Bermuda to Newport, RI, USA - June 10th to 13th, 2001

It was hard getting up on Sunday June 10th, 2001 so I arrived a little late at the RBYC (Royal Bermuda Yacht Club). Our 7:30 departing time turned into 9:00 by the time everyone got there and we loaded all of the supplies. It was a warm, partly cloudy, calm day on the start of this adventure.

I learned of a sailing race from Marion RI to Bermuda, so I submitted my name to the local clubs and the club in Marion. A week later I received a call from a Bermudian sailors' assistant who needed someone to deliver the boat across the Atlantic. I was in, so I took some time off work and went shopping for a few supplies.

The owner of the boat, his assistant, a photographer, a graphic designer and myself were to be the crew. At the last minute, the assistant got sick, and since she was the lady who took care of the owner who was disabled, he was not able to join us either. It was only going to be the 3 of us for the 4-day trip. A schedule of 6 hours off and 3 hours on was set with only one person on at a time.

We motored to St.Georges from Hamilton…about an hour ride. There, we filled the gas tank and visited the customs clearance office in preparation for our departure. Finally at about 1pm, we motored around the reefs of Bermuda leaving the Island in the distance.

A few days before, we had gone out on a practice sail offshore. We performed some man overboard drills and each took our turn at the helm to get the feel of the boat. Also received instruction on safety and the particulars of the boat. I felt a little more comfortable also since I had taken a marine engine course, a costal navigation course and had about 2 years of sailing experience.
Bermuda to New Port, 2001

Bermuda to New Port, 2001 My first shift was from 9pm to 12am. Saw another sailboat about 10NM to the starboard. It was strange at night, with the others sleeping, being alone at the helm in the pitch dark. As the boat carved through the water, it churned up the waves causing a phenomenon of glowing particles in the water. I found out later that the sea is full of bioluminescent life forms known as dinoflagellates. They give off chemically produced light. A ship can stir up so many of these single-cell life forms that its wake can be seen for miles.

I woke up the person for the next shift then had a few hours sleep.

Bermuda to New Port, 2001

Bermuda to New Port, 2001 My second shift was from 6am to 9am on Monday June 11th. Watched the sun rise on the eastern horizon. Winds were light with 2 to 4 foot swells. 150 miles out of Bermuda, dolphins joined us and swam around the boat for a few minutes. There were also scores of flying fish flying out of the water all around us.

I was seasick a few times the day before, but now I felt a lot better. I couldn't imagine being sick for the whole trip. Winds are still light as they would be for most of the trip keeping our boat speed to 6 or 8 knots.

On my Tuesday shift, I was on watch alone…everyone else was sleeping. I went to the washroom and was locked in the bathroom. Banging on the door, finally Erin woke up and got some tools to open the door. Luckily the autopilot was working.

On my next shift, as we approached the Gulf Stream, the strain of the currents wrecked the autopilot. I actually had to take the helm manually for 3 hours. The winds picked up and waved crashed over the side. It was hard work keeping the boat on course for that shift.

Bermuda to New Port, 2001 Bermuda to New Port, 2001

As we neared the coast of Rhode Island, the fog got really thick. We could only see maybe 100 feet in front of us. One person at the bow looking into the fog, one on the radar, and me at the helm. We were trying to avoid fishing boats that were all around us that morning. We could hear them in the distance and see some on the radar. One time one came out of the fog directly in front of us. We had to work on some evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision. It was a close one.

Bermuda to New Port, 2001 Bermuda to New Port, 2001

The sun eventually dissipated the fog and the coast of Rhode Island came into view. We motored to the Yacht Club in Newport and walked on land for the first time in 4 days…that was a weird feeling. I spent a couple of nights on the boat. Did some shopping and parting in the beautiful town of Newport and flew back to Bermuda.

Bermuda to New Port, 2001 Bermuda to New Port, 2001

The next day, the race crew showed up and sailed to Marion for the start of the race. I met them in Bermuda the next week for their return and a big party at the Dinghy Club.

This was an amazing trip. I learned a lot about navigation and general boating skills. I can't wait to do it again.