Reflections of an Offshore Passage
NY/Bermuda Passage Reflections aboard Morning Star, by Bermuda
A few, reflections of an offshore passage to Bermuda, not necessarily in order of importance.
Bermuda says -"New equipment and previously unused items will not function and will be rendered useless once outside of the range of cell phone support and UPS or FedEx terminals".
Small Island Packets (Morning Star is a IP-32) sail with the big kids when faced with serious sea and wind conditions, if I ever had the slightest doubt.... it''s gone.....she beam and broad reached in 30-35 Kts continuous, occasional to 40 Kts, with a single, sometimes double, reefed main and staysail for hours on end without the slightest complaint.
Bermuda says - "Believe every ridiculous sounding thing you''ve ever heard about traversing the Gulf Stream and dealing with it''s warm and cold eddies. You''ll quickly discover that cross track error (XTE) is more than a output field on a GPS or the result of a DR calculation".
Bermuda says - "When it comes to seasickness medication, Crews are like children and will avoid taking their medicine at any cost".
Make sure you enforce, and personally witness, the use of seasickness remedies, no sailor is immune. Try to get your crew to begin administering their remedy of choice at least 48 hours prior to departure. This last trip brought even the author to the rail on one occasion, first time in over 25 years. However, I wouldn''t recommend eating an unripe Granny Smith apple in two to three second 12 to 15 seas at 30-35Kts apparent.
Forget about schedules of any kind. If you get to, or return from an offshore passage as planned you were just lucky. On round trip voyages, the same crew personnel both ways will eliminate scheduling problems.
Bermuda says - "Screws, nuts and/or bolts and other hardware found on the deck or cabin top while underway DID probably fall out of the sky, but most likely DIDN''T originate from an airplane".
Chances are, something between the deck and masthead has, or is coming apart.
These are sailboats we are talking about yes? We can sail all the way, right? Wrong! Calculate the worst case scenario of fuel usage, once you have determined how many jerry jugs of emergency fuel you''ll need, multiply that times two, and add two more cans.
Don''t use nylon cordage for lashing anything you plan to re-lash like empty jerry jugs, as you''ll no doubt be forced to untie those knots with a knife.
Unless you are female and pregnant and have lousy opinions as to what constitutes good food, don''t hand your crew a credit card and tell them to go to the supermarket and buy the food and provisions so you can tend to more important chores. Nachos get unbearable after six days at sea.
For the skipper, don''t convene a congress of crewmembers for votes on important navigation and passage issues; a boat is not a democracy. Yes it is ok to include the crew in discussions pertaining to their health and safety but there''s only one vote that reallycounts, yours.
Bermuda says - "A portable piece of electronics, although seated in a mount dead center in the cockpit, can, and will, find it''s way to the sea floor".
Nexus autopilots are much too sensitive to high voltage regulators, 14 volts plus to be more exact. And so we had to hand steer when motor sailing at high rpm''s. I didn''t ultimately determine this fact until I put in at Norfolk on the return passage, and with a few days of leisure, waiting for a weather window I was able to troubleshoot the problem and change out the defective voltage regulator and the problem went away. What a relief, as having lost my crew to their families and lives I ended up singlehanding from Norfolk to New York for 45 hours while about 25 miles offshore. Although during that two day passage I caught a nice little Bonito Tuna and was able to comfortably go below and prepare a nice meal of fish, rice and beans.
The Nexus Network of instruments however, including wind, speed, depth, water temp, NMEA data repeater, etc., for the most part, worked flawlessly and functioned as advertised.
Bermuda says - "Six volt golf cart batteries rule...still best amp hours for the buck."
On the return leg from Bermuda to Norfolk one afternoon we were able to sail into the Gulf Stream flying an asymmetrical spinnaker and were able to continue for several hours until sunset, what a fun sail that was.
Bermuda says - "When you do finally make landfall don''t expect the crew to help clean up the boat, they''ll be on the way to the airport or car rental faster than you can say boat soap."
And lastly, if you have the occasion to hook a nice ten pound Mahi-Mahi on a hand line, and you''ve gaffed it, and it''s
bleeding profusely in the cockpit, don''t swing it back to the sea to rinse it off.
Note: You can sail to, or from Bermuda this spring on Morning Star with Bermuda on one of his four leukemia fundraising passages benefiting his four year old grandson. Tentative dates are:
NY to Bermuda: Sat May 19, 2001
Bermuda to NY: Mon May 28, 2001
NY to Bermuda: Sat June 9, 2001
Bermuda to NY: Sun June 17, 2001.
A charitable contribution is required.
For additional information please call Bruce, aka Bermuda at 201.440.4825 or surf to his website at http://www.fullkeel.com.