:: LEG 1 : Newport, RI to Bermuda to Cape Town, South Africa
October 2, 2013 – December 5, 2013 (95 Days)
As we got closer to departure, friends and family began gathering in Jamestown, RI and bringing with them good wishes, hugs, chocolate, cookies and the necessity for last-minute photos. Departure day found me filled with feelings of high excitement and anxiety to match. Questions of what had I forgotten and what might lie ahead spun around in my head, as I met up with a gathering of dear friends down at the Jamestown Harbor docks for a simple departure event. Hugs and goodbyes through the morning continued as I went through my checklist of those last bits and pieces of preparation.
Following a short toast by my friend Capt. Tim, I donned my personal floatation device (PFD) and my tether, and with the engine running, the lines were cast and I set out of the harbor bound around the world. With the breeze fresh from the East, my friend Joe Harris in his boat Gryphon Solo sailed along with me… in formation like two seagulls we were. A few miles into the open ocean outside Narragansett Bay, Joe and Gryphon Solo bid me farewell leaving us to bear away and sail off on our newly born adventure.
An early test of our communications systems unfortunately revealed some bugs that needed fixing, and so I decided within that first day that we would make what I thought would be a quick stop in Bermuda – 600 miles and five days away. For the next five days, the weather was mostly sunny and clear, and the winds fair … making for a sweet ride out to Bermuda.
Surfing down the Eastern Seaboard
Bermuda to Cape Town:
During a weather delay in Bermuda, I visited a replica of a ship called Deliverance, that was sent from England in the early 1600′s first to Bermuda and then on to the New World to help the struggling settlers in the young Jamestown, Virginia colony, bringing them precious provisions and necessities. It’s hard to look at one of those early trans-oceanic vessels and not be humbled by the incredible skill and courage that boatwrights and sailors of that time exhibited.
With our repairs made and our preparations finalized, Bodacious Dream and I grabbed a good weather window on October 17th to depart Bermuda under a big beautiful full moon. Once out of Bermuda, we re-routed our journey more eastward to help us better line up with the trade winds. As we made our way south, we encountered a mix of calms and squalls (but thankfully no hurricanes … even though it was still season.)
One day of particularly calm weather stands out for the exceptionally beautiful sunset it offered us.
The beauty of it all …
Along the way, I began sending along a steady stream of written and photo updates describing my daily experiences. On top of a daily record of observations and weather conditions, these updates also covered the various subjects of sleep, food, navigation and equipment as well as water and fuel conservation. With the help of our onshore support team commandeered by Mark Petrakis, we began right away to publish what would prove to become a steady and voluminous stream of updates to our BDX blog and to our Facebook and Twitter feeds, at the same time we uploaded scores of videos to our YouTube Channel.
In the course of publishing our updates, we heard from friends old and new, and did our best to answer any questions that were raised. In addition to Tegan’s Science Notes, I also occasionally used the updates to pose more academic-type problems to our community of followers that dealt with some of the math and science problems, that I myself had to answer.
Over time, Bodacious Dream and I grew more closely connected. I could “feel” her in increasingly subtle ways. The sounds that emanated from her took on eerily human voicings. When something changed with either the wind, the sails, or with the auto-pilot or the hydro-generator, I could usually sense that something was amiss even before I had any idea what it might be.
At some point, and alone for so long at sea, you also realize just how precisely placed in the center of the world you are on-deck, surrounded as you are by this perfectly round 360 degree view of the world. A friend at some point sent me the following quote from a 17th century English poet, teacher and sometime sailor named Thomas Traherne … “You never know the world aright, till the sea itself floweth in your veins, till you are clothed with the heavens and crowned with the stars.” I think those words express a truth that one must be a sailor to truly understand.
Into November, we had already encountered our fair share of ripping squalls and tenacious storm fronts. Nothing like making sail changes in the dark of night with big winds gusting, to give you some ironic perspective into the nature of the mad adventure you have freely chosen for yourself.
Looking into some weather …
Of course, in addition to the harsh weather, there were also the regular round of exquisite sunrises and sunsets, not to mention an amazing meteor shower and occasional visits from sea turtles and dolphins.
Every day ultimately ends in the “big show” of sunset … after which night enfolds us. And then, soon enough daylight announces its arrival, the sun peaks over the horizon and the routine begins once again
As we crossed the Equator, for the first time in my life, Franklin (my soccer ball mascot) and I shared a traditional equatorial crossing ceremony and a touch of an Irish whiskey toast!
Once we reached the bulge of Brazil, we began to reorient our course easterly across the Southern Atlantic Ocean towards Cape Town, S.A.. Along the way, we encountered a couple of fairly typical cold front storms, and weeks of constantly changing conditions. We spent Thanksgiving at sea, thinking of family and friends and feeling incredibly grateful for this experience of a lifetime.
On December 5, 2013, and after 49 consecutive days at sea, we finally arrived in the Tavern of the Seas, Cape Town, South Africa.
IN CAPE TOWN: December 5 – December 19, 2013
In Cape Town, while doing maintenance on the boat, I took some time off to enjoy some of the beautiful and unique features of the surrounding regions - Table Mountain, which towers over Cape Town revealed to us its cloud-capped wonders, as did the Cape of Good Hope where we spent time with the African Penguins. I also became better acquainted with the amazing story of Nelson Mandela, who happened to pass just as we arrived in Cape Town.
To the top of the mast with you!
After re-provisioning and finishing maintenance, (which included a trip up the mast, shown in the above video) Bodacious Dream and I departed Cape Town on December 21, 2013 bound across the Southern Ocean for Wellington, NZ.
:: Our many updates from the water can be found on the Expedition Blog … where they are filtered by subject and date.
:: All our Leg 1 photo albums can be found on our BDX Facebook Photo Album Page.