Arrival Update from Med Bound Rally Leader Milt Baker
Our three Med Bound yachts arrived safely at Marina Bay, Gibraltar, at 1600
local today. Sonaia Hermida, first mate of the NAR N57 Goleen, was at
Tarifa to photograph our passage into the Strait of Gibraltar, and she met
us on the pier camera-in-hand. We all (except sleeping George) celebrated
in the dock office with champagne and again over dinner (George came this
time) at the head of the pier. What a great experience--both the crossing
and the celebrations!
Our two Nordhavn 55s and one Nordhavn 47 have safely and successfully
completed our Atlantic crossing, our 11 crewmembers (and two dogs) now
thinking, "This was not a big deal." Nonetheless, we all feel a great sense
of accomplishment and are delighted that we have done what so few human
beings ever get to do: crossing an ocean aboard a small, well-found yacht.
And lived to tell about it!
Seriously, the sense of satisfaction is overwhelming. We owe so much to so
many for making this happen! More soon I hope. Meanwhile, time to shift
gears from ocean-crossing-mode to Mediterranean-cruising-mode, something we
all look forward to with great eagerness.
Mother nature be damned! Despite weather delays out of Fort Lauderdale, FL
and Bermuda, and a rather bumpy couple of last days to round out the third
and final leg, the three Med Bound boats arrived this morning to Gibraltar
in a haze of glory (that is, a fog-covered Rock of Gibraltar), thus
culminating the journey that began way back on May 28. With the majestic "Rock" in the background, the small country once again welcomed a fleet of
Nordhavns - much in the same fashion as was done 3 years ago almost to the
Four Nordhavns were originally slated to make the trip across the Atlantic, so with a key player, a Nordhavn 62, opting to bow out at the last minute,
the achievement of this journey is even more momentous - and rewarding - for
the three who stuck with it, despite stabilizer issues, menacing seas, and
oftentimes, uncooperative fish! Everyone here at PAE congratulates
Bluewater, Moana Kuewa and Salty Dawg for a job well done. Stay tuned for a
full report from Rally leader Milt Baker as well as more photos from both
Horta and Gibraltar coming soon.
July 7, 2007
Captain's Log from Milt Baker, Rally Leader On board Nordhavn 47 "Bluewater"
Position 38-53.4 N 14.41.5 W as of 12:00 London time (GMT +1 hrs
Course 121 deg M
Speed 6.9 kts @ 2000 RPM
Distance to go: 484 NM to go to Gibraltar (42% of the way)
Distance made good past 24 hours: 164 NM (6.9 kt average)
Distance made good since Horta: 666 NM (58% of the way)
Total fuel consumed: (97.3 engine hours) 470 gals (32%), average 4.8 GPH
(incl. genset), fuel remaining 1010 gal. (68%)
Conditions: Wind NNE 7 kts, seas NE 2-4, clear skies with just a few clouds,
Barometer: 1025.2 and steady
Sea water temp: 69 deg F, air temp 78 deg F.
ETA Gibraltar: PM July 10
Could it be that by dropping in the paravanes yesterday we scared away the bad weather? The Med Bound fleet is making good time under sunny skies, still in light winds, flat seas with lazy swells, and barely a whitecap in sight. May our perfect trawler weather continue! We reached our 39N/15 waypoint and made a slight right turn for Cabo Sao Vicente at mid-morning.
Over the past few days I've begun to have the feeling that the nasty weather moving along the coast down to the cape might either blow itself out or move out of our way as we approach the cape. Maybe that's just wishful thinking. But maybe not. This morning, approaching our waypoint, I had to make a decision: keep heading east or turn towards the cape. Since Bob's forecast doesn't arrive until afternoon, I went to our backup weather resource: the so-called grib files from Ocens weather, downloading weather charts for the 72-hour forecasts for surface pressure, winds and seas for our patch of ocean. Voila! My reading of the data indicates that we can expect continued light winds and seas from the N most the way to the cape, though winds and seas should pick up on Monday as we get close to turning the corner. If the grib files are correct, the wind from the cape to the Strait of Gibraltar will go light and blow from the west with seas to match-exactly what we'd like to see for transiting the strait! I should point out that Bob's latest forecast, just received, does not agree-he's sticking to his guns, calling for winds over 30 knots with seas to match as we approach the cape and E winds (against the current) approaching the strait and in the strait itself. In reporting all this to our other two boats, I made the point that Bob is the professional and I'm the amateur, so whom to believe should be an easy choice.
Local weather conditions are a big deal in the waters around the Strait of Gibraltar, with the colder Atlantic systems battling it out with the warmed Mediterranean systems for control of weather in and around the strait. Thanks to these dynamics, some of the usual weather rules go out the window, and it pays to give attention to what the locals are saying and what conditions are being reported locally. Our friend Sonaia Maryon Davis is in the Gib area and sent us her first report on winds at Tarifa, nearly adjacent to the strait. We look forward to more reports on this from Sonaia!
Pam and Andy Wall reached Lagos, just around the corner from the cape, aboard Kandarik today. Here's part of a dispatch we received from Pam: "Last night I was wondering if I would ever be warm again! The wind was howling, the seas were huge, and I was really cold all night steering! And, now that we have arrived in Lagos, just got a berth for two nights! It is hot and still and sunny and we are dying of the heat!!!!! Just for your information, we had very strong, 25 to 35 NNE winds once we made the turn to the right at Lat 39N, and Lon 11W. All the rest of the day it was still pretty miserable even though we had the wind and seas behind us. Ships everywhere, NO visibility, more like thick fog, and lots and lots of wind! THEN at about 3AM, we were 40 miles from Cabo Sao Vicente, and bam! the wind stopped, soon the seas calmed down, the moon and stars came out, only thing that did not happen was a lack of ships to avoid! By early this morning, it is hard to believe we were motor sailing in light winds, and huge harmless lazy swells!"
Pam and Andy found calm conditions in the lee of the cape, and I hope such conditions are there when we arrive three days from now. Their e-mail reminds me that we'll have very hot weather in Gibraltar if our last visits there are anything to judge by. Welcome to the sunny Mediterranean!
The Med Bound fleet reached the halfway point from Horta to Gib last night, but nobody celebrated. We're all focused on getting where we're going, to be sure, but we're also enjoying the idyllic days at sea and the halfway point is no real reason for celebration. This passage-so far anyway-is proof positive that after a few days at sea on a well-found, well-run cruising yacht in good weather, things fall into a nice routine and it's easy to enjoy being at sea.
While Salty Dawg seems to be the boat that can attract and catch fish, Moana Kuewa seems to attract dolphins and whales and has reported more than the other two boats combined. At mid-day today, George was really excited when he spotted what he thought was a large dolphin, three boat-lengths away and coming right at us. "That's no dolphin," I told him as we both reached for our cameras. "It's a pilot whale." But pilot whales travel in pods and this guy was a loner. Looking at our ID book later, I'm quite sure what we saw was a pygmy sperm whale-easy to identify (using the book) because of its very small dorsal fin and surfacing pattern. Alas, he surfaced three or four times then sounded before we got a picture.
Speaking of sea life, Judy says Bluewater's freezers and reefers are full up with fish and will not let me drag a line behind the boat until we eat some of the fish down. Dennis, on the other hand, continues to fish from Salty Dawg, and at sunset last night, 24 hours after I caught my lone tuna of the trip, Salty Dawg got two on at the same time. Dennis reeled in one and Capt. David the other, landing two tuna about the size of the one I caught. We all surmise that they trolled through a feeding school of the fish. With two catches right at sunset, I'm tempted to ask the admiral if I can wet our line only at sunrise and sunset!
Dennis got busy with his onboard reference material and is convinced that the tuna we're catching are the ones called bigeye. To be sure, the eyes are outsized for the fish and that ID occurred to me, but, alas, I have no reference material on bigeye tuna but noted that Linda Greenlaw's book, Hungry Ocean, reported that bigeyes were keepers and were treated with the same respect as swordfish on her longline fishing boat. Dennis' reference material says that even a trained scientist finds it impossible to tell a small (juvenile?) big eye from a small yellowfin tuna. Both bigeye and yellowfin tuna are prized both as sportfish and for eating. The sashimi we had for lunch yesterday bears out the eating part.
The absence of boat problems in my daily reports should speak for itself, but for the record let me mention that all three Med Bound yachts continue to perform like the champs they are, keeping their crews comfortable and contented. Perhaps part of that is due to the work done on the boats and the inspections before departure from Fort Lauderdale, but there's more to it than that. Our Lugger (Bluewater) and John Deere (Moana Kuewa and Salty Dawg) engines, Northern Lights generators continue to purr along, and our frequent engine room checks seem all for naught-we virtually never find a problem. The problems seem to come, of course, more often aboard boats NOT checking engine rooms frequently! To be sure, we all have a few items on our maintenance lists but they're the kind of projects that can and should wait 'til we reach port.
Speaking of maintenance, I heard from Vic Kuzmovich at Naiad yesterday. Naiad Phil should be in Gibraltar on July 10, the day we expect to arrive, to tackle our stabilizer repairs. I suspect Phil will want to wait a day to let our 110-degree engine room cool down!
May your weekend weather be as pleasant as that we're having today!
July 3, 2007
Captain's Log from Milt Baker, Rally Leader On board Nordhavn 47 "Bluewater"
Position 38-22.9 N 28-22.8 W as of 12:00 Azores time (GMT - 0 hrs) Course 116 deg M Speed 7.1 kts @ 1800 RPM Distance to go: 1106 NM to Gibraltar Distance made good past 24 hours: 16 NM (6.8 kts) Distance made good since Horta: 16 NM Total fuel consumed (2.5 engine hours) 10 gals, average 4.0 GPH (incl. genset), fuel remaining 1470 gal. Conditions: Wind SW 10 kts, swells WSW 1-3, partly cloudy, visibility excellent Barometer 1032.7 mb and steady Sea water temp 70 deg F, air temp 78 deg F. ETA Gibraltar: PM July 10
Judy said over lunch today that so far on this Atlantic crossing adventure we've had 18 days underway and 18 days in port, and that seems a nice balance. It's good to be back at sea with our housekeeping chores done: oil changed, fuel tanks full, fuel filter changed, fully provisioned with fresh meat and produce, and a clean boat inside and out. Alas we were not able to repair the stabilizer problem in Horta. Bernie and I worked on it for several hours, with diagnostic help by phone from Vic Kuzmovich at Naiad. The present diagnosis is that we have a faulty servo, and Vic promises to have "Naiad Phil" meet in in Gibraltar to make repairs. (Phil visited the NAR boats in Bermuda, Horta and Gibraltar, so he's like an old friend.) We did so well with a single fin and our paravanes for the last half of the trip from Bermuda to Horta that this is not a hardship for us and suggested to Vic that Gib might be a better place for the repairs.
Our small Med Bound fleet was 45 minutes late getting underway this morning, thanks to a tardy government official who needed to stamp our passports and issue the clearance papers, then our next-door neighbor to port found he could not start his engine and move away and allow us to to clear the seawall. In time our agent extraordinaire Marco Quadros of the Bensaude Agency showed up with the passports and the next-door yacht was manhandled off, and Bluewater was underway followed quickly by Moana Kuewa and Salty Dawg.
Weather router Bob Jones promised a lovely day for departure and has delivered on his promise. Seas are flat as we cruise the south coast of Pico in search of whales. Duncan Sweet of Mid Atlantic Yacht services recommended this route, and Marco obtained the whale watch VHF channels (67 and 69) used by spotters high on Pico to direct small boats to whales spotted offshore. We've seen a couple of whale-watching boats, RIBs packed with a dozen life-jacketed tourists. George spotted a single whale tale and dolphins, but Judy and I saw only the dolphins. We're about two miles offshore, almost literally in the shadow of 7,700-foot Mount Pico, the "caldera" or volcanic cauldron that is the highest point in the Azores. The Med Bound group toured the island of Pico on Saturday, including a visit about halfway up to the top.
This marked my fourth visit to the Azores Islands. Duncan, who has lived there for close to 20 years, says he lives in paradise, and there's a strong argument to be made they he's right. The islands are so scenic, much like Hawaii with high mountains, lush green valleys, dark volcanic rock everywhere, and such warm, friendly people. We Americans can learn a lot from the slow pace of life in these islands! Horta is looking more prosperous than on our last visit--many new homes, new cars, and new businesses. We had the good fortune in Horta to visit with Duncan and other friends who call Faial home: Joao Carlos Fraga, Pat Smith, and Tim and Paula Colwell. Joao and Pat joined us for a drink last night--Pat coming laden with fresh bounty from her garden, and Tim and Paula took us to dinner the night before.
And so we're off on Leg Three of Med Bound 2007. Gibraltar is about seven days away, and we're looking forward to another terrific passage.
June 26, 2007
Here's a wrap-up of Bluewater's fuel burn, average speed, and mileage for
the 1800-mile run from Bermuda to Horta. Engine times are in hours, fuel
is in U.S. gallons, speeds are in knots, and mileage is in nautical miles.
|Bermuda to Horta
|12 kW Genset
|6 kW Genset
|Main Engine Usage
|GPH main engine only
|Nautical Miles Run from RBYC
|Average RPMs (estimate)
|Miles per gallon
|Gallons per mile
On the approach to Horta yesterday, Dennis Bruckel called from Salty Dawg and said Bluewater was a lot like a horse headed for the barn--the closer we got, the faster we went. He was right: as having enough fuel to reach our destination became less a consideration, I turned up the RPMs. To make sure we had plenty of fuel for the whole trip, we started the passage running at a modest 1700 RPMs; we ended it at 2100 RPMs. My estimate for average RPMs is in the range of 1850 to 1900. After arrival we measured 225 gallons left in the tanks, a 15% safety margin. It was the first time since we took delivery that the fuel level had been so low. We refuel tomorrow.
In considering the figures above, keep in mind that several real-world factors impacted our speed and mileage. The biggies were:
--Heavy load. Carrying a very heavy load of spares and supplies for what we expect will be three years of Mediterranean cruising and full tanks, Bluewater is about eight inches deeper in the water that she should be. (We know because we raised the boot top that much and are right on the lines of the new boot top!) That's a LOT more wetted surface than Jeff Leishman intended for the Nordhavn 47, and it surely slowed us down.
--Running on a single operating stabilizer. The port stabilizer failed a few days out of Bermuda. To keep the yacht stable, the starboard fin had to work much harder with less effectiveness and greater angles than a working pair of stabilizers. Especially when the seas were 4-6, this slowed us.
--Paravanes. Ours were in the water for about 25% of the passage at a penalty of perhaps .2 knots or about 5 miles a day. The excellent stabilization they provided was well worth the small speed penalty!
--Currents. As usual in the ocean, we found currents to vary widely. Sometimes we had as much as a knot with us and sometimes as much as that against us. My own "educated" guess is that we had an average of .2 against us for our 12 days offshore. However, Dave on Moana Kuewa monitored the difference between their knotmeter and GPS carefully and feels the net was about .2 knots with us. Dennis aboard Salty Dawg calls it a wash. Whatever current influence we had, on the average it wasn't a big factor.
--Winds and seas. It was our good fortune to have wind and seas aft of the beam for almost the whole trip. Not only did that make the trip a whole lot more comfortable, but it probably improved our speed. How much? Perhaps .2 to .3 knots or 5-7 miles a day.
--Stops and slowdowns. We didn't make many, but we did stop for an hour for a mid-ocean swim, slowed to a crawl for an hour or so to assess and repair our stuffing box, and stopped for a few minutes each to bring reel in a small sailfish and bring aboard a good eating-sized mahi-mahi.
Bottom line: Like many of the rest of you who venture offshore, I never truly know whether our offshore passages are typical for a our breed or not, and this one is no exception. No matter. Judy, George and I agree that our few small boat problems notwithstanding, this was one terrific passage. We're hoping our upcoming trip to Gibraltar will rival it!
June 25, 2007
Captain's Log from Milt Baker, Rally Leader On board Nordhavn 47 "Bluewater"
Position 38-23.1 N 29-23.7 W as of 12:00 Azores time (GMT – 0 hrs)
Course 092 deg M
Speed 7.5 kts @ 2100 RPM
Distance to go: 34 NM to Horta, Faial, Azores
Distance made good past 24 hours: 164 NM (6.8 kts)
Distance made good since Bermuda: 1784 NM
Total fuel consumed (287 engine hours) 1215 gals, average 4.2 GPH (incl.
genset), fuel remaining 265 gal.
Conditions: Wind NE 11 kts, swells N 2-3, partly cloudy, visibility excellent
Barometer 1035.2 mb and steady
Sea water temp 69 deg F, air temp 72 deg F.
ETA Horta: 1730 today
The Azores are tall volcanic islands with steep drop-offs right offshore, and they remind us very much of Hawaii—tall, bold, green, with everything bigger than life. The channel between the islands of Faial, to port, and Pico, to starboard, is dead ahead on the horizon. Clouds and just a touch of haze obscure the islands, and we are not able to see the top of Pico’s 7,700-foot peak, but the wide, deep channel is easy to pick out. The navigation waypoint we’ve been steering for since Bermuda coming up right on schedule; it’s 32 miles due east of us. And we don’t have to change course even a single degree!
Our trip has been so pleasant and uneventful that I am humbled and almost embarrassed by the thought that we are following in the wake of thousands of others who have made this passage in conditions far more arduous. I’m sure the Med Bound fleet has had an easier, more comfortable trip than most yachts—with better weather to boot. Although I never reminded my crew, it’s a rare eastbound passage to the Azores that doesn’t see at least one gale. Yet over the last 1,800 miles we’ve never seen wind over 30 knots!
When we left Bermuda on June 13, we expected a trip of 12 days. And here we are, 12 days later, making landfall right on schedule. That’s something I very much like about passagemaking under power—it’s a lot more orderly and predictable than passagemaking under sail. Looking ahead, 12 days seemed like an incredibly long passage. Looking back, it seems like nothing.
Chris Samuelson, owner and skipper of the Nordhavn 57 Goleen, who crossed in his boat with the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally, e-mailed the Med Bound fleet earlier today with good wishes. “Today you will arrive at Horta and will have crossed the Atlantic Ocean on your own bottoms,” said Chris. “Well done. The last leg to Gibraltar is still Atlantic but you are really in EU waters . . . Congratulations to your crew and to the other two crews and skippers.” We look forward to joining up with Chris and his admiral, Sonaia, for some Med cruising next month.
I don’t want to get maudlin, but Chris is right: we have indeed crossed the major part of the Atlantic now, and Europe lies ahead. Crossing the Atlantic as skipper of my own yacht has been a goal of mine for many years, and it feels very good indeed to be on the cusp of fulfilling that. To be honest, Judy and I briefly considered shipping Bluewater to the Mediterranean on one of the dock ships—in the end, however, I was sure I’d never be satisfied if we didn’t cross on our own bottom. I often reflect on the idea that in the final analysis, it’s the things you DON”T do that most of us regret far more than the things we DO.
The past 24 hours have been exactly as weather router Bob Jones predicted: flat, calm, and under the influence of very high pressure. A NE wind popped up overnight to provide a little surface chop, but our single stabilizer fin is handling that with aplomb and we’re very comfortable aboard Bluewater. From all reports, it’s very much the same aboard Moana Kuewa and Salty Dawg—comfortable, contented crews very much looking forward to landfall. David notes that Dani’s nose is in the air and she can sense the land nearby. Katy, on the other hand, is far more interested in the lunch Judy is preparing for us and has no idea that, after 12 days at sea, she’s mere hours away from finding a patch of grass.
I’ve exchanged e-mails over the past 24 hours with Marco Quadros, our agent in Horta, and just spoke with him on the satellite phone. As much as we would like to have all three yachts together in the new marina, that’s not going to happen. We have to recognize that this is the busiest time of the year for the marina at Horta with literally thousands of yachts visiting during May, June and July. The upshot is that Bluewater and Moana Kuewa will be berthed on the quay wall at the old marina, and Salty Dawg will be in the new marina, a 10-minute walk away. The quay (pronounced “key” by the way) is the same wall where the Delta 70 Zopilote laid when I joined Bruce and Joan Kessler in 1988 for my first Atlantic crossing. It’s also where Judy and I visited with Steve and Karyn James aboard Threshhold when we were in the Azores for the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally in 2004. In a sense, this is like coming home!
Before closing, let me do a few salutes:
--First to Bluewater's admiral and crew: Judy has done a fantastic job of organizing, preparing and getting ready for this trip--the logistics were overwhelming. And she has put up with a cantankerous skipper and needy dog for over 1,000 miles to Bermuda and another1,800 miles to the middle of the Atlantic. A skipper could not ask for a better mate and a husband could never have a better wife and partner!
--To crewmember George Howerton. He fits right in, shoulders more than his share of the load, and is one terrific shipmate. It's good to go to sea with people you like, and we really like and admire George.
--To the other Med Bound yachts and their crews: Moana Kuewa, with skipper Chris Bauman, mate Bernie Francis, and crewmembers Dave and Mary Ann Plumb; and Salty Dawg, with skipper David and admiral Lowie Bock and crewmembers Dennis and Esther Bruckel. You guys all made traveling together on a pasage all it's cracked up to be!
--To Pacific Asian Enterprises and especially to Jim Leishman, Amy Zahra and Jenny Stern: Our deepest thanks for all you've done to make Med Bound 2007 such a terrific and memorable event for those of us taking part. As I've said many times, we could not have done it without you.
Lots to do to get ready for landfall so I’ll quit here and get this off. We expect to be in Horta for about a week, and this will be our last report until we are ready to depart Horta.
June 17, 2007
For half of the Med Bound 2007 group, the rally has come to a successful conclusion. On Sunday morning around 9 am, the final three participating boats in the Newport-bound group arrived to their slips at the Newport Harbor Hotel and Marina. Nordhavn 47 Imagine departed on Monday due to scheduling requirements and arrived safely to Newport on Friday afternoon. The weather was rough per weather predictions, but nothing dangerous. It was "slightly uncomfortable" depending on who you asked. Rumor has it that Nordhavn naval architect, Jeff Leishman, a crewmate on board Imagine, slept comfortably for most of the trip! The following day, Imagine's crew departed for their homes, leaving owner Greg Beckner to bring the boat two miles north to Nordhavn's northeast office in Portsmouth where she'll stay for a few weeks until Greg's schedule frees up again.
One day later, N43 Summer Skis, N40 Beso and N62 New Frontier all pulled in after four glorious days at sea. All crews agreed that holding off the additional time to depart Bermuda was worth the comfortable ride they enjoyed. The groups arrived rested and ready to party at The Mooring restaurant in Newport Sunday night for the PAE-hosted "wrap-up" party. Joined by Scott Marks, owner of N64 Shearwater docked in Newport and Barry Kallander, owner of N40 Commander berthed in Portsmouth at Nordhavn's docks, representatives from the Northeast office and other distinguished guests, a great time was had by all.
The crews will enjoy one more day in Newport (forecasted to be another gorgeous, warm summer day) before all heading up to Portsmouth to "hang out" for a while to get work done before continuing on their individual itineraries.
P.A.E. salutes all the boats who completed this great journey. It is a testament to all who participated and we hope it has given them the confidence to continue seeking great adventures in the future!
June 14, 2007
Captain's Log from Milt Baker, Rally Leader
On board Nordhavn 47 "Bluewater"
Position: 32-47 N 62-19W, course 094 deg. M, speed 6.2 knots, distance from Bermuda 136 NM, dsitance to go 1680 NM. Weather: beautiful sunny skies, light SW winds and seas yesterday have given way to full overcast, sprinkles to light rain, winds SW 10 kts, seas SW 2-4 ft. Water and air temp 74 deg. F. Barometer 1016 MB and steady as a rock for the past 12 hours. Bluewater, Moana Kuewa and Salty Dawg are moving along nicely, averaging about 6.3 knots with these aft-of-the-beam winds. and seas. No fish.
June 13, 2007
Captain's Log from Jim Fuller, Group 1 Leader
On board Nordhavn 43 "Summer Skis"
We left today at 1005 from the dock and made the turn for a rhumb line run at 1330 with clear skies and lots of sunshine. The weather looks good for most of the trip based on all the reports we are getting. Those who left before us because of commitments have had some uncomfortable conditions. We hope we will not encounter the same weather. We are traveling in company with BESO the Nordhavn 40 and New Frontier a 62' Nordhavn. As we left today we are seeing quite a bit of boating activity. The Newport to Bermuda One/Two race is finishing. This is a sailboat race that left Newport about 5 days ago with one person on the boat and in a week the same boats will race back to Newport with two people on board. In addition we also saw another Nordhavn coming into Bermuda from Newport today as well. (ed. note: Nordhavn 46 "Frog Kiss".) We are getting back into the routine of being at sea again. Only this time it will be considerably less time on the water. We are looking to arrive in Newport sometime on Sunday.
I will sign off for now and give you full report on our first 24 hours tomorrow.
June 11, 2007
Captain's Log from Milt Baker, Rally Leader
On board Nordhavn 47 "Bluewater"
MED BOUND YACHTS STUCK IN BERMUDA
The pressure is down and the pressure is on.
If you wondered why you haven't heard much from Med Bound 2007 in a few days, consider that the eight yachts arrived in Hamilton a week ago today, and crewmembers have been focused on getting their yachts ready and seeing Bermuda. However, barometric pressure is down as another low pressure system hovers near Bermuda, bringing windy, squally weather--far from ideal weather for beginning another ocean passage.
"Our luck on the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally was incredible," said Nordhavn marketing director Jennifer Stern in Newport. "We had nine events pre-planned, and we hit all nine perfectly." But that was 2004 and this is 2007, a very different year in the North Atlantic weather-wise.
Med Bound's departure from Fort Lauderdale was delayed by high winds and seas, and now the rally's departure from Bermuda is delayed for the same reason. We had hoped to have all Med Bound yachts depart Bermuda this weekend, but weather router Bob Jones is firm in his recommendations against departing. All we have to do is look out the window to see how right he is: grey skies, squalls, and heavy winds from the wrong direction. The Bermuda marine forecast puts is succinctly:
"Low pressure to our north will bring blustery winds and higher seas for a time. Unsettled weather associated with a nearby frontal boundary will persist into Monday. Today - winds westerly 20 to 30 knots gusts to 35 knots, easing west-southwesterly 15 to 25 knots later... Widespread showers with fair to poor visibility, isolated thunderstorms... Seas outside the reef 6 to 9 ft... Tonight - winds west-southwesterly 15 to 25 knots, gradually easing southwesterly 10 to 15 knots by the end of the night... Patchy rain or showers with fair to poor visibility... Seas outside the reef 6 to 9 ft, decreasing..."
So we wait, watching the weather on the Internet, and hoping for improvement.
Meanwhile, crew members are getting antsy because long delays were not in the original plan. While the yachts headed for the Mediterranean have crewmembers with open schedules, those returning to the U.S. have schedules to meet-and we're all seeing once more that schedules and ocean-crossing passages in small yachts do not make good bedfellows.
As we wait, crew reinforcements are arriving. Jeff Leishman, chief designer of the Nordhavn yachts, has joined the crew of Greg Beckner's N47 Imagine, along with Andy Hegley of the Nordhavn Southeast Sales Office. Dave Balfour of the Nordhavn Northeast Sales office has joined the crew of Jim Fuller's N43 Summer Skis.
Jim Fuller, leader of the Med Bound division heading for Newport, held a skipper's meeting this morning to outline plans for the passage. The Newport bound boats were set to depart on Tuesday, then another e-mail from weather router Bob Jones arrived. Bottom line from Bob's latest routing advisory: "In a nutshell, if we are looking for the best weather window, there will likely be the need to wait beyond June 17th as this type of pattern just does not allow that kind of stability. Weather windows of 3-5 days across the western Atlantic just will not happen for the next 7-10 days."
So we wait.
On a positive note, I am pleased to report that the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club's legendary hospitality is alive and well. Commodore Andy Cox has his club operating at peak efficiency, welcoming visiting yachts from around the world. Med Bound has enjoyed a welcome barbeque, a fish cookout with chef Joey Boothby presiding over the grill, and a superb bon voyage dinner-jackets, ties, Bermuda shorts and high sox in order.
Crews are scurrying all over Hamilton, buying provisions, acquiring the odd boat part, and in my case having a technician fly in to replace a vital hydraulic actuator. The boats are looking good, the crews are ready, and all we need now is a good weather window. Tomorrow we observe the Queen's Birthday with a parade featuring the Bermuda Regiment.
June 3, 2007
Captain's Log from Milt Baker, Rally Leader
On board Nordhavn 47 "Bluewater"
All eight Med Bound 2007 yachts arrived at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (RBYC) today just after noon.
On hand to direct the docking was RBYC marina manager and dockmaster James Barnes, a true expert at his craft. Bluewater, the Med Bound 2007 flagship, was first to dock, and I was off the boat quickly to assist James and direct other Med Bound yachts into the club docks.
We had pressed hard to reach Bermuda ahead of a forecast weaather system related to Tropical Storm Barry. Winds increased to 25 to 30 knots as the Med Bound fleet made its way in through The Narrows channel and on to the club, but they were down by the time we arrived at the docks.
RBYC Commodore Andy Cox, a longtime friend of mine, and his wonderful wife Sonia were on hand to greet us and welcome the Med Bound fleet to the hospitable Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. In less than 90 minutes, all Med Bound yachts were docked, and Bermuda customs officer Ken Fox had handled our inbound clearance with dispatch, good humor, and the usual warm Bermuda hospitality.
The afternoon found Med Bound skippers and crewmembers comparing notes, congratulating one another on the passage, and visiting back and forth. Med Bound's two dogs, Bluewater's schipperke Katy and Salty Dawg's labradoodle Danforth ("Dani"), made straight for the grass. Katy, a Bermuda veteran, headed straight for the next-door park at Albuoy Park, to do her favorite search for chicken bones.
Dani was content just to go to ground.
The forecast weather system had not truly arrived by 10 pm when the tired Med Bound crew--most of us, at least--headed for bed.
Bottom line: great passage, no mechanical or medical problems of note, and all yachts safely moored at RBYC after an excellent six-day 1,035-mile passage in company. We departed as acquaintance and arrived as good friends!
June 2, 2007
Captain's Log from Jim Fuller, Group 1 Leader
On board Nordhavn 43 "Summer Skis"
We have arrived!!!!!!!
On June 2 at 1215 after 1006 Nautical Miles we turned off the engine on Summer Skis at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. The last night under way was uncomfortable as the remnants of TS Barry were pushing up against a Bermuda High and created a very confused sea state as well as winds in the-20 Knot range from the opposite direction of the waves and swells. Pat spotted Gibbs Hill Light at 0423 exactly 3 minuets off the predicted time that we estimated.
This report will be brief as I am on my way to the airport to pick up Marge.
I will be posting a more detailed report of our last night at sea.
May 28, 2007
After waiting out weather in Fort Lauderdale four days after the scheduled departure, the Med Bound 2007 fleet of boats finally headed out to sea on late Monday afternoon. Med Bound's weather forcaster, Bob Jones of Omni Marine Forecasting predicted a bumpy first night for the group with conditions easing the rest of the week. Scheduled arrival to Bermuda is now June 3. See the Itinerary section for current updates.
Here is the Omni weather report for the fleet's crossing to Bermuda:
Basis an ETD Mon/pm along the suggested route, expect:
East 15-20kts, could be as high as 25kts at the outset (thru at least sunset) with waves at least 4-6ft, upto 7ft as vessels become more exposed and lose the limited protection of Grand Bahama Island. Swells ENE 4-6ft, could be as high as 7ft (8-9sec) during the overnight hours. Should remain partly cloudy, no rain expected. Winds may ease to 14-18kts by midnight and during the overnight hours, which should allow seas to ease closer to 4-5ft.
AM: ENE-E 12-18kts, waves 3-5ft, swells ENE 4-6ft, 8-9sec.
PM: ENE-E 10-15kts, waves 3-4ft, swells ENE 4-6ft, 8-9sec, tending to lower ENE 3-5ft 7-8sec thru the overnight.
AM: E-ENE 07-12kts, waves 2-3ft. Swells ENE 2-4ft, 7-8sec.
PM: ENE 08-15kts, waves 2-3ft. Swells ENE 2-4ft, early, ease to 1-3ft toward the night.
AM: ENE-E 07-14kts, waves 2-3ft. Low swells, ENE-ESE 1-3ft.
PM: ENE-E 07-14kts, waves 2-3ft. Swells ENE-E 1-3ft.
AM: ENE-E 08-15kts, waves 2-3ft. Swells ENE-E 1-3ft.
PM: ENE-ESE 08-15kts, waves 2-3ft. Swells ENE-ESE 2-3ft.
AM: ENE-E, 07-12kts, waves 1-3ft. Swells E-confused 1-3ft. Light/variable winds are possible late.
PM: ENE-ESE 05-12kts, waves 1-2ft. Swells confused 1-2ft. Light/variable winds are possible early.
AM: ENE-ESE 08-15kts, waves 2-3ft. Swells ENE-E 1-3ft.
PM: ENE-ESE 08-15kts, waves 2-3ft. Swells ENE-E 2-4ft.
After 10 days of seminars, inspections, preparations and social events at Fort Lauderdale's Coral Ridge Yacht Club, nine Nordhavn trawlers ranging from 40 to 62 feet in length departed Fort Lauderdale for Bermuda on the Med Bound 2007 rally today. Thirty- four persons are on board.
The salty yachts turned many heads on the crowded Intracoastal Waterway on Memorial Day as they made their way beneath the Sunrise Boulevard Bridge, then the Las Olas Bridge and 17th Street Causeway Bridge into Port Everglades where they assembled for a formation departure.
"This trip is the culmination of a huge amount of planning," said rally organizer Milt Baker before shoving off, "and it's wonderful to see it all come together."
The yachts left the Port Everglades channel in single file, their departure covered by marine photographer David Shuler from a helicopter. With big numbers on their sides, the nine yachts turned north at the sea buoy, maneuvered into three lines of three yachts, as the helicopter maneuvered overhead.
Jim Leishman, vice president of Nordhavn builder Pacific Asian Enterprises, observed the departure from the helicopter. "It was a beutiful picture," Leishman said, "all those Nordhavns setting out for Bermuda."
Leishman was the leader of the history-making Nordhavn Atlantic Rally in 2004 when 18 yachts and close to 100 people crossed the North Atlantic to Gibraltar in the first ocean-crossing convoy-style rally for motor yachts.
Med Bound had been scheduled to depart Fort Lauderdale on May 24, but delayed its departure on the recommendation of weather router Bob Jones of Ocean Marine Navigation Inc., who saw better weather coming. On departure, the Med Bound fleet found easterly winds about 20 knots with 4-6 foot swells offshore, much the same kind of weather the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally had for its start three years ago.
Less than two hours out of Port Everglades, the nine northbound Nordhavns hailed a similar vessel headed south. The Nordhavn 62 Patty M, owned by John and Gail Maloney, was being delivered from Europe to Fort Lauderdale by a delivery crew. "Two months ago we were in Croatia," the delivery skipper told the Med Bound skippers, "and we're just completing a very easy Atlantic crossing via Gibraltar and the Canaries."
Three of Med Bound's yachts will continue on to the Azores and Gibraltar, and six will return to the U.S. east coast from Bermuda.