Schedule of Courses
Ocean Training Cruises
Friday, June 16 Arrival Day! We had received a new halyard from Island Packet and picked up the repaired and re-cut main from Baxter Sailmaker and both were ready to install. Jerry Arthur and Ken Magistrate arrived around noon with Leo Kamp not far behind. After stowing their gear, they took a walk down to the bay to watch the OPSail 2000 Tall Ships Parade down Thimble Shoal Channel.
When they returned about 1400, we set to work reeving on the new halyard by attaching it to the old one and pulling it through the mast. We muscled the main aboard and Gerry and Ken, destined to be boatswains on this trip, bent it to the mast and boom. We then toured the boat and pointed out other jobs that needed doing.
At 1600, we knocked off and went for a swim in the marina pool. Tom Hamilton arrived from Texas just in time to miss the work, but enjoy the dip. For this, he became the target of some good natured ribbing. The swim was most refreshing on that 90+ degree afternoon. We capped off the day with dinner at one of the local marina restaurants and a good nightís rest in preparation for a full day tomorrow.
Saturday, June 17 After breakfast, we held a crew orientation meeting and seminar, outlining the synopsis of the voyage, the watch system and general rules for operating the ship and the daily routine, using the Maryland School's Offshore Training Cruises Manual as our guide. We also went over the safety rules and the general standing orders. We then made billet assignments for the voyage. Leo was appointed navigator to guide us through the voyage, under the guidance of Mate Joe, our professional navigator. Ken and Jerry assumed bosunís responsibilities and Tom was assigned engineerís duties. After lunch, everyone set about checking off the items on their lists in the Offshore Manual.
Sunday, June 18 After rising early, we went to Mickís Pancake House for breakfast and seminar. We planned our day carefully so that we might be able to leave early, by evening, if all went well. We also planned the route and discussed the Gulf Stream and tactics for crossing it efficiently and safely.
After breakfast, we returned to HALIMEDA to continue our vessel inspection following Offshore Manual checklists. Ken and Jerry paid particular attention to the sea anchor rig and prepared to explain it to the rest of the crew. Tom completed inspection of the shipís systems and planned his tour of the boatís mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. He also assumed responsibility for damage control and related equipment. Leo set up the DMA plotting sheets for the dead reckoning tracking of the voyage and prepared the logbook for the passage. Joe surveyed the safety equipment and shipís stores.
We broke for lunch about 1230 and returned to the boat at 1315. During the afternoon, each crewmember briefed the others on his departmentís equipment and procedures. By about 1500, it became clear we would be too tired to leave that evening. The heat was taking its toll! So we continued to work on the myriad of details of vessel preparation and planned to enjoy a good dinner and retire early. We decided to rise at 0300 to take advantage of what Navigator Leo said would be favorable currents for leaving the bay.
Monday, June 19 We arose at 0300 and departed the dock at 0322 with the shipís log at 047.0 and the engine hours at 775.9. It was dark, but uneventful, and we enjoyed favorable currents as the tide was ebbing. By 0500, we had Cape Henry Light abeam and a good fix for the beginning of our DR plot. At 0510, we heard VHF traffic between commercial shipping in Thimble Shoal Channel and the sailing vessel PHOENIX, indicating she was bound for Bermuda as well. We contacted PHOENIX and compared route plans. They intended to follow the rhumb line, while we were heading south to catch a ride on the bottom side of a massive cold water eddy at 35N/73W. They planned to try to maintain radio contact with us.
After our 0900 cleanup, Jerry and Ken conducted an overall orientation to the cutter rig and we all practiced reefing. We then discussed the procedures and priorities for a man overboard event, and again I expounded on the virtues of the quick stop maneuver. We executed a quick, announced, MOB drill. After discussing the genniker rig, we hoisted this marvelous sail at 1130. Unfortunately, the winds were just a bit too far forward of the beam to make it work so we doused it after only a short run. Cloud cover made celestial observations impossible, but we got a good fix at Cape Henry at 0500 and we had maintained a good DR. At 1635, we contacted PHOENIX again and exchanged positions. They were far north of the rhumb line and probably would not follow our lead to "Cold Fast Eddy." This was to be our last communication with them until they reached Bermuda some 12 hours after us.
Tuesday, June 20 During the night, the winds picked up and veered to the northeast. At about 0200, Joe and Tom, the midwatch, noticed a problem with the main. A couple of slugs seemed to be out of the sail track about 2/3 of the way up. They let it go for the moment, resolving to repair it when the light improved in the morning. Winds had strengthened to a steady 20 and we were moving along smartly. By 0300, the winds dropped and by 0400 they dropped further and backed to the west, forcing us to turn on the engine. At 0600, we examined the main and discovered one of the batten car slides had come apart. We dropped the main and planned to make repairs when we could better access the problem. By 0800, the winds had returned to NE and increased to 18 so we could secure the engine and sail on the genniker and staysail alone. Conditions were not favorable for repairing the main. We were making excellent speed at 6.5+ on just the headsails.
Each morning after breakfast, we performed a general cleanup of the boat belowdecks and then held a meeting to review recent events, weather forecasts, our route progress and navigation and other pertinent topics. This morning, we discussed the low pressure system that NMN had predicted in the 0530 weather report would be forming off Hatteras. We plotted it out on our DR chart and noted that it would probably miss us if it tracks NE as most lows do in this area and as "Perfect Paul" (the computerized voice of NMN) had predicted this one would. With the weather seminar complete, Joe held a sextant seminar on the use of this instrument. Three of our student crew had sextants with them, but none had ever used one to take a sight before. However, a smart group, they picked up on the techniques quickly and were bringing down the sun in less than an hour.
During the afternoon, we further assessed the damage to the main and attempted to fix it. But, we were not able to find the appropriate parts, and the weather conditions were not favorable for a repair. So, we left the sail secured and resolved to fix it as soon as the wind gods granted us a bit of a respite. At 2230, we noted an increase in the northerly set and an abrupt increase in the seawater temperature, climbing 8 degrees in 30 minutes. We had crossed the northwest wall of the Gulf Stream right on time, just about 20 hours since leaving the dock.
Wednesday, June 21 At 0045, instruments went to fault; the battery was extremely low. Joe started the engine and motor sailed to charge the batteries. Thanks to the Captain & Ken, we had a BIG BREAKFAST at 0750. At 1100, we repaired the main! As well as putting the "batt car" back together, Joe stitched the batten pockets shut, a job that had not been done in Norfolk. This reinforcement of the Velcro closures would keep us from pitching one of the fiberglass battens out of the sail if we had it flogging in high wind conditions.
Thursday, June 22 Given the good wind at 1100, we staged a MOB drill and executed a quick stop maneuver. This went well and we made a successful recovery of the MOB in just over 2 minutes. We then hove to and observed the behavior of the boat with the full main and genoa. In this configuration, we single reefed the main in preparation to set the genniker. At 1045, we hoisted the genniker and began making excellent speed, from 6.5 to 7.5 knots, on a course of 115 to 125 degrees.
After lunch, we established Local Apparent Noon and took a series of sun shots to get a fix. The genniker continued to draw extremely well, as we made 6+ knots in 10-12 knots of wind. Ken and the Captain provided a nice "Mock Stroganoff" dinner at 1630 as we continued to sail under genniker. This had become routine and all are able to steer the sail very nicely. By 1900, as we contemplated the onset of night, we decided to douse the chute for safetyís sake. We probably could have flown it through the night. This made it necessary for us to start the engine for motor sailing. A beautifully clear twilight at 2035 enabled Leo and Jerry a great opportunity for some star shots. Vega presented itself early and clearly, and Spica was not far behind.
Friday, June 23 "Perfect Paul" on NMN at 0530 predicted winds 10 to 15 out of the SW for our area. That sounded like another genniker kind of day. At 0800, we had only 100 miles to go! We were making excellent time, especially considering we sailed a day and a half without the benefit of the mainsail! Not bad!
0830 DRILL: For training purposes, we simulated a collision with an object that holed our starboard bow. The crew responded quickly, going to damage control stations and preparing for a simulated abandon ship. Joe and Jerry rigged the collision cloth over the simulated hole while Ken brought gear on deck. Tom pumped while Leo put out a simulated Mayday on both VHF and SSB. To continue the drill, I announced that we were unable to control the flooding and ordered a simulated abandon ship, which we walked through but stopped short of putting the life raft into the water.
At 0930, we had our daily meeting during which we discussed the collision drill and the subsequent abandon ship exercise. Generally, we felt we did well, but there is always room for improvement. The real thing would probably have boosted our adrenalin levels. At 1015, we hoisted the genniker again. This was our third time through the routine and we were beginning to be good at it.
Saturday, June 24 At 0120, we obtained clearance to enter Town Cut from Bermuda Harbor Radio. We entered St. Georges Harbor through Town Cut and headed for the anchorage east of the Customs Dock on Ordinance Island. After circling the area, checking the depth, and preparing the ground tackle, we dropped the hook and at 0220 were secure for the night. By 0530 shipís time, we were up, had weighed anchor, headed for the Customs dock and by 0730 had cleared Customs! We took on fuel at the duty free fuel exchange on one of the cruise ship docks. Nice deal, as fuel was half the price at $2.09 per US gallon. The Captain waited for the fuel truck and released the crew to walk around the town for an hour or so while the fueling operation went on. At 1020, the crew returned and we got underway again, taking HALIMEDA to her berth, right next to the "ducking chair" in the St. Georges town square, conveniently close to the White Horse Tavern. Time for a cool one!
Sunday, June 25- The Norfolk to Bermuda crew disembarked. This was a really fine crew and they did a great job getting us here in very good order.
Elapsed Time: just under 5 days - 4 days 22 hours
Captain David Appleton
June 27, 2000