Avocation - Swan 48 - 5 OPO members aboard – 6 day delay
Dear Rally Participants,
I am sure everyone would like a recap of each others’ passage south this fall. Please send me an e-mail and let us know how you fared. I will collect all the accounts and pass them on to each other so we can compare notes and plan to meet again this winter in the
The 6 day wait in
Avocation departed with 5 boats on Saturday Nov 6th. We followed Susan’s advice to stay west. Heading west of rumb line, and then south of
Before dark we set the pole and sailed wing and wing for 24 hours which was very comfortable and had us averaging 9 knots, hitting 10 & 12’s often on a surf.. We went as far west as 73.49 degrees, before gybeing and heading for the narrow part of the
We spent only one day in Bermuda and got together with crew from Equinox and 2 if by Sea for burgers and dark’n’Stormies at the Yacht Club. Only in
Simpson Bay Marina did cancel the final party in St. Maarten at our suggestion since only two boats were in port. However they are honoring your two days of free dockage at anytime before the New Year and 10% off for longer stays.
Our spot trackers helped some of us know where each other were and are. But it would be much better to have a recap from you. Please check in and send me an e-mail when you get done clearing customs and recovered after your first full day in port, let us know how you are and your plans for the winter so that we can keep an eye pour for each other. If you continue to fly your red NARC rally flag we will be able to identify each other in an anchorage.
Rubicon – Outbound 44 – 3 OPO members aboard – 2 week delay
Here is a brief recap of Rubicon’s passage to
It was not a tough passage as we had four on board and our watch schedule was two hours on and six hours off. This left everyone well rested. We did add one twist to the schedule. Whoever had the 10 AM watch stood a double watch of four hours. This wasn’t particularly onerous as it was midday and there were usually others up and about. It also meant that you only did the four hour watch once every four days. This watch schedule served to keep the watches rotating so we all stood the beautiful dawn and sunset watches as well as the middle of the night watches. Everyone agreed that it was a fine watch schedule for a crew of four.
We did close to the rhumb line to
At Jim’s suggestion we started to trail a lure at some point on the second day. We probably towed that lure for 1200 miles with no hint of a nibble when , on the final day and practically within site of
We sailed into Rubicon’s winter home the next morning where everyone chipped in to clean up the boat before we repaired to Jimbo’s for libations.
Thanks to Hank for the organization and to a fine crew for a wonderful passage
Tranquillite - Hylas 46 - 2 OPO members aboard - 5 day delay
Hank. First, let me thank you for the effort you made in the initial posting of our trip through OPO. There were 15 responses and It took just a short time to identify and confirm our third crew. Then with your help I was able to make a last minute substitution and ended up with a dream crew! Experienced, talented, willing, hardworking and most important, they had wide time frames which made working with the weather possible. Thank you very much. They spoiled me rotten.
At about 2:00 PM on Sunday near
We exited the GS Monday AM on a course of 206 and just gybed our way down with N wind 30-40s for a few days with 2-2.5 reefs in both sails 20 ft trailing seas. Wind began to moderate and shift favorably to more westerly on day 6. We made good S E progress for a couple days with some wing on wing. Day 8/9 was light winds shifting E under a high pressure ridge about (30 hrs under motor there) we picked up wind around Sombrero and went in under the 11:30 Bridge at
We are at C 36 in
In closing, let me reiterate that the success of this trip was entirely due to crew strength, time flexibility and talent. We not only didn’t break anything but arrived in port with several things fixed that were not perfect at departure! I had a retired plumber and electrician on board for 10 days. Do you think I got my monies worth from that! It doesn’t get any better than coaching your crew through disassembling the holding tank Y valves to clean and service them while you pop up for air! Anybody else have a crew person get on board with several pairs of latex gloves for cleaning and sewage work?
OLD CONSTRUCTION GUYS RULE!!!!!!!
What’s Up Doc – 47 foot custom Cat – 4 OPO members Did not make it to
You may or may not want this report since I never got to
This combined with the seas from the west and NW wind at 25-35 K made our points of sail
1:I should have done a day sail with the crew to practice reefing, furling jib changes, MOB and deployed sea anchor. I had planned to do this before the NARC But hey! this was just an easy coastal cruise to
2. I should have taken a scope patch at the start although I had not been seasick in 10 years I was the only person familiar with the boat and to put me out of commission was a problem even though we had two excellent crew both with more sea experience than me but I thought little to no experience on a boat like this - built as an ocean racer and converted to a cruiser when she became obsolete. When I finally put a patch on, it took 8 hours to kick in since my skin blood flow was so low ( I was pale). Usually they kick in in 2 hours. They are by far the most effective than any other drug but must be applied early or before the vertigo.
3. We should l have put to sea anchor instead of run. But no one on board had used one and we were in a shipping channel for a good part of the trip to the canal.. We bashed too long, fast and hard into the waves. Still would have been better to anchor and wait her out, figure out the motor problem, and/or had a shorter tow to a more accessible place.
4. We should have hove to for the furling. My inexperience in these temperatures made me think we could furl while under way as with summer racing in
5. Crew communication suffered from lack of experience together and my being out of commission. Orders and ideas were not heard or if heard were not confirmed. This was a two way failure. This is something I normally practice with crew during the maneuvers we did not have.
6. Never use Global Starr!!! My experience with Irridum has flawless. Global Starr was cheaper and of infinitely lesser value. It is NOT an emergency communication system!
7. Ask more forcefully with the Coast Guard to tow slower. At first she had asked if the speed was too fast and I said yes that 3-5 knots seemed good but I went back to bed and we did 7-10 all the way. Maybe they had to get back to the search and rescue for the MOB. They did a great job and took videos of the operation. I hope we can get them. They have tentatively said they will provide them.
8. It seemed that she had a large slick to stay in while under tow but in the dark this was hard to find. I don't know if there was a way to stay in it better. We would suddenly get into an almost calm, no bashing, condition for a minute and then get bashed again for most of the tow. Straight behind the boat was probably not the best spot. I suspect staying to port would have provided more protection with a NW wind and a W bearing.
She is now hauled in
Osprey left early. After talking with you Saturday morning on the fuel dock in
10/30/2010 - We had prepped since Wednesday evening and were ready to go Saturday. We consulted various wx sources, including Susan, NWS, Acuweather, and Commanders WX with whom Osprey owner Tim McCarthy has an account. And we looked out the window and observed local conditions and tell tale signs in the clouds. As I told you on the fuel dock..... the frontal system manifesting itself looked far to good to miss. Commanders told us on Friday to leave ASAP, no later than Sat. afternoon, or we would have to wait a week for another window. Osprey owner Tim strongly recommended we leave ASAP. I liked what I saw in the sky and the stiff westerly breeze, so we left.
We motored from
10/31 - We ran the rhumb line as recommended by Commanders. This route looked good to us as well.
11/1 - And further down the rhumbline we hit the
- Winds backed somewhat forcing us to go more East of the rhumbline than I would have liked. But the winds sustained in the 20 to 30 range giving us good speed.
And Greg caught and cooked 3 Mahi Mahi along the way. Fine eatin'.
11/2 On the third day winds started to veer to the North giving our poleless boat little alternative than to go more West then we would have liked. Winds also lightened to 15 to 20... Winds continued to veer to NNE and we followed, sailing off the wind as much as possible yet keeping the genoa drawing clean air.
Our biggest mistake was waiting too long to jibe as winds continued to clock to the N and NE.... I waited until first light but should have jibed at midnight of the 3rd day. This added perhaps 10 or 15 miles or more to our through the water track and several hours to our voyage time.
11/3 - We contacted Bermuda Radio at about 0400 and they advised us that heavy traffic was scheduled for the the Narrows area near Town Cut between 0700 and 0800, so we turned on the engine to get in before this possibly delaying traffic. Thus I was denyed my ambition to sail all the way in to and through Town Cut from Bevertail.... Maybe next year.
We made fast at Customs Dock at 0530 on Wednesday 11/3. Cleared in and tied up to warf accross the canal from
We negotiated with several other boats and Bermuda Yacht Services and arranged berth for Osprey inside in the lee of
We holed up there and prepped for a predicted southerly gail that never really materialized. We also watched wx for track of TS Tomas which threatened
Our passage to St. Maarten was relatively uneventful with notherly winds on our starboard quarter. Greg caught a wahoo and made steaks, and he also caught a 15 lb. tuna which provided several dinners of sasheme (sp?) for us and which we shared with our neighbor crew on Cayanne while at Simpson Bay Marina.
We had left
Such was our voyage. I look forward to hearing from others.
I too leave on another delivery Sunday.
Wishing us both fair winds!
Laughing Lady – Swan 44 – 4 Finish crew- 5 day delay
Laughing Lady left on friday with three crazy Finns on board who had a natural affinity for Swans and sailed a deep western route down to Hatteras and ultimately to St John, USVI. Tranquility took a similar route. It was a sleighride, ten days end-to-end, some 200 mile days, no damage to crew or boat, and a great time had by all. We all missed the fun and companionship of Bermuda, but after a full week of going stir-crazy on the dock and in the bars of
The Finns had no fear of cold or seas, but might have been a little bolloxed by the spectre of the
Admittedly, it did get a bit bad near Hatteras. 40kts and a flogging #4 made for a heavy night. In the end, the sail whipped its clew off but all else was fine. And the Gulf was like last year, flatter than expected, and thankfully warmer.
Ten days to
Sea Witch - Pearson 53 – 2 OPO members aboard
Nice talking to you just south of
Here's my recount:
Dep newport 0630 on Sat w/ Hank, Murray, Jon, and 3 others under sloppy conditions awaiting the offshre northerlies to kick in which they did and we were off skirting BI on a low broad reach pulling 8's. Paralleling the fleet going well west I decided to jink southeast to avoid a low off NJ and cross the GSC 40 miles west of rhumbline. GSC was a bit troublesome but completely manageable as we had jib alone with 8 kts vmg. Found a low to pass west of and got nicely catapaulted into
Enviable NW 25 kt conditions pushed us to
2009 NARC Recap
It took a while to compile all the e-mails from NARC participants. There are pretty much in the order I received them with the exception of David Lyman on Searcher. David did a good job as the communications boat and wants to put more effort into taking the Rally in a new direction.
The Rally has always been geared towards sailors who have made the passage before rather than a rally trying to duplicate what others do. I wanted to keep it simple without safety inspections and offer seminars to help first timers. I also wanted to keep it affordable and made it free this past year with the exception of socials. By including many boats we can offer discounts and more delightful socials. However there is a clear need for more guidance and instruction and we will see where this takes us in 2010. I would still like to offer a free opportunity for pro skippers and veteran passagemakers, but we will also offer seminars and workshops to help first timers. We will keep you posted on plans for next years Rally and will invite you to join us next year.
The biggest difference in the stories from boat owners was comparative weather. Also some boats got caught in bigger seas than others. I plan to post the stories on the website soon along with plans for next year. If you would like to change or add more to your passage notes, please feel free to let me know. I will make the changes before posting. I will wait until the end of the month to post.
Rally Recap by Individual Skippers
We hope you enjoy the individual perspectives of the Skippers who particiated in the 2009 NARC Rally. Their stories in their own words.
The first leg was all on one tack and took less than 4 days. It was an easy year and the gulf stream was tamer than the first night out. We spent parts of 5 days in Bermuda and got out just before the weather window closed us in Bermuda for 5 more days. We left Bermuda on Monday Nov 9th about noon. We made very good time the first two days sailing 20 degrees west of rumb line. When the wind went SW and then South we tacked and sailed east of rumbline for a full day until about 62.20.
We had five days of headwinds and it took us 7 days to reach St. Maarten. One of my longest trips in my 12 years of making the passage. The kicker was when we arrived outside the Lagoon Bridge at 9:30 am and thought we would only have to wait for the 11:00 am Bridge. It turns out they were working on the bridge and we had to wait until 6:00 pm, We paid the boat boy $50 to bring us two bags of ice and a pack of Marlboro. Avocation sailed with only a jib most of the way this 10th annual NARC Rally. The first leg because on day two, the main halyard “Halyard Knot” parted and we had no choice and the 2nd leg because that sail plan worked so well the first leg. We had no breakdowns and no fish this year.
Harmony was one of the boats that left Newport on Sunday afternoon and headed west as was recommended in the weather breifing that morning. That night the wind picked up and we broad reached in high winds and seas. We rolled up the jib on Monday morning and pressed on under just the main. Late in the afternoon the annemometer showed gust up in the 40s and the seas were quite high we decided to take down the main and put out the droque. The droque was tied to the aft port cleat and the result was the boat was laying ahull. We rolled quite abit but I can recall only one wave that actually smashed on to the deck. At dawn on Tuesday, the winds had shifted to northwest and had subsided. We hoisted the main, rolled out the jib and nad a fantastic sail. We hit the Gulfstream about 10 pm and caught a south bound eddy that had the GPS showing 10 Kts SOG in bursts. Seas were down, the moon was full, it was warm, a night that we will remember fondly. 12 hours later the wind had dropped to 5-10 so we turned on the power and motor sailed until Thursday afternoon when the winds picked up to 30 - 35 and gusts higher.
We rolled up the jib and were sailing under just the main. HARMONY is heavy and revelled in these conditions. We did not have to fight a weather helm and she handled the seas beautifully. In fact we had only one wave that washed into the cockpit and left about 6 inches of water that quickly drained. We had few waves that hit the boat and gave us lots of spray. The big problem we had was the confused seas. We were broad reaching but every so often we would get a wave from directly astern pushing the boat dead down wind. This caused us to gybe the main several times. We had a preventer but the brass hook attaching it to the stantion base broke off. Late Friday the main blew out during another gybe. We continued with just the storm jib and turned on the engine when the winds dropped early saturday morning. We arrived in Bermuda just after dawn on Saturday.
We did have a few things break on the way down. Namely the auto pilot was set upon and ripped off its mounting and never worked again. The wind generator broke off, and if it did not get caught in the solar panel supports, it would have gone overboard. The binnacle light died and the formentioned mainsail and preventer. Of these the biggest loss was the auto pilot. It would have come in handy on the Bermuda to St John passage.
After a week in Bermuda we elected to head out on sunday. Winds were forcast to be from the south but came in out of the SE at 15 kts and we had a nice sail until the wind died late that night as forcasted by Herb. We expected 2 days of light winds and had fuel for 4 days so we turned on the motor and proceeded. Well the light winds and calms lasted a lot longer. After 4 days of motoring we calculated we were just about out of fuel.We also inadvertently drained the water tank. We were communication with SEARCHER and told David of our situation. He said he was 6 hours away and would give us 18 gallons of fuel and some water. While drifting waiting for SEACHER, we saw and comunicated with the cruise ship NAVIGATOR of the SEAS. We explained our demise and pleaded for some fuel but they refused to help us out as we were in no eminenent danger. The same thing happened when a LNG tanker saw we were dead in the water and asked if we were OK. We requested some fuel but they said they had no way of getting us any and proceeded on their way. SEARCHER arrived at 12:30 AM and gave us the fuel plue 6 gallons of water. We proceeded to motor for another 20 hours before the winds finally filled in. The last two days were idylic as we ticked off the miles to St John in 15-20 kts of breeze on the beam. We arrived at St. John about 10 PM Monday night and pulled into Francis Bay 8 days after leaving Bermuda.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all the people in the NARC Rally. Everybody was really helpful. I would especially like to thank David and his crew (SEARCHER) and Steve and Beav abord TERAGRAM for their help and support duing the time of our fuel delemma.
David H. Lyman, Capt., S/V Searcher, The 2009 NARC Story
This year’s North Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (NARC) was a study in contrasts. The first leg of the nearly 1,800 mile voyage, Newport to Bermuda, was fraught with high winds, steep seas and broken gear. The second leg, Bermuda to Saint Martin was the opposite . . . with the wind either right on the nose, or no wind at all. A few and boats ran out of fuel and had to ask passing cruise ships and fellow Rally cruiser for resupply. This as one voyaging experience that gave participating sailors bragging rights. I’ve made the trip more than a dozen times, and this was the most “challenging” crossing I’ve experienced . . . but not because of the Gulf Stream, which this time was so benign this crossing as to be almost non-exist.
The Rally, in its present form, is ten years old, and a tribute to Hank Schmitt, a professional delivery captain, who has run the event, single handedly, for all that time. This year’s rally, which included more than 30 boats, was for many skippers and crews their first major off shore voyage. The 1800 mile trek from New England to the Caribbean is split into two separate voyages, and since Bermuda is right on the way, why not stop. The Rally assembles in Newport, Rhode Island an after two days of briefings, socials, and dinners, the majority of the boats departed on the afternoon of Sunday, November 1, this being the date when most insurance companies will allow boats off shore at the tail end of the Hurricane Season. Susan Ganett from Real Weather, a Newport based meteorologist gave the fleet’s crews and skippers a weather and Gulf Stream weather briefing hours before departure that called for brisk 25+ knot NE winds for two days, and a rough crossing of the Gulf Stream, then favorable winds into Bermuda. The option was to depart Newport a day later and miss the higher winds and rougher seas at the start, but to face the possibility of higher winds at the end of the 4 to 5 day voyage. A handful of boat took the later option, only to get slammed the last day out with near storm force NW winds and 15 to 20 foot seas on the stern. More on that later.
“This is not a race,” Hank insisted during the briefing in Newport. “This is an off shore delivery of your yacht to the Caribbean. There is no need to stress the gear and crew,” he emphasized, “as there will be no tabulation of who comes in first and there are no prizes at the final dinner, We will all be winners when we get there.” Hank’s briefing statement included one suggestion that I liked: “ . . . do not use the automatic pilot on the trip. Hand steer all the way. It gives the crew a better feeling for boat. It also allows them to be physically more aware of the experience.” Good advise. Hank began this rally as a way to move a fleet of Swan charter boats between New England and the Caribbean each fall and spring. To crew these boats, Hank launched www.SailOPO, a website and service that matches skipper and owners who want their boat south for the winter, or north for the summer, with people who want of shore experience. While many who did join as crew are new to off shore sailing, most, if not all, had some coastal experience and know their way around boats. I had a 20-something couple on board Searcher, my Bowman 57 ketch as crew. Both were recent college grads looking for adventure and experience before settling down to careers. Both had extensive sailing experience but no off shore credits. If that’s what they wanted by joining my family and I on our voyage south. that’s what they got it!
On the Newport to Bermuda leg It was the cold fronts that over took the fleet of slower boats, with embedded squalls, and the resulting NW gales that tested boats and crews. As the fleet of slower boats neared Bermuda winds picked up near storm force, and the seas grew to 15 to 20 feet. A few boats hove-to, or ran under bare poles, or deployed sea anchors as they rode out the worst of the winds, limping into Bermuda with damaged gear, broken steering systems, torn sales, and tired crews. The list of adventures, boat by boat, follows.
This voyage south from Bermuda, for many skippers, was . . . suspenseful but not dangerous. The big question each skipper faced was “ . . . will I have enough fuel to get me far enough south to pick up the Trade Winds?” A few boats did not and ran out of diesel and had to rely on passing cruise ships and yachts for additional fuel. The 850 mile trip took us 6.5 days, which is abut normal, and burned up 100-plus gallons of fuel. This included a 20 mile detour to drop off 20 gallons of diesel fuel and drinking water to one NARC boat that had run out.
All boats that left Bermuda eventually arrived at their Caribbean destinations, safe and more learned about their boats, the sea and the process of voyaging. This was my first rally. I’ve made the same voyage a dozen times in the 80s and 90s, but wanted my young family to have the added security of belonging to a group. We were disappointed to find ours was the only family in the NARC fleet. Would I join a rally next time? I certainly would consider it, but finding myself in a 250 bait fleet would be, for me, just too many people and boats to deal with. I liked the size of the NARC, as I got to know most the people by the time we reached Bermuda.
Boat: Okoboji deux
I'm in the Virgin Islands . . . left Bermuda on the 13th (Friday !!!) and arrived in the VIs on the 19th after being becalmed in the Atlantic for 3 days . . . got 15 gals of diesel from another cruiser/sailboat AND also got 15 gals of diesel from a CruiseShip !!! We had a great adventure !!!!
NARC was a great way to get to the Islands and I really appreciate all of your assistance. We had big winds and waves, no wind or waves, sailing, motoring, etc . . . all of the usual stuff . . . my mates from Okoboji had a big time adventure . . . both on land and at sea.
Per your request for feedback re the passage: The J/42 Affinity had a wonderful passage as part of the NARC Rally from Newport to St Martin. We sailed a 2 person on deck- 4 hour on 4 hour off - watch. We hand steered all the way and kept a close watch on weather and adjusted our course and sail plan early as the anticipated situation dictated.
Starting at 1515 Sunday November 1st from Newport we reached Bermuda in 3 days 20 hours. Had a very comfortable Gulf Stream crossing, some seas, but overall it was smooth. We sailed through The Steam in one watch. Holding 189 degrees out of Newport to the stream, to the dog leg recommended by Susan Gennett of Real Weather the advisor to the NARC Rally. We stayed South while in the Stream recommended by Commanders, then Gybed and had a nice broad reach with a high, but favorable, following sea all the way to Bermuda. There was not a lot of direction changing required on the helm to guide our way to Bermuda this time!
After lots of fun in Bermuda, socials, scooters and The Swizzle Inn, and a meeting with another J/42 owner, Peter Willauer aboard Eight Bells we departed Sunday at 1500. The decision to leave Sunday, rather than the originally planned on Monday, was due to weather forecasts in our path to SXM. We sailed a bit West of Rhumb for 3 days to avoid weather and to also (hopefully) pick up a wind change to the Southeast which might result as IDA turned up the East coast. We then tacked to Starboard, SE, for St Martin. We were in pretty close contact with Freestyle, Don Cody’s Hyalas 54 which was insight for 3 days post Bermuda. Along the way and were able to raise Laughing Lady Andy Lipman’s Swan 44 a few times. Andy had left Bermuda Sunday Morning. We experienced some rain squalls on the second leg but nothing serious. Once we tacked SW when we saw what looked like a nasty squall ahead. Several times we were successful in missing the heavy stuff with our avoidance behavior.
We did see winds as high as 42 kits. and seas at or close to 20 feet. For about 24 hours. While being careful and respectful of the conditions. we all enjoyed the boat moving between 10 and 14.9 knots the whole time in the surf. The boat, and each crew member, handled it perfectly, one night we chose to sail with 3 reefs and no headsail as we suspected the weather might worsen.
Mid week with a large squall forecasted Southeast of our position we decided to tack to the Southwest for 5 hours to avoid it. After the 5 hours were up I said to the crew; we can beat to SXM or crack off to a tight reach to Virgin Gorda and be there in 24 hours. Everyone gave thumbs up on the latter idea. I checked in with Commanders for a forecast to BVI from our location and they said “the forecast is for a tranquil night”. We went for it.
We had a wonderful time in BVI. Ran into the boats from the Carib 1500 at Nanny Cay, met cruising families on similar size boats with children and dogs. We had a nice time talking to the owners of another J/42 from Washington DC, Ceol Mor, Jim and Heather Wilson. They are on their way to Australia via Gallipolis with their two sons, who are about 5 and 7 years old. We had drinks at the Soggy Dollar on Jost Van Dyke and anchored at White’s Breach. We also spent a night in the bight on Norman Island and snorkeled in the caves on the West side of the island.
On Tuesday with our mental batteries recharged, the winds went light and happily, for us, swung to the South. With full sunshine above we set sail on a close reach in 9 to 11 knots of wind, ten hours later we were in SXM. After a good night’s rest we entered the basin with the 0630 bridge opening. My only problem at this point was I left my ships documents home and St Martin authorities did not find that amusing. The Documentation Center in Virginia was great after I found someone there take ownership in finding a solution to my problem. Wynette faxed new docs to me and I cleared a few days later.
Everyone on AFFINITY; George Fallon, Stewart Rose and Leah Quinn did their share of the work and made strong contributions. It was a team effort and we worked well together. I give a special thanks to Leah who celebrated a birthday at sea with us this year. A live aboard in Annapolis in the summer she knows her way around boats. A grandmother in New Orleans in the winter so she is highly skilled with food. In addition to often making practical suggestions, sometimes when the captain did not want to hear them, and helming well in the heavy stuff, she quietly took upon herself all the provisioning and most all the cooking responsibilities. We ate like KINGS every night having dinner as a team promptly at 1900 each day. When the stove stopped working for two days and the three men thought the food excellence was over. NO WAY Leah cooked up some Shrimp by marinating them somehow in vinegar and spices, rustled up other things she had hiding in the refrig to accompany the main course, and we continued to eat like kings. In BVI Stewart fixed the stove.
So All good on our end, thanks for organizing the NARC.
Boat: Laughing Lady
Many thanks for organizing a great rally and a great social gathering. It was terrific meeting new sailors from around the Caribbean and catching up with old friends.
Laughing Lady had a great time on both legs, with a crew of five. Of that gang, there was at least one crew member who had reasonable offshore experience and often one who was learning on each two-man watch. The learners got a fast education in the power of the sea and management of a passage, and the whole team worked smoothly on fixing all the inevitable problems (from minor breakages to changing fuel filters in a seaway.) Strangely enough, most things on the boat started to work better as we approached land.
We really blew it with the fishing gear I bought from you. After hearing that FadoFado caught three fish, we cast out our line and quickly caught a beautiful Mahimahi, but we didn't recognize it as such and threw it back -- a blunder we didn't discover until we got communications back. It would have given us a great surf and turf dinner. We never had such luck again.
We left Bermuda on sunday with FadoFado, Freestyle, a SW100 Red Sky and ultimately Bonatsa. We did radio checkins twice a day at 6AM and 6PM and traded puzzles and weather information. This double checkin was extremely useful and fun, especially since we had internet weather under way (Inmarsat) and could use the advance position of Red Sky to correct the predictions and pass along intelligence. I strongly urge you to adopt a twice-daily radio procedure and use it as an exchange of information as well as a checkin. There is nothing better than collating the weather from boats spread out 75 miles along the route. One of the boats can function as "weather man" for the group.
In one case, somewhat more than halfway to the Virgins, we and Red Sky were on opposite sides of a low that was rapidly moving past and between us. We were still in the NE winds, although at 30kts rather than the 10 that PassageWeather predicted. Red Sky was in 30kts SE, diminishing, and in between was a perfect calm. This is a perfect, small-scale replica of the circulation of a hurricane and it was wonderful to see what was in store and fix the gribs.
As we passed though the eye of the low, the skies cleared and we did a perfect 360 degree tack as we created the apparent wind that we were trying to tack through. (On our boat, we call that a "Jack Tack" named for the first of our crew who ever did that.) Turns out that on the radio-check, everyone else did the same thing!
Sailing oscillated between 1, 2, and three reefs, and on occasion we were down to the number 4 staysail. Made record time halfway to St John, then close reached into lighter airs for the rest of the way. Sunday turned out to be a fortuitous day to leave BDA.
In my mind, one of the important keys to a good passage is to really enforce a regimen of putting dry gear in one place (usually forward), wet gear no farther than two steps from the companionway, and the salon dry and free of junk. Keeping the galley clean is a strong plus as well. This plan gets the off-watch comfortable and rested and keeps everyone engaged in feeding. A well-fed boat is a happy boat.
Stay in touch!
Boat: Bela Luna
Bella Luna saw a little window on Tuesday the 10th and I jumped on it. Winds were NE at 20 +. Clearing the reefs we got launched nicely south only to turn back an hour later as we had an ill crewmember . There was too much instability the next day, so we departed on the 12th with 30 gallons in the jerry jugs. Still NE at 20 for 12 hours so we made some westing until the evil south westerlies reared its ugly head. The next 3+ days were 25-30 kts with several hours of 45-50. Driving rain, 10-15 foot corkscrew seas, and lots of lightning and thunder was our world - there was no where to go - the system was too big. We had our # 5 and two reefs in the 3DL main until the mainsail blew up on day four. Tried heaving to but could not get a great balance with that sail so we motor sailed. Pulled out the racing main on day 6 as the weather began to improve-but only got to enjoy good sailing for 6 hours as the low moved out and sucked everything with him. Couldn't go full hoist as the spectra lazy jack pulled through it's boom cam cleat then diabolically looped itself around the halyard then proceeded to tie itself around the back stay as a perfect round turn and one half hitch!
Motored the last two and a half days at 1900 rpm as fuel was in short supply. The easterlies kicked in at about 19 degrees 30 minutes north. The BVI never looked better to me. Sign me up for next year.
Boat: Stagger Lee
One suggestion for next years Rally:
Do an e-mail update daily for those that have the Iridium Phone e-mail. We rented ours from OUTFITTER SATELLITE and it hooked up to our notebook computer with a USB cable. They have a nice e-mail program that comes with the rental that efficiently sends and receives e-mails. We had a nice daily e-mail from Okobojo Deux every day during the second 1/2 of the Rally. We were even able to give them updated GRIB wind predictions for their location (we got a daily 5 day wind/presure/wave e-mail from saildocs that we could view on our Nobetec Nav program). It was also a great resource for our crew; who all sent/received daily e-mails home from the trip.
The Iridium phone rental costs were:
Please pass this on to the other folks if you think it would be a helpful addition.
Thanks Again for all the help with the trip!
Here is the last update from one of your stragglers in the NARC. The guys from Okoboji Deux are still working to make it into Virgin Gorda. They got stuck out in the middle with no wind. We both had Iridium e-mail accounts so I have been getting updates from them almost every day.
They actually were able to get fuel from 2 passing boats while bobbing around (read the accounts below...pretty crazy stuff).
Stagger Lee made it into Virgin Gorda on Monday 11/16. We had 2 1/2 days of wind from the South. Our fuel calculations told us we didn't have enough go-juice to make it all the way, so we tacked back and forth when we had wind; and motored when we didn't. The last day, somehow the wind clocked around from the NORTH (WTF?) so we had a nice 5 hour Spinnaker run until the wind gave out. At about 1PM we got a US Coast Guard Pon Pon telling us there was a big micro burst storm on the way from Puerto Rico. The prediction was that it would only go as far as the US Virgin Islands, but it was packing 50+ MPH winds + Lightning (they described it as 'tropical storm force winds and seas'). So we threw it in gear and motored in the remaining 50 miles. All we ended up getting in Virgin Gorda was some rain...I talked to some folks in the airport on the way home and the storm really rocked St John. One woman said it looked like a full on Hurricane.
Thanks for everything on the NARC. We had a great time. Looks like I will have a bunch of return crew for the delivery back (they all had a great time)
Nelleke is the yacht that had to turn back with some significant damage to rigging so I'm not sure if we count for a recap, since we didn't make it, but if you're interested we are happy to put our two cents in.
Idunn wasn't so lucky on the leg to St. Martin. After a run of 180 miles with just the two of us aboard, we ran into some rough seas on the night of Nov. 10. The autopilot (our third crew member) was working overtime trying to keep up with seas that slew us around 30 degrees as each big one passed under us. It had a few drop outs, and these became more frequent and finally became unusable.
Since I had both a spare control head and course computer for the under deck hydraulic ram I began swapping them out, one in the bilge with all sensor connections. We basically hove-to with storm sails, and after an hour or so of working in less than ideal conditions, Mette made dinner and we were sitting in the salon thinking the repair would work and we could keep going.
The boat is a pilothouse motor-sailer, with large windows covered with plexi-glass storm boards. Suddenly the windows on port side exploded in a shower of glass and the sea poured in. We were stunned but unhurt by the flying glass, and I was sure we were t-boned by a ship in the dark. But it must have been a famous rogue wave that curled over high enough to reach the pilothouse. Till then we took lots of sprays, but no green water even on the decks. The boat had righted itself easily but It took a lot of bailing by pail and the bilge pumps working half an hour to get water to bilge level.
With three gaping holes in the port side and our biggest fear- that another wave might come through- we managed to get boat cushions tied to the outside to cover the windows with over 30 knot winds blowing and thick rain. Down below again we discovered the full extent of our problems. The sea water had drowned all the smarts for our electronics --no GPS, radios, wind instruments, autopilot, speed, or electronic charts. We hand steered from the pilot house but the hydraulic steering was too imprecise in the high seas. The outside cable steering was much better, but being exposed to the weather while staring at the slewing compass card made that unfeasible for more than a half hour at a time. With the engine still going and no water in the engine room and very inefficient, exhausting steering, we decided to motor back the 240 miles to Bermuda rather than the 600 miles to St. Martin. We had some ancient paper charts and recent experience entering St. Georges in Bermuda so it seemed like the right decision, even though navigating the reefs without a GPS would be a problem.
On the second day we found a handheld GPS not used since 1998, and recharged a handheld VHF radio. With batteries replaced the GPS got a position fix after half an hour so we finally got into St. Georges after alternate one hour stints at the helm for 48 hours.Repairs are under way at Mills Creek Marine in Hamilton, and good progress was being made restoring or replacing electronics, and new stronger windows being made in New Zealand. We may run out of time for a run to St. Martin, but Bermuda can be a nice enough alternative for the season. Sorry to miss out on a reunion of the NARC in St. Martin
Kamaloha arrived SXM 24 November at dawn, 6-1/2 days from Bermuda. Good crossing, came down mostly at 65W to skirt the Ida remnants. Motored a total of 60 hours. Arrived SXM with half fuel and half water remaining. Light winds but no adverse headwinds.
I damaged my whisker pole the first night out of Bermuda - somehow it got loaded under tension and the inboard end pulled off. I was able to repair it enroute without a problem. My windvane broke a control cord and again it was replaced underway without issue.
We got pooped twice on the northern half and the outboard on the taffrail suffered - carb throttle is corroded shut, will require repair. We also dumped acid when knocked over by the first pooping wave. The battery box contained it all without external damage, but the lack of acid caused the batteries, which were six years old anyway, to pack it in and take very little charge. I have replaced them here in SXM.
We only hand steered about ten minutes from Newport to SXM. The wind vane and/or autopilot quite capably steered the boat throughout. I let the windvane steer whenever we weren't DDW; I don't trust it not to gybe on that heading.
Enroute arrived today, Teragram was right with us during the crossing, and we maintained the SSB net all the way down with Searcher, Harmony, Mickelke (spelling?), Cofresci's Child, and Shazza as well. (We fixed our SSB in Bermuda). Moonlight Maid is still out there. When we left Bermuda it looked like Harmony II, Peer's Fancy, Rights of Man, and Cha Cha would be there a while. Perfect Symmetry is here too but they did not net with us on the way down. Searcher had to rendevous with Harmony and donate water and fuel, and we heard Okejobi got a fuel drop from a cruise ship.
Three was plenty of crew - never felt shorthanded. We got no fish.
Charlie Freeman, Kamaloha
Enroute arrived in St Martin yesterday morning, although we did an over night in Anguilla so as to avoid a night landing in St Martin.
The second leg was uneventful, we managed to stay under a high most of the trip so had clear skies and light winds.
On the whole I was disappointed with my NARC experience, the socials in Newport were good and it was a nice opportunity to meet new people. I think it is all about managing expectations. I was under the impression boats would be "paired" with a more experienced captain and that the group would leave together. I was also under the impression that there would be some sort of pre departure boat inspection with a view of correcting any short comings if any. I was very disappointed that none of this happened. It seemed to me that the rally broke down after the weather briefing when people started to make their own plans to leave whenever they wanted. For me one of the advantages on NARC was the prospect of making the trip as a group. I would like to hear what others thought and what might be done to make it a better experience for all. Tough job for you I know.
Hank, we are a bit late in filling you in.
We left Bermuda on Monday and tried to sail the rhumb line, however,the winds kept driving us west until it seemed that we could make the Turk's & Caicos but had no realistic shot at St Martin.
We had a line come loose in the fresh water system and lost most of our fresh water into the bilge and that was made more significant due to the failure of the electric bilge pump.
So, we went back to Bermuda. We were three days out and just 2 daysback to Bermuda.
We left again this past Monday, after all repairs, and the auto pilothydraulic linear drive failed.
We came back again to repair the auto pilot.
The new drive should be here Monday so we should be on our wayTuesday. This time to the VI.
Dick and Judy Schneider
And One More Story...
Hank, I want to thank you again for all of your help in getting me and my boat prepared for this trip. Getting my USCG captain's license, the previous six trips to the Caribbean as crew with OPO and your help in buying and outfitting the boat this past summer were all critical to the success of the journey and all lots of fun and adventure for me and my mates.
I got a great deal on my 'new' 1999 Beneteau 461, 'OKOBOJI deux' with 73 hours on the diesel and then replaced just about all of the systems and spent several weeks this past summer and fall cruising on Long Island Sound discovering its characteristics. The boat preformed great in all conditions including 15 to 20 foot waves with high winds and also zero waves with no wind.
It took us 4 days from Newport to Bermuda and 6 1/2 days from Bermuda to the Virgin Islands . . . including 3 days of complete calm going a little west of the rhumb line. Both land departures were in 'boisterous' weather and a couple of the crew were out of action for several days with seasickness. Our third crew also without any offshore experience was not phased by the weather and smiled the whole time at sea! My crew was great . . . 3 inland sailors from Lake Okoboji, Iowa, Bob Brown, C.J.Gibson, and Perry Pearson plus OPO member Keith Clark from upstate N.Y., and Richard Purchas from NZ . . . presently landlocked in Omaha, Neb.!
We really learned to understand all of the boat systems on the trip. One of my crew was an experienced sailor from NZ having sailed his own boat from NZ to the USA with his wife and 3 small kids . . . it was invaluable and probably critical to have his knowledge and constant attention to the details of the boat while underway. I was the cook as well as the captain so I could regulate the food and water consumption . . . I was dubbed "Captain Cook" by the crew.
We caught 4 dinner's worth of yellowfin tuna on the way plus almost landed a Mahi Mahi. We saw lots of dolphins riding our bow wave, whales in mid ocean, flying fish, phosphorus plankton lighting the bow & stern waves while sailing at night and stars galore.
We stayed in Bermuda for a week waiting for a weather window. We rented 3 mopeds for our crew of 6 and covered the whole island. We had a great dinner with the crew of 'Cialia' and became great friends as we did with most of the crew from the other OPO boats while staying at the St.George's Dinghy Club. The major pasttime was looking at www.BouyWeather.com trying to determine our best departure date and route. We also went into Hamilton and saw the World Rugby Classic where our mate Richard met up with a mate from his school in NZ who was playing for the NZ team. Every day, whether on land or sea was a big adventure.
Making landfall in Bermuda and also in the Virgin Islands was really special. OKOBOJI deux is now anchored in Great Cruz Bay in St John, USVI. I'm spending much time as possible on her this winter. I plan on being around the OPO campaigns for the Heineken Regatta, the BVI Spring Regatta and the Antigua RAce Week. I want to get down island as far as St.Lucia this winter before the Summer hurrican season. I'll put OKOBOJI deux on the hard back at the Virgin Gorda Marina in a hurricane pit which will provide insurance coverage for a 'named storm.'
I've been back in the States for about five weeks and just bought my plane tickets to go back in 10 days. I'm going back and forth to the Caribbean during the winter rather than living on the boat full time . . . that may come later (??) as my schedule allows. For now I have a hugh sense of satisfaction knowing that 'OKOBOJI deux' is sitting on it's mouring buoy in Great Cruz Bay waiting for some action! What an adventure it was getting the boat to the Virgin Islands as part of the OPO fleet . . . I look forward to all of the adventures that are ahead over the next decade or two.
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