2007 Norfolk-Bahamas Report
Schedule of Courses
Ocean Training Cruises
Thursday, Nov 1:
Our student crew, Kirk Benefiel, Kevin Reville, and James
Turner and First Mate Mike McGovern arrive during the course of the afternoon.
By now, the system is far offshore and has weakened and moved further East.
Friday, Nov 2:
Saturday, Nov 3:
Sunday, Nov 4;
Once off Virginia Beach, we sail in company of about 50
other boats that are participating in the Caribbean 1500 rally and steering a
course more easterly than us on their way to the Virgin Islands. The captain has
set a sliding watch schedule to accommodate an odd number of five watch
standers. At 1930 hours, Mike, our designated radio operator who is acting on a
pre-arranged daily communications schedule, makes contact with HALIMEDA.
All’s well on both boats as we continue on our diverging courses.
Monday, Nov 5, at
The sun remains visible long enough for the captain to get
a sextant shot and for students to get their first taste of celestial
navigation. The resultant sun Line of Position (LOP) is crossed with our DR
track to give us an Estimated Position (EP) on our plotting sheet. The wind is
now in the mid-20s and almost right on the nose.
At 1935 and Lat 34°43’ N; Lon 074°12’ W, we again
make contact with HALIMEDA. She is battling the same conditions as we are. A half
hour later, the watch finds our good ship extremely hard to steer as gusts are
now in the 30s. The ship is over canvassed.
A second, then a third reef in both the main and the genoa make for an
easier ride, but now we don't point as well. A barber hauler rigged to the
working genoa sheet quiets the genoa but we're still not pointing as well as
Tuesday, Nov 6, at
Finally, at 1500 hours nimbostratus clouds and rain bring a
wind shift to NW. Gusts are topping 30 knots. Terrific! “Ease sails!” We are
speeding along at 8.5 knots on a beam reach and a favorable course of 210° True
under double-reefed genoa, staysail and reefed main. What a glorious feeling!
A new question for all: What is causing the rapid voltage
drop of battery # 2 requiring energy management and repeated charging with the
generator or alternator? (It would take three more days to solve the voltage
puzzle. A electrical diagram error had us babying the wrong bank.)
Now we are really hungry. Although everyone shares in meal
preparations, Kevin, an experienced delivery captain, and Mike enjoy coming up
with tasty meals during a blow while strapped-in by the galley belt. Thanks,
Wednesday, Nov 7, at
After sundown, the captain gives a tour of the night sky.
Low on the western horizon, we can still make out Antares in the
constellation Scorpius. At 25° above it, Jupiter is the brightest
object in the evening sky. And the Gemini twins, Pollux and Castor
plus Capella are already high enough in the east to show that Orion
will be up before midnight.
Thursday, Nov 8, at
Now we have time to admire the beautiful morning sky. The
star Regulus, almost directly above the bright Venus plus a faint Saturn
10 ° above her, tells us that the two planets have joined with constellation Leo.
What a sight!
Position at 0800: Lat 31°57’N; Long 075°41’W.
Forecast: Wind NW 15-20, then NNE at 10. Course: 198° True. Sail plan: One reef
in the genoa, full main. After sun-up, a good breakfast and boat cleaning, we
practice an MOB maneuver using the offshore recovery system. The lesson is
clear: such maneuvers require practice. A review of the ASA108 standards has us
busy until lunch followed by nap time for the off-watch. We haven’t touched
the sails since early this morning and CELESTIAL is surfing down the waves.
Late in the afternoon, James spots a reddish object fine on
the port bow that proves to be a large oblong fender often used to float fish
nets. We heave it on board to be used as a spare sea anchor float. At 1930 we
can hear HALIMEDA hailing us on the SSB, but she can’t hear us. We test
radio signals by trying to get a weather report and then calling the office via
the WLO radio operator. No luck with either. Enter Kirk Benefiel and his trusty
satellite phone to let the world know where we are.
Friday, Nov 9, at
Broken clouds mean that the captain can take more celestial
shots to refine our DR navigation and that students can again try their hands
with the sextant. A sun-run-sun fix puts us only 18 miles south and 4 miles west
our DR position – not bad DR navigation, given conditions of the last few
days. Another MOB practice midmorning with very good results: The “victim”
was recovered in under10 minutes. Good show, crew! At 1545 we perform a real
rescue of sorts. The watch had spotted a sizable reddish-blue object, which
proves to be a bundle of party balloons. The abundant plastic and the knotted
strings can be deadly to sea turtles and fish, so we cut and bunch them up for
disposal on shore.
Saturday, Nov 10,
The call “all hands to breakfast and prepare for
landfall” comes at 0600. Our timing is perfect: We’ll reach the cut in the
reefs that marks the Man O'War Channel to Marsh Harbour in daylight and with the
sun behind us. Without the sun’s glare, we’ll be able to see the
potentially dangerous, shallow sea bottom where the color of grass, sand, or
coral gives the mariner ample warning to effect a safe passage.
First sounding of 450 feet comes 0645 after many days at sea. It’s time to raise the quarantine flag (Q-flag) on the starboard spreader as a signal to immigration and customs officials and to place a securité call. An hour later, we have cleared the channel, tied up at Marsh Harbor Marina fuel dock, and notified authorities about our arrival from foreign soil. Three hours later, while the crew is cleaning the ship and packing, we are cleared into the Bahamas and exchange the Q-flag for the Bahamas courtesy flag. Two more hours and everyone is packed and ready to say good bye. Kirk and Mike are to fly home today, and James tomorrow, while Kevin is meeting his wife for a vacation on this largely unspoiled island.
From the mate and captain, a heartfelt thank-you to our
accomplished student crew for an exciting and safe ocean voyage.
Captain Jochen Hoffmann