|Marsh Harbor to St. Georges, Bermuda, June 12 - 19, 2005|
|After spending more than two weeks cruising the Abacos Mike and I decided Sarah was ready for the sail to Bermuda. We still had a few minor issues, including the bent stern rail, but none of them affected Sarah's seaworthiness nor our safety and comfort on an off-shore passage.|
|So after spending two days in a slip at the Marsh Harbor Marina we had completed our re-provisioning and preparations for going off-shore. On Sunday afternoon, June 12, we once more filled the fuel and water tanks, secured the dinghy on deck and departed Marsh Harbor. We exited the Bahamas through the North Man-O-War Cay channel into the Atlantic Ocean. There we encountered a moderate easterly wind of about 15 kts. That precluded sailing the rhumb line to Bermuda and we set Sarah on a heading of 030 degrees true. We also set up the Monitor wind vane and shut off the autopilot. The chart on the right shows our route (as recorded in our log) from the Bahamas to Bermuda (red line). The log has been transferred to a MS Excel Workbook, which can be downloaded here. The dark blue line on the chart is the rhumb line course from the Abacos to Bermuda.|
|We were able sail at an average speed of over 5 knots for the next 22 hours
until the dying wind forced us to turn on the engine. At first we motored
on the rhumb line to Bermuda, believing that would be the most efficient
heading. Later, having received some updated weather charts over the SSB,
we decided a more effective strategy would be to head more northerly to try to
find wind, which we believed would fill in first to the north of our position.
So we changed back to a NNE course and continued to motor until that evening
when a breeze started to fill in from the SSE. We killed the engine and
sailed to the NE, well above the rhumb line course. We did this because
further weather bulletins, received via Navtex, indicated the development of
weak low pressure system to our south which would move north and east to
intersect the rhumb line course. We decided to stay a well west of the
storm track to avoid a direct confrontation with this possible storm.
We continued to sail to the NE into the 14th. During this time we received several updates on the developing weather system, each of which provided a widely different projection of its path. Finally by mid-afternoon on the 14th the wind had died sufficiently to force us to once again start the engine and furl the sails. Late that night the wind came back and we turned off the engine and resumed sailing. The wind died shortly before sunrise the next morning and the we resumed motoring for another three hours.
Finally a steady southerly wind came into the area and we shut down the engine for an extended sail through the next several days. Shortly before dinner on the 15th the weather reports indicated the storm system would stay well east of Bermuda and was dissipating. So we jibbed to the ENE and headed directly for Bermuda. What followed were several of the most comfortable and satisfying days of off-shore sailing I've ever encountered. Winds remained generally light to moderate (12 - 18 kts) and we were able to stay on a reach for the next 48 hours.
A dying wind on the evening of the 17th caused us to turn the engine on for the first time in 2 - 1/2 days. Three hours later we had enough wind to sail and the engine was turned off once again. By now we were within 200 nm of Bermuda and we started to plan the remaining cruise to provide a daylight arrival. Bermuda is not difficult to enter at night (in spite of my problems with the Spit Buoy), but for once in four passages to Bermuda I wanted to make landfall in the daylight. The wind was dying and becoming variable in direction, making a target ETA very difficult. Mid-day on the 18th we turned on the engine and furled the sails for the last time. That evening we reduced engine RPMs to just above idle as we were being pushed by a strong current that would have caused us to arrive in the middle of the night.
We motored as slowly as possible during the night and around midnight local time we could see the lights of Bermuda off to Port. Shortly after dawn we were approaching St. David's when Bermuda Harbor Radio contacted us to identify our vessel. They had the particulars of Sarah on file from our visit in 2001 so this took only a few minutes. We were directed to proceed to the Spit Buoy and contact Bermuda Harbor Radio for permission to enter St. Georges Harbor. This we did about 2 hours later and were authorized to proceed to the Customs Dock on Ordnance Island. We had to wait about 30 minutes for the customs officer to arrive and then were quickly cleared and given permission to stay up to 3 weeks in Bermuda. These check-in procedures seemed to be much tighter than the procedures when we last sailed to Bermuda in the summer of 2001. Of course that was before 9/11.
From the customs dock we moved Sarah to the anchorage off Convict Bay, and dropped anchor. Although Mike and I were pretty tired, we did launch the dinghy and went ashore in St. Georges to get acquainted with the facilities. It was Sunday, so little was open except the restaurants and bars. Even they were closing as a very large party had rented all of the waterfront restaurants for the evening. So we returned to Sarah and crashed without dinner for the next 16 hours.
I recorded the voyage from Marsh Harbor to Bermuda on Digital8 video only, and have no still images of the passage to publish on the site.
|Video of the Passage|
|Below are pictures taken during our stay on Bermuda.|
|These are two yachts anchored near Sarah in St. Georges. The double-ender (Fig. 1)has an Alaska hailing port while the sloop below (Fig. 2) is from Germany.||
Fig. 1, Convict Bay, St. Georges
Fig. 2, Convict Bay, St. Georges
|The two boats in the pictures opposite (Figs. 3 & 4) both
have a Hong Kong hailing port. They both carry Junk rigs, which is
appropriate for that origin. They are both rather eccentric by yachting
standards, but they are clearly very sea worthy and probably fun to sail.
The catamaran is interesting in that each hull carries a Junk sail rig,
rather than the norm of a single mast rigged on the bridge between the
hulls. When they arrived both boats had several people in each crew, but
when they departed the next day they were each single-handed. A man sailing
the catamaran and a woman sailing the sloop.
It would have been interesting to talk to these sailors about their vessels, but they left before we had an opportunity. When in Horta a few weeks later we met a Brit cruiser who knew both of these sailors and was very interested that they have continued to sail together in the years since he had last seen them.
Fig. 3, China Moon
Fig. 4, Speedwell of Hong Kong
|Below is a panoramic picture of the St. Georges anchorage composed of eight different pictures taken from Sarah's deck.|
Fig. 5, Panorama of St. Georges Harbor
|Ketch Ya Later (Fig. 6) is another Pearson 424 Ketch from the Chesapeake Bay. I had exchanged emails with Ray & Toby as we both prepared for a Trans-Atlantic trip. They arrived in Bermuda about a week after we having sailed across from Norfolk. Unlike our voyage, they had a rough one with gale force winds at the start which forced them to heave-to west of the Gulf Stream and then had a beat into easterly winds as they approached Bermuda. We will likely leave Bermuda for the Azores before they do, but we will keep in touch via email and radio contacts.||
Fig. 6, Ketch Ya Later in St. Georges
|Here are a few pictures (Figs. 7, 8, & 9) of a very unusual sunset over St Georges. It looks as if there is a fire raging over the hill, but it was just a sunset.||
Fig. 7, Fiery Sunset Over St. Georges
Fig.8, Fiery Sunset Over St. Georges
Fig. 9, Fiery Sunset Over St. Georges
|After a week on the hook in St. Georges we moved Sarah to a
berth at Capt Smoke's Marina so that we could clean her up, fill up the
water tanks and more easily re-provision.
Capt Smoke's is a just a concrete quay with a mooring line set off the dock for each berth at the marina. We had never picked up this "Med" style mooring before and we showed it. It didn't help that is was Sunday and there was no one around to take our stern lines and that the mooring lines we picked up were tangled. After about an hour of struggle we finally had Sarah secured such that her stern was in no danger of crashing into the dock.
After we had secured the boat we then had to navigate the Passerelle to get on and off Sarah. This was a little intimidating at first, but with the assistance of several beers and few glasses of wine we managed to get on and off without falling in.
Fig. 10, Sarah Berthed at Capt Smoke's
Fig. 11, Mooring Lines at Capt Smoke's
Fig. 12, Passerelle at Capt Smoke's