Day 1 - Bermuda to Guernsey

Stravaig'n the Blue
Wed 25 May 2022 20:12
Position: 33:15.9 N 062:58.4 W
Position timestamp: Wednesday 25 May 2022 14:00 (UTC-3)
Distance travelled in last 24 hours: 105 NM at an average speed of 4.4 knots
Reduction in distance to destination: 100 NM
Remaining distance to destination: 2806 NM (great circle)

Slow progress on our first day out from Bermuda. We set off from the anchorage at St George’s at 2pm local time and, after clearing the reefs, we hoisted the mainsail and unfurled our reaching gennaker in eight to ten knots from the northwest. We made good speed (for those winds) into the evening and through the night. But, contrary to forecast, the wind dropped to below six knots at about 7am and hasn’t yet picked up.

From a wildlife perspective, the first 24 hours has been fairly interesting.

Yesterday evening a pod of a dozen or so small dolphins turned up and swam along in our bow wave for ten minutes and then, just before they departed, two of them leapt easily six feet into the air and splashed down on their sides. It would have made a great photo.

This morning, from early on, we had a flock of five vocal white-tailed tropic birds (Phaethon lepturus), known as long-tails in Bermuda, with us for several hours. They’d circle the boat, looking as though they might land if they could find somewhere suitable, fall behind us and then come at us in a strafing run from astern before doing it all over again. In Peterson's Field Guide to Birds of Eastern and Central North America he says that their voice is a harsh tern-like scream or tik-et tik-et but these ones were emitting a shrill churp.

The tropic birds were followed by two Great Shearwaters (Puffinus gravis).  Great Shearwaters breed on the islands of the South Atlantic (the Falklands and South Georgia by way of example) during the southern hemisphere’s summer and then “winter” during the northern hemisphere’s summer at sea off the east coast of the US.  Unlike many sea birds, they are attracted to vessels and these two have been with us since mid morning. Their party piece is sitting in the water until we are about 100 metres ahead then taking off, catching us up and landing, one either side of the boat.

Last but not least was a real marine curiosity. I’d seen them before, a blue oval base, three to five inches in length, with a very clear plastic, fan-shaped bauble on top - like a sail. I’d thought initially they might be children’s bath toys that had escaped when a container was lost overboard but I’ve seen them so often now that this didn’t really stack up. They float past, about three or four of them every ten minutes, occasionally flipping on their side so that the bauble is on the water rather than upright. In this morning’s light winds I was finally able to take a close look as a few passed close by. Jellyfish with long black trailing tentacles! So I netted one and had a closer look while it floated in a bucket of water, deflating then inflating its bauble. I’m guessing these jellyfish must harness the wind as well as the ocean currents to get wherever they are going.

All is well.