Bermuda-Bound – Circumnavigation – Day 07

b_postcard_250When last we left you, Bodacious Dream and I were on course for Bermuda! Well, we’re here now … all safe and sound, having pulled into St. George Harbor at 3AM very early Monday morning. 

Bermuda wasn’t a planned stop in the itinerary, but it became an option once we began conducting some tests on the electronics and other equipment in Rhode Island.

I felt at the time, that we were leaving without taking the time to fully test all our systems. The initial reason we pushed the launch back a day was because of problems with the Iridium satellite phone. There were just so many things to do … as you can see in the photo here as my compatriot Tim Eades helps me wade through it all.

Sorting the StuffStuff was made to sort …

I decided that Bermuda was a good first stop, as it provided me a four or five day test sail to try out and get comfortable with the workings of the boat and all the various (and some entirely new) systems we’d installed. When departing on such a long voyage, you really do need to be picky about having things working just right.

Departing Jamestown was just grand, made all the more memorable by having my old friend Joe Harris on his boat, Gryphon Solo escort me out to open water. The sailing was great for another five or six hours that day, but then the winds died and motor sailing was the only way to make forward progress. This gave me the chance to bang on the systems and organize things on the boat. Quickly enough, I saw the Iridium phone was back to working perfectly, but the performance on the KVH satellite system was super spotty, and there was a problem I could see with the hydro generator mount. Both of these I knew would require further attention once in Bermuda.

So, along I went, calculating fuel consumption, checking weather and hoping that breeze and fuel would work in harmony. We did some very relaxed sailing Sunday afternoon, while waiting for the wind to build, which it did – but as predicted, from the wrong direction. Still I was able to sail upwind to Bermuda and still retain five gallons of diesel to negotiate my way into the harbor at St. George without any complications.

Approaching Bermuda w/ A3 Spinnaker up … 

There is a great radio network here active in Bermuda … and it’s customary for visiting yachts to check in with them once they’re within 20 miles or so. They then track you and counsel you on your navigation through the many coral reefs and ledges that make transiting this area very dangerous. It was a great help to have a steady voice on the radio confirming my intentions and my navigation. Thanks Bermuda Radio!

I negotiated the entrance called the “Town Cut,” and then motored around in the bay getting my bearings on the Customs Docks where I was required to dock and check in. After three attempts and some signal light waving by the customs officials, I was able to make a secure landing there. In 20 knots of wind, it wasn’t very pretty, but it was 3:00 am and fortunately no one else was up to see it. Once tied off, I cleared myself and Bodacious Dream into Bermuda … and promptly fell asleep in the cool breeze.

At about 9:00 am, I started my day working with the harbormaster to find a proper dock for Bodacious Dream. After about 30 minutes the harbormaster rang Bernie, who at 82 years old, is a life member of the St. George Dingy and Sport Club. Bernie was kind enough to drive me around, arrange a dock, help me leave the dock at the Customs and even help me catch the lines at the Dingy Club. I sure hope I’ve got that much energy at 82!

St. George Harbor/ Bermuda
St. George Harbor/ Bermuda

So, the rest of Monday was spent getting settled in, washing the salt out of the boat and off myself, and organizing options for repairs to the systems. Today Tuesday, I got a lot done and most everything is about ready to continue the Expedition. However, the new obstacle looks to be weather. I’ll do another update on the weather here very soon, as there looks to be a lot going on in the Atlantic Ocean this week.

For now, I’m secure in Bermuda, and with our electronic systems all beginning to work better, plans are coming together. I’m waiting for one package and a weather window. Tonight and tomorrow are expected to be stormy here, so the timing is pretty good to hang out. But BoDream and I are anxious to highsail it across the Atlantic to our first official stop at St. Helena Island … before heading on to Cape Town, South Africa … and the completion of Leg One!

Thanks to everyone for following along and congratulations to those of you who figured out the fuel consumption and that I wouldn’t make it in until Monday morning. There was a 9th grader out there that figured that one out perfectly! And we hear another of our Facebook friends is using our updates with her 7th Grade Math Class! Very excited to hear such things!

Back soon,

- Dave and Bodacious Dream

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A Green Flash – Circumnavigation – Day 04

Saturday’s sunset was a unique one. A much talked about natural phenomenon on the water is called the “Green Flash.” This happens when the sun sets into the sea, when the air at sea level is super saturated with moisture, which causes a refraction of the light and for an instant as the sun drops into the sea, it flashes emerald green. I’ve seen this once before in my life, and tonight I saw it again. I looked out at the sun and noticed it had a special brightness to it as it got close to the water. I grabbed for my camera and took a video of the final moment, and though it’s not so obvious in the video as it was in person, here’s what it looks like. Even if it just looks to you like another sunset, it was still an especially beautiful one.

A “Green Flash” (34 18.06 N, 66 33.96 W)

As we head south on a course for Bermuda, a few noticeable changes occur. First of all, you pass through the Gulf Stream. Now, if you were following along during the Atlantic Cup, we talked a lot about the Gulf Stream then. It is essentially a river of warm water that flows up along the eastern seaboard of the United States. (There’s an earlier Explorer Guide that looks at the Gulf Stream right here!)

Gulf StreamIt’s interesting when you enter it or cross it as a number of things happen. First of all, everything gets warmer … the water gets warmer and so does the air. Next you see things like flying fish and Sargasso grass – things that ancient navigators used to help them know where they were in the world. Another thing about pushing further south is I’ve seen more ship traffic today. There were five ships in the last day and one close enough that I had to slow down to let him pass so we wouldn’t collide! These ships leave from the large, warm water ports of the southern U.S. headed around the world. Though at times I think I’m the only one out here, that’s never the case.

Presently, Bodacious Dream and I are about 110 miles NE of Bermuda. The weather has been very calm all day with very little wind to fill our sails – most of it less than 5 knots and coming from directly behind us. So, I’ve been motoring with the sails up and calculating how much fuel I’m going to needed to make Bermuda before sunset on Sunday. This is where knowing some math really comes in handy.

Dave in the OfficeSitting in my onboard “office.” (34 18.06 N, 66 33.96 W)

Let me share my current math problem as an example.

As I write this, it’s 23:00 hours on Saturday with 110 miles to go to get to Bermuda. The sun sets at about 18:00 hours on Sunday, so I have 19 hours to get to Bermuda before the sun sets and I can still see my way into an unfamiliar harbor. Now, Bermuda is a large coral island so there are many reefs and channels to be followed making it complicated and difficult to navigate at night … especially when alone. So prudent seamanship would have me enter the harbor during daylight hours.

Fuel CansSo, back to the math … 110 miles divided by 19 hours is about 5 and ¾ miles per hour. If I can sail at 4 miles per hour with the light wind, and use the engine to boost my speed up to 6 miles per hour, I should be able to make it in time. It takes 2200 RPMs (revolutions per minute) to have enough boost to make 6 knots, and at 2200 RPMs, I burn about 6/10ths of a gallon an hour of diesel fuel. I have 10 gallons left. Will I make it? Or will I have to stop using the engine and slow down and look to arrive on Monday morning? I’d like to be in on Sunday, so I can be ready to get some answers to my boat problems first thing on Monday. I’ll let you work on that one for a bit, while I go coax the wind gods into giving me stronger winds in my sails.

f you’re hungry enough, it’s good.

So, with all this happening, it’s now late and I’m hungry … so I’m making up a freeze-dried mix of Chicken Fajitas mix for dinner. (Let’s just say, no one ever did a solo circumnavigation because of the cuisine.) Anyway, typically I’d put this in a tortilla … but in the rush, I forgot to buy any of those, so maybe that’s on my list for Bermuda too!

More soon,

- Dave and Bodacious Dream
33 06.7491 N,  065 38.6709 W  as of 08:22 EST

Ode on a Dragonfly – Circumnavigation – Day 02

Day 02 : Atlantic Coast 

Things are rolling right along out here … made all the more pleasant by gentle breezes and relatively calm seas, largely due to the high pressure system which has settled in over the region.

Onward and WindwardOnward and Windward …

My plans are now to stop for a couple days in Bermuda to identify and neutralize a few uncooperative gremlins that have infiltrated our telecommunications set-up. The KVH satellite system is having a heck of a time locking onto a satellite. It’s done it a couple of times, but the vast majority of time, it just keeps searching. Now, it may be that the course I’m sailing puts the mast and carbon in the way of the signal … though I’m not sure why that would be an issue … or it may be something else entirely. Whatever it is, I don’t have any easy way to deal with it out here other than to call their tech support, which I will attempt later today. (This part of sailing isn’t much different than at home, is it?)

Anyway, while I’m talking tech, our set-ups onboard have redundancy built-in, so for example we have two computers. Unfortunately, the second computer hasn’t been totally set up yet and I need more internet time to do that … so until I do that, I have to write on the first computer and then transfer it over into the Iridium system – which while reliable, offers only limited bandwidth. Anyway friends … all that said … we’ll work out these issues, because they effect how we get information and stories from the boat to you. Ok, enough of that … shees!

Since being on the water, I’ve been engaged in some serious R & R. The days before departure were very long and allowed little time for rest. In my more active hours though, I’ve ventured some into the research agenda.

Secchi DiscSecchi Disc

I tried my hand at the “Secchi disc.” After testing it yesterday, I see I will have to consider some different methods to get this to work well … because as clear as the water is, at 40 feet deep, in the time it takes the disc to sink that far, Bodacious Dream just doesn’t like to sit still. So, I have to figure out how to keep the boat still enough in the water to allow the disc to sink faster. This will be no problem in places such as harbors and moorings. And we most certainly want to get a method in place before we hit the Southern Hemisphere, for which very little data of this type exists.

Today I did my first water filtering with the citizen-scientist kit that Tegan Mortimer put together for me. It’s actually very easy and simple to do, so you might want to try that at home. We described it midway through an earlier post here.

Another one of the things I’m doing for Earthwatch is recording what I see by way of wildlife and debris in the water. So far, I haven’t seen any debris, and the wildlife I expected to see, has been hiding out from me. What I didn’t expect was a visit from a bird, a moth and a dragonfly last night!

El DragonflyI wonder how a dragonfly makes its way 300 miles offshore? I suspect it gets caught up in the winds. Or do you suppose it might have hitched a ride on another boat, got tired of the food service onboard that boat, and then set off looking for another boat? It gets you imagining how the advent of ocean-crossing vessels altered native species migration. A vessel from Europe leaves for the New World, and it has some bugs onboard. They land in the New World and the bugs begin to procreate … (not unlike the passengers onboard.) On the return trip, along with cargo … you’ve got New World bugs now going back to Europe and disrupting the species pool over there … and so on back and forth. That is one larger role the oceans play … to serve as transit systems to move species of animals and vegetation from one unique environment into a totally different one, and in the course of that, to change the balance of nature all over the world.

Tigger the BirdTigger the Bird … but from where? 

Aside from musings like that … (you see what R & R will do to your brain) … it’s been awesome sailing. The weather is warm; the nights are clear and comfortable. With some luck, I should land in Bermuda on Sunday … with a hefty load of questions for the business world once it opens up on Monday morning. Once all that is settled, I hope to be back on the water by Tuesday or Wednesday.

Thanks to everyone for following. We’ll get these gremlins figured out, cause that’s our job … to keep you posted on what’s going on out here as we go sailing AROUND the world!

- Dave, Bodacious Dream, Dagger the Dragonfly & Tigger the Bird

Departure from Newport – Circumnavigation Day 01

Day 01 : Atlantic Coast 

I departed Newport and Jamestown Harbor yesterday, Wednesday, October 2nd a bit belatedly (12:25 EDT,) as my “top associate” Tim Eades had gotten held up back at Hinckley’s Boatyard. It was a nice sendoff. There were some folks from the local paper, sailing fans as well as a merry host of friends – some of whom are pictured here in this photo.

Circum Departure Day

From left to right … that’s Billy Black (Sailing Photographer) and his assistant Megan Beauchemin, then Julianna Barbieri and Hugh Piggin (from 11th Hour Racing and presenters of the Atlantic Cup Race) then Rick Palin (Board Member for Hurricane Island Outward Bound), then to the left and right of yours truly (in my new super shades,) dear friends Beach Baywood and Mary Zemansky. Thanks for being there, guys.

So, after some more pics and goodbyes … and actually having had an ok night of sleep, I was all ready to go. Had a great sail out the bay accompanied by Joe Harris on his Class40, Gryphon Solo.

BoDream and Gryphon Solo@BillyBlack

Once I was out in open water, I began to settle into the boat, and the motion of the water began to bring out my fatigue issues. Being ashore for a while always means a period of reacquainting yourself with the sea, with its soothing motions, sounds and smells. It always seems to take a couple of days for the emotional wavelength to transform  from the state of heightened preparation and having to push time over to the more relaxed state where you are being pushed by time (and waves and wind.) That’s when you slip back into a comfort zone with the boat and environment. I’m sure by tomorrow I’ll be even more acclimated. Working so hard to get the boat ready left me pretty worn down … so I just napped through the night and nibbled on turkey and cheese. I read a few pages of a book … but couldn’t really get into it. This is typically how it goes for the first couple of days.

-70.9340, 40.7413Sunset on Day One

Last night, the sky was all full of stars as the moon was just a sliver at the end of the night. The winds blew about 20 knots as I headed out of Narragansett Bay, but by morning they had diminished to just 6 knots and from straight behind, so I threw the motor on to aid the sails. Now will begin the never-ending calculations of fuel consumption and distance. The overall course is largely designed to track good sailing winds, but here along the coast, the winds come and go more – so there may be more calls for the motor.

Also, I think I’m going to make a short stop in Bermuda – fill up on fuel and take care of any issues that arise in the run down there. The whole “electronics/ satcom/ connectivity/ %*^#&!” thing is a little sub-agenda all of its own. I’ve begun a dialogue with our KVH SatDome. We’ll see if we strike a rapport.

Later this afternoon, I’ll slow down and do the first experiments for Earthwatch, using the “Secchi disc” and the water filter gear. (More on that soon.)

And that’s pretty much it for Day One. We’re on our way now!

Best to all,

- Dave & Bodacious Dream

Coordinates: 40 28.7942 N, 70 46.3949 W

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T’was the Night Before a Dream!

Well, here we go!!

It’s the night before departure and as usual, there are so many last minute things to do … but now there’s no time left to do them. I guess that’s how you know it’s time to go.

We sailed Bodacious Dream down to the Jamestown Harbor today from her berth at Hinckley’s Boat Yard in Portsmouth, where she has been for the past several months getting readied to take on the oceans of the world. Big thanks to all the crew there at Hinckley’s for taking such grand care of us and at each twisty step of the way. They looked out for me well, and always found a way to help me get done what needed doing.

Jamestown Harbor with Friends

Yesterday, some sailing friends from the Great Lakes showed up to help with projects, after which we took Bodacious Dream out for a late afternoon sail, ending up in the harbor in Jamestown where I’ll finish loading BoDream up in the morning and saying my goodbyes before heading out midday. It’s been an amazing few weeks with so many friends stopping by to lend a hand, extend good wishes or get an up-close look at BoDream. I thank all of them as well as the many online friends who have sent their good wishes too. I only wish I had time to respond to each and every one of you!

Tomorrow begins the journey of a lifetime … the culmination of many years of dreaming … the start of my first solo circumnavigation. I know the story has been told, but tonight of all nights, it bears repeating. Sailing around the world alone has been a dream of mine since my childhood days … and here I am now, 55 years of age … and finally setting out for that farthest horizon. From this vantage point, I can look back over those years and see myself at many ages and from many perspectives, and I can also look forward and imagine what life might be like for me in the future. But for now, it’s truly a matter of living in the present, and setting myself to the practice of enjoying (and studying) every mile as it passes under the keel of Bodacious Dream. I intend to be there with every wind shift and wave change, with every star in the sky and with every ray of sun bursting from behind the clouds. This will be a magical journey … I know that … full of all sorts of learnings … and not just for all of you with whom I will share the journey … but for me as well.


I’m going to keep this short, because I’m tired and need some sleep before morning comes. But once I get going, settle into the routine onboard, make sure all the important stuff like cookies and chocolate are safely secured, I’ll get back on the computer and begin to share with you tales from the waves. This is going to be exciting, engaging and fun … so please stay tuned.

Bodacious Dream ExpeditionsJust to remind you, the BDX Website is here … the BDX Facebook page here … and if email is easier for you, then the Email Sign-Up form is right here!

And one more time – straight from my heart, thanks to every one of you for getting me to this point in time. And a special final thanks (and toast) to Tim Eades for putting up with me these past few weeks, whether it was helping out with some little shopping chore, or taking on one big boat job after another … or just guiding me home at the end of a long day!

Plenty more to come soon.

- Dave and Bodacious Dream