December, 2000: Passage from Bermuda to St. Martin

It's Tuesday, December 19. We're into our fourth day outbound from Bermuda; at 6:00 AM local time we were at 23 27 N 62 23 W, 570 miles SSE of Bermuda and about 320 miles NNW of St. Martin.

When we finally left Bermuda last Friday afternoon, there was a high in the area so we had almost no wind. But according to the free 5-day weather briefing for departing sailors distributed by the Bermuda Customs Service (the only such organization we've seen that takes the word "service" to heart), the high was expected to move to the east, which would mean south winds at Bermuda in a couple of days. This is definitely not cool for a trip south. We figured (and Herb agreed) that if we could get south by a couple of hundred miles in the first two days, we could stay south of the high and pick up the trades as well.

According to nautical superstition, it's bad luck to leave on a Friday, but we figured it's even badder luck to beat to windward all the way to St. Martin. In fact,our plan has worked marvelously so far. By Friday evening, we had picked up a 12 knot SE breeze, which strengthened to 15-20 knots by the next morning and has held since, going to ESE on Sunday. We close reached, working our way to the east to hedge against the wind coming further south, but when we reached the half-way point Monday and found ourselves about 100 NM to the east of rhumbline, we cracked off and headed straight for the target. We're now doing high 8's and low 9's, so there's some prospect of a fabled 200-mile day from noon to noon.

When Tina and Lou joined us for the Hampton to Bermuda passage, the brought aboard a bright green fishing lure that Charley Amory had given them. Charley told Tina that the "Green Machine" was guaranteed to catch fish, but this didn't happen on our tumultuous trip to Bermuda. Tina and Lou left it with us, and when Ken Hidu joined us for the Bermuda - St. Martin passage, he wanted to know what the guarantee was -- would Charlie send us a fish? But there's no longer any need to worry about that guarantee. As soon as we rounded Spit Buoy, the mark for the SW corner of the Bermuda Banks, we dropped the GM in the water. Within an hour, the GM caught us a tuna we guessed at the time to be about 10 lbs. This fish has already grown to 15 lbs. and may be growing yet -- wait til you see us in person! Anyway, it provided three delicious dinners, oven broiled, blackened, and Teriyaki.

The only mishap so far is that the spinnaker, which has sat for 1000 miles bagged and secured on the foredeck, washed overboard on Saturday afternoon. We used the opportunity to do a Man Overboard drill, which worked perfectly (except of course we didn't deploy the LifeSling but fished the bag out of the water with the fishing gaff). It turned out that the big brass hanks holding the bag to the rail had simply broken. We were lucky that this happened during daylight, as we definitely wouldn't have seen it go over at night. In retrospect, we should stow the spinnaker below on passages; we used to do this, then got out of the habit. Laziness. The sopping wet spinnaker went into the forward head -- thank goodness we've got two heads!

We arrived safe and sound at Marigot Bay in St. Martin at 6:30 December 21. This made it a 5 day 15 hour passage, where we averaged 7 knots! There were times when we could have stood a little less wind, but now that we're here, we're all delighted. The weather is sunny, warm, with about 12 knots of wind. .