2010 Bermuda Reports
Schedule of Courses
Ocean Training Cruises
Sunday June 13, 2010:
My Bermuda outbound crew is due to arrive June 16th, and I
came these few days early to familiarize myself with CELESTIAL's
gear and stowage plan, to change engine oil, clean the refrigerator and fresh
water system, and take care of some routine maintenance actions always cropping
up on a well-used cruising yacht. My First Mate for this cruise, Jerry Nigro,
arrived June 14th and we worked together on final preparations before student
crew arrival. Jerry is a USCG licensed Captain, owns a Skye 51 sailing yacht, MONTAUK
LIGHT, which he has sailed to Bermuda and back a couple of times, and
has been sailing with us for many years on ocean training cruises. He is the
most reliable right hand that you can have at sea when things get rough, and I
always welcome his positive, can-do attitude.
Wednesday, June 16:
Thursday, June 17th:
Starting with the roller furling mainsail, we traced
all the lines that control this powerhouse including sheet, traveler, furling
and outhaul lines, all which lead to the cockpit, as well as the halyard that
raises the sail on its mast internal furling mandrel. We practiced unfurling and
furling the mainsail paying close attention to the procedures needed to roll it
smoothly into and out of the mast without binding or jamming. CELESTIAL
is equipped with three mainsails: #1 is the large, full sized sail. #2 is about
10% smaller, and #3 another 10% smaller. We'll be sailing with the #2 mainsail
since the main often needs to be partly reefed during most ocean cruises, and it
offers a good compromise for the variety of conditions met at sea.
The headsails include a 110% roller furling genoa
mounted on the headstay and a small roller furling staysail on the inner stay
and a Hoyt self-tacking boom. The staysail is controlled by furling and outhaul
lines on portside and a sheetline led to a winch on the cockpit coach roof.
Genoa is controlled by a furling line led to the cockpit on starboard side, and
conventional sheets lead port and starboard to the primary winches on the
cockpit coamings. These winches are both manual and electric drive, but we plan
to use only manual during this cruise. We practiced winch-handling techniques
including wrapping, grinding, releasing under load, how to avoid overwraps, how
to safely release an overwrap without losing control of the sheet, and the best
working position of your feet when grinding a winch... And, importantly, how to
avoid crunching fingers when wrapping or unwrapping a winch under load.
The trisail (heavy duty storm mainsail) is rigged on
a separate dedicated track on the mast. It uses a spare halyard rigged to the
masthead, and a tack pennant rigged to the base of the mast. Sheets are rove
through dedicated turning blocks affixed to the side decks just forward of the
stern. The sheets are rigged and secured before raising the trisail to tame the
otherwise flogging clew of the sail, and the tack pennant length is adjusted to
place the tack of the sail just above the clew of the furled mainsail, and to
provide a proper lead of the sheets to the turning blocks. This sail is used for
heaving to in heavy weather, usually 40 knots and above.
The whisker pole is used for sailing wing-on-wing at
apparent wind angles of 110º to 180º from the bow, and allows the genoa to be
furled in, out or part-way without taking down the pole. This pole is 18 feet
long and 4 inches in diameter, and normally is stowed vertically on the forward
side of the mast. It can be used in very light wind and up to 30 knots to hold
the full or furled genoa in proper position to the wind. In this wing-on-wing
arrangement, the genoa and pole are deployed to the windward side and the
mainsail to the leeward side of the boat. We practiced rigging and deploying the
whisker pole and genoa to learn the best procedures and peculiarities for doing
this safely and without damage or injury. It requires some practice and know-how
to do this without incident.
So we practiced deploying the pole, making sure we had the
right lines led correctly: The topping lift for the outboard pole end secured to
a cleat on the mast. Topping lift and downhaul on the inboard pole end led as a
continuous loop over a cheek block up the mast near the first spreader. Fore guy
tied to the pole end and led through a bow cleat and back to a secondary winch
in the cockpit. And an after guy tied to the pole end and secured to the midship
cleat. We had to make sure the pole jaws on the inboard end were secured in the
proper direction to the moveable car on the mast to ensure that the jaws on the
outboard pole end would open in the up direction to allow proper capture and
release of the genoa sheet. We also needed to ensure smooth operation of the jaw
release plungers, and lubricated them for this purpose. Actually, the inboard
jaw plunger was bent slightly preventing release from the mast, but we could
live with this once we knew about it.
That was the morning's work. After a lunch break, we worked
on the sea anchor, an 18 foot diameter parachute deployed over the bow
when you want to hunker down in storm conditions. It consists of a 24 inch
diameter float, a 30 foot depth control line, the parachute sea anchor including
shroud lines and swivel shackle, 300 feet of 3/4 inch nylon line, a 3/4 inch
nylon bridle line with snatch block, and various cleats, winches and turning
blocks on deck. It's an important piece of survival equipment, and rigging it
under storm conditions can be a daunting tasks with many potential pitfalls and
irretrievable foulups, so advance practice is essential. Refer to a Blue
Water Sailing Magazine article that I wrote for additional discussion and diagrams of sea anchor setup and deployment.
We dragged all of this equipment from the deep recesses of CELESTIAL's
lockers, rigged it and did a mock deployment at dockside to ensure that all
understood how to do it in case we run into an ultimate storm on our way to
Bermuda. This degree of preparation is necessary since we will be sailing in the
beginning of hurricane season in their happy hunting grounds. Afterwards, we
stowed it all back below making sure that all lines were properly flaked in
their storage bags to ensure proper deployment when needed in an emergency. Then
we took another cooling break to gather energy for our next training exercise.
By now it was mid-afternoon on a hot and humid Norfolk
summer day. Everyone was moving slow and wondering when this torture would end
while eying the sparkling swimming pool just a stone's throw away. But, we
plugged on as ocean sailors must do in the face of adversity. Our next training
topic was abandon ship drill, which no one likes to think about but for
which we need to be prepared in case that awful fear becomes a reality.
First we needed to find all of the gear, inspect it to
ensure that it was all there, complete and working. First, two water proof,
floating yellow plastic bottles about 1.5 cubic feet each with screw on, water
tight lids and six foot long tethers. (1) Yellow bottle #1 contains the 406 MhZ
EPIRB, our automatic electronic emergency signal to the USCG and search and
rescue agencies. When this signal is released, it tells them our location and
that we have a danger of loss of life at sea, which abandon ship certainly is.
This bottle also contains a handheld VHF radio, handheld GPS, flashlights,
signal mirror, signal flag and batteries. (2) Yellow bottle #2 is chock full of
flares, both standard and SOLAS grade.
The waterproof abandon ship bag (3) contains additional
items that might be needed if adrift in a liferaft at sea, such as water
rations, energy bars, hard candy, saltine crackers, sun tan lotion, sea sick
pills, radar reflector, fishing line, plastic storage bags, drinking cups, first
aid kit, parachute cord, knife... We also take two five gallon fresh water jugs
(4) & (5).
These five containers are each affixed with a six foot long
tether that is attached to a crewmembers wrist; the container is dropped into
the sea as the crewmember steps into the liferaft.
Oh yes, the raft. This is a six-person offshore
liferaft with sun canopy, boarding ladder, anti-inversion water bags, and small
sea anchor to resist being rolled over and blown downwind. Its tether is tied to
the yacht, and the raft is dropped overboard and inflated by yanking on the
tether which activates a CO2 bottle inflating the raft. The raft is stowed on a
shelf in the starboard lazarette locker out of the weather and where it is
protected from accidental loss by a boarding wave as might occur with a deck
mounted raft. Of course, it's a little hard to retrieve from the locker, but
when motivated, you can overcome minor difficulties.
After checking out all of this equipment, we restowed it,
took a short rest, and the First Mate (Bless his heart.) spotted water rising in
the bilge, and the Captain commanded "Prepare to abandon ship!!"
This was a drill of course, at dockside, but it put our emergency wheels
into action. Jerry and Bodo were assigned the job of finding and plugging the
leak. Carol went to the SSB and VHF radios and sent out Mayday emergency
messages, logged our position and stood by the radios to communicate with any
station answering. Jocelyn and Bernard dragged out the five emergency
containers, life raft and offshore life vests, and helped everyone don them.
Captain maintained the helm and overall perspective of the condition of the ship
and emergency repairs.
As the water rose higher and higher (a drill) Jerry
and Bodo worked frantically to locate the leak. As the yacht settled to its
gunnels, the ship appeared in serious danger of foundering and the Captain
commanded "Abandon ship!!" Liferaft went overside and inflated
(not really). Crewmembers took their assigned containers and filed one at a time
into the raft; Mate next; Captain last. We cut the tether and drifted away as
the yacht slipped below the waves...
Drill secured. We stowed the equipment and proceed
to the swimming pool, showers and bar. The end of a busy day.
Friday, June 18th:
For the boat inspections, Bodo was assigned as
Engineer responsible for all the mechanical and electrical equipment below
decks. Jocelyn was Emergency Coordinator responsible for equipment and
procedures for man overboard (MOB), abandon ship, medical and provisioning.
Carol and Bernard were the Bosn's (boatswain) responsible for deck gear, sails
and rigging. Each was given a checklist pertaining to their area, and Jerry and
I worked with them to determine the condition of all critical equipment.
Engineering includes inspection of steering gear;
main engine, shafting, coupling, throttle and shifter and instruments; diesel
generator and instruments; fuel tanks, gages and shutoffs; batteries and
electrical charging systems, switch gear, distribution panel, breakers and
instruments; fresh water tanks, pumps, piping, faucets and level gages; galley
stove and propane system; marine heads and waste handling tank, pumps and
piping; navigation and communication equipment including radar, chart plotter,
SSB radio, VHF radios, NAVTEX receiver, Skymate satellite email and graphics
communicator, laptop computer and printer; and inventory of tools and spare
Emergency Coordinator inspections include Abandon
Ship equipment including the raft and five containers previously mentioned and
their contents; medical bags and contents; emergency medical advisory services
accessible through SSB or VHF radios; man overboard rescue equipment including
throwable horseshoe float, strobe light, 12-foot pole float, Seattle rescue
sling, throw rope and retrieval procedures. Also, inventory of food provisions
currently onboard, survey of all crewmembers for food preferences and
preparation of a food shopping list.
After checking out all of the MOB rescue equipment, Jocelyn demonstrated its use for the other crewmembers at dockside.
Bosn's are responsible to inspect and verify
condition of all sails, running rigging, winches, spars, standing rigging,
lifelines, pulpits, jacklines, boarding ladder, dodger, bimini, navigation
lights, sailing instruments, anchors, windlass, hatch covers, wind scoops,
liferaft stowage and inflatable dinghy stowage. This necessitated that they
inspect the ship from stem to stern above decks and to climb to the masthead,
which Carol did enthusiastically and with great enjoyment. She took a camera
with her, so I guess she did a little sightseeing up there.
Our navigation plan included three segments:
Departure from Norfolk, the ocean route to our target point near Bermuda, and
entrance into Bermuda. The first and last of these requires coastal navigation
and piloting procedures near land where there are numerous hazards and other
vessel traffic to deal with. A few weeks ago, I asked Jocelyn and Bernard to
lookup the NavAids on the NGA
website for the Chesapeake Bay departure route including Thimble Shoal Channel
and the Traffic Separation Scheme Southern Approach down the coast from Cape
Henry. Likewise, I asked Carol and Bodo to lookup the NavAids for the Bermuda
entrance route to St Georges Town Cut Channel and those marking the reefs to the
N and E of Bermuda. I downloaded the offshore lights and buoys and mobile
drilling rigs for reference during the ocean leg of the cruise.
Armed with these listings and the navigational charts, our
crew was able to prepare our intended rhumbline courses for these coastal areas.
They drew the rhumblines in on our charts and prepared a tabulation of courses
and distances to each waypoint and programmed the waypoints into our GPS system.
They also identified the seacoast lights at Bermuda and drew the light sectors
and light characteristics in on our charts for ready reference if approaching at
We selected the Chesapeake Bay Entrance Lighted Whistle
Buoy "CH" east of Cape Henry as our departure buoy for transitioning
to ocean navigation protocols. It is shown as Aid #405 in the USCG Light List
for NOAA Chart 12200 and is a red and white buoy with a Mo(A) light
characteristic, and it marks the juncture of the Northern and Southern
approaches in the Traffic Separation Scheme for ships inbound and outbound from
Chesapeake Bay. We selected the NE corner of NGA Chart 26341 of Bermuda as our
target point to ensure a liberal clearance of the reefs that ring the N and E
sides of Bermuda.
Between these two points, we drew a straight line on a
small scale Mercator chart (INT403) to establish a rhumbline for the ocean leg.
It came out to be 115ºT and 650 nautical miles long. It is not our intention to
tiptoe down this line, but to use it as a guidepost in an area where there are
few guideposts. Actually, we'll attempt to stay south of this line since
prevailing wind and currents will tend to push us to the northeast. As we
approach the Gulf Stream west wall, we'll aim for a point about 30 miles south
of our rhumbline since the strong NE flowing current will push us back toward
the rhumbline. After we cross the Gulf Stream, we'd still like to be south of
the rhumbline since we'll be able to sail on a reach in prevailing winds from
the SW, rather than close hauled. Of course, if a Cold Front or Low Pressure
system comes roaring through, all of this strategy goes out the window. But, you
need to play the odds, the probabilities when planning an ocean route.
Underway, we'll need to keep track of our progress, and
this will be done by plotting a Dead Reckoning (DR) plot on our Position
Plotting Sheets (DMA925 and 926). These plotting sheets are about 30 by 40
inches, and, when folded into quarters with printed side out, they are a perfect
size for plotting on a sailing vessel at sea. Many sailors use the 14 by 14 inch
Universal Plotting Sheets, but it's not possible to maintain an adequate
perspective of your route progress since you need to frequently change sheets.
We don't use these small sheets since too many sheets are needed for an offshore
cruise, and constant changing from sheet to sheet is not conducive to offshore
For the DR plot, we need to enter course and distance data
into an hourly tabulation. We'll be keeping a four-hour watch schedule with two
crewmembers per watch, and they will be responsible to make these hourly entries
of course steered per ship's compass during the previous hour and the distance
log reading at the end of each hour. At the end of their four-hour watch, they
will average courses steered for the four hours, convert this value from Compass
to True and draw this course on the plotting sheet from the end of the previous
watch's plot. Then they'll calculate distance traveled through the water based
on the beginning and ending log readings, mark off this distance on the course
line, and annotate with the time.
This DR plot, simple though it is, is vitally important to
navigation even if you're just doing GPS navigation, since it gives you a visual
record of course and distance and is used to evaluate other information like
lines of position (LOP) whether from celestial sightings, bearings on seacoast
lights or ocean buoys, landfall expectations, and depth contours or the effects
of current on your progress. DR is also used for mid-ocean running fixes of your
position enabling you to combine LOPs taken at different times and infer a
position fix. However, all that said, the DR is not completely accurate due to
errors introduced by current, wind leeway, speed or distance instrument errors,
compass errors, steering errors and reporting errors, but it does show a fairly
reliable trend and allows informed judgment of other information.
So, we reviewed these navigation lessons with all
crewmembers and prepared the charts and logbooks to be able to put these
procedures into action from the beginning of the cruise. Ocean navigation can
fail if the crew does not "hit the ground running" from the very start
of the cruise.
Weather forecasting was the next order of business
we needed to prepare for the cruise. As mentioned earlier, CELESTIAL
is equipped with the following electronics with weather forecast capability: VHF
radio, SSB radio, NAVTEX receiver, Skymate satellite email and graphics
communicator, laptop computer and printer.
VHF radio (Very High Frequency) is the common, line of
sight radio that most boats are equipped with. Line of sight means that the
transmitting and receiving antennas must be able to "see" each other
in a straight line above the earth's curvature, as these waves travel in a
straight line, and those not captured by a receiver travel out into space to
another world. VHF weather forecasts are given for the coastal area within sight
of the transmitter, usually a 25 mile radius, and are repeated frequently. These
forecasts will be helpful to us for departure from Norfolk and arrival at
Bermuda, but will not be available to us once away from land.
SSB radio (Single Sideband) can be used to dial in to the
USCG HF transmitter and receive weather predictions for selected areas of the
ocean. These are transmitted several times each day on a fixed schedule, and are
not repeated, so you need to be ready to hear what you need to hear the first
time around, or else use a tape recorder to capture the info. SSB radio uses
high frequency radio waves that bounce off the ionosphere and back and forth to
earth, and so can travel long distances around the earth. But, they are subject
to atmospheric disturbances including storms, lightening, sunlight, temperature
and sun spots to name a few. Radio antenna experts know how to set up their
antennas and frequency selection to milk the best out of this 50-year old
technology, but us commoners are sometimes disappointed in the results.
The NAVTEX receiver is a gem. It receives low frequency
transmissions from land based towers, and stores this information for later
review at your convenience, and you can select the stations and message content
you want to receive so as to reduce clutter. It has an advertised range of 200
miles, but I've regularly received transmissions from stations more than 500
miles away. DMA Pub 117, Radio Navigation Aids, Chapter 3 has a several page
section describing this system, transmitter locations, frequencies, station
codes and content codes. There's no charge for its use, as it's government
operated, and it's a system that I believe every boat should be equipped with,
ever those sailing only coastal routes. For this cruise, we chose the Norfolk,
Bermuda and Miami stations, and the weather forecast and weather warnings
content, and we had complete coverage during the cruise from either the Norfolk
or Bermuda stations.
The Skymate satellite communicator is another gem, but it
can be expensive to operate since you pay per character transmitted and
received. You can send and receive emails, but no attachments, and can receive
weather forecast text and graphics. You need a laptop computer for these
services, and we also had a printer for easy access to earlier graphics. Skymate
also automatically transmits the location of your vessel to a designated email
address without the computer being attached. But, it can sometimes take hours
between requesting a report from Skymate and receiving it onboard since it needs
to have the right satellites available to do it's thing.
Rita, in our office, setup a Google Earth tracking
map using the Skymate position reports so that families ashore were able to
track our position daily. Also, Captain Jochen Hoffmann, ashore, agreed to
review weather forecasts on the internet daily and send us an email with a
summary of his observations.
With all of these weather forecasting procedures in place,
the crew was able to track weather and remain fairly well informed. One
crewmember was assigned each day to track weather during the cruise and to brief
others on it.
Next, we reviewed Watchkeeping procedures and
responsibilities. As mentioned earlier, we setup four-hour watch sections with
two crewmembers per watch. Their primary duties include: maintain course and
speed; lookout for ship traffic; and periodic inspection of the vessel.
We reviewed operation and use of the following instruments
available to the Watch to assist with the first two of these duties:
· Wind direction and speed, both Apparent and True
· Boat speed and distance traveled through the water
· Water depth sounder; used until depth exceeds the operating range of the instrument, that is when we're off soundings over 600 feet
· Water temperature to determine when we enter or leave the Gulf Stream
· Radar to track other ship traffic and squalls
· VHF radio to talk with other vessels on channel 13 or 16
· Hand bearing compass to cite crossing paths of other vessels
We also reviewed the USCG
Navigation Rules, which specifies the navigation light displays for various
vessel types, vessel passing protocols and signals, operations in restricted
visibility, and emergency signaling among many other topics. Collision with
another ship is my greatest fear offshore where large ships come roaring through
at 20 knots or more, and can sail over the horizon and cross your path in 15
minutes. This seems like a lot of time, but considering that watchkeepers cannot
be looking around 360 degrees all the time, it's really not much. Also, it's not
always readily apparent how close that ship will come to you (closest point of
approach or CPA) and whether it plans to alter course to avoid you. Actually,
they often don't even see you, so it behooves you to stay clear and make
avoidance decisions early. Calling the ship on VHF 13 or 16 is sometime
beneficial, but it's not unusual to have a language barrier in spite of the fact
that English is the mandatory language to be used regardless of the ship
watchkeepers native tongue.
The Captain will request that a certain course and speed be
maintained considering our route plan and expected weather conditions. The Watch
is to maintain this requested course and speed unless weather conditions prevent
it, and inform the Captain of this fact. It may be necessary to change or adjust
sails or turn on the engine to maintain speed and heading. But, this is a
sailboat, and we'd like to minimize use of the engine and enjoy the sail! So
there are a few tradeoffs to consider here.
The Watch is required to remain constantly alert to the
condition of the boat. In addition to sails, rigging and other things on deck,
they must check belowdeck hourly for crewmember condition, water level in bilge,
toilet bowl overflow, stove turned off, propane secured, smoke or other unusual
odors, battery voltages, water pump turned off, faucet leaks, hatch leaks, decks
clear of trip hazards, and anything unusual that could lead to a problem.
By this time, late in the afternoon of the second
predeparture day, we're almost ready to go. We still need to finalize the meal
and shopping menu, shop for food and drink and make watch assignments. After
putting together the list, Carol and I went shopping and brought back our booty.
Bodo organized the refrigerator stowage, and the other crewmembers stowed the
dry goods and made lists to label each stowage locker.
After this, I made the following watch assignments, and we
all went out to dinner to celebrate our readiness and completion of Tom's
Torture Test known as predeparture preparations:
Actually, if you're well prepared, the cruise itself can be anticlimactic...
Saturday, June 19th:
We're all up early and rarin' to go. Beautiful day; warm
and sunny; winds SE at 10 knots. Final preps. Top up water tank. Remove trash.
Last showers ashore. Settle with the marina. We need to exit our slip and tie up
at the fuel dock to ship our dinghy in the davits, which we couldn't do in the
slip. By the time we secure it for sea, this takes well over an hour, and it's
finally noon before we're ready to go. We are ready, and at 1237 we depart the
marina and head for sea, stowing dock lines and fenders as we motor down Little
Creek to the Bay. Watch Section 1 is on duty, so Jerry is at the helm as we
Carol planned the departure navigation and provides the
course as we exit the rock piles at Little Creek entrance and head for Thimble
Shoal Channel to pass through the tunnel opening in the Chesapeake Bay bridge
that spans the Bay from Cape Henry to Cape Charles five miles away. Most of this
bridge is on trestles except for the two ship channels, and this southern pass
was built with a tunnel below the mud for automobile traffic in lieu of a
suspension bridge to meet US Navy requirements not to have its large Norfolk
Fleet penned in by collapse of a bridge. We motored alongside of the Thimble
Shoal Ship Channel as the channel itself is restricted to vessels of greater
than 25 foot draft.
We carried on toward Cape Henry and past it to the red and
white Chesapeake Bay Entrance Lighted Whistle Buoy "CH" to the east as
our departure point for the start of ocean navigation. We noted our distance log
reading, deployed our mainsail and genoa, and set a close hauled course on
starboard tack of 120º per ship's compass (PSC) which converts to 110º True.
Our rhumbline to Bermuda is 115º True, and we'd like to be sailing south of it,
but the wind direction doesn't allow it at present. At 1700 the wind increases
to 18 knots and shifts to the south and we're able to sail below our rhumbline
and maintain decent speed.
Sunday, June 20:
By sunrise the wind started to veer to the SSW at 10 knots,
and by mid-afternoon we had SW12 and by dinner time we had WSW18. We continued
motor sailing south on a close hauled compass course of 195ºpsc. At 2000 hours
we noted a 6ºF jump in sea water temperature going from 81ºF to 87ºF in two
hours signifying our entry into the Gulf Stream. Our course over ground was 160ºpsc
as the Stream pushed us 35º to the northeast of the course we were steering. At
this point, the direct line to Bermuda was 106ºT or 123ºpsc. We carried on
this way through the wee hours of the night.
Monday, June 21:
We're sailing easy in 12 knots of wind on a reach. 0900
logbook entry by Carol: "Glorious day. Beautiful swells. Saw two Bermuda
Longtails following the boat." And a 1300 logbook entry by Jerry:
"Great sailing- steady 7 knots. Staysail flying. Dolphins earlier. Life is
At 1940 started diesel generator to charge batteries since
we've been sailing for 18 hours and batteries we're getting low.
Tuesday, June 22:
0400 winds light; furled genoa; engine at 2000 rpm; boat
speed 4.5 knots. Changed course to 105ºpsc = 96ºT.
0800 log entry by Tom: "Weather clear except for some
ominous rain clouds on our port quarter at 7 miles distant. Winds SW10."
0930 log entry: Holding tank 60% full. Opened overboard
valve. Pumped holding tank to empty. Secured overboard valve."
Conditions were perfect for sailing wing on wing with the
genoa poled out to windward. We're sailing east on a broad reach with wind
SW8-10. We practiced deploying the whisker pole in port, but now it was time to
do it on a rocking rolling boat underway at sea. We reviewed procedures and made
assignments stressing that we need to communicate with each other and not jump
the gun. We're not racing, so speed is not essential in deploying the pole...
Safety is! Well, we got it up with no trouble and motorsailed on starboard tack
with the genoa poled out to windward on starboard side.
Practiced celestial shots of the Sun. Did a shot accuracy
drill with Bodo, who got it down to within two miles, and merrily went to the
books to practice doing the sight reduction calculations manually. Tom took a
Sun shot at 1215 and another at 1620 to establish a running fix. Comparing this
position with the 1620 DR position showed that the Gulf Stream had pushed us 75
miles east! This is not surprising since the Gulf Stream chart showed a distinct
easterly flow in this area and we've been consistently seeing boat speed over
ground of one to two knots higher than the speed log for the past two days.
Took down the whisker pole at 1700 and set main and genoa
for broad reaching on starboard tack motor sailing in winds SW10-12. Course 120ºpsc
At 2000 hours, Jocelyn made notes on the Bermuda weather
forecast from the NAVTEX receiver, as follows: "Existing high pressure will
maintain across Bermuda. Tuesday winds SW8-12. Wednesday winds S/SW5-10.
Thursday winds S8-12. Seas inside and outside the reef less than 3 feet."
Wednesday, June 23:
0130 log: "Secured engine. Sailing at 5 to 6 knots.
Clear sky. No squalls in sight."
0800 log entry by Jocelyn: "Large black squall cloud
noted at 0715 to starboard, windward of us and moving on a collision course with
us. Changed course to sail behind the squall for about an hour. Squall passed
ahead. Resumed our original course of 120ºpsc.
1000 Set cruising chute (genniker) increasing boat speed
under sail to 6.5 knots. At 1130 noted another dark squall line 12 miles out off
our bow. Secured genniker.
Bodo took a Sun shot at 1309 and another at 1644 and
established a running fix that correlated well with our DR and a GPS position
taken to confirm his accuracy... Excellent results! Later, Bodo took a Moon shot
at 1923 and Venus at 2003 for another RFix that also correlated well with our DR
position. Changed course to 115ºpsc at 2030 hours.
Thursday, June 24:
0200 log: Secured engine. Sailing at 5.5 knots.
0630 log: Fuel tank level 80%. Water tank 40%. Holding tank
0800 log: Start diesel generator and battery charger. We're
getting near Bermuda; about 80 miles to go. Seeing a lot more Longtails, and
tall cumulous clouds in that direction. At this rate, we expect to make landfall
in the dark of night and will need to make early decisions on whether to lay off
or enter at night.
0935 log: Generator off.
1045: Set cruising chute in 13 knots of true wind speed.
Carol owns and races a J24, and gave us some finer points of instruction on
getting the most out of the spinnaker and staying out of trouble, which can
easily happen as the wind increases as it's doing now. We're on a broad reach to
starboard with the True wind creeping up to SW15 knots, the limit of this sail.
Our course is 115ºC, and apparent wind angle is between 90º and 135º
apparent, referring to the angle from the bow of the boat.
We're moving like a freight train on a mission, being
dragged through the water by a team of angry bulls. Heading up to starboard
curls the luff of the chute and it becomes very angry and starts to flap and
shake the boat to its keel. Heading off to port causes the chute to collapse as
it's blanketed by the mainsail. Since we're broad off the wind, wave action
causes the boat to corkscrew through the water and the helmsman needs to
anticipate this action to keep her moving on the proper heading. As a wave
approaches, you feel the boat start to surge and turn toward the wind; you need
to turn the helm down to resist this turn and ride the surge to keep boat speed
and not dump the sail. Carol demonstrated the helm techniques and coached
everyone in this exciting challenge until the wind creeped up to our limiting
speed and we had to douse the chute.
I took Sun shots at 1006 and 1307 and got a good running
fix that confirmed our DR position indicating that the crew has been
collectively doing a good job at steering and recording our navigational DR
data. We've now met our original rhumbline, so at 1615 we head off to 130ºC to
parallel the rhumbline to Bermuda.
1630 log entry by Jocelyn: "NAVTEX weather forecast
for Bermuda at 1930Z: Mostly fair weather will continue with isolated showers.
Light to moderate S/SW winds will persist. Tonight S/SW 10-15; seas 2 to 4 feet
outside the reef. Friday S/SW 8-12; seas 2 to 4 feet outside the reef. Saturday
S/SW 8-12; seas 2 to 4 feet outside the reef."
1900: Bodo, as Navigator, was charged with setting up our
approach navigation into Bermuda. For this he had to get us onto the Bermuda
Approach Chart #26341 and transition from ocean navigation to coastal navigation
and piloting procedures. He laid out four key waypoints that would take us
safely around the dangerous reefs that ring the north and east sides of Bermuda,
and over the years have captured many unwary ships. They are not visible above
the water and there are no waves breaking over them. Add to this a night time
approach, and we needed to be extra careful in our navigation and lookout
duties. Recall that Bodo and Carol downloaded the details of the Bermuda Nav
Aids before the cruise, and this information came in very handy for this effort
as it listed the key markers on the reef edges and their colors and light
characteristics for us to lookout for and verify.
2100 log entry by Bodo: "Made initial contact with
Bermuda Harbour Radio. They advised us to call back when we were closer as our
VHF radio signal was weak. They confirmed permission to anchor in Five Fathom
Hole near Town Curt Channel if we chose to do so, but suggested that we enter
the harbor as they could call Customs & Immigration to meet us at any time
since they are on standby duty all night."
After following Bodo's road map around the reefs, we
entered Town Cut Channel just after midnight, went to the Customs dock on
Ordinance Island, and cleared in.
Friday, June 25:
At 0800, we upped anchor and went to Dowling's Shell
Station to top up our diesel and water tanks. Then we moved the 100 yards to the
corner of Hunter's Warf where we tied up alongside the rocky quay. Our
crewmembers packed up their gear, cleaned up the boat and went off to their
ashore accommodations where they'll enjoy the Bermuda sights before returning
state-side and reentry into their normal lives. Jerry and I set about taking
care of minor maintenance items, one of these being to remove the genoa for
transport to the local sailmaker for some needed repairs not unusual after an
Captain Jochen Hoffmann arrived about noon to relieve me
for the return cruise, and Tom Pryzbelski, who will sail the return cruise to
Mystic, CT, came by to say hello. We invited them to join us and our departing
crew for dinner.
So all eight of us met at Cafe' Gio that evening for a
farewell dinner and some very tall sea stories!
Bye all; hope to sail with you again...