2006 Bermuda Reports

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Course:      Offshore Passage Making, Bermuda to Norfolk
Date:          June 17-25, 2006
Vessel:       IP45 HALIMEDA
Students:    Bill Brewer, Mark Carlson, Bob Lacca, Tracy Reno
First Mate: Ken Widener
Captain:     Jack Morton

As usual, these trips really begin well before people arrive in either Norfolk or St George, as they go over gear lists, check the weather on the web, and exchange thoughts, hopes and fears by email.   All that happens for the Captains too, so by the time we actually meet at the boat, the trip planning is well underway. That said, most of the crew had checked in by the afternoon of June 16th, and several of us had dinner together that evening, before starting in earnest to go over the boat and our plans the next day.   

6/17/06 Crew all aboard by 0800 for training. Ken Widener, a seasoned pilot for Fed Ex in his spare time, was aboard as First Mate for a transocean trip a little slower than his usual.  Bill Brewer, Bob Lacca and Mark Carlson were each boat owners looking for more blue water experience to lend knowledge and confidence as they considered taking their own sailboats offshore. Tracy Reno had chartered numbers of boats, but was not a sailboat owner.   

First day, on the dock, was one in which we all shared our goals, and concerns for the upcoming trip, and went through setting, reefing and striking all plain and storm sail- important to be sure we all understand, and do the same way before we are trying to figure it out in an offshore squall.  Also planned meals, assigned crew duties, and set the watch schedule 

6/18/06 Back at it by 0800, and checkouts of boat systems and rig for the bosun, navigator (all of us), safety officer, engineer, and stewards. Reviewed emergency procedures, shopped and stocked the boat, and as the weather and tides appeared encouraging, we topped water, diesel, and cast off lines this afternoon by 1515. Left the Chesapeake Bay Bridge astern by 1800, and motorsailed until about 2100, when the wind freshened and let us retire the iron staysail. By 2230 we were reefed, and making great time.  

6/19/06 Continuing SW winds carried us along nicely, but diminished around dawn, letting us motorsail and charge the batteries for a few hours before picking up again and allowing us to kill the engine. By afternoon we were again reefed, booming along and eating up the miles. Around dinnertime we hooked into a fish that took an hour to land, with each of us cranking for some of that time. It came in too late for dinner that night, but fed us for three other dinners, counting some we took ashore to share with the next crew in Bermuda.  It was a mahi mahi, also called dolphin or dorado, and best estimate is that it was about 40#... A real treat. 

6/20/06 SW wind holding well enough that we continue to barrel along toward Bermuda using the generator to make electricity since the engine isn't needed. Seas and wind building - 2 reefs in mainsail, jib rolled half in, and people bouncing around the boat and moving very carefully. 

6/21/06 I suppose it had to end - the wind is still SW, but has become very light, and we're again motorsailing. We notice that battery charging isn't happening quite as we expect, and are doing some troubleshooting to isolate the problems if we can. Good time to be grateful for redundancy in charging as we've got the generator, engine alternator, and solar panels.    

6/22/06 Wind has backed and is now coming straight out of Bermuda, just heavy enough that we can't make any progress motoring direct, and we're having to tack... not a strong suit in these conditions. Motorsailing lets us improve the angle to windward a bit, but it's still a slog. Found that some of the problem with charging was the automatic battery combiner - the unit that makes the executive decisions about which battery bank deserves the available electricity most, and sends it there. It had frozen and wasn't making those decisions. Nothing like having the manuals aboard, and we were able to reprogram it, and get it thinking straight again, but the engine voltage regulator is not working as expected, and we're doing most of the charging by genset.   

Successful cruising doesn't mean no problems - it's more about being able to cope with the inevitable problems that arise. Partly knowledge base and partly a well found boat, with the manuals, spares and tools that will be needed.  

6/23/06 Wind still coming straight out of Bermuda, and tacks becoming more frequent as the distance diminishes. Still motorsailing, as it improves our pointing, though the wind is strong enough that we're reefed and the seas are active. Come dinnertime, we use an old fashioned cruising approach, and heave to for a pleasant meal - something most of our crew hadn't done before.  

6/24/06 Wind still ESE - guess we're paying for all that nice SW wind we had at the beginning.  We're grateful for the southing we had put in the bank; that is the distance we had dropped south of the rhumb line, to make up for the set of the Gulf Stream, and potential wind shifts like the one we're dealing with now. Progress is steady, but slow. Technically we arrive in St George harbor on the 24th, dropping anchor about 2345, though we don't go to the customs dock until morning of the 25th. 

6/25/06 Check in at Bermuda Customs and shift berth to the dockage in the center of town next to Dowling's fuel dock. A debriefing lunch ashore, and a few of the crew dash to the airport for flights out in the afternoon. 

Captain Jack Morton
St Georges harbour, Bermuda
June 26, 2006

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