Schedule of Courses
Ocean Training Cruises
The voyage back from Bermuda to Norfolk on GRAINNE gave us some pleasant surprises in the wind department. The first couple of days brought solid, consistent breezes with only a slight pause as we passed through a cold front and then the high pressure system behind it. After that, the wind changed direction, bringing more opportunities to examine weather systems and reports to maximize safety and efficiency in making ocean passages. Joining Lesley and Bobby Ward and me for this return voyage were David Rossi and Rick Stagg, friends from the Raleigh, NC, area, who had previously taken Celestial Navigation with The Maryland School and were now taking their an Ocean Training Cruise to put that knowledge to practice.
Sunday, June 4 David and Rick checked in with us early. They then took the day to see the sights of Bermuda before beginning training the next morning. Bobby and Lesley returned, bringing a new VHF antenna and we installed it. They departed for another day of relaxation and sight seeing.
Monday, June 5 At 0800, we started with the seminar, using the Maryland School's Offshore Training Cruises Manual as our guide. We reviewed ship’s organization, watch keeping system, proper procedures, and much more. Next, we went over the ship’s systems. Jim and David picked up on it quickly since they sail David’s IP 320, FLEETING MOMENT, which is laid out very similarly to the IP 350. At noon, we broke for lunch after assigning billets for the trip. David will do bosun duty, while Rick will tackle the navigation chores. Lesley will be engineer and help Rick, given her navigation experience on the passage over. During the afternoon, we worked on vessel checks and preparations following the Offshore Manual and preparing our over all voyage plan.
Tuesday, June 6 We continued vessel survey and preparation. Looking at the charts of the Gulf Stream provided by Bermuda Customs, we noted that the cold eddy we had observed and used on the way over was still in place due east of Hatteras, centered at about 35N/72W. We resolved to try to use its counterclockwise current to speed our progress. If we hit it right, we could expect around 2 knots of current. But, it would take us a little farther north than we wished to go, so we might need to ride it south again on the west side, bearing in mind that we expect to be set north considerably by the Gulf Stream. Also, I had noticed our knot meter and log both seemed to be way off on the outbound voyage, making our dead reckoning plot suspect most of the time. So, Rick, David and I plotted a measured 1/2 nautical mile course on the St. Georges Harbour chart, took GRAINNE out and ran her over the charted course and calibrated the knot meter. This exercise paid off with a much more accurate DR on the voyage back to Norfolk.
We made good progress during the day and resolved to get underway one day earlier than scheduled. We reasoned that the larger vessel, HALIMEDA, an IP 45, would be much faster through the water than GRAINNE, basically a 35. We anticipated HALIMEDA would gain nearly a day on us over the 5 and 1/2 day passage. By leaving a day early, we could expect to arrive at Norfolk at about the same time.
Wednesday, June 7 At 0700 ship’s time (0800 Bermuda Daylight Savings Time), we topped off with water at Dowling’s and headed for Customs. By 0730, we had cleared Customs and headed up the harbor to set sail and blow through Town Cut in style. We took a quick tour of the harbor and looked over several of the tall ships anchored there as part of the OP Sail 2000 event. We had alerted HALIMEDA that we were leaving early and expected to fly by her in a few minutes so they could get their cameras ready.
At 0800, our sails were up and we were tacking past the Polish training brig with her midshipmen and women aloft and over the side painting and polishing while UNDERWAY. The British tall ship, EYE OF THE WIND, had her bright work sparkling in the morning sun. At 0815, we got clearance from Bermuda harbor radio and exited Town Cut at 0830. We carefully stayed to the right of the channel as instructed, to keep out of the way of the nuclear submarine exiting the Narrows from Hamilton and going to sea. Outside, we could see several more tall ships, including some square riggers, awaiting clearance and pilots to enter St. Georges Harbour.
By 1000, we were at a point just north of North East Breakers Light at 32-30N by 64-40W where we got a terrestrial fix to begin our DR plot. Strong southwesterly winds enabled us to reach off on our course of 290 degrees, heading for a waypoint well south of the Bermuda Norfolk rhumb line. This course would enable us to intercept two cold eddies to help our progress. We also planned to enter the Gulf Stream at a point well south of the rhumb line to take best advantage of the currents. By noon, we were entering a squall line and thereafter enjoyed good sailing as the wind shifted to the northeast, giving us a close reach for the rest of the day and night.
Thursday, June 8 Good winds persisted. During the morning meeting, we discussed MOB procedures and particularly the quick stop maneuver that we feel works best under sail. We took the opportunity to practice this maneuver. All were impressed with the efficiency with which it stopped the boat in close proximity to the victim. At 1600, we made contact with HALIMEDA via SSB. They were located at 33-16N by 67-54W, while we were at 32-34N by 64-52W, still about 140 miles apart. We were maintaining the lead our head start had afforded us. GRAINNE was sailing extremely well.
Friday June 9 The favorable winds continued to speed us on. During the night, we broke through into the middle of the high pressure system. Dawn brought clear skies, giving us the opportunity to use amplitudes to check the ship’s compass for deviation. We found it has 6 degrees west deviation. This explained the discrepancy in our DR plot during the first passage, compared with an occasional GPS check on it.
The clear skies of the high pressure system gave us an excellent opportunity for practicing a noon sun shot. Rick got a second sun line of position and was able to put it together with his 0730 shot for a good fix. At 1230, we set the genniker with 8-12 knots of wind off the starboard beam. We were able to make 6 to 6.5 knots, sometimes more. It was a very good sail!
By 1430, the winds died and we had to douse the genniker and start the engine. It was fun for a while, anyway. At 1600, we had our regular radio meeting with HALIMEDA and exchanged positions. They were at 33-45N by 67-32W and we were at 34-21N by 70-19W. After plotting these positions, we found we were still 142 nm ahead of HALIMEDA. We had expected them to gain on us rather quickly, given her extra 10 feet of waterline and powerful sail plan. But GRAINNE held her own, moving along swiftly when the winds cooperated. We were even moving ahead a little!
Saturday, June 10 In the early morning, the winds backed from north to west. At 0830, we contacted HALIMEDA and exchanged positions. She was at 34-26N by 69-19W and we were at 35-40N by 71-44W. This plot revealed we remained 140nm to the northeast, ahead of HALIMEDA. After clean up, the winds increased to 10 knots WSW and we were able to make good speed under sail. During the day, the winds backed further to SW and we were really making some speed, reaching off 15-21 knot winds. It was a really great sailing day.
Sunday, June 11 At 0100, we turned on the engine to motor sail to point higher. Going north to catch that cold eddy current boost had driven us too far north. Now that the winds had gone to the WSW, we were fighting to keep on course for CBJ (Chesapeake Bay Junction buoy) and avoid a tack. We continued to motor sail through the night to stay as far south (high on the wind) as possible. By 0800, the winds picked up and we were able to unfurl the genoa, secure the engine and enjoy a beautiful sail. At 0830, we contacted HALIMEDA on SSB. She was at 35-33N by 71-54W and we were at 36-41N by 74-23W, still over 138 nm behind us. GRAINNE was really holding her own in terms of over all boat speed and distance covered by whatever means, granted that we had been using the engine some during the night. We were thankful to the wind god for moving his puffs south and saving us a tack.
At 2205, Bobby contacted U.S. Customs via cell phone and we were able to clear by phone so we could leave the boat to shower ashore as soon as we docked GRAINNE properly. That was a pleasant thought! At 2145, we had the CBJ buoy on our beam, the official start and end of our DR plot.
Monday, June 12 By 0010, we were tied up at Taylor’s Landing Marina, tired, but pleased with the efficiency of our passage. We then took a much needed nap. Statistically, we had covered 643 nm through the water in 4 days, 15 hours and 45 minutes. During this voyage, we had used the engine for a total of only 32.9 hours, and a good number of these had been for battery charging.
Captain David Appleton
June 15, 2000