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Bermuda to Norfolk

June 4 Through June 13, 2000



Captain David Appleton

Mate/Safety Bobby Ward

Student Navigator Richard Stagg

Student Engineer Lesley Ward

Student Boatswain David Rossi


The voyage back from Bermuda to Norfolk on s/v GRA’INNE gave us some pleasant surprises in the wind department.  The couple of days gave solid consistent breezes with only a slight pause as we passed through a cold front and then the high pressure system behind it.  After that the wind changed direction, with more opportunities to examine weather systems and reports to maximize safety and efficiency in making ocean passages.

Joining us for this voyage were David Rossi and Rick Stagg, friends from the Raleigh, NC area who were taking their first class with us.  They sail together on David's IP 320 FLEETING MOMENT in the Chesapeake and down the East Coast to Beaufort, NC.

Sunday, June 4, 2000

David Rossi and Rick Stagg check in with us early.  They then take the day to see the sights of Bermuda before beginning training the next morning.  Bobby and Lesley return bringing a new VHF antenna and we installed it, Bobby enjoying the up the stick honors.  They then depart for another day of relaxation and sight seeing.

Monday, June 5, 2000

At 0800 we get started with the seminar, using the MD School Offshore Manual as our guide.  We review ships organization, watch keeping system and procedures, and so on.  At 0900 we go over the ship's systems.  Rick and David pick up on it quickly since they sail David’s IP 320, FLEETING MOMENT, which is laid out very similarly to the IP 350.

At noon we break for lunch after assigning billets for the trip.  David will do bosun duty, while Rick will tackle the navigation chores.  Lesley will engineer and help Rick given her navigation experience on the way over.

During the afternoon we work on vessel checks and preparations following the Offshore Manual and prepare the over all voyage plan.

Tuesday, June 6, 2000

We continue vessel survey and preparation.  Looking at the charts of the Gulf Stream provided by Bermuda Customs we note that the cold eddy we had observed and used on the way over is still in place due east Hatteras, centered at about  N 35 x W 72.  We resolve to try to use its counterclockwise current to speed our progress.  If we hit it right we can expect around 2 knots of current.  But it will take us a little farther north than we wish to go, so we may need to ride it south again on the west side, bearing in mind that we expect to be set north considerably by the Gulf Stream.

Also, I had noticed our knotmeter/log seemed to be way off on the outbound voyage, making our DR plot suspect most of the time.  So Rick, David and I plotted a measured 1/2 nautical mile course in the St. George harbor chart , took s/v GRA’INNE out and ran her over the charted course and calibrated the knot meter.  This exercise paid off with a much more accurate DR on the voyage back to Norfolk.

We made good progress during the day and resolved to get underway a day earlier than scheduled.  We reasoned that the larger vessel, s/v HALIMEDA, a 45, would be much faster through the water than GRA’INNE, basically a 35.  So we expected HALIMEDA to gain nearly a day on us over the 5 and 1/2 day passage.  So by leaving a day early we would expect to arrive at Norfolk at about the same time.

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Wednesday, June 7, 2000

At 0700 ships time (0800 Bermuda daylight savings time), we top off with water at Dowlings and head for customs.  By 0730 we clear customs and head up the harbor to set sail and blow through Town Cut in style.  We’ve alerted HALIMEDA that we are leaving early and expect to fly by her in a few minutes so they can get their cameras ready.

At 0800 sails are up and we are tacking past the Polish Training Barkentine watching the midshipmen (and women) painting her sides UNDERWAY.  After topping off with water, we go over to Customs at Ordinance Island and check out.  Once clear, we take a quick tour of the harbor, and look over several of the Tall Ships anchored there as part of the Tall Ship’s 2000 event.  The British tall ship EYE OF THE WIND has her bright work sparkling in the morning sun.  And the Polish training brig has the midshipmen and women aloft and over the side painting and polishing.

At 0815 we get clearance from Bermuda Harbor Radio and exit Town Cut at 0830.  We carefully stay to the right of the channel as instructed, to keep out of the way of the nuclear sub exiting the Narrows from Hamilton and going to sea.  Outside we can see several more Tall Ships, square riggers, awaiting clearance and pilotage to enter St. George Harbor.

By 1000 we are at a point just north of North East Breakers Light at 32°30’ x 64°40’ where we get a terrestrial fix at which to begin our DR plot.

Strong southwesterly winds enable us to reach off on our course of 290° heading for a way point well south of the Bermuda/Norfolk rhumb line, but one that will enable us to take advantage of two cold eddies that should help our progress.  We also plan to intercept the Gulf Stream at a point well south of the rhumb line. to take best advantage of the currents.

By noon we are entering a squall line and thereafter enjoy good sailing as the wind shifted to the NE, giving us a close reach for the rest of the day and night.

Thursday, June 8, 2000

Good winds persist.

During the morning meeting we discuss MOB procedures and particularly the quick stop maneuver that we feel works best under sail.  We take the opportunity to practice this maneuver and all are impressed with the efficiency with which it will stop the boat in close proximity to the victim.

At 1600 we make contact with HALIMEDA via SSB.  They are at 33/16 x 67/54 while we are at 32/34 x 64/52, remaining about 140 miles apart.  We are maintaining the lead our head start had afforded us.  GRA’INNE is sailing extremely well.

Friday June 9, 2000

Still the favorable winds continue to speed us on.  During the night we’ve broken through into the middle of the high - dawn broke under clear skies giving us the opportunity to use amplitudes to check the ship’s compass for deviation.  We find it has 6° West deviation.  This explains the discrepancy in our DR plot compared with the occasional GPS check on it.

The clear skies of the high pressure system give us excellent opportunity for practice of noon sun shot.  At 1200 Jimmy gets a second sun lop and is able to put it together with his 0730 shot for a good fix.

At 1230 we set the genniker with 8-12 knots of wind off the stbd. beam.  We are able to make 6 to 6.5 knots, sometimes more.  A very good sail!

By 1430 the winds die and we have to douse the genniker and start the engine.  It was fun for a while, anyway.

At 1600 we have our regular meeting with HALIMEDA and exchange positions.  They are at 33/45 x 67/32 and we are at 24/21 x 70/19.  Plotting these positions we find we are still 142 nm ahead of HALIMEDA.  We had expected them to gain on us rather quickly, given the extra 10 feet of waterline and powerful sail plan they can boast.  But GRA’INNE holds her own, moving along swiftly when winds cooperate.  We are even moving away a little!

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Saturday, June 10, 2000

In the early morning the winds back from North to West.

At 0830 we contact HALIMEDA and exchange positions.  She is at 34/26 x 69/19 and we are at 35/40 x 71/44.  This plots that we remain 140 nm to the NE, ahead of HALIMEDA.

After clean up the winds increase to 10 out of the WSW and we are able to make good speed under sail.  During the day they back further to SW and we are able to really make some speed, reaching off 15-21 knot winds.  It's a really fine sailing day.

Sunday, June 11, 2000

At 0100 we turn on the engine to motor sail to point higher.  Going north to catch that cold eddy current boost drove us too far north.  Now that the winds have gone to the WSW we are fighting to keep on course for CBJ and avoiding a tack.  We continue to motor sail through the night to stay as far south (high on the wind) as possible.

0800  The winds pick up and we are able to unfurl the genoa, secure the engine and enjoy a beautiful sail.  And by 0830 we contact HALIMEDA on SSB.  She is at 35/33 x 71/54 and we are at 36/41 x 74/23.  She is still over 138 nm behind us.  GRA’INNE is really holding her own in terms of overall boat speed and distance covered by whatever means.... granted we have been using the engine some during the night.

By 0800 the wind has backed to the SW and we are able to sail and secure the engine.  We are thankful to the wind god, Aeolis, for moving his puffs south and saving us a tack.

At 2205 Bobby contacts US Customs via cell phone and we are able to clear by phone so we will be able to leave the boat to shower as soon as we get GRA’INNE docked properly.  That’s a pleasant thought!

At 2145 we have the CBJ buoy (Chesapeake Bay Junction), the official start and end of our DR plot, abeam.

Monday, June 12, 2000

0010  We tie up at Taylor’s Landing Marina, tired, but pleased with the efficiency of our passage.  We then take much needed naps.

Statistically we had covered 643 nm through the water and had done it in 4 days, 15 hours and 45 minutes.  During this voyage we had used the engine for a total of only 32.9 hours, and a good number of these had been for battery charging.

Captain David Appleton, aboard s/v GRA’INNE

Taylors Landing Marina, Little Creek,VA, June 15, 2000