Bye Bye Miss America Pie and hello to Bermuda is another World

Restless of Auckland
Roland and Consie Lennox-King
Tue 17 Apr 2007 16:42

We had planned to leave Norfolk Saturday, so anchored in Hampton, just north of Norfolk, and the rest of the crew arrived Friday. I phoned U.S. immigration to say we were leaving with 6 crew for Bermuda, and the man, Bob, said "We don't care what you do when you leave, only when you arrive. Enjoy your trip." Ok, so that makes 6 crew: Roland, Consie, Gilbert, Peter, Keir and Jack.


I am probably not the person to tell you about our crossing, BUT as the cook, I was glad I had 2 frozen lasagnas in reserve. I have decided to log in crew member Keir’s version of the trip:  


“We delayed one day in Hampton (near Norfolk) until the snow had passed, so finally set off on Easter Sunday 8 April at 1300 with the outgoing tide. Sunny but cold as the cold front had not passed yet. So with wind behind us we left Chesapeake and out to sea.

Our routine was 3 watches of 2 people - with 2 hour watches starting at 1800, and 3 hour watches starting at 0600 until 1500 when the 2 hour watches started again, with a break for happy hour at 1700. Except we were mostly a dry boat as other matters had our attention.

Goose winging (or wing to wing) is when the wind is behind you, the main is on one side and the genoa on a pole on the other. Not always the most comfortable way to sail because as well as going up and down the waves, the yacht also tends to wallow from side to side. Wind on the nose is worse because you are not steering for your destination and heeled over. Also the occupants of the bow cabin have to sleep somewhere else because the bow is banging on the waves and the noise of water rushing past is like being in a washing machine. So mostly we hot bunked and had crew sleeping in the saloon and 3 in the twin cabin. Nobody washed much - it was too cold to take your clothes off.

Easter Sunday: did I mention it was cold: water temp was 11.2 degrees, cabin temperature 8 degrees, air temp before wind chill was 5!! Long johns, woolly hats and multi layers, topped with life jackets and safety harnesses.

Monday:  We saw a school of porpoises. Crossed into the Gulfstream which was fascinating as you can actually see the dividing line caused by the friction of the water flows, now we are being swept north at 1/2 knot - it is like being on elevator. We fished at the cold/warm water boundary with a 100lb line out and caught something quickly but which immediately broke the line and took the lure - a very big fish that got away.  Over the day the water temp changed from 11.2 to 18.6 (air temp 8) to 24.2 at 1600 with airtemp now a warmer 13 degrees. Sorry to labour the point but I thought the gulfstream experience a bit of an eye opener.

It was Roland's 60th birthday so for happy hour we sung happy birthday, shared a bottle of champagne, and he opened presents: all a cheerful distraction from the cold.

Unfortunately at 2340 there was a problem with the steering in that there was none. So we hove to, fitted the emergency tiller to the rudder but as the boat is 50 ft and 20 tons you can only move the rudder with a pulley system.  I managed to sleep though most of this excitement (not my watch so I ignored the noises) but when roused at 1230 was put on the steering sheets while others went to sleep. Gilbert stayed up as well so until 0500 we changed places every 30 minutes. It was gusting up to 31 knots so a bit like riding a mildly bucking bronco, only with cleated reins, in pitch black, with blinkers as we stuck to a compass bearing. We were goose winged with a reefed mainsail. Feelings were a mixture of "exhilaration" as this was hardcore fun of challenge and surfing down the waves, and "what on earth am I doing in the middle of an ocean" (well some  250 miles from nearest terra firm and 400 from Bermuda)

Tuesday: went to my bunk exhausted so slept through the repair of the steering at 0900/0940: well done Roland and why you should only make ocean passages with experienced skippers, as most would not have a clue as to what to do. Winds still gusting 28 knots in the morning, a lot but less challenging in daylight. At 1630 we radioed Herb the weatherman in Toronto who said a gale was coming and we should head south from ESE to minimise the storm and hopefully get favourable winds for Bermuda.

But at 2030 (dark obviously) a large aircraft flew around us at low altitude, and 10 mins later a helicopter flew over us and asked us to change course to ESE again for 60 miles to avoid a US Navy exercise. Consie had thought she heard explosions previously. We subsequently discovered they wanted exclusivity over 30,000 sq miles. Anyway we were in the middle of it.

Wednesday: No wind so engine on. At 0810 a pod of dolphins paid a visit and surfed off the bow wave then jumped out of the water for about 15 minutes - obviously having a good time. Cheering. At 1000 we had 252 miles to go. At 1100 the US Coastguard helicopter came again and complained we were still in the area and to stay on our course ie south, as we were looking for wind.
1200 we tidied up the foredeck and cabin ready for the forecast storm. The barometer steadily dropped from 1019 at noon to 1003 at 0400 Thurs.

Thursday: Wind SE ie from Bermuda which we do not want, so sail all night 30 degrees off course.  Fortunately at 0600 the barometer rises so worst is over? Winds still gusting over 20 knots. Morning showers and some sunshine. At 1400 tacked but still off course although a better angle and engine was on.  Beer at happy hour as we were having curry - any excuse. And at 2000 finally on a direct course to Bermuda at 7.5 knots.

Friday: Good speed in morning:  Warm sunny today and everyone is obviously more cheerful. Consie cut my sideburns - she and I were on watch together for the trip and eventually we got to telling jokes telepathically. Gilbert, Peter and I donned safety harnesses, stood on the transom in our underwear and showered. Very nice.  At 2200 wind speed 20 kts + again and sea choppy.

Saturday 14 April: 0400 sailing around SW Bermuda, 0830 Cleared customs and immigration in St Georges and then motored to Hamilton and moored safely at Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. My mate Richard from HSBC generously welcomed us with a bottle of champagne: then a few beers, hot shower, shave, clean clothes and a big steak at the Hog and Penny. Good stuff. Got to go….. Keir”


Now we are enjoying another gale tied alongside the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, a short run across the breakwater in breaking waves to town. Roland and Gil will be racing in the Bermuda Etchell regatta and preparing for the Atlantic crossing. Livi and James arrive on 26 April, Pat on 1 May, Oliver and Jane on 4 May. The 5 crew will be assembled for the Atlantic crossing: Roland, Gilbert, Pat, Oliver and James, they hope to set off about 7 May. Livi and Consie will fly to Beijing, to be joined by Feyona and Anna for a few weeks touring together.


Restless will hopefully arrive in Ireland early June, before going to Cowes 20 June for the Etchell Worlds, and on to some cruising in Scotland, including the Classic Malts Cruise, beginning 16 July.


Now we are waiting for some weather to go snorkelling at Bermuda's famous pink beaches.

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