18 May 2013

Bermuda - Trip Update

imagine this view for 6 1/2 days

Sorry for the delay – but as we have no internet on board everything takes more time. As promised here is the update on our longer crossing from Puerto Rico to Bermuda. In simple words, it was surreal!

We left Palmas del Mar Marina in Puerto Rico early on Wednesday morning 8th of May at 06:00. We knew we had to hurry as there was a ColdFRONT/LO predicted which would hit Bermuda around Monday night and bring strong northerly winds – right on our nose. We did know as well that we would be hit by some squalls during our trip, but staying another week or two in Puerto Rico was even less promising.

The first couple of hours we mostly had to use the engine as we headed into the wind to pass the reefs on the northeast side of Puerto Rico. Once in the open Atlantic waters the wind picked up to 20 knots and we made good speed. For a few hours, at least. Then the first squall hit us with 30+ knots. And that squall never left us! For three days in a row we saw sustained winds of 30 – 40 knots and seas as big as houses! Even with the cockpit enclosed we got so much rain and green water over that after three days everything was soaked. The front of squalls (TROF) had turned into an unpredicted LO itself with us right in the middle (as we learned later, of course). The wind never dropped below 30 knots at all. Habibi did great, the crew however was more at their limit. I tell you, nothing beats a heavy full keel boat with a staysail in conditions like that! Yes, it sucked but we were never scared or so, it was simply like living in a washing machine for three days in a row. In such bad weather the biggest fear is actually that something could break and you won’t be able to fix it as there is simply no chance to get some quiet five minutes. “Our loss” wasn’t that bad though: The only thing that didn’t survive was our glass oven door: We once tried to cook a warm meal. Bad idea! The boat was surfing such high seas that the oven, which is gimbaled, flipped in one big wave so heavily that the glass front shattered in million of pieces! Can you imagine, a heeled and moving boat and you then have to clean up glass pieces which of course are sliding in every hidden corner of the cabin? The rest of the stormy days we stayed on a strict diet: tons of clementine, snack bars, nuts, chocolate and everything you can grab and eat with your bare hands.

we'd made sure that we didn't have to starve while underway
Nevertheless, after three days the wind calmed finally down to 20 knots, the seas decreased some and we had a few days of beautiful sailing. But as the “washing machine sailing” before had slowed us down too much, we wouldn’t be able to reach Bermuda before the ColdFRONT arrived! So we started planning to divert to the East Coast of the US, adding another 600nm to the tap.

But sometimes even we get lucky. On Sunday Chris our forecaster mentioned that the ColdFRONT over Bermuda was delaying. All of a sudden we had time until sunset on Tuesday to avoid bad weather. Speed was now everything. For two days we sailed 160nm a day! That’s an average of 6.8 knots and higher for more than 24 hours! I know Island Packets are no race boats but calling them slow is simply stupid! 

calm again after some stormy days
Of course the wind died as soon Bermuda was in sight on Tuesday morning 14th of May. Some last squalls with tons of rain had washed down the whole salt (prefrontalTROF) and we happily motored towards the entry channel which we were going to reach in 4 hours or so. But Neptune was not out of surprises yet. The northern wind picked up a bit too early as predicted. For the last 20 miles we again had 25 knots of wind and high seas but for a change well on the nose (ColdFront)! Which of course soaked Habibi once again in saltwater… but that lasted just a few hours until we finally reached the town cut and the well protected anchorage in St. George’s/Bermuda after exact 904nm of very mixed sailing. We tied up on the customs dock and the first steps on land after 6 ½ days out at sea felt both weird and great together!

Habibi at the Customs dock in St.George's
The passage was pure solitude - for one week the only things we saw were three birds and three big ships far away. Otherwise nothing else than water. The only visitors we had were the occasional suicidal flying fish that jumped into our dinghy or on deck to die there.

As you may know most sailors are diagnosed with a very bad short-term memory. Which means if you asked us now a couple of days later we wouldn’t think it was too bad anymore. Let’s be honest, the first three days of our trip haven’t been too much fun but gorgeous Bermuda simply helped us to forget the nasty stuff quickly. Overall we’re happy we did it and Yes, we would do a longer trip anytime again (which we have to!) – off course if there was better weather ;-)

anchorage in St.George's/Bermuda

1 comment:

  1. My stomach starts rebelling just reading about the passage. You for sure did a great job! Enjoy the island. What is the plan from there?