2007 Bermuda Reports
Schedule of Courses
Ocean Training Cruises
Wednesday, May 23:
Thursday, May 24:
1300: First Mate David Gifford arrived, brought his gear
aboard and stowed it. He then helped plan our next few days, organizing,
stowing, provisioning, and repairing defects. We soon had the new charts
organized by zones and put the ones needed for Bermuda trips in the ready
service chart drawer. This took the rest of the day.
Friday, May 25:
0800: After breakfast, we pitched into the maintenance
tasks, beginning with an engine inspection, oil change, check of fluids change
of the bilge diaper. We then inspected the sails and rigging and made
adjustments to the main reef lines and replaced the genoa furling line.
1300: Stuart Whiddon arrived followed closely by Robert
Krasowski. After stowing their gear they assisted David G. with the chart
organization project and set up the specific charts and DMA Plotting Sheets we'd
need for the voyage to Bermuda. These
plain charts (no geographically specific features, just latitude and longitude
lines) will be used to plot our DR (dead reckoning course line) and to plot our
celestial navigation fixes during the voyage. They spent the afternoon spread
over a table at the Surf Rider Grill plotting positions of significant
geographical features and aides to navigation, much to the puzzlement of the
other patrons of the bar.
1730: Scott Mayhue and Jim Wentz arrived, so our complete
crew of six was now assembled and we began formally introducing ourselves to one
another and preparing for the cruise.
1900: We adjourned for dinner at the Bay Point Grill, a
frequent dinner venue for our transiting crews and turned in early as I promised
a full day of work for tomorrow.
May 26: Seminar Day
Continued our orientation discussing the vessel, the voyage, and the planned
objectives of the training cruise.
Commenced vessel orientation below decks; this was expedited by the fact that
Stu and Scott had sailed previously aboard HALIMEDA, and Robert also had classes with the Maryland School
aboard other Island Packets.
Moved topside to go over the boat from stem to stern noting the operations and
standard procedures we use with gear like the whisker pole, the storm trisail
and especially the sea anchor rig. This took most of the day, save a break for
lunch. We managed to finish up by 1630 and wished the marina pool would open,
but it wasn’t ready yet.
1830: We adjourned to Bay Point Grill for dinner.
May 27: Offshore Prep Seminar
While all crew will be participating in all aspects of running the vessel and the voyage, these billets define areas of primary responsibility, particularly for the vessel preparation phase of our voyage. So the crew set about going over the preparation checklists in our Offshore Training Cruise Preparation Guide.
Some special repair/maintenance issues needed to be addressed during this inspection/correction phase such as: Our Boatswains fixed the jammed mainsail reefing system by rereeving the shuttle block in the boom. They also rigged a new furling line on the genoa to replace the existing one that had serious chafe damage. Our safety coordinator had to check through the medical kits and replace some dated/expired items. And our Engineer, along with his substantial check list, had to fashion a new handle for our emergency manual bilge pump.
So it was a full day of inspections and preparations during which I was able to run errands for last minute needs and provisions. Fortunately Norfolk area has everything you could possibly need for voyages such as this. Not so in Bermuda, an island with limited resources for sailors. So we had to prepare for all possible eventualities and have all the parts we might need for both legs on board.
May 28: Departure
Take a breakfast break and head for Mick’s Pancake House, my “predeparture
breakfast” tradition, where the crew fuels up on eggs, grits, pancakes and
bacon for the day’s activities.
Away Dock! Given the SSW winds we attempt to sail off the dock and succeeded to
do so under main. My intention had been to sail off the dock and all the way out
the Little Creek Channel, into the Bay and Ocean under sail, purest fashion. But
this proved a trifle to risky due to ebb currents so we shifted the running
engine into gear and motorsailed out to just off Cape Henry where we shut down
the engine at 1100 and continued under sail alone. We were able rest the main
engine for nearly the entire trip until early Friday morning when our schedule
required us to fire up the iron genny to get us in to St. Georges in time for
crew to make flights home.
day was rich in experiences for our crew, one of the first a discussion of MOB
procedures with a quick surprise drill that yielded many miscues that we
discussed and corrected reviewing the “quickstop” maneuver. We also began
our DR plot off “C-1” bouy just SE of Cape Henry Light. The crew quickly
adapted to the ship’s routine and the watch schedule with myself and Jim the
first watch or Mid Watch from 0000-0400 and 1200-1600; David G and
Stu the Navigator watch 0400-0800 and 1600-2000, and Robert & Scott
taking the Morning Watch 0800-1200 and 2000-2400. Reviewed watch keeping and log
keeping responsibilities and all picked up on these procedures quickly.
During the afternoon we discussed general celestial navigation theory, the sextant, and shot taking procedures and techniques. Most of this crew had taken Tom Tursi’s Celestial Navigation course, ASA 107, so they are ready to start taking shots. All picked up on techniques of determining Index Error and bringing down the Sun for basic daytime shots. Much of the afternoon was taken up with practice of these techniques.
1700: Whipped up a tasty dinner of stir fry chicken teriyaki which was enjoyed by all.
Tuesday, May 29: Sea Genniker Day
0000: Hourly checks reveal that house batteries are low. We are still sailing nicely making more than 5.5 knots so we elect to use the genset instead of main engine to charge batteries. An hour and a half proves sufficient to get a near full charge.
0600: During the last hour sea water temp has gone from 67.6ºF to 80.8ºF, and the seas have become decidedly lumpy signifying that we are in the Gulf Stream just about where we expected. And the seas are relatively light due to the SW winds so we are enjoying going with the flow of the Stream and thus minimizing wave action.
1000: Celestial exercise. The whole crew takes morning Sun shots in preparation for a Sun-run-Sun running fix. David G. briefs crew on plotting procedures, how to plot LOPs from the sight reductions and to plot them on our DMA Plotting Sheet with our DR.
1100: Using GPS we find in the last 24 hours we have traveled over 140 nm from Cape Henry as the crow flies, and checking our log we fined we’ve done 151 nm through the water! All this under sail, and a very good day's mileage.
1130: With the winds persisting, now out of the N but light, we consider setting the Genniker and discuss the procedures. All seem ready, so after lunch we break out this huge sail and prepare to set it.
1235: It took us about a half an hour to sort it all out but now we have the Genniker up and she looks beautiful as we’re able to reach off with her and get 5+ knots with 6 to 10 knots of true wind. During the afternoon we continue to sail as we take more sun shots, getting a lot of practice using the sextant at sea in ideal conditions with clear skies and light seas and a good breeze.
1800: Winds subside some and we consider starting the engine, but the genniker continues to provide 4-5 knots of boat speed. And at 1900 the winds begin to build again so we douse the chute.
2100: Winds continue to build and we are now making 7 to 8 knots under full sail. Scott and Robert, getting a lot of practice in sail handling, put a reef in the main.
Wednesday, May 30:
0100: Again we
start the genset instead of main engine to charge house batteries.
0930: After Breakfast and general cleanup our crew launches into more celestial shots with remarkable enthusiasm.
1000: Robert, a dedicated and remarkably accomplished HAM radio operator and self confessed “communications addict” makes contact with several marine mobile HAM nets, advising them of our position and voyage plan. He tells me HALIMEDA’s position will be posted on the internet and our progress can be monitored there. We have to explore this further in the future.
Today is another celestial shot rich day with morning and afternoon Sun shots and site reduction workshops. And again we try the genniker, hoisting it in 9 to 12 knot ENE winds at 1200 noon and are able to reach off at a close to 60º apparent wind... most impressive.
1315: Winds increase to 15-16 knots so we have to douse the genniker and reset the genoa and staysail. The crew has gotten very proficient at sail handling, displaying remarkable teamwork as they douse and set in just about 10 minutes.
1500: Winds continue to build and we are obliged to shorten the main to 1st reef, still making good speed on our desired course of 135º to 130º M.
2010: Building cloud cover foils our attempts to shoot evening stars. Our Sun-run-Sun fix attempts have not been very successful for a good fix because our cut angles are too acute, making the fix suspect. So we really want to get a 2 or 3 body star fix to be sure.
We note that the substantial cirrus build up we saw coming from the West would indicate some weather coming in 36 hours or so. And the NAVTEX report and NMN US Coast Guard Wx HF broadcast reports confirm that a strong low in the Gulf of Mexico is due to cross Florida by Saturday and continue up the US East Coast Saturday and Sunday. Bermuda Radio also reports the island is expected to experience high winds and rain
Thursday, May 31: At Sea
0425: David G. and Stu on watch mark approach of freighter to Starboard. They note she is closing and her bearing is remaining fairly constant so they call the Captain as night orders require. I stumble up and check it out and find she is about 5 miles out and looks to cross our bow a fair distance. But I call her anyway for instructional value and she confirms close approach but expects to cross our bow at about 1.5NM CPA. I thank the crew for alerting me.
0800: Another surprise MOB drill with Stu at the helm. He does a good job stopping the boat with the quick-stop maneuver and we recover “Oscar” in a little over 2 minutes. This was a vast improvement over our previous drill. I only faulted Stu for not communicating clearly and decisively enough.
0900: After Breakfast and general cleanup, we set the genniker again, this time taking only 10 minutes to get her up and flying. We’re getting very proficient!
0930: Morning discussion topics include last night’s close approach and proper communication procedures with vessels at sea in such circumstances. We also discuss rules of the road governing which vessel was stand-on in this situation; it was us, by virtue of sail over power, even though this large freighter was to our starboard. Stand-on vessels must hold a steady course so other vessel will know how to maneuver to avoid. We also talked of heavy weather sailing tactics and how to determine which to use; run, heave too, reach off, or deploy a sea anchor.
1420: Robert, our own “communications addict” sees a freighter crossing our stern and decides to give her a call. The freighter responds, and Robert is soon engaged in a lengthy conversation with the watch, a Phillipino chap named Richard, who at one point asked Robert if he could find him a job! And then asked if he was married!!! Clearly this sailor had been at sea far too long! An amusing interlude for all of us.
Through the day we continue to make good speed with the genniker working, making 5 knots on 140º M out of 6 to 10 knots of Easterly breeze. And we continued celestial exercises, getting afternoon Sun shots and evening stars after enjoying Scott’s spaghetti dinner.
Friday, June 1: At Sea
0045: Starboard staysail winch is jammed with an override. It was cleared easily after we dismantled the top and cleared it. Through the night we continue to make decent course but our speed is dropping to 3 knots.
0700: Reluctantly determine we have to turn on main engine to make enough speed to get to Bermuda on schedule. We run her at 2500 rpm after having managed to sail for nearly four days (just 4 hours short in fact), making good speed, without running the engine. This ranks among my personal records of days without engine. It was very pleasant!
1000-1500: Spend most of the day immersed in celestial exercises, and finally determine the Sun-run-Sun running fix is not working well because angles are too acute, so we focus more attention on evening and morning stars.
Saturday, June 2: Arrival St. Georges Harbour, Bermuda
0030: NAVTX weather report from Bermuda notes that a low in the Gulf of Mexico is moving to Florida swiftly, and Bermuda expects to get fringe effects late Sunday through Monday. So we are glad to make necessary time to get HALIMEDA secured, and our crew ashore before the blow hits.
0700: Our position is 60 nm E of North Rock, and we decide to continue to mortorsail, but first shut down the engine for complete daily checks of oil, coolant, belt, etc; also check the transmission and the bolts at shaft coupling for tightness.
0900: General cleanup. Today we include a thorough flush of heads into holding tank followed by a purge with macerator pump. We also dump a couple of cups of vinegar into each head to help maintain clear lines by cleaning of alkaline buildup. During this exercise we find the fwd head Y valve is stuck and needs attention. But at sea is not the place to do this so we make a note and leave it directed toward holding tank.
1230: Discuss abandon ship procedures and assignments with Stu leading. Also discuss preparations for making landfall and port entry. Scott is assigned to navigate us in with Robert assisting and Stu handling communications with Bermuda Radio and anyone else we may need to talk to during approach.
1330: LAND HO!! We catch a glimpse of Gibbs Hill Light tower and the island slowly emerges off our starboard bow.
1400: Stu makes VHF contact with Bermuda Radio and we check in as all vessels are required to do. They have a dossier on HALIMEDA, a frequent visitor every year, so we need not provide the usual detailed description of our equipment.
1920: We approach Town Cut into St. Georges Harbour and proceed on to Ordinance Island and the Customs dock where we check in. Scott’s wife, Kathy, is there to greet us and collect Scott as soon as we clear customs. So after a quick moment for a group picture of the crew, we bid fond adieu to Scott, our worthy engineer.
2000: With the light of day fading we quickly clear the customs dock and look for a berth. We’ve elected to use Capt. Smokes Marina because we will enjoy a good position and secure mooring for the blow due tomorrow. At about 2015 with the able assistance of Dockmaster Bernard Oakley, and the aid of our neighbors Michael and Chris aboard SPIRITO AFFINE, we drop a hook and back her in to a med-style mooring at the marina. Once secure we enjoy some of the cold beer we’d been saving for the occasion and adjourn to the Café By the Sea near the fuel dock for a hearty shore side late dinner. This was a very fine sail with truly splendid Crew!
Sunday, June 3: Crew Disembarks; Maintenance
0900: With ship secure we went to the Whitehorse to enjoy a sumptuous Sunday breakfast, after which our outbound crew disembarked to head home.
1030: Mate David and I set about cleaning up, changing oil, doing laundry and doing general maintenance to get ready for our next crew and the voyage back to Little Creek.
1430: Return crew David and Mary Alexander stopped by to drop off gear, then resume their exploration of the island. They plan to spend a few nights ashore before boarding.
1600: Danny Little of Bermuda Radio stopped by for a visit. We’d arranged with him for our crew to get a tour of the BR facility, located just above our mooring on a hill overlooking St. Georges Harbour and nearly all of Bermuda and the surrounding waters. Bermuda Radio is a most important communications and safety connection for all yachts, indeed vessels of all types plying the Atlantic within 400 miles of the island.
1700: Another crewmember, Larry Lang of Michigan, reports in. We later have dinner with him at the George & Dragon restaurant in “downtown” St. Georges.
Captain David Appleton