2006 Bermuda Reports

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Course:      Offshore Passage Making, Bermuda to Norfolk
Date:          June 6-13, 2006
Vessel:       IP45 HALIMEDA
Students:    Steve Binari, Sherman Gifford, Julie Teetsov, Patrick Wendt
First Mate: David Griffith 
Captain:      David Appleton

Sunday, June 4- Preparations:
We spent the morning cleaning up, changing engine oil and other routine maintenance and inspections. All in all the old girl is in great shape for having sailed over 2,100 NM with two full ocean  training classes over the last 30 days.At 1600 Julie Teetsov arrived from New York and we got her settled in and oriented to the boat. After dinner we try for a good night sleep. Lots to do tomorrow!

Monday, June 5- Crew Arrivals, Introductions and Orientation:
0830- My friend and Mate, Danny Little of Bermuda Harbour Radio arrives after his watch Up the Hill, and we enjoy some reminiscences and updates on other sailing friends' activities. He also has a bit of a laugh about our magnetic anomaly report last Thursday night, "Most folks sending in those sorts of reports are never heard from again!  Bermuda Triangle!" He had been on watch when we called in on SSB. Dan plans to give our crew a tour of the Bermuda Harbour Radio facility on top of the highest hill in the Saint Georges area tomorrow at 0800. 

After lunch the rest of our crew starts to check in. Pat Wendt comes aboard after traveling from Washington State for his second cruise on HALIMEDA having sailed the St. Thomas to Norfolk cruise last year. Steve Binari and Sherman Gifford, (no relation to David), both from Virginia, also check in. They have both elected to stay ashore during the two day preparation period, but bring aboard most of their gear and stow it. 

1530- With all assembled we begin festivities with self introductions followed by Captain presenting the overall plan for the seminars and voyage. Mate Gifford gives a detailed presentation of the voyage plan complete with Gulf Stream and other current considerations and weather expectations based on predictions and the Pilot Charts for June. Our route this time will follow the rhumb line which will intercept the north side of a cold eddy near the southeast side of the Gulf Stream, and join the Stream itself just NE of Hatteras. We also execute a thorough below decks inspection and orientation familiarizing the crew with spaces, stowage and some rules and procedures. 

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Route planning session

1830- We adjourn for dinner at the White Horse followed by a hike to the St. Georges Dingy and Sports Club to watch the sunset over the harbor from the balcony and enjoy a few Dark and Stormies... A fine tradition it is. We note the wifi hotspot there and plan to connect to the internet for weather and Gulf Stream data, as well as getting email back to the office tomorrow. 

Tuesday, June 6- Seminar; Topsides:
0500- Captain makes a quick dingy trip to the Dingy Club to connect with the internet, does so, and downloads some weather data and GS information.
0700- We take advantage of the quiet time the harbor to make the short hop over to Dowling's fuel dock to take on fuel and water avoiding the rush and assuring we will not loose our prime berth on the bulkhead.
0800- Crew arrives and we begin seminar with a review of the days plan followed by the topside tour, stem to stern, reviewing equipment and proper procedures for handling all deck equipment. We pay careful attention to the whisker pole rig, anchor windlass, as well as the boom crutch and storm trysail rig, which Mate David explains thoroughly.

1200- We break for lunch ashore followed by more topside work featuring a discussion of storm tactics and mock deployment of the sea anchor at the dock. Our activities draw spectators from cruise ships NORWEGIAN MAJESTY and NORWEGIAN CROWN docked near us. One family stops by for a chat having  recognized HALIMEDA  from St. Thomas. They even know another of our Captains, Lee Tucker; small world.
By 1530 we've finished most of the deck work so we do a damage control drill, breaking out our emergency manual bilge pump, setting it up, and pumping harbor water at a rate of about a gallon a stroke. This impressed some locals who had no end of opinions on the proper use of the devise.

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Pre-departure training

About 1730 we broke for dinner followed by another trip to the Dingy club for dark and stormies and an internet connection via our lap top.     

This gave us a good chance to get an overview of the trip again, reinforcing the wisdom of our rhumb line plan as most efficient. Weather forecast for tonight and tomorrow isn't good: Strong to storm force SW winds and periods of heavy rain. We prepare by checking all fenders and chaffing gear, as well as rigging tarps to shield cockpit from SW before turning in for the night.  A good thing we did.   

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Weather Check at 
St Georges Dinghy Club

Wednesday, June 7- Seminar; Inspections:
Through the night the winds howl and the rains fall. We get up several times to check chafe gear & fenders. Winds seem to be gusting over 40 knots.
0700 Crew assembles for planned 0800 Trip to Bermuda Radio for our scheduled tour. We also watch as NORWEGIAN CROWN leaves her berth astern of us; sad to see her go as she's been a great wind break. She's headed for Hamilton then back to Philadelphia.
0815 we check with Bermuda Radio for final clearance for our visit, but the driving rain pours down making the walk unpleasant, so we postpone it. Then we hear from Dan that Bermuda Radio is handling an incident,  which turns out to be NORWEGIAN CROWN going aground on her way to Hamilton; a major incident! So our visit is cancelled, and we begin the days work by making billet assignments as follows: 


Sherman Gifford


Watch 3 Captain


Julie Teetsov

Safety Officer
Assistant Navigator

Watch 3 Mate


Steven Binari

Assistant Engineer

Watch 1 Mate


Patrick Wendt

Assistant Navigator

Watch 2 Mate


David Griffith

First Mate

Watch 2 Captain


David Appleton


Watch 1 Captain

We then proceed with inspections following the Maryland School Offshore Training Manual for guidance. Most of this work is below decks so we can avoid working in the torrential  rain. By 1630 we finish, break for a last meal ashore, then turn in early. We plan to leave by 0600 so we'll have to get started on final checks by abut 0500.
2130- Captain clears Customs the night before as we will leave prior to 0800 opening.

Thurs, June 8- Embark; Begin voyage routine:
0500 - Crew is up and ready, excited in anticipation of our planned 0600 departure.   Captain makes  a last minute dingy trip to the Club and internet for final emails to office.
0600 Away the dock! We're off on time as planned and head for Town Cut after receiving clearance from Bermuda Radio. This extremely narrow passage is essentially a blind alley traversed by large cruise ships as well as yachts and small craft, so all vessels coming and going must get clearance from Bermuda Radio to avoid potential collisions.
By 0800 we are out and clear, main up passing Kitchen Shoals under the guidance of Pat who is serving as Departure Navigator.
At 0815 we start our DR plot at 3230' N x 6440.5' W.
0900- Sherman and Julie assume their first watch as we are able to shut down engine and sail in moderate WSW winds. We review emergency procedures, including the quick stop maneuver  for Crew Overboard. Also review reefing and sail handling procedures.
1400- Review Abandon Ship procedures and assignments as well as damage control assignments.
1450- Winds subside and we must turn on the engine taking the opportunity to review proper sequence for starting engine and motorsailing technique.
1730- Most of us enjoy a chicken fettuccini dinner, but unfortunately Pat and Julie are stricken with some mal de mare queasiness and are unable to partake.
2035- Bermuda weather forecasts showers overnight with light SW winds, so we continue to motorsail,  putting one reef in the main in case of squalls.

Friday, June 9- Good Sailing and plenty of sail handling practice!
0100- Winds increase and we are able to secure engine and make good progress to the NW under sail close to the 290T rhumb line to our Gulf Stream rendezvous waypoint. 
0600- Distance covered through the water from 0600 yesterday to 0600 today based on Log readings was 103 nm as calculated by Steve.
But by 0630 winds lighten again as heavy rain falls and we have to restart the engine.  Then by noon winds pick up again and we resume sailing. Pat and Julie remain under the weather and the rest of the crew is fatigued so training is minimal this morning. Through the afternoon winds continue to build and we reef again, this time going to 2nd reef in the main and reefing in the roller furling genoa.
1615- Moderate to strong winds provide us with an opportunity to try some heavy weather tactics, reefing and heaving too in various configurations.
1800- After dinner and clean up we note the batteries are down; this provides an opportunity to brief the crew on the proper application of the diesel generator, which we start up and run for an hour and a half to get the batteries back up to near capacity.

Saturday, June 10- Tropical Storm Alberto forming in Gulf of Mexico:
0000- Winds persist and we continue to sail. Coast Guard Weather Forecast on NMN has begun predicting Tropical Storm #1 forming in the Gulf of Mexico, which is expected to move across Florida and up the US E. Coast to Cape Hatteras by Tuesday about the time we expect to be there. We begin to plan strategy options to deal with the possibility that we could get caught including: 1) Heave to and wait for it to pass while we are still far off the coast  out of harms way, or 2) Make a run for it and make port before the storm reaches our area. We mull it through the night and wait for further weather reports.
0600- Daily miles by the Log 0600 to 0600: 150 nm.
0800 Winds veering NNW and we are sailing under one reef in the main with full staysail and genoa making good speed on an average course of 320M. Through the morning and afternoon moderate to strong winds keep us on our toes and HALIMEDA on a heel. At 1700 the winds lighten and we shake out reefs, start the engine to keep up speed on a course of 330M, and keep up a smart pace on a course near the rhumb line to beat the Tropical Storm now named Alberto.
2330- Our weather information gleaned from NMN and our own weather eyes indicate we can probably make it to harbor in Little Creek before the brunt of the storm hits.

Sunday, June 11- Racing with TS Alberto; Mainsheet Failure:
0000- We shake out both reefs in mainsail as wind dies to 5-7 knots; increase engine rpm to 2500 to maintain 6 knots. Our plan is to make a run for it and beat TS Alberto to the Norfolk area. He's scheduled to arrive late Tuesday; we think we can make it in around noon Tuesday and escape unscathed.
0530- NMN weather forecast confirms TS Alberto should track up the coast to Hatteras by late Tuesday.
0600- Daily miles by the Log 0600 to 0600: 146 nm.
1130- Mainsheet fitting failure! Our portside mainsheet traveler block becket broke sending the traveler crashing to starboard. Fortunately the sheet remained attached to the track so boom & main remained under control. With all the gear aboard we still could not find the right combination of shackles to make a jury rig repair, so Sherman and I fashioned a lashing bridle rig that would hold us 'til port and keep the mainsail trimmed properly. 

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Jury rigged mainsheet 
@ 3521.1' N x 7144.8' N

Spare line saved my bacon again for about the 5th time that I can recall!! I never saw a piece of line I didn't like and you can never have too much aboard! I never throw line away (I even pulled a fairly nice piece out of the trash bin near our berth just before we left Bermuda Thursday)! We need the main and all the help we can get in our race with TS Alberto... So far things are looking good.
1400- Water temperature jumps +2.3 during the past hour indicating that we are entering the Gulf Stream, and we note a slightly southerly setting current. Continue to press on with all possible speed, employing the engine and sails in various proportions to keep speed over 6.5 knots through the afternoon, and we're holding our own in the race. We reassess ETA to about 1600 on Tuesday, and Alberto is expected later that evening.
2000- As winds subside we bring engine up to 2400 rpm to maintain 6+ knots. Julie spots a freighter directly astern, which provides an opportunity for us to review the meaning of navigational lights and shapes as well as radar use, techniques and controls. We are in the NC Hatteras to VA Capes corridor, which is a heavy traffic area. Captain charges all watches to exercise utmost vigilance and to call him any time a close approach within 3 nm is anticipated.

Monday, June 12- The Race Continues:
0000- We're still motorsailing under main alone, but soon the wind clocks N enabling a course of 290 to 310 M, and we roll out the staysail.  
0550-Winds shift to SW enabling a course of 290 to 320 M so we roll out the genoa and shut down the engine giving us a chance to make our daily checks and find the engine AOk!
0600- Daily miles by the Log 0600 to 0600: 145 nm.
1100- Engineer Sherman orchestrates the GREAT FLUSH, in which we flush both heads routed to the holding tank until it is full in order to purges the system of waste. Each crew takes 30 to 50 strokes on each head. Once the holding tank is full, we cease pumping in and use the macerator to empty the holding tank overboard. Crew learns much about ship's plumbing and dealing with heads and waste during this evolution.
1400- Seawater temperature drops abruptly 7 in less than an hour, and color changes from Gulf Stream turquoise blue to the olive drab of shelf water. We are out of the Gulf Stream and in to the waters of the Atlantic Shelf and the Labrador Current.
2340- Listening intently to NMN to learn the latest of TS Alberto's progress, we are disappointed when Perfect Paul, the computer voice of Coast Guard weather, skips our zone as happens with some frequency.

Tuesday, June 13- Approach and Arrival at Little Creek:
0020- Hat Overboard! Irretrievable! Major Loss! Captain loses his lucky hat which has accompanied him for more that 10,000 nm and shielded his pate from the sun from Italy to California and Maine to Trinidad over the last 4 years! This does not bode well, but we still seem to be winning the race with Alberto!
0120- Depth readings show up for the first time since leaving  Bermuda. We're getting close.
0530- NMN now forecasts Alberto's arrival on Wednesday. We've won!
0600- Daily miles by the Log 0600 to 0600: 151 nm.
0615- LAND HO! We spot Virginia Beach buildings. Discontinue navigational plotting on the DMA plotting sheet on which we had been keeping our DR plot, and begin navigating using the coastal approach charts for entrance to Chesapeake Bay using coastal navigation techniques. At this point crew is able to get cell phone signals and call home to contact family and advise them of our position and ETA of about 1300.
0745- We call Norfolk customs via cell phone and arrange a meeting at the marina.
1340- Docked at the Taylors Landing Marina fuel dock in Little Creek Harbor near Norfolk. We take on fuel, 70.1 gallons of diesel, topping up the tank. Customs & Immigration Officer Ross arrives and checks crew in. He advises us to dispose of trash according to Department of Agriculture rules.
1410- We move HALIMEDA to slip 105A, secure her and commence off-loading crew gear and do a general clean up. This crew has become a real team and they make quick work of this work, and we're mostly done by 1530 when Julie departs. 
1610- Department of Agriculture officers arrive and inspect our trash bag. They tell us we must call American Environmental to have them pick  up trash. This is a new procedure.
1720-The rest of the student crew depart. And finally Mate David Gifford is off at 1830 after cleaning up a few maintenance details having done a sterling job on his first assignment.
1900- American Environmental arrives to pick up one trash bag; cost: $200.00!! Amazing!

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In port at Little Creek and still smiling

To a man (and woman) the crew expressed consummate satisfaction with their experience, with the possible exception of missing the opportunity for a direct  confrontation with Alberto! On second thought, this was an opportunity well missed! 

Voyage Summary:
Departed Bermuda: 5/28/05 @ 0600
Arrived Norfolk: 6/13/05 @ 1340
Elapsed Time: 5 days 6.6 hours = 126.6 hours
Rhumb line Distance: 635 NM
Distance Sailed:
736 NM through the water by the dist. log
Engine Use: 79 hours
Generator Use: 4.1 hours
Diesel Fuel taken on: 70.1 gallons (but did not fill to capacity in BDA)

Captain David Appleton
Little Creek Harbor, Virginia
June 15, 2006

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