2022 Bermuda Reports
Schedule of Courses
Ocean Training Cruises
Because of weather conditions on the 2023 first Bermuda cruise, the second cruise started from and returned to Norfolk, Virginia. Instead of heading to Bermuda, this trip traveled out past the weather buoy 41001 and back, for a total of a little more than 625 nautical miles. The crew consisted of Captain Frank Mummert, Mate Captain David Gifford and four students: Bob, Carlos, David S and Tom. After two days of training at the Morningstar Marina in Little Creek, VA, the boat left Norfolk on Thursday, June 12th, after taking on a full load of water and fuel and emptying the holding tank.
On the first day, there was very little wind. The log for this day indicates that the average wind speed was about 5 knots, with variable directions. The crew used the time to get used to the movement of the boat and to get used to the requirements of watchstanding and logkeeping. Dinner on the first evening was franks and beans, in anticipation of rougher weather. We were able to move south of our anticipated rhumb line, in order to allow for the north east drift of the Gulf Stream when we crossed it. Toward sundown, we were chased by small lightning cells from the north, but the weather cells fell apart shortly after the sun finally set.
During the night, the wind began to rise. By 0400, the wind had risen far enough to allow us to set the genoa and shut down the engine. For the next 7 hours, we were able to continue sailing, with the Gulf Stream moving us on a course about 30 degrees to the north of the one we were sailing. The relatively light winds and flat sea state allowed the crew to take several sun shots each, with Captain Frank checking each against the actual location of the boat when the shot was taken. Over the course of the day, sun shots got better and better, so that by the end of the day, position calculations showed that the sextant shots we giving results within 10 nautical miles of the actual location. Dinner on our second night was pasta and meatballs, although the dinner was almost only pasta. Luckily, David G was able to catch the omission in time.
Once again, wind began to come up overnight and by the time the midnight watch came on, the boat was sailing again. By the end of the midnight to four watch, we needed to reef down the headsail. During the eight to noon watch, wind had continued to rise until we had to put the first reef in the main.
During the early day watch, the students did a set of sun shots, in order to get the first line of position for a running fix. During the early noon watch, a second shot was done, to get a second line of position. The third shot was done about 1500, which was then used to do a three bearing running fix. Once all three shots were moved to the same time period, the final fix was found to be within 20 nautical miles of our actual location. Not bad for a first attempt!
During the third day, our speed over ground had increased to the point where we were able to pass our anticipated waypoint early in the 1600-2000 watch and we continued on with the intention of turning around at about midnight. However, with the wind up to 20 knots or better, the captain made the decision to make the turn early and as the 2000-2400 watch came on, we changed course to 280 psc, in order to hold a 270 True course. We adjusted our sails for a beam reach and settled down for a nice run back to the Gulf Stream.
On the fourth morning, the wind continued to rise and the head sail was reefed completely, replaced by the stay sail. This allowed the boat to settle down until the sun came up. As the wind continued to rise, the crew put a second reef into the main. Shortly after this, the storms commenced, pelting the boat with rain and causing the wind to veer and back through the compass. After fighting out of one storm, the boat would come back onto its desired course for an hour or so. Then, the next storm cell would catch us and we would sail as necessary to get us out and through the other side. For the next 12 hours, we fought our way across the Gulf Stream.
The captain at this point made the decision that the movement below was too bouncy to allow for preparing a hot meal. The menu for the evening was a big bowl of "whatever you think you can keep down." For most of the crew, that was very little. In fact, a bag of apples left over by the crew of the previous cruise became a very popular menu item.
By midnight, we had punched out of the Gulf Stream on the western side and the captain made the decision to heave-to for four hours to allow the crew to rest and get some sleep. By 0400, the crew began sailing again, heading toward the west. The longer we sailed, the further the wind shifted to the north, then the north-east. This allowed us to sail on a close reaching course, right toward our waypoint at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.
Unfortunately, as this happened, the wind speed also started to drop until by 1300, we were back to motorsailing. The sea dropped to the point that we could see several feet below the surface, as pods of dolphins came swimming up toward the boat. We passed dolphins, sharks, turtles, as sea birds and flying fish crossed and recrossed our path.
By the time dinner was served (Dinty Moore stew, livened up with peas and sauted onions), the wind was on our stern, and back up to about 10 knots. We secured the engine again, doused the main sail completely and reset the genoa, which allowed us to sail downwind toward the sunset. As the sun went down, the anticipated increase in wind speed failed to occur and we were back to sailing on the engine.
We decided to heave to at the CB buoy, near the entrance of the Chesapeake Bay. We arrived there about midnight and set the staysail and rudder to hold position. We set a waypoint on the chartplotter and watched how we drifted. Every time we drifted more than a mile, we would start the engine and motor back to our waypoint. Each drift took between an hour and 90 minutes.
At 0415, we started heading into the Chesapeake Bay, with the intention of crossing the Vessel Traffic Scheme sections in the daylight. Because the tide was going in and the expected wind had not come up, we were able to make very good time and by 0900, we were back in Cobb's Marina and taking on fuel. We finally tied to our slip at 1000, after another successful cruise.
Captain Frank Mummert