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Sailing from Maine to Bermuda

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Before I tell you about our passage, I’d just like to point out a big celebration – we passed 10,000 nm on Starry Horizons!  It’s been almost one year since she was launched, and we can’t believe we’ve covered so much ground in so little time, hitting seven countries!

We left Robinhood Marine Center Wednesday, October 14th in the early morning and arrived in Bermuda after 5 days at sea. It was definitely an interesting passage.

We even had to slow down at the end! We averaged 5.375 knots from Saturday 7 am – Sunday 7 am.

Maine to Bermuda

Weather Routing

We used Commander’s Weather to do our route planning, and they had given us coordinates for our entry into the Gulf Stream, our exit, and instructions for each leg.   

Arrival Into Bermuda

We had a bit of rough weather coming into Bermuda, but fortunately, once you get into the Town Cut headed to St George’s Harbour, the waves calm down A LOT and the wind lessens.  It was still very windy to get to the customs dock.  In another break for us, the Bermuda Yachts Services let us use their dock to tie up for customs, allowing us to dock with the wind pushing us off the dock, and with the help of the crew from the catamaran in front of us, we got tied up and cleared in.

I submitted a notification using SailClear, which is supposed to expedite paperwork for customs. They didn’t have any record of the notification.  No big deal though, we just provided them with our info and filled out paperwork again!  $35 per person to clear in, and we can stay for up to 90 days…although we told them we will be out by the 21-day mark.

Now we are anchored in Convict Bay.  The small craft warning is still in effect.  In fact, as we set our anchor, the boat behind us started dragging and moved to a mooring.  There are only a few boats here, so there’s decent room, and despite the strong winds Mac Daddy, our Mantus anchor, is holding strong.

We’ve got a week here in Bermuda to ourselves, and then next week we have four of our amazing friends joining us!  We are very excited to be in warm weather and get some snorkeling and outdoor fun under our belts.  After our friends leave we will be looking for our weather window….for the BVIs!

Watch the Video: Bermuda Bound

Sailing Passage Journal

Thurs Oct 15th

Our first 24 hours we took the miles down quickly, averaging 6.8 knots, and kept west of the line from Georgetown to our GS entry.

Fri Oct 16th: Such a City Slicker

Written by David

Today we hit the Gulf Stream.  Unfortunately the wind clocked around to come on our nose, so we had to point as high as possible into the wind, but still sail as fast as possible.  We had storms (including lightning) behind us.  We did miss our exit point by a bit, but managed to average 6.8 knots and keep the storms behind us.  

We are 48 hours into our passage from Maine down to Bermuda and so far things are going well. Without Thomas on board as our good luck charm, we haven’t caught any more fish, and we’re doing a bit more upwind, and thus a bit rougher, sailing than some of our other passages. I just like to imagine that SH is like a horse straight out of the chute, speeding and bucking along taking us to warmer weather! We’ll be passing the through the Gulf Stream today, which will mark our 4th crossing. Along with the fact that we’re going to hit 10,000 miles sailed on this passage and I’d say our sailing resumes are becoming pretty decent!

One highlight – I saw a whale breach twice!  I got out the camera but didn’t catch him breaching.  It’s hard to see in the video, but after the breach, he was slapping his fin on the water.  It was pretty awesome!  Winds picked up overnight, and combined with the motoring earlier we averaged 7 knots.

On my night watch last night, I was doing a bit of reflecting, as is rather common on passages, and I determined that it’s a very good thing I’m experiencing a slightly different side of life because I was such a city slicker… I grew up in pretty urban/suburban environments, and while there were a lot of benefits to that type of life, the first time I can vividly remember seeing lots of stars, including the milky way, was on a family vacation to the US Virgin Islands.

So naturally, I assumed that is how the stars worked. They were only visible when you were out in the middle of nowhere on vacation. Makes sense right? Our Atlantic crossing only helped reinforce this believe as the stars were incredibly clear and I don’t think I will ever forget just gazing upon them for hours.

Thus, imagine my shock and dismay upon realizing that lots of stars, INCLUDING the Milky Way, were visible from the good ole US of A. While we were up in Maine, we had a chance to visit with several branches of Amy’s rather large family, and as they hosted us, I discovered that they actually had a pretty decent view of the heavens. Granted, they live in fairly remote parts of Maine, but still, the Milky Way was visible from their houses! And they only had to drive 10-15 minutes to get into a town!

Apparently, my brain was too tainted by decades of city living to comprehend that this was even possible. Amy gave me a rather strange look when I admitted to this, which in all fairness, I probably deserved.

Oh well… Our view on a boat in the middle of the ocean is still better.

Sat Oct 17th

Written by Amy

Today was calm again, with some light rain showers, but no squalls. We did the math and realized that we were moving so quickly we would arrive in Bermuda in the dark, so we dropped our mainsail and strictly used our genoa.  

Sun Oct 18th: Going Slow (On Purpose!)

Written by David

Sunday morning we caught a fish!  It was a small blackfin tuna, yielding just over a pound of meat.  It’s in the freezer, being saved for our guests in Bermuda.  Sunday has been calm, and we mostly motored.

The last few days of this passage are a bit of a weird experience for me. We are actively trying to slow the boat down rather than the usual do everything we can to go as fast as we can. Why are we doing this you ask?

Well, we were so successful getting the boat to go as fast as we could during the first few days of this passage that we ended up massively ahead of schedule. Usually, this would have me jumping up and down (or perhaps more accurately, bobbing from side to side with the waves) with joy. However, the increase in speed would have meant that we’d arrive in Bermuda during the middle of the night.

As a general rule, I don’t like arriving somewhere new during night time hours since channel markers can be hard to make out, or not even lit, land can be hard to spot, finding a place to anchor without easy visual reference to other boats can be problematic, etc, etc. We didn’t get a great start following this rule, as our arrival into Spain after crossing the Bay of Biscay was in the middle of the night (we had studied the charts/Google Earth and everything else we could think of to make sure we knew where we were going, the arrival was pretty straight forward and the staying in the weather in the Bay was worse than the arrival at night option) but since then we’ve been good. We even spent a night at anchor on the Great Bahama Bank on our Atlantic crossing in order to get through a tricky cut in the morning and arrive in Miami during the same day.

So while it’s no fun to go slow, we will enjoy this last day at sea and arrive tomorrow morning in Bermuda, with a celebratory hot chocolate of course.

Mon Oct 19th: Small Craft Warning

Written by Amy

Small Craft Warning

Monday morning David woke me around 6 am (after ending my shift at 2 am).    There was a small craft warning for Bermuda.  In extremely high winds (40+ knots) our screecher was coming unfurled, which is a VERY dangerous situation.  It basically means that our biggest headsail was starting to unravel out of control and catch the wind.  

We were able to furl up our genoa (we had a deep reef in it), get the engines going, get into the wind and get the screecher down.  While there was no “OH SHIT” moment, it was definitely not a situation we want to relive again, with some serious problem solving and a bit of miscommunication.

David had donned his deckvest to go forward and bring the sail down. However, he kept signaling to me to drop the halyard down, but he’d forgotten to undo the clutch at the mast.

Once we got that under control, it was still rough times ahead.  The wind and waves were pretty rough, making it a bouncy ride.  

10 Comments

  1. Thank you for your posts, I enjoy reading and learning from them as I have a long term goal of one day launching my own cat. I was just in Annapolis for the sailboat show.

    Sounds like a few scary moments!

    Quick question, do you think a pair of folding bicycles would be of any use to you? And would there be any place to put them?

    1. We have a pair of folding bikes and store them in our bow locker. It’s actually our second pair (first pair got stolen in Las Palmas). I think we will use them a lot in the Caribbean. I also think we prefer anchorages that are more remote, so often getting to the store is a hike, so having bikes will be helpful.

    1. A few exciting moments! I am going to buy a Mantus anchor when the time comes. I’ve seen several of their videos on youtube and are most impressed.

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