2018 Bermuda Reports
Schedule of Courses
Ocean Training Cruises
Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Sunday, June 3
Wednesday, June 6
By mid-afternoon our ocean crew began arriving on board including: Paul Brana, Michael Crombie, John Leighton and Charles Miller. After introductions, they proceeded to stow their personal gear in the limited space available for six people who would spend the next week together on a 40-foot sailing yacht at sea. Gear stowage completed, we all adjourned to a local restaurant, The White Horse, for dinner and to get to know each other and to discuss goals for the cruise. After dinner, we all proceeded early to bed as tomorrow would be a busy day with pre-departure preparations and training for the ocean cruise and the beginning of molding a group of adult sailors, all strangers to each other except Jerry and I, into a competent working team. Some of the crew judiciously elected to sleep ashore in nearby hotels to maximize their rest prior to going offshore.
Thursday, June 7
Friday, June 8
Navigation preps were conducted as an all-hands team effort
so that everyone onboard would be familiar with the route strategy and
navigation details, as well as the charts, reference books, logbooks, and
electronic nav instruments. NAVIGATOR has
a modern suite of navigation and communications equipment including: GPS-based
charts plotters, AIS automated information system, Sirius satellite-based
weather data and graphics, Radar, VHF radio, NAVTEXT information system, SSB
radio, and Email for text and graphic communications. We also have a SPOT
satellite automatic tracking device that transmits our hourly position back to
the folks at home.
In addition to these electronics, our ocean navigation
procedures will be based in large part on classic paper and pencil navigation
based on the ship's steering compass and the distance-measuring log plus the
celestial LOP lines of position that we are able to acquire with Sextant shots
of the Sun and other celestial bodies. This information will be integrated into
a meaningful navigation procedure based on regular observations entered into the
Deck Logbook and the DR dead reckoning plot. So... it takes quite a bit of time
for new crewmembers to become familiar with this range of equipment to enable
effective and efficient use while underway at sea, and we spent considerable
time doing that training.
We also needed to review the current weather forecasts and
couple this information with our route strategy and departure plans. We did this
first by reviewing our onboard and internet resources, and second by the
supporting forecasts provided by Bradley Mabe, a Maryland School graduate and
professional meteorologist who had provided the following initial forecast:
6/10 winds light & variable becoming WSW 5 - 10 increased chance of showers & T-storms - winds become SW 10 to 12 in the evening
6/11 winds SW 10 - 15 becoming 20 - 25 evening and overnight chance of showers and T-storms
6/12 winds SW 15 - 20 becoming W 10 - 15
Saturday, June 9
If wind directions over the next several days allow, we
would ideally like to enter the Gulf Stream south of Cape Hatteras since the
Gulf Stream can be expected to push us to the NE as we cross it. However, as
long as a low pressure systems or a cold front do not pass through this area,
the prevailing winds for this month are usually from the SW along this route
back to Norfolk, and our rhumbline route to Norfolk is to the NW. Therefore, we
can expect to be sailing close hauled on port tack most of the way. Sailing
close-hauled with ocean waves will require that we crack off to a close reach in
order to keep the boat moving through the larger waves. This will force us to
the north of our rhumbline and make it difficult to lay Norfolk without tacking
once we pass Cape Hatteras. The means we'll need to sail the boat efficiently
(not pinching the wind thus increasing leeway to the north, and not carelessly
footing off too much to the north) to avoid losing our position south of the
rhumbline. Otherwise, we may be pushed far north of the rhumbline, and need to
fight our way back to the west once passing Hatteras.
Sunday, June 10
6/10 morning winds light and variable mostly S becoming SW 10 - 15 in the afternoon chance of showers and T-storms in the afternoon
6/11 winds SW 10 -15 becoming 15 - 20 in the afternoon
6/12 winds SW 15 - 20 gusts to 25 becoming light & variable in the afternoon due to a short wave frontal boundary chance of rain increases
6/13 winds still light and variable becoming S 5 - 10 and then SW 10 - 15 as frontal boundary passes
6/14 winds SW 10 - 15 slight chance of showers and T-storms
Overnight, the winds increased to 10 knots or so, remaining mostly from SW. It was a squally, rainy day. Sails up, sails down, engine on, engine off, a lot of wind, no wind, some rain, some sun. It was a mixture of everything today. We had chicken stew for dinner. There was a little bit of mal de mer but not too much. The only time it was rough was when the wind died and we couldn't sail but the seas were still choppy from the earlier wind. We've done some celestial work today. John took a few shots and got some good accuracy. Mike took a shot and had good accuracy. Chase and Paul are going to work on it tomorrow hopefully. By evening winds increased to SW 15 knots, and remained so overnight allowing us to sail with reefed mainsail and genoa.
Monday, June 11
6/11 winds SW 20 - 25 becoming W 10 - 15 increased chance of showers & T-storms
6/12 winds W 10 - 15 shifting N 5 - 10 and becoming light and variable then becoming E 5 - 10 overnight
6/13 winds SE 10 - 12 becoming SW 10 - 15 in the afternoon and evening
6/14 winds SW 15 - 20 increased chance of showers &
John got a Sun shot at 0648 in the morning, plotted the LOP
on the chart and plotted an Estimated Position based on that single LOP with
hopes of getting another Sun shot later in the day to determine a Running Fix
position, but that was not to be due to cloudy skies for the most of the day.
During the day, winds increased to 20 knots but remained SW, and we had some
good close-hauled sailing.
There was a stationary front (cold from the north and warm
from the south) running east-west close to our position, which gave us unstable
conditions, cloudy skies and quite a bit of rain and squall all day so we were
drenched most of the time. There has been a stationary front running east and
west near our position both on the trip out and the trip back and it has made
for rather indecisive weather. These two fronts have been battling each other.
The cold front will advance south and the warm front will advance north. They
have been going back and forth.
We had hotdogs and beans for dinned... By late evening the
wind veered west and then north forcing us to steer a northerly course on port
Tuesday, June 12
Bradley Mabe sent the following weather forecast: It looks as though the stationary front that was to your N became un-stationary -
6/12 winds E 10 - 15 shifting S into the afternoon and into Wednesday (6/13)
6/13 morning winds S 15 - 18 becoming SW in the afternoon and evening
6/14 winds SW 15 - 18 becoming light and variable in the afternoon and evening and closer to the coast
6/15 winds light and variable mainly N 10 - 12 near the NC
/ VA coastal region. Chance of showers and T-storms increases.
We did quite a bit of sailing on this trip and some of it
was pretty strenuous from the standpoint of storms and squalls. We've used all
sorts of sail combinations from full sail with the main and genoa down to a
reefed main and staysail and all combinations in between. It's been an
enlightening sail for those on board to see what goes on during a trip like
this. We have had very large waves that were probably 12 - 20 feet high. We were
clearly looking up at these waves, but they are smooth, not breaking. We've seen
very few breaking waves. We were getting quite a bit of pounding on the boat
from the big waves. When a wave catches us just in the right orientation it
slams the boat and you get a big bang and it shudders the boat. We were getting
a lot of that yesterday and some overnight. Some were breaking into the cockpit,
but not too often. During some of the squalls we were seeing wind strengths of
35-40 Knots. So it was challenging sailing for a few days.
Winds continued from the NE at 20 knots until mid-day
today; by 1500 the winds veered to SE and dropped to 10 to 12 knots. By evening,
we were just motoring on a very lumpy sea because the wind died.
The crew is doing well. There was a little bit of MDM for a couple of days but that has pretty much passed. We had a nice chili and rice dinner tonight of which everyone partook, so we've been eating well.
We still have wave action here even though the wind is
virtually gone now, down under 10 knots. We are still looking at waves that are
10-12 feet high but they are very smooth. The boat just comfortably rides up one
side and down the other side. All the student crew are old salts now and it's no
big deal. The waves were generated by a storm up north and those waves travel a
distance and become swells. The waves we are getting now were generated a day
ago and they are just reaching us now. There is an interesting picture on the
NOAA website of a storm just off Hatteras and it generated waves and those waves
traveled all of the way across the ocean from the western edge of the Atlantic
to the eastern edge.
John has been getting quite a few celestial shots and has
put some lines on paper. He's getting an estimated position and is working on
getting a running fix. We have been keeping the DR plot. That's where John
plotted his LOPs. Chase has gotten a number of shots today and is working to
improve his accuracy, which you do by repetitive shots to improve your
We have about 300 miles to go to the entrance of the Chesapeake Bay, but it's really too early to forecast an arrival time. We expect favorable winds tonight and tomorrow, but based on the forecast that Brad sent, we are expecting the wind to clock around to the northwest by Thursday and that's then going to be opposed to our heading.
Wednesday, June 13
6/13 winds S 10 - 15 becoming SW
6/14 winds SW 18 - 25 shifting W 12 - 18 mid day then becoming becoming light and variable near NC / VA coast.
6/15 winds light and variable with a predominant shift N at 5 - 8 during the morning hours and strengthening N 10 - 15 in the afternoon
6/16 winds continue to shift clockwise E 5 - 8 near coastal VA as center of surface high moves over your anticipated position winds become light and variable eventually becoming SE - S
Overnight we sailed with deep reefed mainsail and staysail.
By late morning the winds veered further to SE, and by 1800 veered to SW and
increased to 25 to 30 knots. We had a really challenging day today, 30-35 knot
winds with lots of big waves, but it was good.
The boat handled it fine, the crew handled it fine, everybody is over MDM, eating meals and telling jokes. It was rough going but it was fun actually! About 7:00 PM we got through the Gulf Stream and crossed it in about 5 to 6 hours. We came out of it about midnight, then things smoothed out and we had a beautiful sail since then.
Thursday, June 14
6/14 winds SW 10 - 12 becoming W 5 - 10 then becoming ligh and variable in the evening
6/15 winds still light and variable predominantly from W then becoming NNW 10 - 15 in the afternoon
6/16 winds N 8 - 12 except light and variable near Chesapeake entrance
Overnight winds remained SW at 10-15 knots and we had some nice sailing straight toward Norfolk. By noon, the winds dropped to 5 knots SW, and we motorsailed on a straight line course to the Chesapeake Bay entrance with about 100 miles to go. Soon after we came up on soundings and were able to read depth.
Thanks to all