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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

Land-ho!

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 24, 2007
Captain's Log from Milt Baker, Rally Leader On board Nordhavn 47 "Bluewater"

Position 37-50.6 N 32-41.2 W as of 12:00 Mid-Atlantic time (GMT – 2 hrs)
Course 093 deg M
Speed 7.1 kts @ 2000 RPM
Distance to go: 196 NM to Horta, Faial, Azores (10% of the way)
Distance made good past 24 hours: 171 NM (7.1 kts)
Distance made good since Bermuda: 1626 NM (90% of the way)
Total fuel consumed (275 engine hours) 1090 gals, average 4.0 GPH (incl.
genset), fuel remaining 390 gal. (fuel used/remaining: 74%/26%)
Conditions: Wind N 5 kts, swells N 2-3, clear, visibility excellent
Barometer 1030.1 mb and rising
Sea water temp 72 deg F, air temp 77 deg F.
ETA Horta: PM Monday, June 25, 2007

Almost there!

My good friend, circumnavigator Bruce Kessler likes to make the point that the best passage is a boring passage. What he means is that on a boring passage everything worked like it was supposed to, there were no heroics required, no broken parts to fix, no bad weather to endure, and no huge obstacles to overcome. Using those criteria, this leg definitely qualifies as an excellent passage.

The Med Bound fleet has little to report today: the terrific weather continues, buoying everyone’s spirits. The three yachts are moving along well, still in our loose inverted-V formation, in calm seas and light winds, and we’re all looking forward to reaching the Azores. As we get closer, Bluewater—the “hold-back boat” has increased RPMs to 2000, taking our daily average above 7 knots for the first time on this leg. We’re doing our best to arrive with just the right amount of fuel!

Old friends Pam and Andy Wall, cruising in the Azores aboard their terrific Freya 39 Kandarik and leaving soon for the Med, are now on the island of Terciera. They e-mailed us yesterday recommending that we stop at the westernmost of the islands, Flores. To quote Pam, “We stopped there last summer for two days, and could hardly pull ourselves away a month later. We really loved it. . . It is absolutely gorgeous!” As much as we wish we could do that, we have a bone in our teeth for Horta where the ever-efficient Marco Quadros is ready with slip reservations, spare parts, and his ready smile. We hope we’ll be able to stop at one or more of the “downwind” Azores enroute to Gibraltar.

Yesterday afternoon while I was napping the fishing line went off. George and Judy slowed the boat, and I was up in a flash. We brought in a 31-inch mahi-mahi, which we promptly filleted, and Judy made a simple marianade. The weather is so calm we lit the grill and enjoyed our catch of the day, about four hours from water to dinner plate. It does not get much better! We still have a about three meals of frozen mahi-mahi left from our April catch in the Bahamas, and enough for one more meal now frozen from yesterday’s catch. The line is back out today. Based on his NAR experience, Scott Flanders e-mailed us from Argentina, the best fishing on this leg is the few miles to Horta. “Don't pull your lines in until you are somewhat near the breakwater or at least out of the current in the pass between Faial and Pico,” he said. Scott is the real deal when it comes to fishing, a serious angler with the equipment, knowledge and experience to keep Egret’s freezer topped off with the good stuff. We appreciate and will follow his advice.

With my record, I am not one to be giving advice on fishing but there is one morsel I can offer with confidence: if you are interested in catching fish for your table from your cruising yacht, by all means get a copy of The Cruiser’s Handbook of Fishing by Scott and Wendy Bannerot and read it cover to cover. Cruising World calls this “the definitive book” on fishing for cruisers, and I agree 100%. It’s a hands-on guide and it teaches the fledgling fisher that landing fish for food is much more than a matter of luck. My “luck” has improved since I began reading and paying attention to what the Bennerots have to say. It’s $18.95 well spent!

Our AIS experiment continues, though at a slow pace with just a little more data to add to the mix: Moana Kuewa picked up the MV Augusta today 1230 at 24.7 miles and Bluewater picked up the same ship at 1325 at 20.9 miles. At this writing, Salty Dawg has not yet picked up the ship; they may not since it has a CPA of 14 miles.

We move our clocks ahead one hour at 1700 today, bringing us to Azores time (GMT minus one hour). When there’s nothing but water all around, a time zone change is always a good reminder that one is making progress. Here we are on what promises to be our last full day on this passage, channel fever definitely taking hold. Chris and Lowie have been chatting on the radio about where to stop in the Azores, tours in Spain, and more. Suddenly we’re all land-focused rather than sea-focused!

How long will we be in the Azores? Hard to say, but we’re thinking of staying in Horta for about a week, then moving on. We’ll discuss what’s next with the other Med Bound boats when we’re in Horta.

 

June 23, 2007
Captain's Log from Milt Baker, Rally Leader On board Nordhavn 47 "Bluewater"

Position 35-15.4 N 36-13.1 W as of 12:00 Mid-Atlantic time (GMT – 2 hrs)
Course 095 deg M
Speed 6.4 kts @ 1900 RPM
Distance to go: 368 NM to Horta, Faial, Azores (20% of the way)
Distance made good past 24 hours: 146 NM (6.1 kts)
Distance made good since Bermuda: 1455 NM (80% of the way)
Total fuel consumed (240 engine hours) 950 gals, average 4.0 GPH (incl.
genset), fuel remaining 530 gal. (fuel used/remaining: 64%/36%)
Conditions: Wind calm, swells 2-3 confused, clear, visibility excellent
Barometer 1030.1 mb and rising
Sea water temp 73 deg F, air temp 81 deg F.
ETA Horta: PM June 25, 2007

Day Ten on this Med Bound 2007 passage to Horta dawned oily calm with a high barometer, the highest we’ve seen on this trip. That puts us smack in the middle of the Azores/Bermuda high, and it makes for just about perfect cruising. There’s a spark in everyone’s voice, and you can sense “channel fever” setting in as we close the distance to Horta. Our Nobeltec electronic charting software computes a new estimated time of arrival (ETA) every time the speed changes, but it’s leaning toward arrival in Horta late Monday.

The weather is ideal for many things. Moana Kuewa and Salty Dawg both decided to shut down main engines to check oil, and at least some of the Moana Kuewa crew jumped over the side to check running gear. Moments before David on Salty Dawg claimed to have seen a shark, but the tough Moana Kuewa crew ignored the “threat” and jumped in anyway.

Aboard Bluewater, we concluded that we could pull the paravanes and pick up a little speed. George and I hauled the vanes after breakfast and, sure enough, speed increased by perhaps two or three tenths of a knot. We’re back to using our single working Naiad stabilizer fin in active mode (the low setting), a configuration that removes nearly all roll in these flat seas and does not seem to reduce our speed. We like the flexibility of having fins, er, fin, and paravanes.

Meanwhile, Judy is baking her third batch blueberry muffins on this leg, George is down to his next-to-last pack of cigarettes, and the skipper is feeling very good about the fuel situation: 20% of the passage to Horta remains with 36% of our fuel remaining, and good weather is forecast for a straight run in to Horta. Now we’ll have shift out focus on to burning down fuel so we can take on the minimum required to qualify for duty free pricing. At the low speeds we’ve been running, the Nordhavn 55s have been burning about the same amount of fuel as our Nordhavn 47, and they carry nearly 1,000 gallons more. That means they have lots of fuel left. Their skippers are considering whether or not to take on duty free fuel in Horta and will make their decisions soon.

Perhaps it’s my early background in destroyers in the U.S. Navy, but I learned long ago to take on fuel at every opportunity. Braun Jones and I think alike on that score: more fuel buys options, and less fuel crosses options off the list. Personally, I’d like all the options open! On this rally, every captain makes his or her own decisions so I will not try to persuade the other skippers to take on fuel, though for me it’s a no-brainer. The passage from Horta to Gibraltar is about 1,130 miles, roughly 170 hours at 6.6 knots, so at a fuel burn of 4.5 gallons per hour our yachts should burn less than 1,000 gallons, including generator time. Gibraltar is an excellent place to refuel—probably the lowest prices we’ll see in the Mediterranean.

Something else on the agenda today aboard Bluewater is haircuts. Judy knows better than to trust me giving her a haircut, so she had a haircut in Bermuda. My last haircut was about six weeks ago in Fort Lauderdale, and I am definitely on the shaggy side. George is too. Tucked away among Bluewater’s many tools is an excellent set of Oster electric barber clippers together with a pair of German barber scissors. Even with the boat rolling, the prospects are good that George and I will end the day looking much neater than we started it.

I’d love to give you more results on our AIS testing but we have not raised a ship since yesterday’s report. When Moana Kuewa fell astern while checking the running gear and doing other chores, Salty Dawg discovered that they lost part of the Moana Kuewa AIS signal; at 4.5 miles from Moana Kuewa they received the basic data (transmitted every few seconds), but failed to receive the other AIS “sentence,” typically transmitted every few minutes. Bluewater received all the data just fine at six miles from Moana Kuewa. Clearly, we have something going on here, and Med Bound seems a good laboratory for exploring the differences. Andy Lund of the N46 Resolution weighed in and may be able to put us in contact with someone at Furuno who would find this kind of side-by-side at-sea comparison useful.

Late yesterday we spotted a sail on the horizon about six miles distant late, but two of our three yachts tried hailing it without a response. The sail slipped off over the horizon to starboard a couple of hours later. In today’s calm, we’re seeing all manner of flotsam—a lobster pot buoy, a wooden cask, a small fender, a big fishing net marker with a radar reflector at the top, lots of small fishing floats, and the usual pieces of polypropylene line big and small. With flat seas and no chop to obscure, the trash is much in evidence.

On this leg of Med Bound 2007, we have three well-traveled Nordhavn motor yachts. Chris just called from Moana Kuewa to tell us that today her yacht passed its 10,000th mile, an impressive number--but all the more impressive when you consider that she took delivery of her boat barely over a year ago--in California on May 28, 2006. Since that time, with Chris as captain Moana Kuewa has completed a shakedown cruise to the north and then the south around the notorious Point Conception (the so-called Cape Horn of California), down through Mexico and Central America, through the Panama Canal, out to the San Blas Islands, on (into the teeth of the winter Caribbean tradewinds) to Aruba, St. Thomas, and up to Florida before joining Med Bound last month. Moana Kuewa has 1570 engine hours, an average of 120 per month since commissioning.

Bluewater has a few more miles in her wake. By coincidence at 1345 local today we marked our 12,000th mile. But we were commissioned in Florida in September 2005, well ahead of Moana Kuewa, so Moana Kuewa is catching us rapidly! Since commissioning, Bluewater has ventured from Florida to the Chesapeake, then offshore to Puerto Rico, across the Caribbean to Venezuela and its offshore islands for the winter, then back to the Virgin Islands, on to Bermuda, then to Maine last summer, and back to Florida to get ready for Med Bound 2007. Bluewater now has 1830 hours on the main engine, an average of 87 hours per month since commissioning.

Salty Dawg just passed her 1,000th engine hour. She was commissioning in February 2006, has completed two round trips between Florida and New England, and Dennis Bruckel—aboard for almost every one of those hours—estimates she has about 6,500 nautical miles in her wake. Salty Dawg’s monthly average since commissioning is about 62 engine hours.

When you consider that the average boat owner puts perhaps 200 engine hours on his or her boat each year, the numbers above speak for themselves! Just in case you couldn’t tell, you have three pretty serious crews on these Med Bound yachts! But there are many more Nordhavn owners better traveled: Heidi and Wolfgang Hass, Andy Lund, Scott Strickland, Scott an Mary Flanders, John and Gail Maloney, Fred and Chris Caron, Braun and Tina Jones, Bill and Arline Smith, Bob and Jan Rothman, Wayne and Laurel Hill, Dave and Karen Crannell, Chris Samuelson and Sonaia Maryon-Davis, Dick and Gail Barnes, Bill and Ellen Bane, and John and Sue Spencer to name a few!

 

June 22, 2007
Captain's Log from Milt Baker, Rally Leader On board Nordhavn 47 "Bluewater"

Position 36-45.7 N 39-11.4 W as of 12:00 Mid-Atlantic time (GMT – 2 hrs)
Course 095 deg M
Speed 6.2 kts @ 1800 RPM
Distance to go: 514 NM to Horta, Faial, Azores (28% of the way)
Distance made good past 24 hours: 140 NM (5.8 kts)
Distance made good since Bermuda: 1301 NM (72% of the way)
Total fuel consumed (216 engine hours) 860 gals, average 4.0 GPH (incl.
genset), fuel remaining 620 gal. (fuel used/remaining: 58%/42%)
Conditions: Wind W 10 kts., swells 2-4 occ. 3-5 ft from 250 deg M, clear,
visibility excellent
Barometer 1025.3 mb and rising
Sea water temp 75 deg F, air temp 85 deg F.
ETA Horta: June 26, 2007

All’s right with the world aboard Bluewater as we make our approach to the Azores:
--Barometer is rising;
--Wind and sea are declining;
--Whitecaps are disappearing;
--Weather Bob is calling for good conditions all the way into Horta;
--We’re making good time towards the Azores.

Two-time circumnavigators Heidi and Wolfgang Hass once told me that the below-the-surface noise from the paravanes aboard their Nordhavn 46 never failed to raise fish. With out paravanes in the water, I had great hopes that ours might do the same, but we’ve tried dragging a fishing line for two days now without a strike. Not so for Med Bound 2007 fish-meister Dennis Bruckel who told us, with more than a little pride in his voice, that he hooked three small tuna, brought all three aboard, and returned two to King Neptune. The other, cut into filets, is being served for Lowie Bock’s birthday lunch today aboard the Dawg.

Our paravanes may not be much at raising fish, but they continue to do yeoman service for stabilization, and Bluewater remains very comfortable. We’ve turned off the active fin stabilizer altogether. We don’t really need it for stabilization now and it tends to slow the boat down slightly. Nevertheless, the parts will be waiting for us in Horta and I’ll happy to have our active fin system back on line.

We heard today from John Harris, who crossed on the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally in 2004 as owner and captain of the Nordhavn 46 World Odd @ Sea with no active fin stabilizers, depending on paravanes all the way across. After reading my description of launching the paravanes, John was kind enough to provide some suggestions for a better way to do the launch:

1. Slow the boat to near idle - 2 or 3 knots;
2. Let out enough fetch cable to allow the loop in the cable to just touch the water, i.e. most of what you will need;
3. Pitch the fish in the water and let the tow cable take most of the shock and load, not the fetch cable, - there is no need to orient the fish- that will happen all on its own;
4. Let out enough additional fetch cable to allow some slack in the fetch cable;
5. Return to normal cursing speed for best stability.”

As I told John by return e-mail, “My crewmember George also suggested letting out more cable, then tossing in the paravane and letting the tow cable take most of the shock but I was afraid to try that. Hearing from you that it works, I'll give it a try next time 'round. Especially when the boat is rolling, the time when the fish is kissing the water then becomes a pendulum then goes back to the water--that's the difficult time! It's also the time when we're at most risk for damaging the boat with an out-of-control paravane.”

In response to my comments about Moana Kuewa always picking up targets ahead of Bluewater and Salty Dawg, Capt. Braun Jones of Grey Pearl e-mailed and asked about the difference in the AIS installations. We’ll compare notes in Horta, but the short answer is that Bluewater and Moana both have the same Furuno model FA-150 AIS units Braun has aboard Grey Pearl, and Salty Dawg’s is an ACR Marine Electronic model Nauticast AIS. Bluewater has the standard antennas that came with the Furuno unit, and Chris is not certain what VHF antenna Moana Kuewa is using for the AIS. We’re started a little experiment that may be of interest to those of you interested in AIS performance (are you listening, Ben?). When Moana Kuewa picks up an AIS target, she notifies Bluewater of the time and distance. When Bluewater picks up the same target, she notifies Salty Dawg. When the Dawg picks up the same target, she reports. Here’s data for the first two ships:

M/V Fezzano:
First detected by Moana Kuewa at 24.4 NM at 2007 local at 36-27 N 40-41W
First detected by Bluewater at 15.3 NM at 2030 local
First detected by Salty Dawg at 8.5 NM at 2105 local

M/V Federal Asahi
First detected by Moana Kuewa at 23.6 NM at 1009 local at 36-21 N 39-55 W
First detected by Bluewater at 16.9 NM at 1125 local
First detected by Salty Dawg at 12.0 NM at 1230 local

Do you see a pattern here? Adding to the mystery, we all noted on leg one of Med Bound that while the AIS (output) signals from Salty Dawg, Bluewater and Grey Pearl were lost by other rally yachts occasionally, no yacht on Med Bound ever lost Moana Kuewa’s AIS signal when the yacht was nearby.

When we have more data and have been able to investigate Moana Kuewa’s installation in more detail, I’ll try to report back with more information. Interestingly, the installations aboard Grey Pearl, Bluewater and Grey Pearl were done by the same installer. Among the other variables worthy of investigation are: type of VHF antenna being used, length of VHF cable run, possible connections in the VHF antenna cable, and height of the VHF antenna. I welcome any other suggestions or ideas.

The salad fixings aboard Bluewater are still holding our well, but Judy’s now beginning to look forward to a supermarket spree in Horta. Our memory of the supermarket there is that iceberg lettuce—not among our favorites—is the big deal in the greens department, but I remember some other fresh Pico-grown greens in the public market. For the most part, fancy greens like arugula, spring mix, bib lettuce and the rest had not arrived in the Azores when we were last there. We remember the Modulo Supermarket on the outskirts of Horta, however, as an excellent one and it’ll be among the first supermarkets in Europe to capture some of our Euros.

From Stuart, FL, Nordhavn Southeast chief Ray Danet e-mailed us, “Not sure if it helps but you can tell the group that in those rough conditions the body is constantly doing low-impact isometrics and everyone is losing weight. There's always something good in everything.” Ray knows of whence he speaks . . . he covered a lot of miles aboard the company Nordhavn 40 on the Around-the-World event.

During lunch today, finally, our fishing line went off. We slowed the boat to steerage, reporting same to the other boats, and I began to reel in the line. (“If it has feathers and not fins,” Dennis said, “it doesn’t count!”) At first, I thought we may have lost the fish because there was little action on the line. Yet as I reeled it in, we could not see the lure—usually it skips right along the surface in plain sight. As I spooled on the line with little effort I could feel that there was something there but I was sure it would not be much of a fish. Then, at the last moment, a small, slender, iridescent sailfish emerged at the end of the line. He was a stunning blue and silver, about three feet in length, and seemed as surprised as I was. George, in the cockpit with me, was unable to remove the gaff down from its mount on the overhead, so I tried to bring the fish over the transom on the line. When I did so the hook dislodged itself, the fish landed on the swim platform, and then seconds later flipped his way to freedom—just as well because we certainly would not have kept a sailfish. We fish for food, but sailfish are not food—not for us, at least. At least we can say we were not skunked on this leg, but, alas, we have no pictures to prove it.

Onward to the Azores Islands!

 

June 21, 2007
Final Captain's Log from Jim Fuller, Group 1 Leader
On board Nordhavn 43 "Summer Skis"
Time 0915
Position Newport, Rhode Island
Distance covered from the dock at Royal Bermuda Y.C.: 639
Distance traveled last 24 hours:168 NM
Total Nautical Miles traveled from Coral Ridge Yacht Club: 1,675



Summer Skis and Crew of Pete Judd & Dave Balfour arrived safely in Newport Rhode Island in company with Beso & New Frontier. The last 24 hours were very comfortable. Seas less than 2' and swells very gentle. It was a picture perfect conclusion to a wonderful trip. As was to be expected when entering New England waters, the way to describe the local weather is "CHANGE." We awoke to a beautiful sunrise and clear skies and warm temperatures. As we approached Newport the local commercial traffic began to pick up and the AIS did a wonderful job of identifying the traffic. In addition Mother Nature added a little challenge by laying down a blanket of fog that reduced visibility to about 200 yards. Our little fleet closed ranks and reduced speed as we approached Newport Harbor. Unfortunately we missed seeing the very picturesque Castle Hill Light and the surrounding scenery. The fog did lift in time to see the last third of the trip to Ft. Adams. As we rounded Ft. Adams the sun came out and the temperature was in the high 70's and a spectacular day was upon us. Jenny Stern had made arrangements with Newport Harbor Inn & Marina and they were ready to let us tie up. We had made arrangements with Homeland Security and they were en-route to Newport. As we waited for them we all had a Champagne toast to all for a successful trip. Homeland Security arrived and after a very easy clearing in process everyone was allowed to move freely around. While waiting for Homeland Security we all got a chance to clean the boats. With this done and Marge arrived we all made the pilgrimage to the famous Black Pearl Restaurant for the required signature clam chowder and of course a little something to wash the salt taste from our mouths. They did not have any milk & cookies so we had to do with an alternate choice. For those who have not been to Newport it is a great destination. Lots to see and do and everyone went in search of maps and guides to take advantage of what was available during our short time at the dock. Newport is very expensive so we had only booked ourselves until Tuesday afternoon to be tied up in town. Everyone was going to stay in the area so there would be additional time to see the sights by either renting a car or borrowing a car from someone at the boat yard or Marge & I would give them a ride if necessary. Sunday evening was the disbanding party that was hosted by PAE at the Moorings. A wonderful meal was arranged by Jenny and she outdid herself on this. Great Job. In addition there are a number of good pictures on the Nordhavn web site that captures this fun event. Each captain received a personalized memento of the trip which was a chart weight & magnifier with the boat name and Med Bound 2007 engraved on it. A nice gift to remember a memorable trip. Now the question; will I do it again? Most likely not. I have done it twice and each time it was a wonderful adventure that requires a lot of preparation and planning, especially so when doing it as a rally such as Med Bound. So it is time to do some coastal cruising but when we want to make a 24-48 hour run, we certainly know the boat and crew can do it.

So in closing I will try to acknowledge those that have made this possible. The following boats and owners embarked from Ft. Lauderdale on an adventure of a lifetime - for some and a stepping stone to more adventures in the future. Med Bound Boats:

Grey Pearl – Braun & Tina Jones
Summer Skis – Jim Fuller
Down Time – Walter & Mary Smithe
Beso – Kay & Chip Marsh
New Frontier – Jer & Con Reynolds
Imigine – Greg & Kathy Beckner
Mona Kewa – Christine Bauman
Salty Dawg – Dave & Lowie Bock
Blue Water – Milt & Judy Baker

My crew for both legs of the trip have been wounderful. Pat for your wounderful contributions in the galley, watch standing and overall good company. You did yoman's duty on the roughest and longest leg. You have earned your bragging rights. Pete, it was great getting re-aquianted with you and your contribution to fixing those "little things" that always need attention on a boat. Over 1600 miles on a 43' boat over a period of 30 days is quite a statement of your personality and your ability to adapt to any given environment. Thanks for your support and friendship. Dave, thanks for your help and company on the trip. Your attention to your watch standing duties was appreciated. Your engine room checks many and complete led to peace of mind on my part. If we do a trip again leave the fishing gear home. You did make a valiant effort though. I look forward to doing outher trips with you in the future. Thanks to Andy Francis and his wife Susan, who are awaiting the arrival of their N-55 in January. Unfortunately Andy had to drop out at the last minuet due to business commitments. Yet he was a willing participant in the seminars and was committed to the trip right up to the last second. I am sure Andy would have made a significant contribution to the crew had he been able to make it. We missed you Andy and wish you and Susan success and good luck with your new boat, keep us posted as to your progress. Again thanks for your interest and support.

This whole event could not have been possible without the commitment of time and effort by both Milt & Judy Baker. After looking at the manual and countless other items that were available to those of us that participated. I am convinced that Milt & Judy devoted many hundreds of hours and most likely thousands of hours to make this a successful adventure. Just putting this together would have been a daunting task for most people; but to be a participant as well required the multitasking skills known to few people. The time and effort to equip a boat for a three-year adventure to cross oceans and then cruise in foreign countries is a major task in itself. I am sure that Milt at times might have said to himself , "Why am I doing this?" Well, Milt; from my perspective it was worth it and your efforts and support were instrumental in pulling this off. Milt & Judy you are to be commended.

Last but not least to PAE Nordhavn.
The support of the entire Nordhavn staff both in Rhode Island and Dana Point is most appreciated. The opportunity to meet with the principals such as Jim & Jeff Leishman was another sign of their commitment to their products and the people who buy their boats. Jenny in Portsmouth as well as Ft. Lauderdale who tried valiantly to coordinate numerous events yet to be foiled by numerous weather dealys still managed to smile and pull off 99% of the events despite all of the delays and cancellations. Thanks Jenny.

Amy from Dana Point, your presence in Ft. Lauderdale was greatly appreciated in the Med Bound Office as well as Gary & Sue Knopp, Med Bound crew. Nordhavn’s support with various social events and Med Bound memoribilia was greatly appreciated.
Thanks Nordhavn!!!!!!! Thank you crew and participants!!

 

June 19, 2007
Captain's Log from Milt Baker, Rally Leader On board Nordhavn 47 "Bluewater"

Position 35-18.7 N 47-46.4 W as of 12:00 Atlantic time (GMT – 3 hrs) Course
095 deg M Speed 5.9 kts @ 1700 RPM 940 NM to go to Horta, Faial, Azores (52%
of the way) Distance made good past 24 hours: 133 NM (5.6 kts) Distance
made good since Bermuda: 878 NM (48% of the way) Total fuel consumed (146
engine hours) 540 gals, average 3.7 GPH (incl. genset), fuel remaining 940
gal. (fuel used/remaining: 36%/64%)
Conditions: Wind 15-20 kts., swells 3-5 ft from 250 deg M, partly cloudy, visibility good.
Barometer 1018.5 mb and falling slowly
Sea water temp 76 deg F, air temp 81 deg F.
ETA Horta: June 26, 2007

A trip like this is a series of ups and downs. Yesterday was one of the down days. Not only did we lose our port stabilizer, but our speed was down. Whether that’s due to the starboard fin working harder, a current on the nose, or something else I cannot tell, but our noon-to-noon run was a depressing 133 NM, and I’m feeling bad about holding up our two buddy boats who have the fuel to make more speed to Horta but who are hanging in with Bluewater.

I spoke with Vic Kuzmovich at Naiad Florida minutes ago, and he is making arrangements to ship the vital replacement stabilizer part to us in care of our agent in Horta, Marco Quadros. Marco is the most organized man in Horta, and he has provided detailed instructions on how to ship the part so it will be waiting for us when we arrive. Vic promises to include detailed instructions for installation, and he’s confident that it’s within my capabilities—“piece of cake, Milt,” he says. Braun Jones, who has gone through this particular replacement twice aboard Grey Pearl, also e-mailed me and said, “You can do it.” Vic says that if we have problems, he will put a technician on an airplane to Horta to sort it out for us. What terrific support!

I noted yesterday that a single fin is reported about 80% as effective as two, and it’s time to modify that! In the 3-5 to 4-6 foot quartering seas Bluewater has had since our problem yesterday and our sub-six-knot speed, we’ve had a good opportunity to observe the difference between two working fins and one. My own take based on this single experience is that we’re getting about 2/3 of the stabilization we normally get. It’s a LOT better than nothing, but noticeably rollier than with two working fins.

I continue to obsess over fuel! Bluewater should reach the halfway point between Bermuda and Horta in another few hours. We’ve been underway six days, and indications are that we’re burning about 90 gallons per day, including a few hours of generator time for watermaking and laundry. We have another six or seven days to go; at our present consumption rate, we should arrive in Horta with a reserve of 310 gallons or 21%. Those numbers are looking good to me, so today as an experiment old conservative Milt increased RPMs to 1800, which added about ½ knot of boat speed. We got no complaint from Moana Kuewa or Salty Dawg. The increase speed also passes more water over our working stabilizer fin, so our stabilization is improved. I’ll check fuel consumption tomorrow to see if we can keep it up.

Ships are few and far between out here. We nearly always pick them up on AIS before seeing them on radar. Moana Kuewa (which has the same Furuno FA-150 AIS unit we have) clearly has the best installation and picks up the ships first every time, sometimes as much as 20-30 minutes before they show up on the AIS units aboard Salty Dawg and Bluewater. Chris has her watchstanders well trained, and they’re always the first to report a contact to the other two yachts. We see an average of one or two ships per day, though yesterday we have three converging on us at once. Night before last I asked one, overtaking us on the starboard side, to alter course to give our group a two-mile CPA. The watch officer responded cheerfully in accented English, immediately began a minor course change to starboard, and wished me a good watch and a good evening. My experience has been that other ships are quick to comply when I come up on the radio and ask for course change giving us “a safe CPA of two miles or more.” Part of the deal, I believe, is being proactive: take the initiative, tell the other guy what you want, be polite, and use proper radio procedure and terminology. Of course, I never ask for a course change unless we have the right of way.

Weather Router Bob Jones seems to be in the grove and his forecasts are right on the money. That may have something to do with the fact that the weather seems to be much more like it’s supposed to be—the North Atlantic summer pattern. We had an e-mail from friends Pam and Andy Wall aboard Kandarik on the Azores island of Terciera noting that the summer weather pattern is late in coming to the Azores this year. Other friends around Europe have reported the same. But, finally, the summer weather seems to be taking hold.

One resource I am beginning to use again is Ocens’ WeatherNet. We used this while cruising in the lower Caribbean last year, but the software is not exactly intuitive; after being away from it for a few months, I’ve had to re-learn it . My re-education process is coming along nicely, and I can now select the weather “products” I want and download them via satellite phone—the same system we use for e-mail. Thousands of weather products are available, a bewildering array. One especially interesting product comes from a Navy (FNMOC) site via WeatherNet and shows ocean currents; it’s derived from satellite data and the one this morning showed a persistent current of .7 to .9 knots against us for the past 150 miles or so. Hmmm. I’ve also downloaded the next 72 hours forecast for wind, waves and surface pressure charts shown in 6-hour increments—it’s very nice to play them sequentially and watch the changes coming. The cost of these charts is about $5.00 a day, plus the satellite time to download them—another $5.00 or so. If you are into offshore passagemaking, my recommendation is to take a look at WeatherNet and its companion program, Grib Explorer. But be sure to learn how to use it while you have a fast Internet connection, something I failed to do!

WeatherNet used to offer Associated Press headline news, but, alas, they discontinued that, they say, due to lack of interest. So here we are nearly a week out of Bermuda with little idea what in the world is going on. If we were truly interested, we could turn on the SSB and listen to Voice of America or the BBC. The truth is we’d rather read. Does anyone know of w good e-mail resource that will e-mail a short, text-only daily news summary?

Judy is doing her usual stellar job of keeping Bluewater’s crew well-fed, a great morale booster. George, is loving having three meals a day served to him and never fails to compliment Judy on her food. After many years of Judy’s good cooking, I’ve come to take it for granted—it’s great and I know it. Judy stocked up at Bermuda’s tony Miles Market, supplementing her great finds there with staples from the MarketPlace on Church Street in Hamilton. Bluewater’s refrigerator and freezer were over-stuffed when we departed, but there’s actually some space coming available now. It would be nice to see some fresh fish, but so far the only fish on this leg are the flying fish which end up on deck overnight. Dennis on Salty Dawg is very frustrated, his four lines in the water every day!

 

 

June 18, 2007
Captain's Log from Milt Baker, Rally Leader
On board Nordhavn 47 "Bluewater"

Position 34-51.5.N 50-25.4 W as of 12:00 Atlantic time (GMT - 3 hrs)
Course 095 deg M Speed 5.9 kts @ 1700 RPM
1,075 NM to go to Horta, Faial, Azores (59% of the way) Distance made good
past 24 hours: 147 NM (6.1 kts)
Distance made good since Bermuda: 743 NM (41% of the way)
Total fuel consumed (122.3 engine hours) 460 gals, average 3.8 GPH (incl.
genset), fuel remaining 1020 gal. (fuel used/remaining: 31%/69%)
Conditions: Wind 20-25 kts., swells 3-5 ft from 250 deg M, mostly cloudy
with slight haze, visibility good.
Barometer 1020.3 mb and steady.
Sea water temp 74 deg F, air temp 81 deg F.
ETA Horta: June 25, 2007

What a difference a day makes!

As the Med Bound fleet was overtaken by low pressure overnight, chasing away yesterday's flat seas and clear skies, our winds and cloud cover increased. Seas have built slowly to 3-5 feet on the starboard quarter and looking around we see whitecaps everywhere. Bob says there's some rain to come, possible thunderstorms. It was all quite comfortable until Judy awakened me mid-morning with a report that we had a stabilizer alarm. "Probably no big deal," I thought, as I pulled myself out of bed and made my way to the pilothouse. But investigation and trouble-shooting led to my preliminary diagnosis which was confirmed by Naiad: the starboard side potentiometer, which tells the system how that fin is positioned, has failed or malfunctioned. If the system's software doesn't know the position of the fin, it cannot position the fin correctly-and that was what the alarm was telling us. What does this mean? Bluewater's port side stabilizer fin is out of business. We do not carry a spare potentiometer, so for the next 1,000 miles or so we're down to a single working stabilizer fin to keep us on the level. The good news is that a stabilization system like ours is about 80% as effective on a single fin as on two.

Up on my soapbox for a minute. If you've been to sea in a full displacement trawler like a Nordhavn, you know that good stabilization is a critical part of the equation. Even without stabilizers, a vessel like ours is a most seaworthy creation. It's not going to sink and it's not going to turn over. But it will roll and roll and roll. The roll is built right into the design, and nothing I've seen other than active fin stabilizers and their low-tech cousins, paravanes, can do much about that.

When we began rolling more than normal today after the port stabilizer went south, George asked seriously whether this boat would "turn over." To owners like Judy and me, both of us sailors for more than 40 years, that seems an odd question-but to someone with a lot fewer sea miles it's a legitimate one that deserves an answer. As I explained to George today, the short answer is, NO. No Nordhavn has ever turned over at sea and it's most unlikely that one ever will. Chief designer Jeff Leishman can give you the technical side, but the truth is that stability is designed in from the keel up, and it's physically impossible for a vessel like this to turn over (that is, roll to port or starboard) and not recover. By the very nature of her design and the laws of physics, the farther she rolls in one direction, the greater the resistance to rolling. She'll roll, but she'll always resist the roll and come back in the other direction, rolling to the other side. That very stability is what makes her an uncomfortable yacht when stabilization is lost.

The truth is that no Nordhavn has ever been lost at sea by sinking or "turning over". That's just one of many reasons Judy and I own a Nordhavn and have enough confidence in the yacht to take her across an ocean!

Stabilization in an ocean-going trawler yacht is much more than a comfort issue. In truth it's a safety issue as well. Yes, a trawler yacht like Bluewater can go to sea without stabilization, but the crew aboard such a yacht will be many times less comfortable and runs a much greater risk of injury from being tossed about in a seaway. On the other hand, a well stabilized yacht allows crewmembers more comfort, better rest and more of it, especially in heavy weather. A crew with injuries or exhausted from lack of rest is a crew on the verge of making mistakes!

As much as I love Bluewater's active fin stabilizers, I began this trip knowing that active fin stabilizers had been the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally's most troublesome mechanical system. Crossing oceans is not for wimpy power boats or wimpy stabilizer systems. In fact, it's my guess that a single ocean crossing aboard a trawler yacht probably subjects its active fin stabilization system to more stress than many stabilizer systems see in a lifetime. That's one reason we outfitted Bluewater with a heavy-duty Naiad system designed for larger yachts than our 47 feet-but then ordered a backup system, paravanes, as well. A paravane system requires a lot of rigging and it's not pretty to the eye of many owners, but as a backup stabilization system it has a lot going for it because it has no hydraulic, electrical, or electronic parts to break-the stabilization comes from towing heavy delta-wing paravanes through the water to resist rolling Paravanes will definitely slow a yacht down when being used; our experience shows a speed loss of about 4/10 of a knot, something we do not experience with our Naiads. But in most cases a more stable oceangoing yacht trumps a faster one. So Bluewater continues on, confident that even if the other stabilizer packs it in, we'll have stabilization all the way to the Azores. Our paravanes are stowed in fittings on our transom and our paravane poles were deployed in the ready position as we departed Bermuda, so we can launch paravanes in minutes if the need arises.

Our two companion yachts, the N55s Moana Kuewa and Salty Dawg, both have TRAC stabilizer systems, a brand favored by many Nordhavn owners. My own stabilizer experience-virtually all of it-is with Naiad, and in building Bluewater my decision was to stick with what I know. Over more than 15 years of owning Naiads on two yachts I've had few stabilizer problems. Anytime I have had a problem, however, never once has Naiad failed to diagnose the problem quickly and get me up and running in short order. My experience is it all comes down to one man: Vic Kuzmovich, former Naiad chief engineer and for the last 15 years or so head of Naiad Florida. To quote my friend Scott Flanders, another Naiad fan, Vic is the real deal-he does what he says and he stands behind his company's products like nobody else. Vic is my Naiad oracle!

Bluewater's Naiad active fin stabilizer system is still under warranty, and I spoke with Vic today about the repair. To a trained hydraulics guy, our Naiad system is a robust and simple system, and changing out a potentiometer ought to be a quick and easy task. To a shade-tree mechanic like me, however, it's a different matter! Do I have the skills to needed change the potentiometer and align it properly? Perhaps with detailed instructions and help from crewmember George, whose mechanical skills leave mine in the slow lane, and from Med Bound 2007 Chief Engineer Bernie Francis, whose principal technical skills are in diesel mechanics, I can pull it off.

Meanwhile, we're rolling along nicely. To be sure, we're rolling more than we would with two working fins, but Bluewater's crew remains a contented one and our loss of a stabilizer fin is best considered an inconvenience rather than a serious problem.

 

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 17, 2007
Captain's Log from Milt Baker, Rally Leader
On board Nordhavn 47 "Bluewater"

Position 34-22.6 N 53-12.9 W as of 12:00 EDT
Course 095 deg M Speed 6.3 kts @ 1700 RPM
1,215 NM to go to Horta, Faial, Azores
Distance made good past 24 hours: 159 NM (6.6 kts) Distance made good since
Bermuda: 602 NM Total fuel consumed (98.3 hours) 370 gals, average 3.7 GPH (incl.
genset), fuel remaining 1110 gal.
Conditions: Wind variable 3-6 kts., swells 2-4 ft confused with 10 sec.
period, partly cloudy but with mackerel sky, visibility excellent.
Barometer 1024.0 mb and beginning to drop slowly.
Sea water temp 75 deg F, air temp 85 deg F.
ETA Horta: June 25, 2007

By early afternoon today the Med Bound 2007 Azores fleet had covered nearly 1/3 of the distance between Bermuda and Horta. Conditions were so terrific and we decided it was a good day for a swim call. George was designated "swim call czar" and coordinated arrangements: about 1330 Bluewater would slow, Moana Kuewa and Salty Dawg would catch up, then Bluewater would stop and the other two yachts would close within about 100 yards and also stop, leaving one person at the helm to maneuver if required. Judy promised rum punch to anyone who swam over.

As John Lennon observed famously, life is what happens while you're planning your life. Just before we put the plan into effect effect (and after much ado from Dennis about this being a swim call sans swim suits), Salty Dawg balked. The plan called for the other yachts to stop a few hundred yards away, jump in long enough for pictures, shut down the engine to check oil, then move on. For insurance reasons, Moana Kuewa needed to maintain two of their four-person crew onboard, and, anyway, Bernie wanted to shut down and check the main engine. When all was said and done, Salty Dawg stopped a quarter mile distant, while Moana Kuewa was just a couple of boatlengths away. Chris and Dave swam from Moana Kuewa to Bluewater, Dave resplendent in his custom full-length pale-purple-with-yellow-lips Lycra body glove--at first we thought he was wearing his pajamas! (Katy was amazed to have visitors offshore but quickly got into the spirit of things!) George, Judy, Chris, Dave, Katy and I had a good visit while we downed glasses of Judy's rum punch, took pictures, and enjoyed the company and the wonderful day. Standing in Bluewater's cockpit, we all agreed that it was great fun to see "new" faces and visit in person rather than on the radio.

George, Judy and I plunged into the 75-degree water-COLD at the start, but barely noticeable after a couple of minutes. We posed for pictures, then I donned a mask went beneath the hull in search of a dirty knotmeter paddlewheel, cleaned same with a bristle brush, and checked the running gear-main propeller, auxiliary wing engine propeller, rudder, and stabilizer fins. Hove-to in the swells, those onboard were concerned about me as the boat rolled, but, to be honest, swimming alongside and beneath the hull, I barely noticed the motion-the hull and I were in the same plane, so we were moving together, something I'd never considered when thinking about working beneath a rolling, pitching yacht at sea. And it was so easy to see in the clear, clear water-I've never been in clearer water, not even in a swimming pool. According to the chart, water where we stopped was roughly 18,000 feet deep; if my math is correct, that's approximately 3.4 miles.

After 45 minutes aboard Bluewater, Chris and Dave swam back to Moana Kuewa and discovered a polypropylene line tangled in the yacht's wing engine propeller. Using knives on lanyards, they managed to cut it away. By the time we got underway, Salty Dawg was a few miles ahead and Dennis reminded us by radio that we have another 1,200 to catch up. As I write this, we're back on-course for Horta.

Horta is three time zones east of Bermuda, and our little flotilla is roughly 1/3 of the way there, so yesterday we decided to move clocks ahead one hour. Chris told us that recent research shows that the best time to do that was between 4 and 8 pm. (I wonder how "recent' that research was, since in the Navy we virtually always moved the clock ahead on the dog watches, either 4-6 or 6-8 in the evening.) At any rate, yesterday at 1700 it suddenly became 1800 for Med Bound 2007. We are still adjusting to the time change in the same sense that everyone takes a day or two to adjusto daylight savings time.

Weather Bob's forecast is for increasing wind and seas beginning tomorrow. The mackerel sky and barometer, now just beginning to dip, foretell that as well. I also downloaded a few WeatherNet charts which show the high slipping away to the east of us as a low approaches from the west. Unless there's a surprise in store, our winds should continue aft of the beam but we may get up to 25 knots or so with seas to match. With quartering winds and seas, we'll give our stabilizers a good workout

Meanwhile, a very contented Med Bound 2007 fleet continues its passage east under what must be considered some of the best passagemaking conditions ever. I'd better get this out so I can go take a snooze.

As the shirt I'm wearing says,"Life is Good."

 

June 16, 2007
Captain's Log from Jim Fuller, Group 1 Leader
On board Nordhavn 43 "Summer Skis"

Time 1200
Position
39.21.37N 69.45.25W
Distance covered from the dock at Royal Bermuda Y.C. 505 NM
Distance traveled last 24 hours: 151 NM
Approximate distance to go: 145 NM To Brenton Reef Buoy off Newport
Additional mileage to inner harbor Newport R.I. 7 miles.
Estimated Time of Arrival Brenton Reef Buoy: 0730 June 17

Good Day All:

This will be our last "under way" report as at noon tomorrow we will most likely be at the Black Pearl at noon having a glass of milk and cookies in celebration of a successful voyage.
The balance of yesterday saw us in confused but not uncomfortable seas as we reentered the "core" of the Gulf Stream. We started to slow down around 1400 and the slowest we were going was around 4.3 knots in the strongest influence. Water temperature was 78 Dg. as well. I went off watch at mid night and Pete came on. Around 0130 the temperature went from 78 to 63 in less than 5 minuets and our speed increased to 7.8 Knots. During the time that we were crossing the stream we were as much as 40 degrees off the bearing to Brenton Reef waypoint. Once we were out of the stream our compass and bearing matched again. Truly amazing what these devices can do. It sure makes boating more enjoyable and makes us appreciate what, in my case, my father taught me over the years.
We woke up to flat seas, very little wind and swells of about 3'. In addition the outside air temperature is now about 61 vs. the 80's of yesterday. Pete looks like Nan Nook of the North, jeans, sweatshirt and all the cold weather regalia. It is overcast but the weather is to improve and it is reported that tomorrow will one of the real first days of summer for this area. Temperatures in the 80's.
We are starting to see a lot more life in the sea. Birds, dolphins, sharks, sunfish etc. A large pod of dolphins has been with all three boats most of the morning. Tried to take pictures but that is nearly impossible.

Everyone is excited about seeing land tomorrow morning. The TTG (Time To Go) clock is reading less than 24 hours. On one side we are anxious to see land and experience a new port for every on the other boats but on the other hand we will each be going our separate ways. We will have the memories of over 1,600 miles of ocean that we have crossed and experienced Bermuda as well as each other. A lot of good times and lessons learned. We will be making plans to meet up during our various cruising itineraries over the next few months.

If the weather is as predicted it will be a spectacular finish to a spectacular trip. It has been a great trip and we have met a lot of interesting people and made some new friends and got reacquainted with old ones.
I will be posting my last report sometime tomorrow or the next day as Nordhavn is hosting a farewell party at The Mooring restaurant in Newport Sunday night.

 

June 16, 2007
Captain's Log from Milt Baker, Rally Leader
On board Nordhavn 47 "Bluewater"

Position 33-50.3 N 56-19.2 W as of 12:00 EDT Saturday,
Course 095 deg M Speed 6.6 kts @ 1700 RPM
1,372 NM to go to Horta, Faial, Azores
Distance made good past 24 hours: 145 NM (6.0 kts) Distance made good since
Bermuda: 443 NM Total fuel consumed (74.4 hours) 265 gals, average 3.5 GPH (incl.
genset), fuel remaining 1215 gal.
Conditions: Wind 230 deg M @ 2-5 kts., confuised swells 3-4 ft with 10 sec.
period, partly cloudy, visibility excellent.
Barometer 1017.0 mb and rising slowly.
Sea water temp 75 deg F, air temp 79 deg F.
ETA Horta: June 25, 2007

Today's Med Bound 2007 Horta fleet weather is the best we've seen: puffy white clouds, light winds, gentle rolling seas-altogether perfect passagemaking conditions and just exactly what the pilot charts call for. Would that it were always like this!

Weather has so much to do with every offshore passage, and what we're seeing could hardly be better. At last we're under the influence of the Bermuda/Azores high, which has eluded us until now. Over the past 24 hours barometric pressure has been taken a slow but steady elevator ride to 1024 millibars, and it's fair to say that we're one contented group of Atlantic-crossing powerboaters. Although we pick up an occasional ship on AIS (first) and radar (second), the CPAs (closest point of approach) have been miles away, requiring no course changes for our little inverted-V formation or for the ships. Aboard Bluewater we have not touched the autopilot for more than 24 hours!

The other good news is that our speed is back up, 6.9 knots as I glance at it from my perch on the pilot house settee. From yesterday's 5.0 to 5.5 knots (heading into what I suspect was wind-drive current of about one knot), today as the wind has come around behind us we've been averaging 6.4 knots. Now Bluewater's Nobeltec Admiral electronic plotting program is telling us we'll in arrive in Horta June 25th. Based on yesterday's low speed, it was estimating the 27th so there are smiles all around. We are now just a few miles away from the 25% mark; by early afternoon we'll have 455 nautical miles in our wake since Bermuda and a mere 1,363 to go.

Our stuffing box continues to behave itself, running about 20 degrees above the water temperature. We're reduced our checks to every hour and may reduce them further if this keeps up. We definitely have stabilized the problem. Otherwise, our fleet has no mechanical problems of consequence. We continue our daily fulll power runs and I think each of the three skippers on this crossing is convinced that doing so is a good idea.

In spite of Salty Dawg's best efforts, Mother Ocean has yielded no fish on this leg. Dennis Bruckel reports that they have dragged four lures over hundreds of miles of ocean since Bermuda, all without a hit. I recall that this was not a fruitful fishing leg on the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally either. We see pods of dolphins every day, but we've yet to spot a whale on this leg and there are few birds. One lonely seagull hitched a ride aboard our portside paravane arm for a few hours yesterday, preening himself contentedly as the yacht rolled along in the easy swells.

Bluewater is running with hatches and doors open and we're loving it. Moana Kuewa, on the other hand, runs with hatches and doors closed, as much to keep what skipper Chris Bauman calls "sea scum" off her pristine glossy-finish cherry interior as to keep the crew comfortable. Chris reports that she can usually handle the air conditioning load with the 8 kW generator, but at the moment Moana Kuewa is running its 20 kW genset to make water, do laundry, and take care of other fair-weather chores. Aboard Salty Dawg, skipper David Bock likes to run with the hatches and doors open-as much to hear the reel sound off when a fish takes a line as for any other reason. Chris points out that one reason Bluewater the "the Dawg" like open hatches is to our dogs the run of the boat-a good point! Katy, snoozing on the settee next to me, loves having the doors open.

If Bluewater carried a bit more fuel, I'd likely be more liberal in my use of generators on this leg, but being a fuel miser on this leg seems the best approach and that's the one I'll continue to take until we have a better handle on how much fuel we'll need to get safely to Horta. Am I nervous about fuel? Yeah, just a little. Our early "how goes it" figures look promising, but I'm taking nothing for granted! We ran a genset 24/7 for most of the passage to Bermuda, but the weather there was much warmer and the wind and sea from ahead of the beam all the way, meaning it made sense to keep the boat closed up. More important, we had plenty of fuel-beyond any question-to support full time generator use. With the delightful weather we're having at the moment, an open boat is a real pleasure for the Bluewater crew, so we're not making a sacrifice to give up generator use-at last not now..

This is storybook cruising, the kind you read about in the cruising magazines. David claims to have a direct pipeline to Moses who, he says, has parted the rough seas for us. Works for me!

 

June 15, 2007
Captain's Log from Milt Baker, Rally Leader
On board Nordhavn 47 "Bluewater"

Position 32-20.55 N 59-09.90 W as of 12:00 EDT Friday,
Course 095 deg M Speed 6.1 kts @ 1700 RPM
1,516 NM to go to Horta, Faial, Azores
Distance made good past 24 hours: 134 (5.6 kts) Total fuel consumed 155
gals, average 3.0 GPH, fuel remaining 1325 gal
Conditions: Wind 090 deg M @ 8 kts., swells 2-3 ft confused mostly from N,
mostly overcast, visibility excellent.
Barometer 1017.0 mb and steady.
Sea water temp 74 deg F, air temp 78 deg F.
ETA Horta: June 26-27, 2007

The 11 people and two dogs on the Horta leg of Med Bound 2007 are settling in as Bluewater, Moana Kuewa and Salty Dog continue on their passage east, maintaining an inverted-V formation. Katy and Dani, Med Bound's two canine crewmembers, seem to have come to grips with the fact that there are no patches of grass on the horizon and are gaining their sea legs . For Katy's fans, I am pleased to report that Katy played with her toys for hours yesterday afternoon, bringing each one in turn to us. The squeaky red ball was the favorite of the day.

At mid-day yesterday the wind began backing, and by late afternoon was ESE at 15 knots--the dread HEADWINDS, a real surprise since weather router Bob Jones had told us to expect strong SW-SSW winds. It was rainy and windy through the afternoon with the wind ahead of the beam, but the rain cleared and by just after dark we could see Moana Kuewa's running lights off on our starboard quarter, and Salty Dog's green off the port quarter through thenight. Winds overnight were E 15 to 20, and the 4-6 foot seas gave George a bumpy, noisy ride in the forward stateroom. By daybreak winds were down to 5-10 knots, backing to due E, and the confused seas were way down, giving us a comfortable ride.

With the E winds came current on the nose, and the Med Bound fleet's forward progress has slowed. We continue at the same 1700 RPM pace that netted us 6.3 knots 24 hours ago; now we're lucky to see 5.3 knots. It's looking like a SLOW trip to Horta! But headwinds notwithstanding, it's very comfortable onboard and we're a happy ship.

Yesterday afternoon George came up from the engine room reporting that the stuffing box was too hot. He and I returned to the ER and heat-gunned the unit; the heat gun read 150 deg. F, far too hot. (I had checked it less than two hours before and it was at its usual 90 degrees.) For those not familiar with this critical piece of equipment, the stuffing box is a cylinder-shaped bronze fitting around the propeller shaft. It permits the propeller shaft to exit the boat without admitting lots of water through the same hole in the hull. It works by pressing lubricated flax packing ("stuffing") against the shaft to keep the all but a drop of water every few seconds from entering the hull as the propeller shaft turns. The periodic drop of water is vital because it lubricates the packing and keeps it cool.

In our case, the water inflow had ceased altogether, and the friction from the propeller shaft turning at a bit over 400 RPMs caused heat to build up, a situation we had to remedy quickly. Step one was to slow down the engine (reduce friction) and cool down the stuffing box; we used ice and water in a zip-lock bag. Step two was to try to restore water flow to the box. The fix was simple: loosening the "follower" in the box and putting the boat in reverse a couple of times to loosen up the packing - doing that we managed to get water flowing again. In the process, we discovered that the stuffing box itself was not properly secured to the boat, and it did about a half-revolution while we were working it it- frightening since doing its job of keeping the water on the outside depends on it being securely fastened to the boat. We took care of that quickly.

This is when having a satellite phone can make your day. I reached James Knight, who knows Nordhavns like a Don Juan knows women and this boat in particular like a husband knows his wife. James confirmed that the hasty actions we'd taken were right on the money. He believes some old stuffing, perhaps hardened from use or friction or heat, had disintegrated into tiny pieces, blocking the inflow of water. Loosening the stuffing box's follower and using reverse to loosen the packing was just the right approach, he said. Getting the doctor's diagnosis and approval after rendering the treatment and dispensing the medication may not be the proper order, but it's nice to have confirmation nonetheless.

James, by the way, was in our favorite summer hangout, Southwest Harbor, ME, working aboard Sun Dog, a Nordhavn 62 owned by our friend Robert Greenbaum. Robert crossed the Atlantic aboard his Nordhavn 50 on the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally in 2004, so three years ago at about this time Robert was right about where we are today. He was also at Coral Ridge Yacht Club to see us off when Med Bound departed. Small world!

We've monitored the stuffing box carefully ever since. Yacht maintenance lore holds that the stuffing box should be "cool enough to keep your hand on," and ours is back to running about 90 degrees, just under 20 degrees above the outside water temperature.

As much as visiting exotic ports like Bermuda and Horta is fun, it's this kind of stuff that makes crossing an ocean in a small boat a challenge and a true adventure. An owner takes great pains to make certain that everything is ready to go on an ocean crossing, yet all it takes is failure of one vital piece of equipment like a stuffing box to ruin a passage or even end a trip. With another 1,500 miles to Horta ahead of us, those are not the kind of problems we need. And we're confident that we have the knowledge, tools and spares to deal with most of the problems we'll face. If we were not willing to take the acceptable risks that go hand-in-hand with crossing an ocean in a small yacht, we'd be a lot happier staying home and reading about it!

I should mention that Judy and I consider ourselves blessed to have George Howerton as crew on this trip. Our modus operandi is having the boat to ourselves when cruising in coastal waters, but the reality is that things go much smoother with three people aboard on passages more than a few days long. To put it simply, George is a superb crewmember-bright, funny, enthusiastic, and extremely reliable. It was George who discovered the stuffing box problem. And when he and I were working in the hot, noisy engine room to stabilize the situation, it was George who tactfully reminded me that putting the engine in reverse-the very tactic we had used on our wing engine stuffing box in Fort Lauderdale-would likely make the situation better. Not only does George have a better mechanical sense than I, but his quirky sense of humor and upbeat approach to life make him a real pleasure to be around. And, Judy points out, confirmed bachelor George will eat anything-and be grateful to have it. Crew is easy to find; good crew is not, and we're fortunate to have very good crew in George!

As our slow boat to Horta continues her passage east, more and more we find our thoughts drawn to what goes on around us-aboard Bluewater and the other two boats in company with us. We also continue to receive reports from other Med Bound yachts, like the one from Braun on the N62 Grey Pearl that read:

"The Pearl has just exited the Gulf Stream, by necessity crossing at a point where it had bulged to 90 miles wide. Rough passage - wind NNE 23-34knts., seas NNE 11-17, speed 5-6.5 knts. Mechanical: Alternator belts exploded on main engine, rubber bullets flying everywhere, watched from inspection window until the show was over then replaced belts while underway with wing engine power and wing backup stabilizer pump system engaged." You can see that Bluewater is just one more boat out here doing it!

 

June 15, 2007
Captain's Log from Jim Fuller, Group 1 Leader
On board Nordhavn 43 "Summer Skis"

Time 1200
Position
37.11.74N 68.06.29W
Distance covered from the dock at Royal Bermuda Y.C. 354 NM
Distance traveled last 24 hours:179 NM
Approximate distance to go: 296 NM To Brenton Reef Buoy off Newport
Additional mileage to inner harbor Newport R.I. 7 miles.
Estimated Time of Arrival Brenton Reef Buoy: 1100 June 17

Good Day All:
You will note that our ETA Newport has changed. This is a result of picking up the influence of the Gulf Stream. After we exit the Stream we will have a more accurate ETA.

This is the day to cross the Gulf Stream. Our weather router Bob Jones has said that as we approach the stream we should expect some weather changes. Nothing serious just some local squalls with wind and some rain. We have just experienced our fist rain shower. This will get some of the salt spray off the boat. We will most likely be crossing the stream sometime late this afternoon and during the night. The Stream is plotted to be about 90 miles wide at this point. Yet the "core" or most significant current is concentrated in an area of about 30 miles wide. It was reported by Imagine - Greg Beckner Captain & Owner that as he exited the Stream yesterday the water temperature dropped from 81Dg. to 62Dg in a distance of less than 10 miles. The North or West wall is very well defined yet the South or East wall is very ill defined.

Last night's dinner was again a wonderful casserole prepared by Marge. Still lots of food left and our "Old Man Of the Sea" still has not supplemented or food supply. There is still time though!!!! Tonight it looks like Pork Chops on the grill if the wind stays down.

The Radar is plotting a number of showers but none within our immediate area. Tomorrow we will see a significant change in a lot of things besides a drop in the water temperature.

We will report on that later.

 

June 14, 2007
Captain's Log from Milt Baker, Rally Leader
On board Nordhavn 47 "Bluewater"

Position 32-53.16 N 61-46-16 W as of 12:00 EDT
Course 095 deg M Speed 6.2 kts @ 1700 RPM
1,652 NM to go to Horta, Faial, Azores
Distance made good since departure: 164 NM (average 6.3 kts) Total fuel
consumed 82 gals, average 3.0 GPH, fuel remaining 1398 gal
Conditions: Wind 170 deg M @ 13 kts. swells 3-4 ft, mostly overcast, visibility excellent.
Barometer 1017.0 mb rising slowly.
Sea water temp 74 deg F, air temp 74 deg F.
ETA Horta: May 25-26, 2007

Med Bound 2007's visit to Bermuda is history, and all Med Bound yachts are back at sea, all of us much the better for the experience thanks to Bermuda's legendary hospitality.

In Bermuda we discovered two boat problems: a leaking stabilizer actuator and a broken icemaker fitting. Vic Kuzmovick, head of Naiad Florida, quickly dispatched a service technician to Bermuda to replace the leaking actuator. Tech David D'Orazio arrived Friday afternoon with tools and parts in hand and went to work immediately. We tested everything in the morning and he left in time to catch a noon flight out of Bermuda. The entire fix was taken care of under warranty! What a terrific company Naiad is to deal with. I can say from long experience that Vic Kuzmovich and Naiad set a very high standard for customer service! Our icemaker issue, a broken Sub-Zero part, was not so easily fixed, nor was it of such importance. We still have ice, but must manually turn the icemaker on and off--not a big deal. We'll replace the broken part when we get to it!

Back to the real news: N62 Grey Pearl and N47 Imagine departed Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Monday, Pearl bound for Annapolis and Imagine for Newport. Both needed to get moving , and weather router Bob Jones called the conditions they'd face difficult but not dangerous, something their reports bear out. Until today Imagine reported a pleasant trip with moderate winds and seas, but today's report had her approaching the Gulf Stream off Newport with 9-12 foot head seas and 25-30 knot headwinds-nasty stuff, indeed. Grey Pearl reports the she has had a rough ride all the way, her speed reduced to less than eight knots by headwinds and head seas. Both yachts have experienced crew onboard and are prepared to tough it out.

N47 Summer Skis, N62 New Frontier and N40 Beso, bound for Newport, departed RBYC at 10 am yesterday, minutes ahead of Horta-bound group, Bluewater, N55 Salty Dawg and N44 Moana Kuewa. We had taken a cab to check out at St. Georges, a painless process.

This is taken from my rough log written yesterday:

"0730 Impromptu meeting at the YC to discuss Bob's latest (weather forecast). Joint decision made to go. Off to St. Georges by cab with driver Cornell to clear out. Outbound clearance is quick and mosly painless, once a few bureaucratic T's are crossed and I's are dotted. I spy the sailing yacht Frog Kiss at the dock and introduce myself to the son of Patrick Mouligne, who is just checking in after completing Leg 1 of the Bermuda 1-2 Race-singlehanded and ahead of his father's Nordhavn 46 as he pointed out.

"1005 Underway from RBYC. We are sent off by Commodore Andy Cox and ace Dockmaster/Marina Manager James Barnes. Newport-bound group off the docks first. Moana Kuewa last off the docks, with Christine Bauman running hard at the last minute to buy Euros then get her yacht club bill paid. We did circles in the harbor waiting for Moana Kuewa, then called Bermuda Harbor Radio, and received clearance to depart. Local Nordhavn fans Donald and Mavis Cave are our escort vessel in their Mainship, accompanying us nearly to the Spit Buoy off St. Georges.

"We proceed out the South Channel, following about a mile astern of the Newport-bound yachts. Much chatter on the radio back and forth.

"By agreement with Salty Dawg and Moana Kuewa, the Horta-bound group is running at about 6.3 knots. For Bluewater that's 1700 RPMs, several hundred RPMs below our usual speed but a good speed for conserving fuel on this, the longest non-stop run we've undertaken in this boat. Having enough fuel for this 1,818-mile run, the longest we've undertaken in this boat, is something we need to pay close attention to. We notice that the boat is quiet and the engine room running much cooler at these low RPMs and with no generator on line.

"About three hours out from RBYC as we're leaving Bermuda waters we receive a VHF radio call from Patrick Mouligne aboard Frog Kiss II. Patrick wishes Med Bound well, reporting his trip was excellent and that he already likes his "new" Nordhavn 46 a great deal. His is what I call "the First Lady of Nordhavn," the very first Nordhavn yacht ever built.

"By late afternoon, the morning overcast gives way to sunny skies. Winds are on the starboard quarter at 6-8 knots and seas are 2-4. Water temp is 75 degrees and air temp about the same. The boat is open, the fishing line trails in our wake, and it couldn't be nicer. No fish"

Today dawned overcast with light rain, but the winds and seas were still down, giving us a comfortable ride. We saw just a couple of ships overnight; this run is mostly out of the shipping lanes so we expect to see few ships along the way. All three yachts on this leg have two-way AIS units, so it's very easy to keep track of one another. We're running in the same kind of loose inverted-V formation we used on the way to Bermuda, but with three yachts it's much easier. Bluewater is at the top of the V with Salty Dawg a mile back to port and Moana Kuewa a mile back to starboard-close enough to keep an eye on one another day and night yet far enough away to pose no danger.

Aboard Bluewater we use three-hour watches, starting at 2100 or 9 pm. I take the first watch, Judy relieves me at midnight, and George relieves her at 0300. I'm back on watch at 0600, fresh from nearly six hours of sleep, then Judy is back at 0900. From 1200 to 2100, no one "officially" has the watch-it falls to whomever is available. Judy does all the meals, so George and I usually split off the daytime watches informally. With only three yachts, rolls calls are quick and easy; we're doing them at 0900 and 2100. We do a full power run about 1145 each day to run up the engines to full RPMs, blow out the carbon, and check the fuel filter vacuum gauges-Lugger Bob Senter pointed out in a seminar that the vacuum gauge readings are valid only at full power. I like to think that a short full power run will help identify problems well because they become serious; I hope I'm right!

Many yachts measure fuel consumption precisely using an expensive device called a FloScan. The FloScan is so accurate, to quote Dennis Bruckel on Salty Dawg, it shows a burn rate of a tenth of a gallon or two (per hour) more going up a swell than down a swell! Both Salty Dawg and Moana Kuewa have FloScans, and both skippers have high confidence in their accuracy. Alas, Bluewater does not have one so we do our fuel measurement the old fashioned way-by looking at sight gauges, estimating, and using a table created for our boat using an Excel spreadsheet. This morning I used the Nordhavn 47's elegant fuel system to measure our actual fuel consumption at 1700 RPMs with no generator running. It came to 3.0 gallons per hour, and I should hasten to add that's approximate at best: watching the fuel level using a sight gauge on a rolling boat is never going to be precise! Still, 3 GPH is consistent with our past experience and what our engine manufacturer, Lugger, calls for running at 1700 RPMs.

If we look at our 1,818-mile passage from Bermuda to Horta and divide by a speed of advance (SOA) of 6.3 knots, Bluewater should be underway on this passage for about 290 hours or 12 days. Multiply that by 3 gallons per hour and we SHOULD use less than 900 of our 1480 gallons. Ah, but that does not include the possibility of more hours for a weather divserion or for heavy headwinds and head seas (let's add, say, another 20% ) which could take us up to main engine fuel consumption of 1,044 gallons. Then add in some generator time, for openers let's say an average of 2 hours per day at one GPH, for a generator burn of 26 gallons. It all comes to an admittedly soft fuel burn estimate of 1,070 gallons, leaving a reserve of 410 gallons-roughly 28%. I hope it works out that way! In fact, we'll watch it day by day. If we reach the halfway point with what we expect, perhaps we can ratchet up the speed and generator time a bit and arrive with less. One more consideration: we need to take on at least 1,325 gallons (350 liters)in Horta to qualify for duty free fuel pricing.

As I finish this up at 1400, I note that the wind has come around to SSE and our boat speed at 1700 RPMs is down to 5.6 to 5.7 knots-it may just be a longer trip than we think!

 

June 14, 2007
Captain's Log from Jim Fuller, Group 1 Leader
On board Nordhavn 43 "Summer Skis"

Time: 1200
Position: 34.37.93N 66.37.99W
Distance covered from the dock at Royal Bermuda Y.C.: 175 NM
Distance traveled last 24 hours:162 NM
Approximate distance to go: 475 NM To Brenton Reef Buoy off Newport
Additional mileage to inner harbor Newport R.I. 7 miles.
Estimated Time of Arrival Brenton Reef Buoy: 0600 June 17

Good Day All:
The first 12 hours saw the seas at the 6-8' range and winds in the 15-20 Knot range. This made for a somewhat uncomfortable ride. As the night settled in things began to moderate. All that has changed today. During the night things settled down and it became quite nice. The wind has moderated and the seas have come down to the 2-3' range vs. 6-8'. The sun is out and it is a beautiful day. We all got some decent sleep and Pete & I took showers and feel like new people. Very civilized. There is no spray on the decks and the wind is in the 5 knot range. Both Beso & New Frontier are close by. We have had numerous conversations and all is well on both boats. We have not had any messages from Imagine today yet but assume that they are on the home stretch to Newport after crossing the Gulf Stream last night. It looks like we will make the crossing tomorrow night and based on what both Bob and Chris Parker say it looks like a fairly easy crossing. The high pressure system that has been over the Midwest and east coast is moving offshore and should give us a decent crossing. Once we cross the Gulf Stream we should begin to get the influence of the East Coast of the U.S. and pick up the prevailing southwesterly for the final leg into Newport Saturday and Sunday morning. The official time keeper Kay Marsh on Besso has just advised us to put our clocks back one hour so we are now back on Eastern Daylight Time. This gives us as mentioned above an estimated - the operative word "estimated" time of arrival around 0600 on Sunday. This is all dependent on the weather as well any effect that the Gulf Stream will have on us. We passed two sailboats bound for Newport this morning. The Marion Bermuda Race starts tomorrow at 1400. I do not think we will have a repeat of last years Bermuda Race traffic jam. We might see the Marion boats late Friday or on Saturday. Our resident fisherman Dave Balfour continues to stalk the elusive fish with no success. I guess it is time to take dinner out of the freezer. Even New Frontier has not had much luck. They did catch a Mahi Mahi but every one on the boat felt sorry for it as it was only about 12" so the sent it back to it's mother. We are all looking forward to crossing the Gulf Stream in benign conditions late tomorrow.



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 7, 2007
Captain's Log from Kay Marsh
On board Nordhavn 40 "Beso"

Subject: The Tortoise and Some Hares

On Monday afternoon, May 28, 2007, following several days of weather delays, nine Nordhavns began their trek (Med Bound 2007) from Ft. Lauderdale to Bermuda.

From there, some boats would proceed to Newport, RI and others to the Mediterranean. The fleet included two 62s, two 55s, one 50 (which turned back with stabilizer problems), two 47s, one 43, and one 40, BESO (that's us). Speed on Average (SOA) for the rally was published at 6.7 knots (a comfortable and efficient speed for a 40), but shortly before blast off, 7.0 became the new official speed. We were told that favorable currents would make up the difference, but they didn't. The nearly 150-hour journey began with pitching or rolling seas, which were to stay with us most of the time. A 7.0 knot speed would get us to the docks of Royal Bermuda Yacht Club around 7 PM on Sunday, June 3. Stormy weather had been looming in the forecast for Sunday since before our pre- departure meeting, so an earlier arrival was sought. How could this be accomplished? Oh yes- more speed. Chip throttled up to 2000 RPMs, and on we went. Soon the temperature alarm started making warning squawks, and he powered the trusty Lugger back about fifty RPMs where we remained for four days. We had to continuously monitor the engine water temperature, trying to maintain 200 degrees and not a degree more or less. This was going on while we were being characterized on the website as the "pull-back boat." BESO was always at the back of the pack, a mile or two behind the next to the last boat. Occasionally, one or another of the boats would drop even with us or a bit behind for a time, usually while they were slowing to reel in fish. By the end of the rally we had averaged better than 7.3 knots for the 1,010 KM voyage, six tenths of a knot faster than the planned speed! About 8:30 Sunday morning we reached the Bermuda SW waypoint in our usual position, the back. The lead boat was close to seven miles in front of us. Dockage at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club in Hamilton was still 4 hours away. Because of the reefs, it is necessary to travel east almost all the way around the island's south side, then north and back west to enter Hamilton Harbour. The boats in front of us were too far away to follow through the twisting channel so we followed the waypoints that we'd been given at the pre-departure meeting. With about two hours remaining before arrival at RBYC we noticed that the rest of the distant fleet was following a different route. We continued as we were going, and the two boats nearest us at the back of the pack, turned away and came to join us. When it appeared that we would reach the yacht club ahead of the others, Chip throttled back (the Lugger said thanks!) to allow the rally leader first entry. As it was, small and slow BESO, the Nordhavn 40 "pull-back boat" entered fifth in the Nordhavn lineup. It wasn't first like the original tortoise, but right in the middle seemed respectable enough. Additional note: Aboard BESO we have now racked up nearly 10,700 miles since our departure from Santa Barbara, California in November 2003. Our plan is to eventually return to our homeport, but when that will be remains a mystery!

 

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.

 

June 2, 2007
Captain's Log from Jim Fuller, Group 1 Leader
On board Nordhavn 43 "Summer Skis"

Time 1200
Position 31.42.68 N 67.29.21 WE
Distance covered from the dock at Coral Ridge Y.C. :841
Distance traveled last 24 hours:173 NM
Approximate distance to go: 137 To Southwest waypoint off Gibbs Hill Light
Additional mileage to Royal Bermuda Yacht Club : 27 Nautical Miles

This will be our last night at sea. Everyone is very excited to be approaching our destination of Bermuda. The fishing still continues to be a majour activity on boats other than Salty Dawg. As reported yesterday Lowie has banned all fishing until after the grilled fish dinner at RBYC. New Frontier did catch a Blue Marlin this morning and released it. We also encountered a pod of whales this morning. The consensus is there were about 6 of them ... they were not close enough to identify.
The weather gods continue to smile on us. We have been following the travels of TS Berry. From all reports it appears that as Barry moves off shore at the Carolinas it will encounter a "Bermuda High" that is positioned south and east of Bermuda. When these two systems converge the "gradients" will become closer together. This will create an increase in wind, wave and swell action along our route. The good news is that B arry is moving slowly and the "squeeze" from Barry and the Bermuda High will begin late tonight and early tomorrow. We anticipate the winds to increase early AM on the 3rd and build through the day & night and be the strongest Monday and Monday afternoon. The good news is that we will be running down the south side of Bermuda in the early AM of the 3rd and as wind, waves & swells build from the south we will be running down the north side of Bermuda in the lee of the Island and out of harms way. By the time it really gets bad. We will be tied up and most likely in the clubs bar have a welcome to Bermuda libation compliments of RBYC. Thank goodness for weather routers. Bob Jones of OMNI and Chris Parker both saw this coming and told us to pick up our speed two days ago and this has made the difference between a comfortable arrival and a very uncomfortable arrival. I think Marge will have a more uncomfortable arrival than we will.

I think we are all very happy to be arriving tomorrow despite the weather. A lot of chatter last night on the radio about things to see and do in Bermuda and to the extent someone has all ready trying to organize various tours and activities. The concusses is to just relax.

We have just herd Bermuda Radio for the first time at 133 NM. We will now begin to get weather reports for our destination and they will be very specific.

We have set our clocks ahead to Atlantic Daylight Time at noon today as we crossed Longitude 67.30.000 W.

The miles continue to slip by and our next report will be from the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club as our ETA there is around noon.

 

June 2, 2007
Captain's Log from Milt Baker, Rally Leader
On board Nordhavn 47 "Bluewater"

Position 31-44.23N 67-27.98W as of 12:00 EDT Saturday, June 2, 2007
Course 093 deg M
Speed 7.9 kts @ 2100 RPM
170.5 NM to go Hamilton, Bermuda
Distance made good last 24 hours 173 NM, average speed 7.2 kts
Distance from Fort Lauderdale 862 NM
Total fuel consumed 820 gals, average 6.9 GPH (including genset time), fuel remaining 660 gal
Conditions: Wind 170 deg M @ 12 kts. swells 3-4 ft with 1 foot chop from 160 deg. M partly cloudy, visibility excellent.
Barometer 1025.0 mb rising slowly.
Sea water temp 74 deg F, air temp 74 deg F.
ETA RBYC Hamilton, Bermuda, 1100 Sunday, June 3

The Med Bound fleet’s good fortune continues with smooth seas and winds moving aft, though they are not yet aft of the beam. It’s the little things at sea that get one’s attention, and after essentially no news from the real world for close to a week, our 30-person group remains mostly focused on a world that’s roughly 3 x 5 miles—the distance from the head to the back and the port to the starboard side of our flotilla.

Just after 7 this morning we passed a small pod of whales a few hundred feet away. We could not determine what kind of whales we were seeing because except for a tiny piece of head or tail we didn’t see the animals themselves. However, we all saw them blowing—big white clouds rising perhaps 12 feet from the surface of the sapphire sea. Not much later, New Frontier reported bringing a six-foot blue marlin to the transom where he jumped to give Capt. Jerry and crew a show before they cut him loose. Bluewater has been dragging a fishing line without success since noon yesterday. Well, actually, we caught a sea bird. Somehow, we hooked a booby and reeled him in. I held him still while George cut the hook with our big bolt cutters, which Judy had retrieved, and I was able to back the hook out with what appeared to be little damage to the wing. The bird was surprisingly calm throughout the “operation,” and we gently put him back into the sea. The hook had penetrated the wing but there appeared to no broken bones. With a little luck, he’ll have a tale to tell his grand-birds.

Weather router Bob Jones continues to warn of increased winds and seas. The remnants of tropical storm Barry combined with a developing gale off Cape Hatteras will likely bump up against the unyielding Bermuda high to our west, tightening the gradients and bringing more wind. To quote Bob’s latest missive, “As both weather fronts approach, increasing ESE-SE winds of 20-30kts with locally higher gusts will develop during Sun/pm. Once the warm front passes, winds will quickly veer to a more SW direction with SW winds of 25-35kts, intervals/gusts of 40kts possible. In addition rain showers will develop nearing Bermuda, but the steadier/heavier rain will arrive as the warm front, then cold front move through.”

With a little luck, the Med Bound fleet should be alongside at Royal Bermuda Yacht Club by late morning, well before the worst stuff arrives. At least that’s our plan! One of the advantages of arriving as part of an organized rally is that customs has agreed to clear our group at the yacht club, so we do not need to make the usual stop at St. Georges.

The informal discussion group on the 21-2400 watch continued last night with a little show and tell. Among a laundry-list of items, we began talking about strobe lights and spotlights. Bluewater carries an ancient but workable strobe from our first boat, a Columbia 22 sloop which we sailed in Hawaii in the 1960s. I’ve always thought of it as my ultimate visual attention-attractor. Last night I decided to light it off and asked Jim Fuller, a mile away, and Braun Jones, about two, if they could see it. Imagine my surprise when they said “No!” Jim suggested that it was obscured by Bluewater’s very bright running lights, and, sure enough, when I turned off the running lights both captains could see the strobe flashing—Jim with his naked eye and Braun with his binoculars.

We also compared searchlights (or is it spotlights?). Grey Pearl carries a huge light on the cabin top and fired it up to show us. From two miles away, it bathed Bluewater in light. My problem with lights like that is controlling them using a rinky-dink joystick or, worse, pushing buttons as we have to do aboard Bluewater with our expensive Guest light. Our answer is a $35.00 rechargeable 2 million candlepower hand-held light, which Braun and Jim reported they could see very well.

Back to AIS. All Med Bound skippers with AIS agree that Moana Kuewa has the best AIS intallation. She has the same Furuno FA-150 units most of the rest of us have, but Moana Kuewa consistently seems to be able to pick up targets farther out and her signal never drops out, while other Med Bound yachts sometimes have difficulty seeing other Med Bound yachts' AIS data at five or six miles and often cannot pick up ships until they are about 8 to 15 miles away. The differences are (a) antennas, (b) antenna cabling, (c) antenna termination (that is, the soldered connector at the end of the antenna cab le), and (d) installer. We're all comparing notes, but Braun and I, at least, think the real difference may lie in antenna termination which has of course includes the installer, the person who did the termination. More investigation is needed!

On our morning roll call, Christine Bauman reported a flood of sorts aboard the Nordhavn 55 Moana Kuewa. A solenoid valve in a toilet stuck open, putting about 300 gallons of fresh water into a cabin. Chris told us that the water quickly found its way into the bilges, and both normal and high water bilge pumps kicked in and made quick work of it. Her entire crew jumped out of bed to lend a hand, and the boat was back to its usual spiffy condition in no time. She complimented her crew on working well together to deal with the problem. And that, sports fans, is probably the most serious “issue” this group has had since Downtime’s stabilizer issue a few days ago. Lots of miles; very few problems . . . YES!

Speaking of problems, Andy Lund, skipper and owner of the Nordhavn 46 Resolution, e-mailed me from the Atlantic coast of Spain about Bluewater's fuel consumption. Andy knows of whence he speaks, since he took his trusty Nordhavn direct from Newport to Horta without stopping. “We traveled 2,062 nautical miles at an average speed of 6.34 knots per hour, burned 722 gallons of diesel, leaving 278 gallons in the tank, or a 27% reserve, averaging 2.78 miles per gallon, or 2.22 gallons per hour,” Andy told me. “I had planned a 1,950 mile trip at 5.6 knots, using 750 gallons of fuel.” Andy suggests slower speeds, less generator time, and checking the bottom for drag—all good ideas and all of which we’ll incorporate. Greg Beckner reminded me that on the way to Horta, Bluewater will be the “holdback vessel.” No shame in that—we will indeed! Somebody’s gotta do it.

At noon today, on cue from Beso, our fleet timekeeper, we advanced our clocks one hour to Atlantic Time, which Bermuda uses. We’re now three hours later than Greenwich and one hour ahead of Eastern Time.

If for no other reason than that we’ve taken a huge amount of salt spray, this is one salty fleet. We’re all eager to get into Bermuda for a wash down. It’s probable that we’ll get some serious rain with the coming blow, so our wash down jobs may be a little easier.

The fine rhythm of being at sea notwithstanding, I don’t think there’s anyone in the Med Bound fleet not looking forward to a respite in Bermuda . . . about 18 or 19 hours and counting!

--Milt, Judy, George and Schipperke Katy

 

June 1, 2007
Captain's Log from Jim Fuller, Group 1 Leader
On board Nordhavn 43 "Summer Skis"

Time 1200
Position 31.05.50 N70.51.97 WE
Distance covered from the dock at Coral Ridge Y.C. : 668
Distance traveled last 24 hours; 148 NM
Approximate distance to go: 314 NM

The weather continues to be in our favour. Wind in the 10-15 knot range and seas 1-3' with a swell of 3-4'. All of these items are coming from the East and there is some "pitching" that is somewhat uncomfortable but very manageable.
Salty Dawg, "The Fishing Machine" continues to outdo every one with their fishing prowess. They hooked a 6' Marlin this morning and released it because it did not have any food value. Lowie, Dave Bock's wife has told her husband - "No more fishing until we get to Bermuda and we have the fish dinner for all the Med Bound participants." Other wise I start throwing away or regular frozen foods."

We are getting close to Bermuda and we are down to less than 48 hours to our first Bermuda way point. Based on our current estimates we be off Gibbs Hill Light at 0544 Sunday morning. This will put us at the Royal Bermuda Y.C. around noon on Sunday. This will work out just fine as there is a good chance that the weather will begin to deteriorate late Sunday and into Monday. We are all getting quite ready to see Bermuda on Sunday morning.

We are starting to see some significant shipping. One large container ship, one large tanker, and last night Pete encountered a large cargo ship. Two were headed to South America and one to Houston.

Automatic Identification System (AIS) is invaluable out here. I believe I explained this last year but here goes again.
It is a system that ALL ships engaged in commercial activity that ply international waters MUST have. Pleasure boats such as Summer Skis and all but two of the Med Bound boats have this system. For pleasure boats it is strictly a voluntary piece of equipment. It allows those with AIS to communicate their position, speed, bearing, name, destination and type of boat. It is essential when transiting the open waters of the ocean to be seen and able to communicate with them. We also use the AIS when operating in coastal waters to keep track of tugs and barges as well as coastal commercial ships.
If anyone is contemplating an offshore passage of any magnitude AIS should be considered.

In Bermuda we have scheduled two organized social events. A welcome BBQ on Monday Night and a sit down departure dinner on Thursday. Otherwise the Med Bound participants are on their own to enjoy Bermuda.

The departure from Bermuda of the Newport boats as of today is currently planned for the time period of June 9-11 depending on weather. Those headed to the Med will be leaving around the 15th.

This trip is taking a bit longer than last year because we ran up the coast of Florida for nearly 200 miles in order to "ride the stream."

As we near Bermuda everyone is getting excited and all the "chit-chat" as well as "chick-chat" (I did not make up that term) is toward activities, shopping, eating and of course the nearest Pub. Tomorrow night will see our last meal to be cooked underway until we leave. Pat has done an admirable job of food preparation and her presence has been a great help. Both standing watches as well as in the galley. She will be leaving us on Thursday and her presence will be missed.

On Thursday our other crew member Dave Balfour of PAE/Nordhavn Portsmouth, RI will join us for the return. Dave & I have known each other for a number of years and his experience on Nordhavns is extensive. I am sure he will be good crew member. His cooking prowess will not come close to Pat's or Marge's.

 

June 1, 2007
Captain's Log from Milt Baker, Rally Leader
On board Nordhavn 47 "Bluewater"

Position 30-07.-06N 70-52.46W as of 12:00 EDT
Course 090 deg M Speed 7.1kts @ 2100 RPM
347 NM to go Hamilton, Bermuda
Distance made good last 24 hours 173 NM, average speed 7.2 kts
Distance from Fort Lauderdale 684 NM
Total fuel consumed 700 gals, average 7.4 GPH (including genset time), fuel
remaining 780 gals
Conditions: Wind 090 deg M @ 12 kts., swells 3-4 ft with 1-2 foot chop from
120 deg. M partly cloudy, visibility excellent.
Barometer 1023.0 mb and steady.
Sea water temp 76 deg F, air temp 76 deg F.
ETA RBYC Hamilton, Bermuda, mid-day Sunday, June 3

More fish! NAR veteran Braun Jones says he believes that the N55 Salty Dawg may now have boated more fish on this leg of Med Bound 2007 than all of the NAR brought aboard on all three legs to Gibraltar. Whether or not that's the case, with Dennis Bruckel setting four lines at daybreak and running them all day long, the Dawg" box score to date on Med Bound 2007 reads as follows:

Mahi mahi (dorado): 3
Mackerel: 1
Barracuda: 1
Wahoo: 2
And Dennis reports three BIG fish that got away, including a 6-foot blue marlin which he fought for 50 minutes right to the transom before the fish left with his lure.

Salty Dawg's admiral, Lowie Bock, has ordered no more fishing because she has run out of freezer space. Aboard Bluewater, Judy is wondering how Lowie ever found freezer space that that much fresh fish at all because Judy's approach to provisioning is fill every conceivable cubic inch of freezer space with something important."

Each day, Dennis tips his hand a bit more, revealing tips for Med Bound 2007's novice fishermen like me. He like to run four lines, the two near the center of the wake perhaps 1.5 boat-lengths out and the two outer ones about 2 boat lengths back. Small lures, up to six maybe eight inches, are his preference, and he uses no lead weights. Dennis likes to have the lures skipping along on the surface, preferably on the face of a wave so they can be seen from the cockpit and, more important, by the fish. He likes noisemakers, lures with tiny beads that shake around and create noise to attract the fish. Salty Dawg reports that work continues on the Salty Dawg Productions DVD which will have more tips and hands-on advice for the Med Bound's uninitiated.

In addition, New Frontier has brought aboard 2 female mahi mahi and Grey Pearl a single male mahi mahi. Joey Boothby aboard Imagine fancies himself a fisherman, but he remains skunked and is resigned to fixing meat in the galley as he listens to the fish stories. Skipper Greg Beckner, a Texan, reports that the Texas Navy brings aboard more Black Angus than fish.

Dan Topp, crewmember aboard Downtime, reported that busted stabilizers notwithstanding, he managed to bring aboard two mahi mahi on the way to Charleston. He said he was the only guy in Philadelphia last night enjoyed Med Bound mahi mahi. We were delighted to learn that Dan is flying into Bermuda with his wife to take part in the Med Bound celebration at Royal Bermuda Yacht Club while Walter and Mary Smithe attend to stabilizer repairs at Charleston City Marina.

Actually, Walter reports that Downtime got one stabilizer fin working for much of the trip back to Charleston. To be sure, it was leaking hydraulic oil but it kept the boat on an even keel. Our own experiments aboard Bluewater show that a single stabilizer fin is perhaps 75% as effective as a working pair.

The ocean current on the nose yesterday has given way. Likewise, the headwinds and head seas are down. The Med Bound fleet is now making seven-plus knots towards Bermuda and spirits are up. Weather Bob's morning data included a weather map which shows a developing gale south of Cape Hatteras which appears to have Bermuda in its sights. That's the main reason we are continuing to press hard to get to Bermuda by mid-day Sunday. At our present speed we are estimating arrival at Royal Bermuda Yacht Club after lunch, and we're hopeful we'll be secured at the docks before the heavy stuff begins in earnest. Bob says the low pressure system will also bring plenty of rain to Bermuda on Sunday, but as it moves through Monday, easier SW'ly winds and an improving sky/weather pattern should also develop

It's hard to tell on a rolling, pitching yacht, but if my measurements are correct, Bluewater is burning more fuel than we'd like. We are running at 2100 RPMs, and our average fuel burn since leaving Fort Lauderdale appears have been 7.45 GPH, giving us a little less than one MPG with our generous 6 KW generator usage (about .5 GPH or 12 gallons a day) to keep the boat cool. Since we hold only 1,480 gallons and the trip from Bermuda to Horta is 1,818 NM, we'll have to do a lot better than that! For planning purposes, we've laid out the track to Bermuda at 6.3 knots; the slower speed, likely lack of head seas, and less frequent generator usage should do the trick, but you can be sure we'll be monitoring it carefully right from the start.

Thankfully, mechanical problems aboard Med Bound yachts have been minimal. The legendary reliability of our Nordhavn yachts has been taken to a higher degree by work done before departure and inspections by Lugger Bob Senter and Med Bound's own two inspectors, James Knight of Yacht Tech and Chief Engineer Bernie Francis. To be sure, every yacht has a to do list for Bermuda, but most of what's there is nice-to-do rather than must-do. A trip like this helps skipper and crew develop confidence in the yacht!

I'll close with a look at watch-standing. Most of us have elected to go with three-hour watches, and, by some coincidence, the skippers seem to end up with the 2100-2400 watch. That makes for good discussions on that watch. Last night, Braun Jones, Jim Fuller and I beat several issues to death for a couple of hours before heading off to bed on our own yachts. Among the topics: cruising in Europe, Nobeltec and other charting systems, AIS, and watch schedules. Aboard Bluewater, we run watches from 2100 until 0900, then handle the daytime watches informally-whoever is available is on watch. Works for us. Others have more formal systems which work for them.

We're pretty much out of the shipping lanes. Over the past 24 hours we've seen two or three ships. We negotiated a close port-to-port pass with one, the Maersk Remkin, at noontime today.

Bluewater and the other Med Bound yachts are on course for Bermuda and looking forward to our arrival.