Sh*t happens in the Bermuda Triangle!!!

Steve Powell
Sat 2 May 2009 19:23
32:10.98N 64:33.85W

Well that subject line got your attention, didn’t it. :-)

We’ll come to that later, so you’ll have to be patient. At least you know we survived!!

The first three days of our trip north were “vigorous”,  25-30kts of wind,  day and night, plus seas running well over two to two and half meters. At that wind speed you start to see the caps of the waves being blown off and flattened. And it was coming from ENE so we were on tight reach (sailing nearly into the wind) most of the way taking a lot of water over our bows. Just trying to take your cloths off to get into your bunk becomes a major challenge, day after day, and I won’t mention the challenges involved in going to the loo, while heavily healed and bashing up and down. We were negotiating around big squalls all the time and being fairly successful in spotting them, tracking them, and avoiding them, until late on day three we came across one that had our name on! We shortened sail to a couple of handkerchief’s and just waited.... When it hit it was amazing the winds shot up to well over 40kts and the seas were flattened by the wind and the spray was very fine and very strong and horizontal...... I have been in many squalls before but nothing liked this one, but it only lasted for about fives minutes and then is was gone..... But had we not prepared it could have done all kinds of damage.

After three and half days of being bashed all over the place and struggling hard just to do routine domestic things we were all getting a little tired, I’d spent three nights dozing in the cockpit ‘on call’. When we hit the Bermuda-Azores High, no wind and flat calm it came as a very welcome relief. It was exactly where Chris Tibbs said it would be, Chris is doing weather planning for us. I send him our local conditions at 3am every morning and I get an email 4 hours later with his forecast and suggestions,. He is very accurate, and it’s great having someone onshore monitoring weather for you.

It’s bizarre, one minute your bashing through big seas and a couple of hours later it’s flat calm and very eerie.....

Becalmed in the Bermuda-Azores High.

So far one of the main features of this trip was the lack of any life, marine or human, we had only seen one tanker since leaving Antigua and no sea life. It had been too rough to fish so we had no evidence of life.  It’s amazing how quickly you feel very alone, just to catch a fish or see some flying fish is a strange comfort. But we had none of that until we were becalmed then the jellyfish start sailing by.... Hundreds of them, not in great shoals but singularly.


It turns out that these jellyfish-like creatures are a part of the Phylum Cnidaria (nigh-dare-e-ah). They are known commonly as “sail jellyfish” or “by-the-wind sailors”, and scientifically as Velella velella. (Velum, from the Latin for sail). They have blue-pigmented body tissues and can grow up to 10 cm in length. Other members of this Phylum include the Portuguese man-of-war (Physalia).

Strange friends in the middle of nowhere................. For the next two days these guys just floated by.

We were now well on our way to Bermuda, a day ahead of schedule thanks to the high winds of the first three days.  Bermuda’s notorious reefs were beckoning.  First sight of land cheered everyone up but also reminded us that our most challenging part of the journey lay ahead. Bermuda has fringing reefs that go many miles out to sea and have claimed many unwary sailors. Wrecks litter the Bermudan coast line. But with all our technology I felt very happy that we new where we were and the only safe passage into Bermuda is well marked. Until...........................

Just over a mile from the entrance through the reefs, with no wind and a gentle current pushing us in, our engine came to a shuddering halt. I immediately put her into neutral, and started checking whether we had any lines trailing overboard that could have fouled our prop. Negative... So was it a lobster pot? Euan went over the stern to have a look armed with a little knife to cut it away. Thirty seconds later he popped up with a worried look “I think it’s going to take a little more than this” pointing to his little knife.  We had picked up a very large piece of submerged ships line, it was about 15 feet long and 4 inches thick, and was wrapped solidly around our prop and shaft. Not the greatest place to suddenly lose your engine with no wind. We were slowly heading towards the infamous reefs. I immediately put in a advisory radio call to the Bermuda Coast Guard, and put up enough sail to try and keep us stationary with what little wind there was. Then out came the scuba gear. Thank God we have it onboard without it we would have been in dire straights, every boat should carry at least one set.

Armed with a hacksaw and bread knife it took me nearly an hour and a half to cut it away.  Believe me there were times under there when I thought “This isn’t going to work”. Working underwater like this in a current, with a line tied round your middle to help keep you on station, is exhausting.  The other worry was that it was getting late and all the Pilot books say don’t try and enter Bermuda in the dark.  The crew were great and did everything right, what could have been a disaster turn into just another adventure.

One happy but exhausted bunny showing off his hacksaw and ships rope. This was the tail end of the rope, the rest got away.

We made it into Bermuda before dark and received a very warm welcome from the customs officers who had been monitoring our adventures on the radio. And then over a well earned G & T in the St Georges Dinghy Sailing Club bar, who had also been monitoring the radio, it all seemed just part of the fun of sailing. It’s amazing how quickly you forget how worried, scared, maybe even terrified, you are at the time!!.

Sunset from the St Georges Dinghy sailing Club. NABS with G&T.

The next day we motored round to the Royal Bermudan Yacht Club in Hamilton, the capital, and saw some of the island on the way. Bermuda is beautiful, very British but inhabited almost exclusively by Americans. All the buildings are a strange but beautiful cross between British Colonial and California sheik. Compared to the West Indies it’s very rich and has lots of very up market shops.

Motoring around Bermuda

UHURU at the Royal Bermudan Yacht Club, the third oldest Overseas Royal Yacht Club established in 1844. The pretty tower building on the left is the local fuel dock!

Well we’re heading off again tomorrow. Our weather forecast shows a window between two storms up north that we plan to slip through and hopefully get to Newport by Thursday. The next challenge is crossing the Gulf stream.

Any of you following sorry it doesn't seem to be working at the moment. I’ll have to look into it.

By the way this is my motley crew..........

L-R Euan, Oli and Dave.

Looking forward to getting home should be next weekend. It’s been a long but fun leg. Hopefully see as many of you as possible this summer before starting again in August.

Luv to all


Steve Powell (Owner/Skipper)
UHURU of Lymington
steve {CHANGE TO AT} uhuru {DOT} mailasail {DOT} com
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