Schedule of Courses
Ocean Training Cruises
June 5, 2000 aboard S/V HALIMEDA anchored in Saint Georges Harbour, Bermuda.
It's a brilliant, sunny day with typical puffy white clouds and bright blue skies. My two shipmates are swimming around in the emerald green water, splashing and chattering like a couple of kids. Now and then they dive for the bottom and come up with some mystery of the deep. I've just finished my swim, and, cool and refreshed, begin to jot these notes about the very enjoyable cruise that we've just completed from Norfolk.
Actually, we started back in Rock Hall, MD our home base when I boarded HALIMEDA, an Island Packet 45 sailing yacht on May 20th to finalize preparations and loading for this cruise. HALIMEDA had just completed an intense, ten day yard period where she was hauled for bottom inspection and painting, engine and shaft maintenance, electronics survey and repairs, sails and rigging repairs and adjustments and a host of other precautionary work needed to prepare her for the next 2-1/2 months during which she will complete two round trip ocean cruises to Bermuda plus a cruise to Mystic, Nantucket and back to the Chesapeake by early August. I'll skipper HALIMEDA for the trip down Chesapeake Bay to Norfolk and during the first round trip cruise to Bermuda and back. Captain David Appleton will take her on the second round trip Bermuda cruise and Captain John Corsaut will take over for the cruise to Mystic.
On May 20th, Dan Smith , one of our first Bermuda cruise students, boarded in Rock Hall to assist me in preparations and the delivery trip down bay to Norfolk. Dan is a computer programming specialist and he eagerly dove into the myriad of electronics and other technical equipment onboard HALIMEDA including GPS, auto pilot, radar, SSB and VHF radios, chart plotter, a completely integrated wind and position tracking system, an enormous bank of batteries and a diesel driven generator to keep the amps flowing to all of this gear. We departed Spring Cove Marina in Rock Hall at 0915 on May 22nd, made the 50-mile trip to Solomons Island on the Patuxent River by mid afternoon, and tied up for a relaxing evening. Next morning, we departed at 0600 and pressed on to Norfolk arriving in Little Creek Harbor by 2200 on May 23rd where we tied up at Taylor's Landing Marina, our favorite stopping place.
Next day, we cleaned up the boat, finished stowing gear and greeted the arrival of Owner Bobby Ward aboard GRAINNE, an Island Packet 350 that the school is also using for the first round trip of this year's Bermuda training cruises. On May 25th, the remainder of HALIMEDA's crew arrived. First Mate Jerry Nigro has sailed with us on several ocean passages and has sailed his own boat from New England to Bermuda and return. Jerry is a very competent ocean sailor who is a real asset to any offshore cruise; he also holds a USCG Near Coastal License and plans to begin teaching some of our basic sailing courses next year. Student crewmembers Craig Distelhorst , Bill Hamilton and Hayden Cochran joined us to round out our crew of six. Craig is a reserve crewmember for the BT Globe Challenge around the world sailing race aboard specially designed 67-foot boats; he's using our training cruise to beef up his ocean sailing and seamanship skills in preparation for that challenge. Bill is an enthusiastic celestial navigator who made great strides in practicing this art and who demonstrates outstanding deck skills. Hayden is a J-Boat racing sailor, an Island Packet 27 owner and is also the webmeister responsible for our dazzling website <www.mdschool.com>
After reviewing their resumes and interviewing crewmembers, I made the following assignments for inspection and preparatory work: Dan Smith as Engineer responsible for all machinery, electrical and electronic systems and damage control equipment. Craig Distelhorst as Emergency Coordinator responsible for abandon ship and man overboard equipment, procedures and training. Bill Hamilton and Hayden Cochran as Boatswains responsible for all deck equipment, sails , spars and rigging . Jerry Nigro, as First Mate worked with the Bosn's, and I worked with the Engineer and Emergency Coordinator plus performed the Navigator preparatory duties. We thoroughly inspected the entire yacht from stem to stern and to the masthead (I had previously inspected the underwater condition during the recent haulout) including belowdecks; we went over every piece of equipment, all tools and spare parts; all procedures, both routine and emergency . We rigged the storm trisail , boom crutch, sea anchor , whisker pole, cruising chute, mainsail, genoa and staysail. We did a complete walkthrough of abandon ship and man overboard procedures. And, by the end of the second day, found that we thoroughly knew the boat, equipment, procedures and, importantly, each other.
During all of these preparations, strong weather storm systems were brewing and heading our way. Two times per day we recorded the weather forecasts from NMN , the US Coast Guard's Master Station that relays weather analysis and forecasts from the National Weather Service offices near Boston, Washington, Miami and New Orleans for different parts of the western Atlantic. Our primary interests were in reports from the Washington, DC, office that covers the ocean sector that we will be sailing through to Bermuda. Several strong low-pressure systems were galloping across the US and aiming to intersect our course line on departure day set for Sunday, May 28th . Winds to 70 knots occurred along the Virginia Capes and 50 knots blew through our area. Needless to say, we elected to delay our start . On Monday, with an improved forecast, we departed only to be turned back after a very short distance when unforecast winds to 50 knots hit us on leaving harbor. Eventually, after a three-day delay, we left on Wednesday morning and were favored with 10 to 20 knot reaching winds all the way to Bermuda . We had a fantastically good sail and reached Bermuda after 4-1/4 days, which is well below our average passage of 5-1/2 days.
The Gulf Stream forecasts, http://www.nlmoc.navy.mil/newpage/oceans/gulfstream.html showed a large cold eddy located southeast of the Gulf Stream at 35N/72W and laying astride our rhumbline to Bermuda. Such eddies are spin offs from the main Gulf Stream and are reported to have currents in excess of three knots. If we detoured south of our rhumbline and hit the southern edge of this eddy, we could get a slingshot boost in our speed. We modified our route and found the sweet spot of this eddy and registered speeds of ten plus knots over ground . And, using the marvels of modern electronics that we had onboard, we were able to measure the current velocity of the eddy itself, which peaked at 4-1/4 knots!!
The remainder of the trip was uneventful and thoroughly enjoyable charging along at seven knots under sail, day and night. Crew spirits were high and everyone was in good health. Fantastic menus were turned out of the galley . Evening stars were bright since there was no moon and there were no planets available at twilight times. Everyone participated in keeping a good logbook and a good dead reckoning plot, and Sun lines and star LOPs were regularly added thus navigating us into Bermuda using these tried and true classical methods of ocean navigation .
We sighted Bermuda (Land Ho!!) at 0930 on June 4th and by 1110 the water depth came up to register on our depth sounder. We were on soundings and began preparations for arrival and port entry: radioed Bermuda Harbour Radio on VHF to advise of our position and equipage and to request entry permission; unlashed one anchor from its sea gaskets; ran up the yellow Q-flag ; took welcome showers; cleaned up the boat and stowed gear; broke out ship's papers and passports; rigged dock lines and fenders; and slapped each other on the back in congratulations of a great cruise and a job well done. At 1300 we entered Town Cut Channel, motored the short distance to Ordinance Island, tied up at the Customs Dock and were cheerfully greeted by a cordial Customs official who cleared us through in a few short minutes.
Welcome to Bermuda!!
June 5, 2000