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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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