2011 Bermuda Reports

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Course: Offshore Passage Making; Bermuda to Norfolk
Date May 26-June 2, 2011
Students:  Spencer Cowles, John Hoffman, Kenneth Keppel, Greg Lennon
First Mate: Billy Psimas
Captain Bruce Kachline

Friday 20 May 2011: 
, the Island Packet 440 we will sail to Bermuda was patiently awaiting my arrival. After a thorough walk through with the previous Captain and Mate who sailed her from St. Thomas to Norfolk, I began to settle in and make preparations for our voyage.  In the latter part of April, Tom Tursi of the Maryland School of Sailing and Seamanship and our First Mate, Billy Psimas and I were in close contact concerning the details of the voyage. Shortly afterward, dialog with students began via e-mail. We discussed their course expectations and sent a form to be completed and returned concerning food preferences. Billy did a nice job making the form presentable. Minor repairs to the Genoa and an extinguished light bulb were the only real issues we had to deal with on CELESTIAL.

Saturday 21 May 2011: 
Billy changed the lube oil in the Yanmar diesel engine while I topped off both propane tanks. I elected to use the working jib for this ocean cruise instead of the Genoa, and hoisted it on the forestay roller furler.

Sunday 22 May 2011: 
After the ship’s laundry chores I tested the ICOM M-802 single side band radio with a call to Hal who was on an island close to the US-Canadian border on the East coast. The EPIRB was tested and sticker and forms were in order.

Monday 23 May 2011: 
Billy stood watch as dive master while I snorkeled to inspect and scrub the hull. We replaced the control line to the aft top of the rudder, checked all through hulls, cleaned the impeller for the knot log and checked all zincs. The bow thruster propeller and the propulsion propeller were cleaned and the cutlass bearing was found to be in good condition.  We replaced the battery to the Man Overboard strobe and faired the reefing control line to the staysail.

Tuesday 24 May 2011: 
We set our watches to the second by listening to WWVH on a frequency of 10MHz.  The woman’s voice is transmitted from Hawaii. Billy tested the onboard generator while I wired in some shackle pins on the staysail.

Wednesday 25 May 2011: 
At last, the students began to arrive. Billy assigned them their bunks and we helped them settle in. I replaced the canister type air horns and Billy helped in getting additional twelve volts to a courtesy receptacle on the binnacle. We had a meet and greet dinner at the Surf Rider restaurant, which overlooks our slip at Vining’s Landing Marina.

Thursday 26 May 2011:
This day was intensive training and a last minute gathering of spare parts and supplies for our voyage. Billy organized the crew and they sent me upward to the masthead.  Spencer was the safety man on the backup line and the other students took turns grinding and tailing the winch. I inspected the spreaders and all swages as well as other gear aloft. On my way down I clipped into the backstay and adjusted the keeper for the MOB pole and flag. Billy assigned Greg and Ken to the Navigation and Engineering departments, John and Spencer shared the Bosun and Safety slots. I went shopping and returned the repaired Genoa to the boat while Billy and the students covered anchoring, Man Overboard, fire, abandon ship, collision blanket, galley procedures, pumps, switches, radios and the list goes on. We enjoyed a spaghetti dinner at The Captain’s Galley.

Friday 27 May 2011:
After breakfast at nearby Captain’s Galley, I gave a brief dissertation on our navigation strategies and Billy helped on a show and tell of how we arrived at the plan months in advance. The students were tasked with determining our departure time to coincide with a slack high tide. The crew spent the day learning the ropes from Billy and inventorying the items on the boat.  Each department had a specific list to match to a locker.  The six of us were planning our meals weeks before we met at the boat, so Ken of the Stewards department inventoried our food on board and we wrote a shopping list to meet the needs of our meal plan. Later that evening he and I grocery shopped and the rest of the crew helped unload and stow a truck load of vittles. The pressure cooker and the Bialetti were on board, so Café Celestial was good to go. We dined at the Captain’s Galley and got a good night’s rest.

Saturday 28 May 2011:
At 0600 we shipped our dock lines and fenders, then proceeded to motor away from our slip and make way for Bermuda. At 0725 we cleared the Chesapeake Bay tunnel crossing and were abeam the entrance to Thimble Shoal channel at 0825. We arrived at the Cape Henry light at 10:45 and motor sailed South and East.  At 1300 we hove to and the engineering team was pleased to announce that the macerator pump was in good working order. A course of 161˚M was set prior to Ken’s Sun shot at 1607.  We continued on and were abeam of Currituck Light at 2000 hours.

Sunday 29 May 2011:
Bodie Light was abeam at 0500 and at 0800 John shot the lower limb of the Sun. We spotted a sea turtle and Dolphins on our way to the Wimble Shoal “10” light.  Sargasso weed showed on the surface and Billy began to fish with a unique hand line he purchased in the Bahamas. We encountered the merchant ship
IKAN SEPTAT and did not make radio contact as it was not necessary; nonetheless, the watch maintained a sharp lookout. We continued our motor sail and had Cornish Hen with sweet potatoes for dinner.

Monday 30 May 2011:
We were becalmed in the early morning and remained so most of the day, so we motored through this condition with autopilot steering.  This allowed students to take sun shots and reduce them at leisure.  We left ODAS Buoy “41001” off our portside at 1500 hours.

Tuesday 31 May 2011:
The temperature was 79
°F at 0500.  Later in the day we sent birthday greetings to Nicole and saw a pod of spotted dolphins playing near the boat. Schools of flying fish were avoiding the dolphins.  The crew replaced the light bulb on the bow nav light fixture.  Spencer’s chicken with noodles was on the menu for dinner and we had Billy’s fresh baked muffins as a treat.  We passed the half way point later that evening at 2200 hours. Our fuel tank was ¾ full.

Wednesday 01 Jun 2011:
Our morning and afternoon sun shots were broken by a squall at noon. It quickly dissipated and we were relieved.  The ship’s sextant had an index error which we corrected by using a thumb and index finger on an adjustment screw.  We pumped the holding tank and talked with Rooney on the island of Jamaica using side band radio. At evening twilight we shot the stars Vega, Spica and Pollux.

Thursday 02 Jun 2011:
Nearly seventy nautical miles from the Bermuda Islands we spotted a buoy and gave it a wide berth. Later, near noon, we spotted the majestic Bermuda Long Tail birds circling our boat, a fitting welcome as we neared land. Late in the day we contacted Bermuda Harbor Radio on VHF and agreed to contact them again when we reached the sea buoy at the approach to Town Cut. Our ship’s clock was set one hour later in order to keep in step with the Nautical Almanac’s daily pages. Ken and I stood watch an extra hour while others got some well deserved rest.

Friday 03 Jun 2011:
We were given clearance to Town Cut at 0400 and proceeded inbound using Radar, ECDIS, the ship’s chart plotter, paper chart and six pairs of eyes on lookout.  None of us had been here before. We ticked by Five Fathom Hole prior to the entrance to the cut.  The ship’s clock was advanced another hour to coincide with daylight savings time in Bermuda. Gradually the dawn was upon us and we could make out the buoys along our course. We tied alongside at Ordinance Island to clear customs. Later, we contacted Bermuda Yacht Services to find our assigned berth along the quay. Another yacht lost its engine and was assigned the spot the Maryland School had reserved for us. It was a small price to pay for helping out a fellow yachtsman; the boat was from Japan. We tied alongside a few boat lengths away and began our farewells. In the nick of time, no one missed a flight; others stayed behind to explore this fascinating island group. I learned a lot on this voyage and hope my shipmates learned from me as well. Billy informed me that we had three PhD’s on board. A better Mate is hard to find.

 In closing, I want to thank all my shipmates for the lessons I learned as well as being part of yet another destination along this adventure we call life.

Fair Winds and Good Holding Ground…

Captain Bruce Kachline

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