We departed the Dartmouth Yacht Club on Oct 30th at 1130 am, Grant Gordon skipper owner, Jim MacDonald very experienced sailor and a good friend, Stewart, Grant's buddy who has also done some offshore sailing with Grant and finally me. This will be my first real offshore passage and a trial run to see if this is the route we will use in 2017 when we take our own "Rose Lee" to the Islands. I have been sailing for over 30 years but all of my experience has been coastal and limited to the Maritime provinces. Our final destination for "Vagrant" is Jost Van Dyke British Virgin Islands with a stop in Bermuda which is along our path and about midway between NS and the BVI's. In Bermuda we will get refreshed, fix anything that needs fixing and await good weather. The total trip is about 1700 kn miles from Nova Scotia to the BVI's.Our first leg to Bermuda is about 750 miles and should take between 5 to 7 days. Currently we have a favorable forecast however the sea state will be big due to a low that just passed through. We also have a catamaran "44 North" departing at the same time with the BVI's as a destination. We left the dock with a west wind of 12 kn that allowed us to have a nice beam reach right out of the harbour the day was a bit grey and desolate and there were several friends at the dock to send us off, including my Joyce. my feelings were mixed, excited, nervous and I knew I was going to have a tough time being away from Joyce so long. As we got further from shore the wind kept rising and the sea started piling up a bit about 20 knots with 2 meter waves. the auto helm couldn't keep up with the big waves so we were hand steering. Vagrant was a bit over powered so we put the 1st reef in the main and were rolling along in very lively weather conditions, attention at the helm was really needed. Grant set our watch schedules as follows, two people were always on watch at the same time, Jim and I had one watch and Grant and Stewart were on the other. At six in the evening the 1st watch began with Stewart and Grant since Stewart was a bit under the weather and wanted to stay on deck. At 9 Jim and I took over for three hours and the 3 hour rotations continued until 6am at which time we began 4 hr watches during the day. It was a great schedule and kept the watches changing so you had the same watch every second day.The wind continued to build with some impressive breaking waves. we decided a second reef was needed even with a reefed jib. he wind was really blowing and. When we tried to reef the wind started tearing hanks out of the main so we continued running with just a reefed jib and no main and the boat was still doing over eight knots and coming down waves even faster. when our watch began Jim suggested that we do thirty minutes each because it was pretty crazy trying to keep the boat stable. we had one big see coming aboard and even though we had a dodger it still shot several gallons of water down the companion way hatch. After this we decided to slide the hatch closed. The first night was pretty exciting with no moon and not being able to see the waves before they hit you.
Happy Halloween! Stewart is still sick but in pretty good spirits. we continue to roll along in big seas doing eight knots with the. Reefed jib. I was on the helm when I noticed what looked like smoke coming up through the companion way from the galley yikes Fire. Jim went below and checked it out Grant was up in a flash and we realized the motor was overheating which had been running for a bit to charge batteries. Upon closer inspection Grant found the problem and it wasn't good news. The mount that connects the alternator to the engine has broken in half we are now about one hundred and seventy miles off shore with no motor which means we can't generate power for anything, instrumentation nav lights, sat phone etc.. and our main is out of commission. This is when the true skill's of offshore sailor's come to the surface. You cant go to sea without a lot of optimism, ingenuity and great problem solving abilities and you must be able to use all three simultaneously in 12 foot seas:) Grant and Jim are gifted with these abilities combined with 1000's of miles of offshore experience so we were in good company. Grant managed to build a temporary mount for the alternator out of white plastic twine and come-along's, how cool is that? After finishing the alternator job he had to go down inside the port seat to clear the bilge pumps that were getting fouled. Once Grant finished clearing the pumps he realized the crew hadn't been fed. So he quickly pulled a nice hot breakfast together. We were served eggs with in a hole with sausages. Who is this guy superman? After breakfast Granted wanted to fix the Main, which meant going up the mast in 3 meter seas. Jim steered, Stewart Hauled Grant up on the spare halyard and was at the masthead to hold Grant in so he could work. he'd had the repairs completed in less than 5 minutes, sweet but it was still a bit too lively for he main. I neglected to mention Grant also tightened the packing gland in between jobs and all with no sleep in the last 24 hours. And we are still only the second day in.
November 1st Tuesday 4:45 pm
We have averaging great miles for the 48 hours with a reefed genoa. We are now in the Gulf Stream and the water temperature is 24c, nice. We are still using the genoa and have less then 300kn miles before we reach Bermuda. Grant downloaded added the latest weather and conditions still look good for the next few days. there is some nasty weather coming in on Friday evening so we are hoping to get in before that. What have I learned so far. 1) I love offshore sailing which will put you through wide range of emotions in a very short time😀😬😱😂🤔👻. 2) Sailors aren't quitters. Oh oh duty calls we are going to raise the repaired main and the halyard is stuck on the steaming Time for deck ballet in 8 foot seas. Wow that was fun Grant was able to run a second halyard to untangle the 1st and we are now under full sail with one reef in the main and we have a nice breeze.
We had a great night the sky was full of stars and the sailing was great. In all my years I have never had such great sailing warm, beautiful breeze and a gorgeous clear sky, Wow, wow, wow.
The weather is holding and we have a steady breeze of about 12-15 knots, picture prefect sailing and we are almost there.
Land ho! We had to alter course this morning for a big container ship that we spotted on the AIS. Every one is pretty excited now with less than 50 miles to go. Grant. spotted the island about 14miles out. It was unfortunate that we didn't have daylight as we entered the cut into St. Georges however the smells and sounds were awesome. AS we got close to land I was on the bow and could smell the flowers which I later learned about. The Moon flowers (Night Blooming Cereus) are cacti that bloom once a year. These smells combined with the song of the local frogs were a welcome to Bermuda that I won't forget. After entering the inner bay we were directed towards the customs dock where we cleared in. After clearing in we dropped anchor but were too tired to put the dinghy together so we opted to have some supper and drinks on the boat with the sounds and light on the shore to keep us company. We talked for a while and then I was out like a light. What a great trip so far it's pretty amazing to be in Bermuda:)