2004 Bermuda Reports
Schedule of Courses
Ocean Training Cruises
HALIMEDA, our Island Packet 45 foot ocean
sailing yacht, arrived in Norfolk on May 16th after a 1300 mile ocean training
cruise from St Thomas, USVI. She berthed at Taylor's Landing Marina, and I
arrived on May 19th to begin preparations for the cruise to Bermuda and return
to Norfolk. I commenced with inspections and equipment checkout in advance of
our new crew arrivals scheduled for May 25th. The previous captain had left me
with a list of equipment issues to be dealt with, none of which was major and
all of which could be resolved in the time remaining before cruise departure
scheduled for May 28th. The most significant item required replacement of the
staysail stay and its roller furling extrusion; this was necessitated by the
looseness that developed in the extrusion joints over the past five years, which
caused wear to the staysail luff tape. I hired a local rigger to do the work and
he completed it in one day.
On May 25th our ocean crew arrived including First Mate Lew Jalbert and student crewmembers Rod Bowen, Garner Bennett, Daniel Harding and Christopher Simpson. Over the next two days we thoroughly inspected the entire yacht from stem to stern and to the masthead 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, 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. Assignments for this work were Christopher as Engineer; Dan and Rod as Bosn's; and Garner as Emergency Coordinator.
On May 27th we prepared our meal plan and food provisions
list, and purchased what we needed. Weather forecasts were favorable for
departing tomorrow; since a low pressure system had just moved out to sea
several hundred miles to the NE of us, we could expect brisk SW winds since
there was no trailing cold front associated with the low. We would be standing
4-hour watches with two people per watch as follows: Garner and Christopher on
the 12 to 4 watches. Tom and Rod on the 4 to 8 watches. Lew and Dan on the 8 to
12 watches. We also setup the navigation plan, the logbook and the navigational
On May 28th we reviewed watchkeeping procedures and man
overboard and abandon ship procedures, topped up our water tanks, did a final
check of the weather, called home, cleared out with the marina and, by 1030 am,
departed for sea. Skies were mostly cloudy and winds SW at 15 knots. We motored
out through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and out to Cape Henry where our
departure point, the Chesapeake Bay Junction buoy, came into view.
As the bay opened out into the Atlantic Ocean, we secured the engine and sailed with full mainsail and genoa on a broad, starboard reach and set a course of 150šT which was below our rhumbline course of 115šT. This course kept the sails filled and allowed us to get further south of the rhumbline, which is generally desirable when crossing the Gulf Stream about 100 miles away. Later in the afternoon, winds clocked to NW and we deployed the whisker pole to starboard and sailed on a broad reach on starboard tack. The 1800 weather forecast called for SW 25-30 knots tonight shifting to NW 15-20. By midnight we had completed 51 NM since leaving the bay.
May 29th: After midnight, winds lightened and shifted to SW
and we motored sailed. At 0800 winds shifted to N then NE and increased to 15
knots; we redeployed the whisker pole to portside and sailed wing on wing on
port tack on a course of 170šT. In early afternoon we entered the Gulf Stream,
which was flowing NE and directly opposed to the 15 knot NE breeze thus building
up steep but moderate sized waves. With our wing on wing sail configuration we
comfortably drove through the waves, and by midnight we were through the stream
and the waves settled down to 2 to 3 feet. Christopher dragged a fishing lure
through the stream and had a hit, but the line broke and we never saw the
culprit... must have been a big one! Eventhough we had wind opposing the
current, this was actually a very comfortable and uneventful Gulf Stream
crossing as sailing broad-off with moderate winds and a good sail configuration
kept the boat very stable. Skies were mostly clear and we had good opportunities
for taking celestial shots. By midnight we had made 135 miles this day.
May 30th: After midnight winds shifted E and fell light and
by mid-morning they shifted SE and continued at 5-10 knots so we motor sailed
close hauled on a port tack heading pretty much straight south. Well, SE is
where we want to go and the wind direction forced us to go either straight south
or straight east neither being a good choice. By late afternoon we tacked over
to starboard tack and motor sailed in light winds on an easterly heading. By
midnight we had made only a meager 114 miles in the past 24 hours.
May 31st: Southeast winds in the morning shifting to SW before noon with wind speed gradually increasing to 20 knots by nightfall. We continued sailing ESE on starboard and made good progress toward our destination. Water conservation's been good for the past three days and crewmembers took hot, freshwater showers... most welcomed by all. Also, spotted a Bermuda Longtail circling the boat. With the improved winds, we made good progress today of 146 miles as of midnight.
June 1st: Wind direction remained SW overnight with wind
speeds of 20 knots until noon and then gradually dropping to 10 knots by
evening. This allowed us to continue sailing on a starboard reach toward our
destination. By midnight we had made another 146 miles.
June 2nd: Winds dropped to 5 knots SW after midnight and we
turned on the engine and motorsailed toward our destination around the north
side of Bermuda. At 1400 we came on soundings and at 1430 we sighted Bermuda;
"Land Ho!" We requested entry permission from Bermuda Harbour Radio.
At 1645 we entered Town Cut Channel and by1700 we were tied up at the Customs
Dock and cleared in.
All in all, it was an easy, delightful cruise. Good sailing
for four of the five days. An easy Gulf Stream crossing. No rain. No lightening
squalls. No waterspouts. No near misses with ships. No injuries. No sea
sickness. No equipment breakdowns. And, best of all, good shipmates who were a
delight to sail with.
We were forced out of our way by the wind direction for two
days, making the trip longer... about 680 NM compared with the rhumbline
distance of 620 NM, but that's not unusual for an ocean cruise. Generally, when
the wind blows against you for a couple of days, it will usually shift and
eventually blow favorably...
Captain Tom Tursi