Tortola to Bermuda

Sun 14 May 2006 19:14
We left Marina Cay at the North end of Tortola at about 0945 on Thursday 4th May. The five-day forecast we'd bought from Commander's Weather told us to expect light winds. The GPS told us Bermuda was 831 miles away. We managed to sail most of the first day, tacking a couple of times to keep clear of Anegada, but were pushed West.
We adopted the same watch system as we used crossing the Atlantic. After supper, all but Tim go to bed. Penny does 0000 to 0300, Andy does 0300 and Tim comes back at 0600. 
After much talk about Velocity Made Good and fuel consumption, we decided it would be better to motor-sail direct. And that was how we carried on for the next five days. In all, we motored for 144 hours. Every morning we moved fuel from the jerry cans in the cockpit locker to the main tank and put a mug-full of oil in the engine. Dan of Koshlong had given us a couple of extra fuel cans before we left Road Town and they made all the difference. We used 314 litres of diesel. We had 36 left.
We kept going partly because we wanted to get there but also because there were more depressions coming off the US coast. We didn't want to get caught a bit short of Bermuda by something nasty because we'd decided to wallow about for a day or two on the way. As planned, we talked by SSB to Koshlong, Regina, Wild Alliance and others every morning. We also updated the diary and checked email via the Sat phone each day. And, for the first time, got through to Herb for routing advice - not that there was much to give on this trip. Koshlong had prepared a 'passage bag' for the children with some sweets and a quiz to open each day. Having scored pretty badly on their Canadian Quiz, we hit back with a very cryptic British one sent by email.
We saw one or two other ships and knew (from listening to Herb) that there were other yachts close by. On a couple of nights we saw lightning in the distance but none came our way. It rained one night but was generally dry. The nights got a lot colder as we came North. We've had to get the duvets out from deep storage.
We caught a couple of barracuda, which we put back, and then a big Dolphin Fish (no relation to the mammal) that must have been 25lb and made very good eating. The children played happily together. They did a little bit of school, watched DVDs and read to each other. 
On Wednesday the wind went round to the South and up to about 20 so we turned the engine off, got the pole out and put the Hydrovane on. It was great, at times we were surfing down the waves at 9 knots. But it didn't last and the left-over swell gave us uncomfortable last night. 
Bermuda appeared as a few white buildings on the horizon on Thursday morning. Gradually, it became a long, low fairly green island, quite built up and neat. We called Bermuda Radio, as you have to, and provided a whole slew of information about the boat. Regina had got in on Monday and Leon gave us lots of useful information about getting into St George's Harbour and booked us a place in Captain Smokes' Marina. As we came in we saw Aromatic and Scampolo anchored in the harbour. 
Now for the impressions of our crew...
Andy writes: Having landed in Antigua, Jack and I caught a small twin engined Island hopper that would take us to the BVIs. On route a strange sulphorus smell appeared in the cabin which the stewardess assured us was caused by volcanic gas from the active volcano on Montsterrat. After a couple of stops, we arrived at Beef Island at around eight thirty in the evening. As we crossed the tarmac to the terminal we were delighted to see a very tanned Tim, Anna and Eddie waving at us through the window. After clearing customs we carried our luggage to a small inflatable dingy and were soon crossing a star lit bay to Tamarisk.
The next day was spent aclimatising. This envolved swimming on the reef and a short visit to Virgin Gorda to see the famous 'Baths', a beach surrounded by a large group of smooth granite boulders.
The next day we were off. I was a little worried, not so much about storms and sharks, but more that the threat that sea sickness would spoil our enjoyment of the trip. Sure-a-enough ten or so hours later Jack and I were feeling destinctly green and I began to 'feed carrots to the fish'. 
The next day the sickness had gone but all our engery seemed to have left us and Jack and I spent most of the day asleep. By day three things had improved considerabley and both the tiredness and the nausea had began to disappear. Over the following days we settled in to a rhythm of watches, washing up, reading and listening intently to Herb's weather and routing advice. As the days ticked by life slowed down and my stress levels dropped to an all time low.  
What supprised me most of all was the variety of wildlife we saw in the ocean. Exotic tropics birds, flying fish, tuna, jelly fish and even a medium sized shark passed by the boat. 
After seven days at sea we finally saw Bermuda and knew the passage would soon be coming to an end. It was a great feeling to see land again and I suppose was the climax to a fantastic journey.
Jack, Anna and Eddie were great and even Tim and Penny behaved themselves most of the time. Now we are making the most of Bermuda before Jack and I return to the UK on Monday evening.       
Wild Alliance swing by to say 'good bye' in Marina Cay
Skipper and daughter contemplate a windless ocean
Andy and the Dolphin Fish
The children pretend not to be impressed
Eddie, Jack and Anna have lunch, of baked beans... dolphin fish for tea.
Sailing at last - Andy at the helm
Eddie and Jack sight land
Entering St George's Harbour via the Town Cut
Andy and Tim with 'anchordrams'
Brunch on Friday - spot the ones with hangovers...
Jack adds: Dad got really DRUNK!!!! rum punches do pack a punch
i had a nice time.
the voyage was long and boreing im glad to be here.