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Adventure

Bermuda-Newport
"Summer Skis"
4312 - Jim and Marge Fuller
"Bluewater" 4732 - Milt & Judy Baker


Wednesday May 31, 2006
From Jim Fuller on board Summer Skis

Forgot to mention that Summer Skis is now trimmed out perfectly. Marge was on a mission yesterday which included collecting "beach sand" needless to say her idea of a "small amount" of beach sand and mine were very different. Now I know why she encouraged me to bring the boat. There is no way that all this sand would have made it on an airplane. Really, it was not that much as it did fit in the basket of the scooter. The baskets are big. We turned in the scooter today and enjoyed a day in Hamilton. Dinner on board with Mac Lightbourn, a friend of many years both in the States as well as here. He is 4th generation Bermudian and a great source of history regarding the island. He is one of the more vocal persons regarding the changes over running the island. In fact one of the developments is 40' from his current home which belonged to his great grandmother. Wednesday night was a street party on Front Street. Lots of vendors, music, bagpipes and a marching band. Very festive and interesting. There were two cruise ships in Hamilton and most of the passengers were on the streets partaking in the action. Well worth staying up for. The wind has changed and is now out of the East. This is bringing in some rain and it is not the prevailing wind. We are now starting to think about departure and both my weather router and Milts have been advised to start looking at the weather geared for a departure late this week or mid week next. We WILL NOT leave if there is a threat of serious weather en-route. The wind has to change from its current direction before we can consider going anywhere. We herd on the radio that 3 sailboats headed for Newport had turned back after 12 hours of sailing.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006
From Jim Fuller on board Summer Skis

Another cruise ship arrived in Hamilton today. Downtown is teeming with people. We thought we would go to the beach to get away from it all. NO WAY. The beach was more crowded today than on Sunday. We saw a Ray (fish) jump right next to the boat this morning. It jumped out of the water three times. Quite amazing. There are a total of five cruise ships in Bermuda at this time; two in Hamilton, two at the dockyard and one in St. Georges. Tomorrow a mega cruise ship comes into the Dockyard with 4,000 passengers, YES, FOUR THOUSAND! Needless to say we are not going there tomorrow. Apparently the usual stay is 2-3 days depending on the cruise lines. Tonight is our night out for our meal at an upscale restaurant. We have chosen the Waterloo House. It is right on the harbour and very good. We have eaten there in the past and never been disappointed. We were disappointed to hear that one of our other favorites is closed for renovations. There are still a number of good restaurants available.

We are sending this off as a number of you have been wondering if we had disappeared into the depths of the Bermuda Triangle; not so. I will continue to compile reports on our adventures in Bermuda tomorrow and send off later on in the week. By then we should have an idea of when we will be leaving for Newport.


Monday, May 29, 2006
From Jim Fuller on board Summer Skis


Today is not a holiday in Bermuda so that means the cruise ships are back. Apparently they do not come in on weekends. This allows the locals to enjoy time with their families and all of the shops are closed on Sunday anyway. We had a Celebrity Cruise ship come into Hamilton. There is a ship in the Dockyard and I also believe St. Georges. Another day on the bike and visiting the hotel where we normally stay. Only to find out that it is for sale and the sale will be finalized within a few months. Karen, one of the owners is in agreement with the sale as it is to another Bermuda couple that have been very successful in operating a restaurant and inn for someone else. We met the new potential owner and she seemed quite nice. Needless to say she said we were welcome to stay there in the future. We have started to ask our weather guru to start looking at his crystal ball for a departure as early as Sunday and as late as Tuesday. We will be taking on duty free fuel on Friday and will do an oil change most likely the same day. Marge again demonstrated her culinary skills by doing a beautiful pork roast for Eddy & Ann Johnson and their friend Sam tonight. It was superb. A good time was had by all and our guests did not leave until nearly 11:00.


Sunday, May 28, 2006
From Jim Fuller on board Summer Skis

Needless to say we slept in today after such a wonderful meal last night. Not so late that we could not pick up our "bike" for the next 3 days. Went to the beach and just relaxed the day away. Used up a couple of our drink tickets at the club bar with the Bakers before dinner. Marge did herself proud with another great meal.


Saturday, May 27, 2006
From Jim Fuller on board Summer Skis

We have new neighbor. The Nordhavn 62, Adventure, came in from Ft. Lauderdale. They started their trip in Ensenada, Mexico in February. They also will be leaving for Newport later in June. Then cruising the New England area for the summer. Another boat came in named the "Queen of Diamonds" about 115' out of the Caman, Islands. It came in from Moorhead City, NC with the owner and his wife on board. The crew numbers 6 including the chef. The owner and his wife are new to Bermuda so we gave them a few suggestions on restaurants and things to see. He is the owner of the Arizona Diamond Backs and the Phoenix Suns. A real nice gut to talk to. A staunch supporter of John McCain.

The Commodore of the club stopped by today and invited us to a cocktail reception on Tuesday that is to dedicate the refurbished "Trophy Room" at the club in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Newport to Bermuda Race that will start from Newport on the 16th of June. We have also been invited to a reception in Newport on the 14th being hosted by RBYC for friends and racers. Marge is busy in the galley making homemade rolls for dinner with the Bakers tonight as well as a dozen rolls to the crew on Destination Fox Harbour. She has been very busy. Dinner was an outstanding success. The Bakers are interesting folks and we are looking forward to traveling with them on the return. In addition we hope to be able to entertain them in Tiverton while they are in the Newport area. Marge did her baked Bar B Q chicken and rice Pilaf and asparagas. Topped off by ice cream sundaes.


Friday May 26, 2006
From Jim Fuller on board Summer Skis

We have had chance to walk around and get reacquainted to Bermuda. We have been treated royally by the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club's members and staff.

We were shocked to find that two of Bermuda's traditions have gone the way of "progress". Both Trimminghams and Smith's have closed for good and apparently HSBC Bank will build a facility in the area previously occupied by those venerable shops. The local Bermudians are VERY upset with what is happening to their island. Those friends of ours that have been here for generations are beside themselves. When we ask shop keepers, and locals alike why the change the answers appear to be similar. The Cruise liner clientele are only interested in the "T" shirt purchases. In addition some shop keepers say that a lot of the visitors are saying that there is no need for the goods that were the staples of sales in the past. In other words no one is buying china, crystal, or English linen anymore. The Bermuda lifestyle is alive an well but the few remaining shops are hard to find and have limited inventory, so the short term visitor does not have the time to wait for something to come in from Europe or England. Marge came here with a few specific items in mind and has accomplished her goals, yet with some difficulty.

The restaurants are still good and we have made arrangements to have a few meals out. Marge still prefers to cook on board. In addition having the boat here allows us to reciprocate to those who have been kind to us in the past.

One of the boats on the dock is a large (130') sailboat. named Destination Fox Harbour. So, Marge's curiosity got the better of her and she began to engage the crew in conversation. Long story short she got her invitation for a tour because the owner was not coming for a few days. A few details: Overall length, 135' Beam 26' Draft 14' Height of Mast off the water 165' , Owners party 12, Crew 6 including an engineer and fulltime chef. Primary locations, Antigua in the winter and Nova Scotia in the summer with brief stops in Bermuda, Newport, Maine, and Ft. Lauderdale if convenient. The owner VERY seldom is on the boat for any lengthy transits. He uses it for entertainment and weekend outings. In fact the crew is now on a 4 hour countdown. That means the owner will give the crew 4 hours notice before his arrival. This means that he will most likely leave Nova Scotia on his private jet and be in Bermuda within 4 hours.

We still prefer our own little boat.


Thursday, May 25, 2006
From Jim Fuller on board Summer Skis

Today is a day of getting some housekeeping items taken care of. We will be changing the oil at sometime - we did not burn a drop in either the Generator or Main in 5 1/2 days of running. The reason we will be changing is that we will have passed the recommended oil change time during the Newport leg so I am of the opinion that it is better change early than late. Marge wants to check out our favorite grocery and then do an inventory and replenish the items that have been consumed. In addition we will be doing some entertaining as we have friends in the area. Marge is all ready filling up the social calendar. Saturday night we are having the Bakers of "Bluewater" aboard for dinner. They have a Nordhavn 47 and they came in from Tortola a day before us. We will travel "in company" with them to Newport. Then on Monday we are having Eddie & Ann Johnson for dinner as mentioned. We have made contact with other friends as well. In addition the club members that are walking the docks have offered to be of service if needed.

All in all we have been very busy and welcomed to Bermuda in a very hospitable manner.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

From Jim Fuller on board Summer Skis

Marge arrived right in the middle of the Bermuda Day Festivities. Parades, festivals and all in all a major holiday. Everything is closed and Marge had to be innovative as to how to find the boat as taxis were not available. She got the bus into town and then had to walk to the boat (about 1/2 mile). She had good company as there was one other person on the bus that was taking a boat an ("Oyster 62") back to Newport. An Oyster is a very well respected and coveted sailboat. I had made arrangements to meet Marge at the Princess in Hamilton. Apparently that did not work out. (Marge will tell that story.) After finding Marge we watched the parade for about 2 hours and then returned to the boat. Had lovely dinner out at the Hog Penny Pub. Pub food (Bermuda style) lots of nice atmosphere and reasonable prices in Bermuda terms. We met up with our friends the Johnsons who we have known for many years and they will be joining us for dinner on board Monday. It is good to reciprocate after all these years on eating in there home and being entertained. Eddy Johnson will be 70 this weekend and we have been invited to the party. Unfortunately Marge will be on her way home and unable to attend.

Final report: Leg one of Summer Skis trip Vero Beach, FL to Newport, RI via
Bermuda.



Tuesday, May 23, 2006

From Jim Fuller on board Summer Skis

Position: Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, Hamilton, Bermuda
Average speed: 6.9 kts
Distance made good since departure: 895 NM
Distance made good noon to noon: 169 NM
Arrived St. Georges Customs Dock, Bermuda: 1235 Tuesday 23 May
Arrived Royal Bermuda Yacht Club 1745 Local time 23 May

The first leg of the trip has been completed.

Landfall was the morning (23 May, 2006) around 10;00 in haze. We were about 8 miles off shore when we first got a glimpse of the white roofs and pastel homes. What a sight after 5 1/2 days.

As we approached St. Georges, we contacted Bermuda Radio and were assigned a spot in the clearing-in process. We tied to the Customs Dock and cleared in with mimimum of effort; less than a 1/2-hour. The customs agent was funny in that she asked 3 times what the "rig" of our boat was. I kept telling her "power" after three times it finally registered that we were a power boat. She seemed quite surprised and when she went back to the boat's manufacturer (Nordhavn) she accepted the fact that we REALLY did arrive on a powerboat.

Apparently when one clears in from a nearby port (Florida to the Bahamas), the clearing in process is much more formal and difficult. (The last time we cleared into the Bahamas it took nearly 2 hours.) It appears that the further you travel the easier it is to clear in. We left the Customs Dock and proceeded to Hamilton arriving at 5:45 pm. The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club is very friendly and welcoming.



Saturday, May 22, 2006
From Milt Baker on board Bluewater

Nautical miles: 844 Anegada to RBYC, Hamilton, via St. Georges and Ferry
Reach
Main engine hours this trip: 124
6 kW genset hours this trip: 102
12 kW genset hours this trip: 28
Average speed Anegada to St. Georges: 6.75 kts
Fuel burned: 730 gals
Generator fuel: 129 gals.
Main engine fuel: 601 gals.
Main engine MPG: 1.4
Total MPG: 1.1
Main engine GPH: 4.85
Total GPH: 5.9

Bluewater reached St. Georges, Bermuda, at 1000 today, cleared customs and immigration, and proceeded to Hamilton and RBYC by way of the Ferry Reach channel, with depths of 20 feet or more all the way. In contrast to the rest of our five-day trip, the last six hours offshore were rolly in 5-7 foot SW seas, but we turned up the stabilizers and had a comfortable ride nonetheless. Customs clearance at St. Georges was a striking contrast to the cranky BVI officials: friendly, positive, upbeat, and no hassles. (For Jim Fuller: they didn't seize our fruits and veggies.)

We reached RBYC at 1300 and are tied alongside the east dock where the Nordhavn 46s were on the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally. Our friends RBYC Commodore Andy Cox and his wife Sonia were there to meet us, along with Marina Manager James Barnes and crew members from other boats recently arrived. Rear Commodore Peter Cooper of the CCA Bermuda Station also stopped by to welcome us to the island. We are being made to feel most welcome, but that’s nothing new for Bermuda—they’ve been making visitors feel welcome for centuries!

Judy, Katy and I expect to be In Bermuda for up to two weeks before departing for Newport and points north and very much look forward to enjoying Bermuda’s legendary hospitality once again. Jim Fuller and crew should arrive in St. Georges late tomorrow and at RBYC the next morning. Dean flies home to Marge on Thursday, and Judy, Katy and I plan to do the leg to Newport without additional crew.

Judy, Dean and I are most grateful to Bob Jones of OMNI for the spot-on weather routing he provided us. Bob, we salute you for a job well done!

When we checked the oil in the Lugger main engine after 124 engine hours, we found that we had not used a drop. Likewise the generators. That said, I am disappointed at our mileage and our inability to maintain a 7 knot average without pushing too hard--and I hope that getting the propeller pitch corrected will make a difference. That's something I will need to take up with PAE sooner rather than later.

Bottom line: a safe, comfortable, enjoyable passage in a fine boat with a well-rested happy crew now safely in Bermuda. At 1700 today we had completed washing the boat down and Judy and Katy were on their way for a walk in the park.

Sunday, May 21, 2006
From Jim Fuller on board Summer Skis

30.22.98 N
70.27.33 W
Wind SW 15
SW swell 4-6'
Distance made good since departure: 548 NM
Distance to St. Georges: 334 NM
Course: 82 deg.
Average speed last 24 hours 7.0 kts
ETA St. Georges 1400 Tuesday May 23

We are fast (?) approaching Bermuda. We expect to pick up Gibbs Hill light tonight. We are still anticipating a mid- to late afternoon arrival unless we pick up a current near the island. Chris our weather guy says this is a possibility. In addition, once we get daylight we might be able to cut a corner or two and take some miles off. We are being very conservative as we approach in the dark. We are staying at outside the 1,000 Fathom (a fathom is 6') line to stay in safe water.
We saw our first indigenous bird to Bermuda (I guess the trip is getting to me I keep spelling Bermuda Beermuda). It was a Tropical Longtail - different than the Bermuda Longtail. This one was white with a black stripe on its wings. Very pretty, hopefully a harbinger of a safe arrival.

The weather continues to be very good. Clear skies and manageable seas. We have had a following wind and sea the entire trip with the exception of the Gulf Stream.

We are all getting prepared to enter the civilized world again. We are on the third load of laundry and showers are a daily event now! The first two days the crew were very aware of water conservation. We have a water maker which we have been using every day. But the crew being used to only the water that is in the tanks (we carry 300 Gal.) was very conscious of water use the first few days. Now that we are less than a day out water conservation does not need to be a concern to the crew. I, on the other hand, have been encouraging showers and laundry because of our ability to make 25 GPH of good fresh water.

As we approach Bermuda and enter their territorial waters we will display a square yellow quarantine flag. This identifies us as foreign vessel entering Bermuda waters. The procedure for entry into Bermuda is to go to St. Georges and clear customs and present the necessary papers. These include 2 copies of a crew list, three copies of a listing of all stores which includes food, liquor, medications, fire arms (including flare guns and flares), and numerous copies of the ship's papers and proof of ownership. This procedure can take a considerable amount of time depending on how well you are organized and the customs officer clearing you in. So today Charlee has been promoted to secretary for the day to do the all the typing of our various lists that we will need tomorrow. During the clearing in process NO ONE except the captain is allowed to leave the boat. Once the clearing in process is completed the quarantine flag comes down and a small Bermuda flag is displayed on the starboard side of the boat usually from the spreaders on the mast. You are now officially permitted to leave the customs dock and proceed to your destination. In our case we will be staying at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club located right in the heart of Hamilton. This was arranged by Milt Baker who we will be traveling in company with to Newport, RI. Milt and he wife Judy arrived in Bermuda today. There are a few other areas to stay such as the St. Georges Dinghy Club and there is another club in Hamilton as well as two commercial, but very small, marinas. There are also numerous anchorages though out the Island. As mentioned previously, Marge will fly in tomorrow and we will begin to enjoy this lovely Island. While here we will check the boat and its systems over carefully and if necessary make any adjustments that are necessary, such as changing oil, fuel filters, or any other items that come up. Oil changes and fuel filter changes may not be necessary but as "preventive maintenance" issues they will most likely be done.

Depending how busy things get tomorrow I may not be able to send a "noon" report but something will be coming as to our arrival.

The crew of Summer Skis is looking forward to sighting Bermuda tonight.

Sunday, May 21, 2006
From Jim Fuller on board Summer Skis

30.22.98 N
70.27.33 W
Wind SW 15
SW swell 4-6'
Distance made good since departure: 548 NM
Distance to St. Georges: 334 NM
Course: 82 deg.
Average speed last 24 hours 7.0 kts
ETA St. Georges 1400 Tuesday May 23

We have passed the halfway mark and are closer to Bermuda than anything else. We are still looking for an arrival on Tuesday in the afternoon. We are in range of "Bermuda Radio" and are listening to them speak with all the incoming and outgoing vessels. There seems to be quite a bit of traffic. We will most likely first see Bermuda Monday night as we are approaching from the south.

I have had return e-mails from a couple of people and I will be modifying the format of this report to be more nautical as it relates to position reporting. In addition we would welcome any e-mails you want to send. As a point of interest, I received 17 e-mails this morning in 34 seconds. So feel free to send off anything except attachments, pictures or large files. DO NOT USE THE REPLY BUTTON. We will have access in Bermuda to Wi-Fi as RYBC has a Wi-Fi site on the property. If you have any specific questions, fire away.

We crossed a major shipping lane last night and encountered 7 large vessels heading to various ports, Haifa, San Juan, New Orleans, Rotterdam, New York, and Bermuda. In each case AIS identified the ships and in turn we were identified to them. We spoke to all of them and three changed course as to avoid a potential conflict. I cannot say enough for this system. Any boat operating where commercial shipping is operating and there is the potential for restricted visibility due to fog, rain, or darkness serious consideration should be give to this system. I am sure as it gains in popularity the prices will come down.

A few of you have asked how we do e-mail. This is accomplished on this trip using the Globalstar Satellite Phone and Ocens Mail. The center piece of this is the Ocens Mail. This is a software program that takes the e-mail document and through programming compresses the message into a very small piece of data. As a point of reference a full 8X11 page of text can be transmitted in less than 2 seconds. So as you can see it is very efficient for plain e-mails. Pictures, attachments and large files are handled differently thus extending the transmission time. In the event that you have no need for a sat phone, this same software works with cell phones. In our case, when we are in cell phone range we just plug in our Verizon data capable cell phone to the computer and hit the send button and the mail is sent and received and the phone automatically hangs up. Very efficient. In the case of the cell phone we do all our e-mails after 2100 or noon on Saturday and all day on Sunday without using up our minutes. So at these times we can surf the net. All very user friendly and quite inexpensive. Of course, if you want to escape the world of computers and e-mail, all this information is superfluous. Please keep the questions coming.

The following position report will appear at the start of future reports.

The crew of Summer Skis is well and enjoying beautiful weather.



Saturday, May 20, 2006, Noon AST
From Milt Baker on board Bluewater

At sea 141 miles south of Bermuda.
Position: 30-03.0N 64-37.8 W
Course: 006 deg. M
Average speed: 7.0 kts
Distance made good since departure: 688 NM
Distance made good noon to noon: 169 NM
ETA St. Georges, Bermuda: 0900 Monday, May 22
Conditions: Wind NW 4 kts, seas confused 2-3. ft., fair, air temp. 80 deg.
F, sea temp. 75 deg. F, barometer 1031.1 mb - steady

Today is one of those days that make one happy to be on a motor boat passage at sea: crystal clear skies, not a cloud in sight, light winds, and no chop on top of long, easy ocean swells. We first heard Bermuda Harbour Radio on VHF when we were 190 miles from the St. Georges sea buoy early this morning. Using our 130-amp VHF booster amplifier (thanks, Tut!), I called them at 180 miles out and had a perfectly clear conversation; that’s a record for distance for a VHF conversation for us! I’d have bet good money one could not have a VHF conversation that far between a shore station and a vessel at sea. To be fair, I should point out that Bermuda Harbour Radio is high on a hillside in Bermuda and has excellent directional antennas; Judy and I spent a couple of hours visiting BHR and checking out their facilities in advance of the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally.

We envy the Taylors, Kesslers and Farrels who will see each other in Solomons today—we’d love to be there, guys! But we are focused on our arrival in Bermuda and very much look forward to that. I hasten to add, however, that this passage has been so pleasant that we all feel we could easily go another week or two. We have a good team and work well together; our sleep patterns are now well developed for our regular three-hour watches, a good sense of routine has been honed, the and this is barely more stressful than living aboard at anchor—well, except for Katy who can’t get to the beach!

As the outside air and water temperature have cooled, the engine room temperature is down a bit to 110-115 and the air conditioners are not having to work so hard to keep the rest of the boat cool. In fact, we turned off the air conditioners and generators and for the first time in many months are running the boat sans generator. It's SO pleasant!

We have received our last weather report from Bob until we get ready to depart Bermuda two weeks from now, and he says that as the day wears on we can expect winds and seas to increase on our port quarter. He has us prepared for winds to 25 knots, with seas to match, but coming from aft of the beam they should not be a problem. Bob, many thanks for your spot-on forecasts which have contributed mightily to our comfort-level on this passage. We look forward to more of the same on the next leg.

While it's certainly possible to make long passages without weather routing, for me it's a no-brainer to use a weather professional ashore with access to dozens of sources I cannot easily access at sea. Moreover, Bob has the experience to look at the evidence and draw the right conclusions, customizing his forecasts for our needs. In my judgment, having a good weather router ashore on our team is one of the many critical components that goes into making ocean passagemaking safe, comfortable and pleasant for the Bluewater crew.

Yesterday we pulled up the paravane booms and they are now stowed in the up position. Scott Flanders of the N46 Egret e-mailed that he is trying out his new paravanes in Greece and has discovered that the windage of the paravane booms is significant; he says having the poles up or down makes a difference in speed made good to windward--up is better. We’re happy that we have not had enough wind from ahead on this passage to test Scott’s observations. With the wind aft of the beam we could discern no difference in boat speed relating to the positions of the booms.

So far our to-do list for the end of this passage is short: change oil on the main engine and one genset, tighten the hydraulic fittings on one autopilot pump which is leaking a few drops each day, and clean up our dirty transom. I’m not sure whether the dark grey smoke coming from our wet exhaust is the result of the left-over low-sulphur fuel we took on in Venezuela or our propeller being over-pitched by one to two inches, or a combination of the two. Whatever the reason, we definitely need to clean the transom! Re-pitching the propeller is on our to-be-done warranty list.

That reminds me to mention that the dirty transom notwithstanding, we continue to be very pleased with Bluewater's wet exhaust system. It’s traditional for Nordhavns to have dry stacks, of course, and there are good reasons to do so, but Judy and I have had wet exhaust boats all our lives and understand them, so we leaned on PAE and got the wet exhaust system we wanted on this boat--the first Nordhavn 47 to have one. Once we got the engine room ventilation problems sorted out, it’s been a terrific and trouble-free system and we don’t have the two big negatives of a dry stack boat: the cabinetry which really cuts up the main saloon and galley on a N47 and the dry stack’s propensity to spew greasy black soot over the boat and its neighbors. We’d specify wet exhaust again in a heartbeat!

As I close out this report, Katy is snoozing on the pilot berth over my shoulder. She seems to make no distinction between being underway, being at anchor, or being in a marina--she's a happy dog no matter where we are. She loves going for a walk on the beach or around the marina, but underway she knows instinctively that's not going to happen. She really misses her Havanese buddies, Coco and Breezy. She's definitely more than a little trouble, but Judy and I agree that she's well worth it. She's even beginning to grow on Dean, an admitted cat person! He saves her a sliver of his bacon every morning, a real sacrifice.

James Barnes, marina manager at Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, reports that he will put Bluewater and Summer Skis together on the east dock at RBYC, right where the NAR Nordhavn 46s were, at least initially. With a little luck, we ’ll have wi-fi there! Jim Fuller tells us that Summer Skis is having a nice passage should reach in St. Georges Tuesday afternoon and get to RBYC Wednesday morning.

We move our clocks ahead one hour to Atlantic Daylight Time today at 1300.

Saturday, May 20, 2006, Noon AST
From Milt Baker on board Bluewater

At sea 141 miles south of Bermuda.
Position: 30-03.0N 64-37.8 W
Course: 006 deg. M
Average speed: 7.0 kts
Distance made good since departure: 688 NM
Distance made good noon to noon: 169 NM
ETA St. Georges, Bermuda: 0900 Monday, May 22
Conditions: Wind NW 4 kts, seas confused 2-3. ft., fair, air temp. 80 deg.
F, sea temp. 75 deg. F, barometer 1031.1 mb - steady

Today is one of those days that make one happy to be on a motor boat passage at sea: crystal clear skies, not a cloud in sight, light winds, and no chop on top of long, easy ocean swells. We first heard Bermuda Harbour Radio on VHF when we were 190 miles from the St. Georges sea buoy early this morning. Using our 130-amp VHF booster amplifier (thanks, Tut!), I called them at 180 miles out and had a perfectly clear conversation; that’s a record for distance for a VHF conversation for us! I’d have bet good money one could not have a VHF conversation that far between a shore station and a vessel at sea. To be fair, I should point out that Bermuda Harbour Radio is high on a hillside in Bermuda and has excellent directional antennas; Judy and I spent a couple of hours visiting BHR and checking out their facilities in advance of the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally.

We envy the Taylors, Kesslers and Farrels who will see each other in Solomons today—we’d love to be there, guys! But we are focused on our arrival in Bermuda and very much look forward to that. I hasten to add, however, that this passage has been so pleasant that we all feel we could easily go another week or two. We have a good team and work well together; our sleep patterns are now well developed for our regular three-hour watches, a good sense of routine has been honed, the and this is barely more stressful than living aboard at anchor—well, except for Katy who can’t get to the beach!

As the outside air and water temperature have cooled, the engine room temperature is down a bit to 110-115 and the air conditioners are not having to work so hard to keep the rest of the boat cool. In fact, we turned off the air conditioners and generators and for the first time in many months are running the boat sans generator. It's SO pleasant!

We have received our last weather report from Bob until we get ready to depart Bermuda two weeks from now, and he says that as the day wears on we can expect winds and seas to increase on our port quarter. He has us prepared for winds to 25 knots, with seas to match, but coming from aft of the beam they should not be a problem. Bob, many thanks for your spot-on forecasts which have contributed mightily to our comfort-level on this passage. We look forward to more of the same on the next leg.

While it's certainly possible to make long passages without weather routing, for me it's a no-brainer to use a weather professional ashore with access to dozens of sources I cannot easily access at sea. Moreover, Bob has the experience to look at the evidence and draw the right conclusions, customizing his forecasts for our needs. In my judgment, having a good weather router ashore on our team is one of the many critical components that goes into making ocean passagemaking safe, comfortable and pleasant for the Bluewater crew.

Yesterday we pulled up the paravane booms and they are now stowed in the up position. Scott Flanders of the N46 Egret e-mailed that he is trying out his new paravanes in Greece and has discovered that the windage of the paravane booms is significant; he says having the poles up or down makes a difference in speed made good to windward--up is better. We’re happy that we have not had enough wind from ahead on this passage to test Scott’s observations. With the wind aft of the beam we could discern no difference in boat speed relating to the positions of the booms.

So far our to-do list for the end of this passage is short: change oil on the main engine and one genset, tighten the hydraulic fittings on one autopilot pump which is leaking a few drops each day, and clean up our dirty transom. I’m not sure whether the dark grey smoke coming from our wet exhaust is the result of the left-over low-sulphur fuel we took on in Venezuela or our propeller being over-pitched by one to two inches, or a combination of the two. Whatever the reason, we definitely need to clean the transom! Re-pitching the propeller is on our to-be-done warranty list.

That reminds me to mention that the dirty transom notwithstanding, we continue to be very pleased with Bluewater's wet exhaust system. It’s traditional for Nordhavns to have dry stacks, of course, and there are good reasons to do so, but Judy and I have had wet exhaust boats all our lives and understand them, so we leaned on PAE and got the wet exhaust system we wanted on this boat--the first Nordhavn 47 to have one. Once we got the engine room ventilation problems sorted out, it’s been a terrific and trouble-free system and we don’t have the two big negatives of a dry stack boat: the cabinetry which really cuts up the main saloon and galley on a N47 and the dry stack’s propensity to spew greasy black soot over the boat and its neighbors. We’d specify wet exhaust again in a heartbeat!

As I close out this report, Katy is snoozing on the pilot berth over my shoulder. She seems to make no distinction between being underway, being at anchor, or being in a marina--she's a happy dog no matter where we are. She loves going for a walk on the beach or around the marina, but underway she knows instinctively that's not going to happen. She really misses her Havanese buddies, Coco and Breezy. She's definitely more than a little trouble, but Judy and I agree that she's well worth it. She's even beginning to grow on Dean, an admitted cat person! He saves her a sliver of his bacon every morning, a real sacrifice.

James Barnes, marina manager at Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, reports that he will put Bluewater and Summer Skis together on the east dock at RBYC, right where the NAR Nordhavn 46s were, at least initially. With a little luck, we ’ll have wi-fi there! Jim Fuller tells us that Summer Skis is having a nice passage should reach in St. Georges Tuesday afternoon and get to RBYC Wednesday morning.

We move our clocks ahead one hour to Atlantic Daylight Time today at 1300.





Saturday, May 20, 2006
From Jim Fuller  on board Summer Skis

Position: 29.31.0 N 73.37.5 W
486 nm from waypoint # 7 30 nm south of Bermuda

We have been underway for 48 hours now and everyone is comfortable and getting sufficient rest and relaxation in. The hilight of yesterday was when Charlee spotted a 250-meter super tanker on the AIS system and it was determined that it was on a course that would endanger us. Charlee called him and he very politely agreed to change course and pass astern by 1 mile.

AIS (Automatic Identification System) is a system that is on all commercial vessels by international law. It is a valuable safety tool that small boats such as us can have installed just for the purpose that was used today. A vessel equipped with AIS broadcasts a constant signal that is received by similarly equipped vessels. It "paints" a target on the plotter and radar. When the target is highlighted by the receiving vessel it displays, Vessel name, Size, Closest Point of Approach, Closest Time of Approach, Speed, Type of Vessel and other information such as cargo and destination. The beauty is that as most of us have experienced when you hail an approaching vessel in the fog or at night or even in good visibility - they most often will not respond. This system allows you to call the vessel by name and call sign. There really is no way that this can be ignored. On the other side of this equation is that if you, on the small boat, are presenting a conflict to the commercial vessel he can call you and request your intentions. If someone is planning to go even cruising in coastal waters where there is a possibility of coming in contact with commercial vessels, this is a piece of equipment that should be considered.

Our second highlight of the day was the arrival of a hitchhiker in the form of a small bird. We think it is a Thrush. We have fish books on the boat but no bird books. He has made himself at home hopping all over the place and even sitting on the keyboard of the computer while I am typing this.

Last night was another beautiful night of star-filled skies calm seas and very little wind. We have been hearing from Bluewater and they had a little rain last night but not the predicted wind. They are about 350 miles to the east and south of us. Our courses are beginning to converge and we will most likely not see each other but will pass within about 50 miles. They will arrive in Bermuda Monday sometime. We have had to adjust our arrival time as we have lost our favorable current and picked up a .5 Kt unfavorable current. It now looks like Tuesday mid to late day. Again it all depends on weather.



Saturday, May 20, 2006
From Milt Baker on board Bluewater

At sea 310 miles south of Bermuda.

Date and time: Saturday May 19, Noon AST
Position: 27-15.2 N 63-37.1 W
Course: 009 deg. M
Average speed: 6.75 kts..
Distance made good since departure: 518 NM
Distance made good noon to noon: 162 NM
ETA St. Georges, Bermuda: 0800 Monday, May 22
Conditions: Wind 170 deg. M at 3 kts, seas 2-4. ft., mostly overcast, air
temp. 80 deg. F, sea temp. 80 deg. F, barometer 1031.6 mb - steady

As forecasted, late yesterday Bluewater passed through part of a front stretching SW across 25N 60W then toward the Windward Passage. Beginning in late afternoon we saw a long north-south squall line to our west on radar, but Bluewater didn’t pass through it until about 2100. It brought no lightning or wind, and even the rain was light—we didn't even get a good washdown.

Current on the nose continue to hold down our daily mileage, so I asked Bob to tell us what currents his models and other information show for this stretch of ocean. His comments pretty much reflect what we see on the pilot chart but not what are are actually seeing day-to-day: “The prevailing ocean current is generally favorable with a NW setting current of 0.5kt in your area. The current can/does become more confused the closer you get to Bermuda, but you should be able to experience a NW-N current of 0.3-0.5kt until about 30N/lat, then the current should be more confused.”

Last time Judy and I made a passage from the Caribbean to Bermuda was in 1984 aboard our 32-foot ketch shortly after I retired from the U.S. Navy. As this time, we had just finished a winter of cruising in the Caribbean and were eager to get up to Bermuda and back to the USA. But the contrasts between our cruising then and our cruising now are sharp:

--Then: 90-100 mile days if the wind blew – now: 150 – 170 mile days regardless.
--Then: keeping cool meant opening hatches and ports to catch the breeze and trying to dodge the spray – now: keeping cool means running the air conditioners.
--Then: navigation was by “satnav” and our then-high tech Magnavox 4102 receiver averaged a fix every 90 minutes, with a Tamaya sextant as backup – now: three GPS receivers, Nobeltec electronic charting, and real-time 24/7 fixes; the sextant remains home on the closet shelf.
--Then: primitive radar detector which would beep whenever it detected a
radar signal (and whenever we flipped on a light) – now: two radars with range up to 48 miles, AIS, ARPA.
--Then: Aires steering vane – now: two Simrad autopilots each with its own Accusteer continuous-running pump.
--Then: 40 gallons of diesel in our tank plus another 20 on deck – now: 1480 gallons of diesel in our tanks.
--Then: 30 HP Westerbeke diesel burning a quart an hour - now: 174 HP Lugger diesel burning 4-5 gallons per hour.
--Then: 110 gallons of fresh water and no watermaker – now: 400 gallons of water and a watermaker that can make 25-30 GPH.
--Then: SSB ham radio for long haul communications and occasional phone patches – now: Iridium satellite phone for voice and e-mail with Ocens software.
--Then: High seas forecasts via SSB and an analog barograph – now: weather routing from Bob at OMNI and a digital barograph.
--Then: Two 4D lead acid batteries with Hydrocaps and a 100-amp 12 volt alternator manually regulated by an “AutoMAC” – now: 2 AC generators, a 275-amp 24-volt alternator, and a 16 AGM batteries: six 8Ds, two 4Ds; and eight GP-31s.
--Then: 300 watt inverter mostly to run electric drills and the like – now: 4 kW inverter to run all 120-volt appliances on the boat.
--Then: tiny icebox/freezer cooled by cold plate refrigeration and propane stove/oven - now: home-sized refrigerator/freezer with icemaker plus propane stove/oven and electric microwave/convection oven.

Cruising today in our Nordhavn is certainly more comfortable than back in 1984 in our little ketch, but the challenge of planning, undertaking and completing a successful passage is every bit as satisfying today as it was then. We've come a long way in 22 years!


Friday, May 19, 2006
From Milt Baker on board Bluewater

At sea 470 miles south of Bermuda.

Date and time: Friday May 18, Noon AST
Position: 24-34.2 N 64-34.5 W
Course: 015 deg. M
Average speed: 6.9 kts
Distance made good since departure: 346 NM
Distance made good noon to noon: 166 NM
ETA St. Georges, Bermuda: 0800 Monday, May 22
Conditions: Wind SSE 7-14 kts, seas SSE 3-4 ft., overcast, air temp. 81 deg.
F, sea temp. 80 deg. F, barometer 1031.2 mb steady

All systems are go as Bluewater continues on course for Bermuda in easy going. Our three-person one-dog crew remains well fed and well rested, and, so far at least, this is one very pleasant passage. Weather is light, but Bob says that’ll change somewhat as we pass through a front later today.

Yesterday Bluewater passed out of the tropics, defined as waters between the Tropic of Cancer (23.5 deg. N) and Tropic of Capricorn (23.5 deg. S). Water temperature has dropped 10 percent from our 88 degree high at Anegada, and the days are decidedly less steamy than in the Caribbean. The air conditioners aren’t having to work so hard!

We are reminded once more by the lack of other vessels what a lonely ocean it is when one is out of the shipping lanes. In the past 24 hours, we’ve found only two other vessels. One was a sailboat named Celebrate which came up on radar eight miles ahead and to port. We hailed him by radio and learned that, like Bluewater, he is enroute from the BVI to Bermuda. He was making good only 3.5 knots in the light air and could not yet project his ETA in Bermuda. Something quite nice about traveling in an ocean-going power boat is that, in spite of being headed by currents for much of this trip, it appears that our ETA Bermuda will be within a few hours of our original projection.

Fortunately, we have a good and compatible crew--not to mention incoming e-mail to keep us company! Thanks for your e-mails.

A number of people receiving our reports have commented in return e-mails on AIS, and we continue to be very pleased with it. Let me give you an example of why we like having it onboard. We normally keep our radar at six miles, going out to 24 or occasionally 36 miles or more to see what’s over the horizon. Yesterday we picked up a ship on AIS at about 18 miles and confirmed his presence with radar. By the time he was at 15 miles we had ID on him, a 945-foot cargo vessel named Manasota bound for Denmark. Based on the data transmitted by his AIS and diplayed on our Nobeltec navigation software, we could see that his CPA (closest point of approach) was going to be about 1.2 miles ahead of us—a little too close for comfort--if we both continued on course. His size notwithstanding, under the international rules of the road he was the burdened vessel, crossing from our port side aft of the beam. Dean and I watched the situation closely, and at 6 miles separation I called Manasota by name on VHF channel 16. He responded on my second call. I reported that we were the small, slow motor vessel six miles ahead on his starboard side and that we showed a CPA of 1.2 miles, then I asked that he turn to starboard to give us a safe pass of at least two miles astern. He came back immediately and rogered, saying that he would change course to starboard and give us a port-to-port pass two miles astern. The radio exchange was quick, professional, and clear. Almost immediately we could see his ship begin turning to starboard and his course (displayed on Nobeltec) changing. He passed just about two miles astern of us. Thanks to the AIS, we had a clear and unambiguous picture of the developing crossing situation including CPA. Being able to call him BY NAME on the radio is what made it so quick and easy to safely resolve the situation. It’s also what, almost surely, made him respond to us so quickly.

The ARPA (advanced radar plotting aid) on our Furuno radar provides similar information, and it’s an excellent complement to AIS. Significantly, however, it cannot provide the name of other vessels being tracked. Tracking the same vessel, we often find some significant differences between the ARPA data and the AIS data—especially the CPA and time of CPA. We have learned that the AIS data is virtually always more reliable and that’s because the AIS data on the other ship is coming right from his own GPS receiver and reaching us via a VHF datalink. Still, ARPA is a great asset because it tracks all vessels, not just those which have AIS transceivers onboard. However, all ships over 300 tons engaged in international trade are required to use AIS, so we can generally count on the big guys showing up on the AIS display.

Weather since yesterday has been very light and aft of our beam: typically SSE winds at 10 knots and SSE seas at 2-4 feet. This has made for a comfortable day, and the stabilizers are not working hard. Neither is Bluewater’s crew; we’re getting in lots of reading. We continue to be plagued with what appear to be random ocean currents on the nose. We’ll go from hours of having a half-knot current slowing us to hours of having the current go around and give us a push. At our 1850 RPM setting the knotmeter shows consistent boat speed of about 6.8 to 7.2 knots, but the over-the-bottom speed varies from about 6.0 to 7.7 knots. The real message is how many miles do we do in a day!

Weather-wise, here’s what OMNI’s Bob Jones is calling for over the next two days:

--Fri/19: Mostly cloudy, chance of showers/thunderstorms passing the front through the afternoon-evening. Chance of showers and thunderstorms, some of which could be heavy to severe. Winds SSE-SSW 08-16kt, up to 20kts at times nearing the front. ESE-SE to confused 3-5ft. Winds may become more ENE-NNE 08-15kt near and north of the front by late Fri/night.

--Sat/20: Variable to SW 07-14kts with mixed ESE-SE with WSW 3-5ft through morning/afternoon. Veer WSW-SW 08-15kts, gusty during the eve-night. Become mixed SE & SW 3-5ft nearing 30N/lat through the overnight

Jim Fuller of Summer Skis is underway from Florida, across the Gulf Stream, and having what sounds like a pleasant passage to Bermuda. We will try to make contact with him by SSB radio on 6727 at 2000 this evening.


Friday, May 19, 2006 
From Jim Fuller  on board Summer Skis
 
We have passed our first full 24 hours underway. The sunrise was spectacular. As of noon today we have traveled 209  nm  and have 696  nm  to go. Based on current calculations it looks like an arrival in St .  George's around 2200 on Monday. As we approach Bermuda these numbers might change due to wind, waves and currents.
 
Our weather router Chris Parker sent us a weather update this morning at 0600 that predicts the following weather for the balance of the trip : 
 
Light westerly winds between 10-15 kts  with a westerly ocean swell of about 4'. In the evenings this will moderate to less than 10 kn of wind and seas less than 3'. Based on this information we could not have asked for better weather.  Lets hope he is correct. On Tuesday night he is predicting a change of the weather that would bring in some stronger winds and higher seas. Based on current conditions we will be ahead of this front. He is also of the opinion that it might not even happen. It is still 4 days away.  
 
Today at 11:30 we opted to skip waypoint #6 and take a direct course to waypoint #7 that will get us to within 30 miles of Bermuda. This course change also took about 10 miles off our route. Due to the fact we only go 7 kts  this could equate to about an hour or more of time saved. Also on this course we will continue to get a favorable push by the current as well as the waves that are behind us. It is not unusual to see us doing 9 kts at times.
 
Traffic is starting to pick up. Last night we saw nothing. Today we have seen 4 sailboats northbound to the U.S.  We spoke to two of them and they left from the British Virgins early in the week and are bound for Beaufort, NC. We are now tracking a boat that is about 12 miles behind us and we expect him to pass us in about 2 hours. As we get closer to Bermuda we expect to see more boats both big and small.
 
For those of you who are of the superstitious ilk, we will be transiting the Bermuda Triangle until we arrive in Bermuda. Stay tuned for reports on the super natural.  
 
I found out last night that I am again a grandfather. Jennifer and Jack had son on Thursday. Both Mom and Maxwell Chambers Nickel are doing well. This gives Samuel Nickel a brother to play with. 
 
We have been in contact with our friends Milt and Judy Baker on the Nordhavn 47,  "Bluewater". They are bound for Bermuda and will arrive on Monday also. We will travel in company with them to Newport in early June.

Thursday, May 18, 2006
Awoke to a beautiful morning of calm winds and cool temperatures. Typical of a passing front. We cleared the sea buoy at 0700 to cross the Gulf Stream and our first way point 56 nm a little east of north. The seas were confused after the passing front running from the north at about 4-6'. Wind was NW at less than 10 Kts. We exited the Gulf Stream about 25 nm north of White Sand Ridge of Little Bahama Bank. Our second way point was a short one to avoid an eddy that would give us an unfavorable current. While in the Gulf Stream we had a favorable current and at times were doing over 8 Knots. Once passing waypoint 2 we are again heading on a more direct line to Bermuda. We passed 20 degrees north on this leg. Once out of the Gulf Stream the seas calmed down and the wind is now (1800 -6:00 PM) less than 5 Kts. Once we pass the next waypoint at 2030 (8:30) we will again change course again slightly toward Bermuda. Sometime tomorrow we will pick up our longest leg of 450 nm which will bring us to a point about 120 nm SW of Bermuda.

The boats systems are working well and we made approximately 70 Gal of water today. We have seen a number of large and small boats - in particular, a school ship out of Charleston, SC. We have also seen a couple of car carriers also. The radar is currently blank. We hope it stays that way tonight.

Current position: 28.08.64N 78.59.50W

Wednesday, May 17, 2006
We left Vero Beach, FL in anticipation of an early morning start from Ft. Pierce inlet. We anchored for the night in Faber Cove. A very secure and protected anchorage about 1 mile from the sea buoy.





Pre-departure:

We left Ft. Pierce, FL 28.30 N & 80.10 W. From Ft Pierce to Bermuda on a
straight line is 869 nm.
Bermuda's Lat/Long is: 65.00 W 32.00 N.
Based on anticipated currents and weather we will be diverting from the Rhumb Line (straight line course) to avoid unfavorable currents and weather. Our actual mileage to St. Georges Harbour Bermuda based on our current waypoints is 890 nm. If we can maintain a 7 kt speed this will put
us into Bermuda about mid day Tuesday.

There are three of us on board, Joe Ashley - a professor from Furman University in Greenville SC who was a participant on the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally. Charlee Poindexter of Annapolis, MD who owns a 40' sailboat that she has cruised extensively on the east coast. Charlee is also doing the cooking. Marge Fuller - though not with us on this trip - is a constant presence due to her extensive efforts in provisioning and providing numerous pre-cooked meals. Marge has loaded the freezer with enough food for the entire trip, including your nearly two-week stay in Bermuda. While in Bermuda Charlee & Joe have made arrangements to stay in Bermuda at a rental cottage in Hamilton. Marge & I will be staying on the boat at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.

 

 

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