Saturday, May 20, 2006

Sailing to Bermuda

173 nautical miles until we reach Saint George Island in Bermuda. Our current position is 29 29.598N 065 02.003W. Barometer is 1017, and the air temperature is 78.4 degrees. Water temperature has increased from 73 degrees this morning to 77 degrees as I write this at 4 p.m. The depth is 15,550 feet. Our average speed is around 5 knots. If we maintain the average, we estimate our arrival to be approximately 6 a.m. on Monday. Yesterday, the rain started mid afternoon, and was heavy in the late afternoon. It sprinkled on and off for the remainder of the night. The cockpit was very wet. Wind was sporadic and we sailed some and motored some. The wind was a moderate NW breeze this morning, which allowed us to have all sails up, close hauled. We engaged the wind vane, turned off the autopilot, and had a very peaceful morning. Unfortunately, the predicted SW wind has failed to appear, and despite the rolling swells, the sea is very calm. The iron sail is being used at the moment in this area of no wind. The overcast sky of the last two days is in the distance, and the sun is shining on us. Against the shadow of the boat you can see the sun rays plunge into the water and suspend the navy blue of the depth. The white foam created by the bow of the boat starkly contrasts with the beautiful aqua blue of the surface water. Sitting on the side of the boat with my legs dangling down, I wonder if a shark could jump up and drag me in, or eat my foot. I imagine trying to keep it up in the air to prevent all my blood from rushing out. I move down and sit with my legs on either side of a stanchion. Not feeling any better, I bring my legs back on deck.

In addition to two white tailed tropicbirds arguing above us, we added a manx shearwater and a greater shearwater to our offshore bird list. We have not seen another boat since the freighter reported a few days ago. Not even on the radar screen which has a radius of 24 nautical miles.

The radar has been giving us some trouble with a sporadic bearing alarm which could or could not mean that the dome has ceased to turn, according to the manual. Given the readings on the screen, we know that the dome is working. Consequently, we turned it on and then off again all night to limit the buzzing from bothering the person trying to sleep. Mysteriously, it seemed to fix itself this morning.

While food consumption is still limited, Michael made Ann’s famous Tunisian vegetable stew mid afternoon. The stew has cabbage, onions, tomatoes, chick peas, peppers, feta cheese, slivered almonds and many spices. It was our best meal so far, and well surpassed the last dinner I made of scrambled eggs. We have not eaten this well or this much since leaving home.

We have both done more reading on this leg than on the whole trip south last November. Yesterday I finished Nick Arvin’s Articles of War using a headlamp during my midnight to 3 a.m. watch. The book is a brilliant novel about a draftee’s fears in WWII. I am glad to be away from the news of Bushy’s War on Terror and his assaults in far away lands. These wars from men who were too important, rich or busy to serve in during the last imperial war on Vietnam.I am now reading Nicole Krauss’s The History of Love. It too is a compelling book. It is the last of the books I packed and I worry that I will be back to sailing catalogues and weather books on the second leg of the trip.

Having the boat in Tortola for the winter afforded us several winter vacations. Kate, Michael and I sailed in the BVIs in January. My brother and Liza had the boat for two weeks in February. Kate and I returned with two friends for another week in March. My goal was to have the boat used as much as possible by the south bound crew over the winter. Unfortunately, work and obligations prevented Ann and Rachel from taking advantage of the watertop condo. We wish Ann and Jay joined us for this trip North. But for their initial work and generosity in purchasing safety equipment last Fall, we would not be on this trip. Ann’s Timex watch sits on the binnacle and is used for telling the time at night. Jay had the sails repaired over the winter, and as always after he is on the boat, the list of maintenance items was greatly reduced by the end of vacation on the boat. They both sent medical supplies and good wishes for the trip North, and certainly are here in spirit. Occasionally, as Michael and I loll about in what now feels to be a spacious boat, we are grateful that their spirits don’t take up as much physical space.

In addition to the newly varnished woodwork and wind vane installation performed by the yard, I installed a new CPU for the autopilot. Also purchased was a barely used roll up inflatable dinghy for a good price. Who cares if it was missing a pump, oar and seat? Our dinghy at home has a rigid bottom and we lacked the space to bring it South. Having a dinghy is the only way to get to land while sailing in the Caribbean. Dock space is almost never available and extremely limited. I also picked up a new two stoke 5 hp Mercury Mariner outboard engine. It gave us some trouble at first, due to a piece of pink factory foam being stuck in the carburetor. Unfortunately, Michael, Kate and I learned about it as we were trying to get back to the boat on a windy day after snorkeling off Norman Island. We were rescued by a charter skipper and towed back to our mooring. When we returned the outboard to the shop, the culprit was easily found and removed. Michael watched the diagnosis and repair carefully in case it happens again.

With the boat engine running, we can cool the refrigerator. The refrigerator is really more of an ice box since its power consumption makes running it off of the batteries impractical. We had twenty pounds of ice in it to keep things cool when we left, but that fully melted two days ago. Consequently, we eat the things needing refrigeration first on a trip like this. We did not purchase much which needed refrigeration, but enough so that we continue to try to cool it down when we run the engine. It then warms in the ice box without ice until the engine is run again. We certain that this is healthy, despite our suspicions.

Team Welcome



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9:52 AM  

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