and that ETA in Bermuda is Saturday afternoon, not Friday as originally estimated. We are beset with easterly winds and persistent foul current, about 0.3 to 0.5 knots out of the East. These persist through the day making for frustratingly slow progress toward Bermuda but providing Mate David with ample opportunities to share his celestial navigation skills with the crew.  
2100- Mate David and I are below preparing to turn in and note the boat behaving erratically. I bolt to the cockpit and find Bosun Dickson at the helm exclaiming how the wind has suddenly changed directions. Then he notes the compass seems to be spinning and he can't follow it or keep on course. I take over the helm (wondering what he's been smoking) and find the compass to be spinning around, literally; we've encountered some sort of magnetic anomaly!  We note our position  as 32°24.2' N  x  69°19.1' W and shortly after this event we note a small contact off our starboard bow on radar, about 1 mile out, but see no light in the area. After about 3 minutes it disappears.  
2130- I call Bermuda Radio on 4 meg safety frequency and report the incident and our position. Very poor propagation makes discussion of the event impossible, but we resolve to follow up later. 
2210- It dawns on me as I hit the sack again.... Submarine!  We've been passed under then scoped (the radar contact!)  At least that's my best guess.

Friday, June 2  
Anticipated arrival date - not to be!  
0000- Light easterly winds persist so we continue to mortorsail through the night under full main and furled headsails. We crank up engine to 2400 rpms to make over 5.5 knots.  We need to be sure to make Bermuda by early evening Saturday at the latest as customs closes at 2200. We plot our position, which is well south of the rhumb line.  This is the result of our voyage plan strategy to follow the meander SSE and then head for the south side of the cold eddy. So we decide it best to make our approach to Bermuda from the south; this is actually less dangerous and more scenic than the Northern approach we customarily use. We had that consolation, but our strategy proved a big bust!  We did not find the favorable currents we expected, instead we traveled an extra 100 nm or so to find easterly winds and westerly setting currents, an up hill battle! But the crew remained in good spirits in anticipation of making landfall tomorrow afternoon.  

Saturday,  June 3  
Arrival in St. Georges Harbour, Bermuda; Crew disembarks.  
0000- Light easterly winds, motorsailing under a beautiful canopy of stars in clear skies. Continue to motorsail at 2500 rpm to make St. Georges harbor at a good time.
0403- Venus rising and good shot of her on the horizon at 095° psc from our position of 32°02.0'N x 65°41.7'W.  This enabled Navigator/Mate David to determine that ship's compass has very little deviation on this course of 310°M.  
0650- Winds veer to SE enabling us to unfurl the genoa for even more boat speed motorsailing at 2500 rpm.  
0955- LAND HO!!! After breakfast, boat clean up and some exercises, Mary Ann looks to the port bow and sees Bermuda bearing about 080°M. We then see Gibbs Hill light bearing 065° and begin our approach navigation with Tom and Tex ( John O'N.) taking on the challenge. Through the day we have a leisurely motorsail along the southeast coast of Bermuda.  
1400- Heave to for engine shut down and final checks and to ensure transmission to shaft couplings are tight and secure. John C. checks all out and Captain verifies we are mechanically ready to enter the port.  
1500- Round Spit buoy and get clearance from Bermuda Harbour Radio to enter through Town Cut. Crew snap photos enthusiastically as we arrive. 
1530- At Customs dock on Ordinance Island we find Sandy O'Neal, John's wife ("Tex") ready to greet us and handle lines. After we clear Customs she joins us for the brief ride over to a vacant spot on the bulkhead near Dowling's where we finally berth HALIMEDA  with the help of a couple of Norwegians from a trim sailing craft berthed nearby. We adjourn to the dockside restaurant and enjoy some liquid refreshment and shore side chow. All seem to agree that despite the miscue on our voyage plan and the adverse winds and currents, it has been a very successful voyage.  

And so the crew departed for their shore side lodgings and further adventures to follow as they explored this lovely island.  

Voyage Summary:  

Departed Norfolk: 5/28/05 @ 0900  
Arrived Bermuda: 6/3/05 @ 1600  
Elapsed Time: 6 days 7 hours = 151 hours  
Rhumb line Distance: 635 NM  
Distance Sailed: 849 NM   through the water  
Engine  Use: 112 hours  
Generator Use: 6 hours  
Diesel Fuel Used: 60 gallons

Captain David Appleton  
aboard S/V HALIMEDA  
St. Georges Harbour, Bermuda  
June 3, 2006

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