BOC 2001: Bermuda Departure and Return to Chesapeake Bay: July 6 - 13, 2001

We departed Hamilton around noon on July 6 and moved Sarah back to St. George's where we cleared customs and topped off the fuel tanks.  For the return we planned to stick to the rhumb line course as this offered the best path through the eddies and should provide 10 - 15 kts of wind on a broad to beam reach.  By now the SW winds had finally kicked in and it looked like a typical sail back to the Chesapeake.  The only significant weather on the 00Z chart was a weak cold front moving off the east coast.  We expected to encounter this front in a few days, but didn't expect anything more than a few showers and a temporary wind shift. July 6, 2001 00 GMT Surface Weather Analysis
The first night out we had to shut down the engine because the water pump bearing was shot and squealing like a banshee.  I had a spare pump on board so we attempted to replace the pump the next day.  In the process of replacing the pump we broke off one machine screw and found the head on another was rounded off.  Now we couldn't remove the pump and we couldn't re-seal it.  We could only run the engine for short periods of time in an emergency.

We would have to sail the nearly 600 miles back to the Chesapeake bay without an engine.

Fortunately we initially had plenty of wind and made good progress.

July 8, 2001 00 GMT Surface Weather Analysis
A few days later we finally caught up with the frontal system.  By now it had intensified and a low pressure system had formed just to the north of us.  This wasn't threatening weather, but is it did provide for a rough passage that night.
The next day the weather cleared but also the wind died and we were becalmed for over 24 hours.  Eventually the wind started to fill in and we began to make steady progress toward to the NW.
July 10, 2001 00 GMT Surface Weather Analysis As we neared the Gulf Stream another cold front was moving off the east coast.  We expected to clear the stream before we reached the front, but the front accelerated and we encountered a wind shift to the NE just we were entering the core of the stream.  We had read about the treacherous seas that form in the Gulf Stream with a north wind, but those seas must require more than 15 kts of wind or a longer fetch than we experienced.  Our Gulf Stream passage was a little rough, but the seas were always manageable.
Over the next day and a half  we made steady progress toward the Chesapeake Bay in diminishing winds.  Finally on July 12 we found ourselves parked just outside the bay entrance with no wind.  We had a mechanic standing by in Little Creek to replace our water pump.  Not wanting to spend another night becalmed, especially with all the commercial and navy traffic in this area, we called Tow Boat/US and had them tow us into Little Creek.
That afternoon the mechanic replaced the pump and we were underway up the bay by 18:00 that night.  We motored all night and into the next day, finally arriving back at Town Creek around 16:00 on July 13.