The Big Blue (Atlantic Ocean) – Part 3/3

22 May: Position @ 0400 hrs N 25˚ 36’ W 45˚ 57’.  We changed the ship’s clock at midnight setting it back one hour as we had reached Longitude 45˚ west. Made contact with a passing ship (a tanker) the “SONNANGOL KASSANTIE” call sign C6UO2.  We requested that our position be sent to Casey by email and the officer agreed to do that.  Also as our C.P.A. (closest point of approach) was 1 Nm, the captain agreed to alter course by 10 degrees – something we did not request but he volunteered.

Wylde Swan - a tall ship on the high seas.
Wylde Swan – a tall ship on the high seas

A short time later we noted the sailing vessel (square rigger) “S.V. Wylde Swan” was 24 Nm off our starboard bow and also bound for Bermuda.  What a sight – silhouetted by the evening sun.  The apparent wind across the deck was 10-15 knots and our course was 270˚-280˚ with a speed over the ground of 5 knots.  We would have preferred to stay low and sail due West but decided to keep the sails full even if it meant creeping north.

A pod of dolphins were spotted at 1300 hrs.

Violeta (The Little Pirate) had spotted a large red Polyform buoy floating in the briny unattached.  We claimed salvage and as a splicing project we had her splice an eye onto the buoy.  Had we needed a second anchor in the Great Sound, this new found buoy would have been used to mark the spot.  She also hand painted ROARING MEG NZ 1263 on the buoy.

The Little Pirate cleans off the crustaceans from the salvaged buoy
The Little Pirate cleans off the crustaceans from the salvaged buoy

The safety net that was slung under the 23 ft whip aerial to store fruit and vegetables had worked a treat and even after two weeks at sea, the capsicums were still viable.  So, it was roast turkey with onion, capsicum and rice with a pepper sauce.  Crew morale was high!

23 May: Position @ 0300 hrs N 26˚ 09’ W 47˚ 46’.  Sailing to windward cutter rigged with a single reef in the main.  Wind speed 15-18 knots COG 270˚ and SOG 4.7 knots.

Just for a challenge we decided to put an eye splice in double braided line and show The Little Pirate how it is done.  There were no time and motion study people aboard however eventually we completed the splice.  We made contact with “SV Wylde Swan” @ 1715 hours (Papa India Whiskey Sierra).  The captain invited us to come aboard once they had docked in Bermuda to inspect the vessel.  She is a square rigger 146 ft long beam 29ft and draft 3.4 metres.  Graham and Violeta took some excellent photos of her with full sail on the horizon at sunset.

This night the wind filled in and we enjoyed great sailing making 6-7.5 knots sailing cutter rigged with a single reef in the main and a full genoa.  Coarse now 297˚ direct for Bermuda with a wind angle of 60˚.  Bermuda 888 Nm as the crow flies!

Bring me the looking glass - I think that they are pirates
Bring me the looking glass – I think that they are pirates

24 May: Wind decreases and veers toward the starboard beam.  We are finally sailing free 70˚ off the wind.  Apparent wind 10 knots SOG 5 knots, COG 300˚.  Position at 0400 hours N26˚ 58’ W49˚ 40’.

The sun was over the yard arm which called for a Bloody Mary for the three Amigos
The sun was over the yard arm which called for a Bloody Mary for the three Amigos

Every time we broke through another degree of longitude there was a loud shout from the helm of “Yeehaa” and sometimes accompanied by a blast on the trumpet.  Bermuda was now within striking distance!

Black and ominous
Black and ominous

Radar added 1 litre of oil to the Perkins Motor and changed out the gearbox oil which is less than 1 litre.  I used the jig saw to cut out plastic frames to use as mosquito screens for the open hatches.  During dinner @ 2100 hours a squall came in and we had to adjourn dinner and take another reef in the main.  By midnight our position was N 27˚ 56’ W 51˚ 08’.  Bermuda was inching closer!

25 May: The breeze died away with apparent wind 5-7 knots SOG 3.7 knots. We sailed wing and wing with a poled out headsail.  We had to accept slow progress.  Position @ 0600 hours N 28˚ 12’ W 51˚ 32’.  Baked two loaves of Focaccia bread and lunched on bacon, eggs, and baked beans.

Second attempt at baking Focaccia while deep sea
Second attempt at baking Focaccia while deep sea

Today we practised taking sights with the on board sextant.  Observed elevation of the Sun (noon sight) was 52deg 52’. Using an application on my mobile phone we were able to reduce the sight to a position that tallied roughly with the GPS.

The Little Pirate baked macaroni cheese and the cocktail hour involved Black Russians, just for a change, as we enjoyed the sunset on the high seas.

26 May: Postiion @ 0400 hours N28˚ 54’ W052˚ 51’. Running with a poled out headsail SOB 3.7 knots, COG 293˚.  The breeze was very light and we had the poorest 24 hour run to date making only 75 Nm.  We had only 70 litres of diesel in the tank which gave us a range of say 180 Nm.  We were still a long way from Bermuda and we always want a safety margin in fuel.

I sewed the fibreglass rods back into the sailbag as they had poked a hole in the end of the pocket.  Baked a batch of scones with dates plus a multigrain loaf of bread.

27 May: The wind filled in from the SSW – running on pont tack with wind on the beam – full main, full genoa, plus staysail.  Position @ 0500 hours N29˚ 12’ W054˚ 31’.  Wind increased @ 0600 hours and we went to hand steering with less than 500 Nm to landfall Bermuda. Our Autohelm was not functioning correctly and hence the reason for hand steering.  We shortened the watches to 2 hours on and 6 hours off.  The Little Pirate was taught to hand steer.

Flying the storm jib as a stay sail - cutter rigged sailing to windward
Flying the storm jib as a stay sail – cutter rigged sailing to windward

28 May: Hand steering – 14-21 knots apparent from SSW.  COG 290˚ SOG 6.4-7.4 knots.  Position @ 0600 hours N29˚ 59’ W057˚ 09’.  The Little Pirate became seasick – sea lumpy – good boat speed.

29 May: Sea state moderate.  Position @ 0300 hours N30˚ 45’ W059˚ 13’.  Made contact with “Blue Chip” call sign 3EN06.  This ship was en route for Galveston, Texas.  The officer on duty agreed to email Casey our current position – message sent @ 0350 hours.  Lightening ahead and wind increases to 20 knots across the deck – took a second reef in the main – still making 6 knots SOG, COG 290˚.

Whale sighted by The Little Pirate @ 1945 hours off the starboard beam blowing.  An old sea chest floated by just before the whale sighting – we figured if it were full of gold it would not be floating and so we let it be.

30 May: Ships clock needed to be retarded by 1 hour but Bermuda time is -2 hours.  Probably better to align with the East Coast of the United States.  We set the clock on Bermuda time.  Position @ 0600 hours N31˚ 41’ W061˚ 40’.  Hand steering COG 305˚, SOG 5 knots.  Wind @ 40˚ apparent, 23 knots.  Sea rough.

At 1200 hours we made contact with “ALWINE OLDENORFF (call sign CQFL).  The officer on deck requested our MMSI # 512147000 and agreed to forward our position to Casey.

31 May: Bermuda lies @ N32˚ 18’ W065˚ 46’. We were advised to contact Bermuda Maritime Operations Centre on VHF once inside of 80 Nm from St Georges Harbour.  At 0600 hours we made contact.  We were 60 Nm from the Town Cut entrance.  Because I had forwarded a pre arrival form before leaving New Zealand, they already knew all about us, and ‘Roaring Meg’.  Therefore, the conversation was more of a welcome, and pleased to hear you arrived safely.  We were instructed to call again once we reached the “Safe Water Buoy” at the entrance to the Town Cut.  There was much excitement with the crew and our single bottle of Möet was put on ice.  After all we had been 25 days at sea from Las Palmas, Gran Canaria and we had successfully crossed the Atlantic once again.

Arrival in Bermuda - customs

The town cut is a narrow passage into the beautiful St George’s Harbour but only allows for one vessel transiting at any one time – we had the green light.  We had reinstated all of our flags which were not flown when deep sea because of fraying.  On top was the yellow flag requesting “pratique”.  The customs wharf was free and we came alongside – Port side to.  With the ship’s papers and all of the crew we presented ourselves to Customs.  A flare pistol is considered a lethal weapon and so we placed it inside of a watertight pouch and it was placed in bond until we sail onward.

With formalities completed we were asked to depart the Customs Wharf and we were directed to the dingy club for the night.  The Möet was cracked and the crew enjoyed the moment on a beautiful evening in St George’s Harbour, Bermuda!  Mission accomplished.

Arrival in Bermuda - Cheers
Mission completed – cheers!

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